Melissa’s Monday Musings: Touchdown Celebrations the NFL’s Great Unifier

Week 9 was an odd one with its running back carousel, bevy of quirky plays and neverending list of starting quarterbacks who have no business being on the field. On the flip side flawless Carson Wentz took the lead in the MVP race and the 8-1 Eagles look like the team to beat in the NFC – and the league. The 6-2 Rams and Jared Goff are not far behind as their 31-year boy wonder coach Sean McVay has completely turned around the franchise.

While some fans are downtrodden and rightfully so (talking to you, G Men) and others are ecstatic, there is one glorious NFL trend that everyone but Kurt Warner can agree is awesome.

Warner did not mention touchdowns in this tweet but he might as well have – and no, Kurt Warner, the answer is no.

The NFL does a multitude of dumb things when it comes to rules and the old celebration rules (where super adrenaline-filled players who had just scored or recorded a dramatic sack had to act like they were in a library) would certainly fall into that category.

While the new, relaxed rule in which players can use the football as a prop or orchestrate a group celebration is unsurprising in its entertainment value, it is still glorious. With Pittsburgh, the most celebratory team in the NFL, on bye Week 9 offered the greatest variety of revelry we’ve seen yet. A few favorites include:

Titans WR Rishard Matthews with a little surfs up dance

Raiders WR Johnny Holton with an ode to the pogo stick…or is a bodypart or two? Please say the former. (After the game, Holton told reporters that his dance was, “something we do in Coconut Grove. We call it ‘the drop.'” That still doesn’t tell us what it is!)

And Week 9’s gold medal goes to Chiefs TE Travis Kelce for his potato sack race

These super creative celebrations have added an entirely new layer of individuality to the NFL. There is nothing malicious or dangerous or time wasting here. These are masterpieces that draw in fans, especially since as evidenced in Week 9 you never know where they’re coming from. It seems broadcasts are getting the message as well as we are seeing more cameras planted in the end zone and more announcers actually dissecting the celebrations.

The NFL has a litany of issues right now, the key one being a severe political divide of its fanbase. These joyous celebrations don’t mask the issues – they certainly aren’t going to turn C.J. Beathard and Tom Savage into Aaron Rodgers or heck, even Joe Flacco, but there is a comfort that something unifying still exists in this league. Isn’t fun what brought us all to this sport in the first place?

More Week 9 musings….

– McVay has the Rams offense somewhat resembling the Greatest Show on Turf Rams of 1999-2001. While the 2017 version don’t quite have the same firepower as that offensive juggernaut, they are still no. 1 in the NFL in points per game (32.9) and Goff leads the league in yards per attempt (8.3). If Goff and Sammy Watkins continue to coalesce, the sky’s the limit. McVay’s turnaround from 4-12 to currently 6-2 is strikingly similar to Jim Harbaugh turning the 6-10 49ers into a 13-3 team a play away from the Super Bowl the next year. Harbaugh was voted Coach of the Year his rookie season – and without question, McVay should be too.

– The Saints have quietly won six in a row and have command of the NFC South. As still in his prime as Drew Brees and electrifying as Alvin Kamara’s play have been, it is this Saints defense that is jaw-dropping. Rookie Marshon Lattimore, in particular, is an absolute stud who can cover anyone in coverage. Lattimore certainly has the swagger of a shutdown corner.

– Jacoby Brissett doesn’t get enough credit for performing well in the impossible task of replacing Andrew Luck. Brissett isn’t destined for Canton but at least he can complete a pass in the NFL and is not scared to take chances.

– Someone I respect on Twitter (sorry forgot who) declared Deshaun Watson to Tom Savage the biggest recent quarterback drop off we’ve seen. A debate ensued. What about Derek Carr to Matt McGloin? Jameis Winston to Ryan Fitzpatrick? I think the greater point here is that you’re not winning playoff games with any of these quarterbacks but they all get signed over someone who’s played in a Super Bowl because they know the “system.” OK, sure.

– On this topic I really don’t enjoy watching Brock Osweiler play. It actually makes my skin crawl.

– I think the poor 49ers have a good shot at 0-16. When Dallas played in San Francisco I asked Jason Witten about the 49ers. He gave the whole politically correct, ‘in the NFL there’s only a fractional difference between a 2-14 and 12-4 team,’ spiel. I don’t think he’s right in this case. The 49ers are so severely lacking in talent, coupled by a gazillion injuries, that there are maybe 4-5 teams they can beat on their best day. The Giants, who come to town in Week 10, happen to be one of them.

– How surreal was it watching Tony Romo dissect the play of Dak Prescott, Witten and Sean Lee. We chronicled Romo per usual and the most noticeable difference in this game is that he refrained from calling any plays in advice. I mean, if Romo knows any playbook, it’s Dallas’s. Perhaps that was part of the strategy to be less homerish. Even without the crystal ball Romo brought plenty of insight on a wide range of options.

– Absurd that Jalen Ramsey was also thrown out the game against the Bengals after A.J. Green held him in a chokehold and tried to punch him.

– The Giants secondary absolutely quit today. They were smoked the whole game but Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Landon Collins were particularly embarrassed on this Goff-Watkins 67-yard touchdown.  Collins was an All-Pro last year. Ben McAdoo was literally speechless when asked what he said to his team at halftime. Seems like the Giants’ leadership is matching its output on the field.

– Didn’t miss any Papa John’s commercials. Continued my lifetime streak of never eating their crap pizza.

– Nothing to do with football but can this man please run for office? He’s gold.