With the first of
16 17 games in the books, the NFC West is a perfect 4-0 and the NFC North is the polar opposite at 0-4. Who saw that coming? (Not me; I picked the Cardinals to lose and the Packers and Vikings to win leaving me with a 5-3 record in those 2 divisions).
Note: I am aware that the AFC West is also 4-0, but ... meh; they’re our old division rivals - I’ll consider paying attention to them next week.
Unlike last week’s column, this week’s 12 Thoughts won’t have any betting references - other than the one above ...
Late games: Cleveland at KC should be fun; I’m taking the Chiefs at -6. Expecting the Dolphins to spoil Mac-J’s debut while Cam watches from home. GB should crush the Saints. Denver over NYG.— Frank T. Raines (@Frank_T_Raines) September 11, 2021
SNF: LAR slaughters the Bears.
MNF: KJ Wright helps the Raiders pull off the upset.
Unfortunately, I didn’t change my pick on Tallysight, which is where the FieldGulls staff records their picks, so instead of finishing with a 10-6 record in Week 1, my pseudonym ended up in a 5-way tie at 9-7 with Tyler Alsin, Willie Keeler, Brandan Schulze, and Stan Taylor.
We all one-upped Mookie and John P. Gilbert though, so ...
Betting references (and results) aside, let’s get to this week’s 12 Thoughts.
I could almost just leave it at that, couldn’t I?
Is there anyone that doesn’t know what I’m thinking with this thought?
After an offseason that was dominated by the Aaron Rodgers drama in Green Bay, I will admit that watching the uniquely prickly one suffer his most-lopsided defeat E-V-E-R was perversely amusing.
It also felt somewhat fitting.
Rodgers getting his butt kicked isn’t what this thought is really about though. That’s just the set up for what might be the most amusing subheading I have ever seen on an SI.com article and a 2-minute video clip that is an instant classic.
You know the reigning NFL MVP had a bad week when the subheading on the “Cal in NFL” Week 1 article reads: Rodgers’ Packers, Goff’s Lions both fall (in) openers, but Goff had the better game.
That hurts, but not as much as this:
2-Minute video clip (with an accompanying Tweet)
"There's some interceptions you want back.. some that aren't your fault.. but the first one on Sunday was entirely due to the DOUBLE nut shot I took" @AaronRodgers12#PatMcAfeeShowLIVE pic.twitter.com/Itef4xBPTe— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) September 14, 2021
OUCH and then OUCH again!
NOTE: If you are someplace where you can’t watch/listen to the clip in that Tweet then I strongly suggest that you PAUSE HERE and go find someplace to watch/listen to the clip. It is soooo worth it.
I’m going to stick with Packers vs. Saints for this next thought.
The Saints led 17-3 at halftime. Aaron Rodgers was 7-of-12 for 69 yards and Jameis Winston was 9-of-12 for 65 yards. The difference, of course, was that Winston was ahead on touchdowns, 2-0.
Fast forward to the early part of the 4th quarter. Rodgers is 15-of-28 for 133 with 2 INTs. Winston is 13-of-19 for 93 and now has 4 touchdown passes.
At this point, I was Googling “fewest yards with 4 TDs” .
Answer: Steve Young in 1987 vs. the Chicago Bears: 9-of-19 for an even 100 yards.
Alas, Mr. Winston wanted no part of that storyline. He emphatically told the 2005 Hall of Fame inductee to keep the silly record, launching a majestic 55-yard strike to 3rd-year WR Deonte Harris for his 5th touchdown pass of the day.
SIGH. So much for history.
But, wait ...
After the dust had cleared and the stadium had emptied, ESPN’s Mike Triplett included this little nugget in his postgame article:
Winston’s ultimate total of 148 passing yards were the fewest in a five-touchdown game in NFL history, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Yes! Rodgers got spanked and I got to see a piece of history.
What a day!
Sticking with the QB theme ...
Russell Wilson had 5 games last season in which he threw 4 or more touchdown passes.
- Week 1 in Atlanta (4)
- Week 2 vs. the Patriots (5)
- Week 3 vs. the Cowboys (5)
- Week 8 vs. the 49ers (4)
- Week 13 vs. the Jets (4)
Fast forward to this past Sunday.
One guess where I’m going with this.
This time it’s buried in Brady Henderson’s postgame article:
Wilson threw four touchdown passes and no interceptions while completing 18 of 23 attempts for 254 yards. He became the first player in NFL history with at least four TD passes in consecutive season openers, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
I am not normally this QB-centric. But Week 1 is almost always the exception to that rule. Especially when 2 QBs make history and karma slaps Aaron Charles Rodgers upside the head in a nationally-televised game.
This thought though ...
Let’s just say that ESPN Stats & Information is a double-edge sword - and both edges cut sort of deep with this thought. At least for us 12s. Down in La-La Land, they’re probably pretty damn giddy.
Matthew Stafford is the first player in NFL history to win his team debut while passing for 300 yards, 3 TD and 0 Int. pic.twitter.com/B8i2c5K0B5— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 13, 2021
Matthew Stafford has thrown 2 TD of 50+ yards tonight. That matches the Rams entire 2020 total. pic.twitter.com/XAsWeqdajM— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 13, 2021
Admittedly, that last bit about the Rams sucking with Goff at QB last year did make me smile a little bit. But, overall ...
McVay + Stafford might be even worse than we thought.
Alright, it’s finally time for a thought that isn’t about a QB.
This one is about five QBs.
Five NFC West QBs, to be exact. And, yes, I know what the NFCW only has 4 teams. Doesn’t matter; Santa Clara Adjacent let their rookie QB throw a pass in Week 1. And ... well, we’ll start there.
Trey Lance was 1-for-1 on Sunday for 5 yards. Of course, that’s only part of the story since that 1 pass went for a touchdown and gave him a quarterback rating of 127.1 for the day.
That beat Jimmy G’s 124.2 rating (17-of-25 for 314 with 1 TD).
It also beat Kyler Murray’s 120.9 rating in the Cardinals 38-13 pounding of the Titans. Yes, despite completing 21 of 32 passes for 289 yards with 4 touchdowns, Murray’s 1 interception - the only one thrown by an NFCW QB in Week 1 - dropped him into 5th place from a ratings-perspective for Week 1.
RW3’s historical day left him with a quarterback rating of 152.3, but ...
Matthew Stafford finished at 156.1.
Rather than dwelling on the quarterback ratings though, I want to look at the combined stat lines for the NFC West QBs on Sunday.
- 107 pass attempts
- 77 completions
- 1,183 yards
- 13 TDs
- 1 INT
That’s a completion rate of 71.96% for the division, an average of 15.36 yards per completion and a combined quarterback rating of 143.8.
That. Is. Insane!
The 2021 NFL Draft saw teams select 5 QBs in the first round.
All 5 played in Week 1.
We already know how Trey Lance did (1-of-1 for 5 yards with a TD). Here are how his R1 brethren did in their debuts:
- Trevor Lawrence: 28-of-51 for 332 yards with 3 TDs and 3 INTs; QB rating of 70.1
- Zach Wilson: 20-of-37 for 258 yards with 2 TDs and 1 INT; QB rating of 82.9
- Justin Fields: 2-of-2 for 10 yards; 0 TDs; 0 INTs; QB rating of 87.5
- Mac Jones: 29-of-39 for 281 yards with 1 TD and no INTs; QB rating of 102.6
Personally, I am not going to read too much into a rookie QB’s first start. Especially not in a 17-game season.
It seems intuitively logical that the QBs that went to the worst teams (Trev-Law and Zach-W) had the lowest Week 1 ratings while the QBs that went to the best teams (T-Lance and Mac-J) had the highest ratings.
It’s early though and 2 of the 5 (Lance and Fields) combined for a mere 9 offensive snaps. We’ll see if those trends hold as the season progresses.
This is my final QB-related thought.
Actually, that’s not technically true. It’s my last thought about an active QB. I have another thought (later) about a pair of retired QBs.
This one is about TB12.
And it starts with a bit of a confession.
I have always respected Tom Brady’s accomplishments, but I have not-so-secretly despised him - as a player and as a person.
Sometime over the past 12 or so months, that changed.
I don’t know exactly when or how it happened, but this Tweet with him trolling the Falcons ahead of the Week 2 game against them would have definitely annoyed me in the past.
For those that don’t see the subtle-yet-obvious trolling, perhaps a screenshot will help.
Now, instead of it annoying me, I find it incredibly amusing.
Who woulda thunk it?
Of course, it probably helps that I love the T-Mobile “Don’t trust big decisions to just any network” commercials.
It’s funny, because I can actually see that being a plausible explanation for how Tom Brady ended up in Tampa Bay.
I also find this commercial amusing - because Brady is so willing to poke fun at himself and his exit from Beantown ... and because he actually seems - GASP - likeable.
Alright, well, that’s enough TB12 for one day (week, month, etc.).
Time for a fresh thought.
All offseason and throughout the preseason, the prevailing thought has been that the Houston Texans had the inside track on the #1 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Apparently they didn’t get the memo.
Houston jumped out to a 14-0 lead over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the first quarter and pushed their advantage to 27-7 at halftime before coasting to the finish for a 37-21 win.
The subheading on the post-game recap over on Battle Red Blog read: What in tarnations?
That’s it. I really just wanted to share the subheading because, seriously, how often do you see the word tarnation anymore?
There really ain’t no other reason to get excited about a Texans’ W.
Not yet anyway.
If they’re at least semi-competitive and add another W or 2 before their Week 10 bye, maybe I’ll reconsider my position.
Over on the other side of the Houston-v-Jacksonville matchup, you had the #1 pick in this year’s draft and one of the winningest coaches in college football history.
187 up vs. 32 down.
3 national championships.
I was skeptical when the Jaguars hired a college coach who is used to having a recruiting advantage and who can count on one hand the number of times his teams lost back-to-back games.
This tweet, which followed the Jaguars’ Week 1 loss, addresses my concern pretty well.
the Jags are almost definitely going to lose more games than Urban Meyer lost in his entire Ohio State career (9) but we can't rule out that they'll lose more games than he lost in his entire Florida career (15)— Rodger Sherman (@rodger) September 12, 2021
Urban Meyer doesn’t like losing. No one does, but Urban likes it less than most and that distaste is almost certainly going to lead to a quick return to the college game.
Back to the safety of power programs and recruiting advantages and schedules that he can have a say in creating.
This thought isn’t about my skepticism though.
No ... this thought is about a series of events that border on the absurd.
And remember that this is coming from someone who thinks that Urban Meyer’s stay in Jacksonville will be reasonably short.
Event #1: The Texans made the Jaguars look worse than expected on Sunday.
Event #2: On Monday, USC fired head coach Clay Helton 2 games into his 7th season at the helm of the storied program. It is worth noting that this decision is costing the Trojans $10M as Helton was under contract through 2023.
Event #3: Twitter went wild and Urban Meyer was trending almost instantly.
Event #4: Urban Meyer got asked about the rumors and ... well, you can judge his response for yourself.
Event #5: The Jaguars then doubled down by posting this on Twitter ...
Reactions to the Jaguars’ Tweet were pretty much what you would expect:
Now, I’m a Meyers-skeptic, but even I think that the idea that he would leave the Jaguars at, quite literally, the first “bump in the road” is ... well ... absurd.
Even if history does have a habit of repeating itself.
Speaking of which ...
How about that stupendous road win on Sunday?
Seattle 38, Colts 14
Oh, wait, that was my prediction, not the actual result. It probably should have been the result, but - sigh - that darn 3rd quarter lull cost me some street cred.
Still, 28-16 ain’t bad for a Week 1 road game with a 10am start time - especially when the Hawks had the game well in hand almost from the start.
I do have one teeny tiny concern though.
Time of possession.
The Seahawks had 10 possessions that accounted for 24:13 of game clock. The Colts used 35:47 on 11 possessions.
Here are the possession lengths and results:
- 9:19 (FG)
- 1:36 (Punt)
- 4:18 (TD)
- 2:11 (Punt)
- 0:41 (Downs/Halftime)
- 1:13 (Punt)
- 1:40 (Punt)
- 2:10 (Fumble)
- 6:26 (Downs)
- 4:33 (TD)
- 1:40 (End of Game)
- 4:15 (TD)
- 3:28 (TD)
- 1:53 (Punt)
- 2:19 (TD)
- 2:41 (Punt)
- 3:10 (Punt)
- 0:39 (Fumble)
- 2:05 (Punt)
- 3:15 (TD)
- 0:28 (Punt)
I am not going to overreact.
It was one game.
But our longest drive was our first one and it only took 4:15 off the clock. By comparison, the Colts had 4 drives that were longer, including all 3 of their scoring drives.
That’s something that we may want to pay attention to, starting with the home opener against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.
Monday Night Football.
For the first 3 quarters, I was sort of bored and was letting my mind wander.
As the 4th quarter started, it was a 7-point game; Ravens ahead 17-10. 2 punts later, I’m completely bored and thinking about turning it off.
Then Lamar Jackson got the ball knocked loose on a scramble play. The Raiders took over in Baltimore’s end of the field, and ...
The shootout began.
Raiders TD + Ravens TD + Raiders TD + Ravens FG + Raiders FG with 0:02 to play.
TIE GAME ... Monday Night Football is going to OVERTIME.
Honestly, I’m not even going to bother trying to explain what happened in overtime. I’m just going to share the 8-1/2 minute “highlights” video (which is really the entire overtime period, minus the commercials and dead spots).
Note: If you didn’t watch the game and haven’t watched the replay, Click the link. It is CA-RAY-ZEE !!
Chuckie had a great description of the game at his presser afterwards ...
"I felt like I died and woke up ... and died again. I was like a cat, I had multiple lives tonight."— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) September 14, 2021
Jon Gruden on the crazy ending to the Raiders-Ravens game pic.twitter.com/6SOO207S1s
For this final thought, we’re going to stay with Monday Night Football.
Back on July 21st, I had an article about the Manning Brothers MNF Variety Show. Amusingly, I had completely forgotten about that by the time I sat down to watch the Ravens take on the Raiders.
Fortunately, the internet is full of clips and some of them are pretty darn funny.
Among my favorites:
- Peyton imitating John Gruden ... more than once.
- Peyton talking about what he’d do if the coach called in a play he didn’t like and Travis Kelce saying that he’d have to share that idea with Pat(rick Mahomes).
- A fire alarm going off at Eli’s end of the broadcast and Eli doing what we all do when that happens to us - ignore it and continue as if you don’t hear it and aren’t even a tiny bit concerned.
- Charles Barkley asking if Derek Carr was going to overthrow his receivers all night.
- Barkley saying that Michael Jordan could have played tight end in the NFL but then, when asked about what position Larry Bird would play, saying there’s no place for slow, 6’10” guys in the NFL.
- The entire section with Russell Wilson, but especially this:
Peyton: "[Ciara's] got a ring that I wanted... I didn't get it."— NFL (@NFL) September 14, 2021
Russell: "Well, I [want] a ring that @TomBrady has... I need to go get, too."
Manning brothers are live right now on ESPN2 & ESPN+ pic.twitter.com/CXwyBFKTqb
They didn’t include it in the Tweet, but if you listen at the end, there’s a comment about Eli “stealing” a couple of Tom Brady’s rings.
Definitely gonna have to tune into that version of MNF when the Green Bay Packers play the Detroit Lions this week.