You Be The Judge
The state of refereeing in the NFL appears to be at an all-time low. Every game seems to have some sort of level of incompetence and questionable calls on behalf of the officials and the glaring mistakes shine even brighter when they happen in front of a national television audience. The 49ers and Arizona Cardinals game this past Sunday featured a plethora of egregious errors by the officiating crew. Over the past few weeks, players and coaches have begun to openly question the abilities of the referees with nary a fine because the NFL must know they have a huge problem. Cardinals coach Bruce Arians upped the ante after his team’s win on the road, describing the refs as “struggling mightily. They can’t count to three. It was a FUBAR on their part.” You can’t get more succinct than that. Something has to be done. The NFL will attempt to hide the crew that worked that specific game and take them off prime time duty but that does nothing to address a very serious issue that is getting worse.
Factory of Sadness
I don’t want to pile on the Browns and their poor fans but at this point even they have to laugh, right? Even as the clock was ticking down and Travis Coons was readying for his potential game-winning kick, everyone in the stadium knew they were going to witness something awful. It’s really quite amazing if you think about it. One of the worst parts about the situation in Cleveland is Josh McCown has actually played well. All things considered of course. He’s nearly single-handily kept the Browns in games they would have otherwise been blown out of. Unfortunately, just as he has in nearly every game he has played this year, he got injured. This time it was for good as McCown will be out with a broken collarbone which is incredibly poor timing after head coach Mike Pettine made a point to turn the page on the Johnny Manziel experience this past week. Except now, Pettine may need to turn back to Manziel in one of the most Browns-iest moves of the season.
After fleecing the Redskins in the infamous RGIII trade, the reality is Jeff Fisher has done very little to improve the Rams. When Jeff Fisher arrived 4 years ago the Rams were a bad team with a good running back and a question at quarterback that was owed way too much money. This year they are a bad team with a good running back and a question at quarterback that is owed way too much money. The team is one more loss away from experiencing it’s 12th straight losing season leaving many to speculate on Fisher’s future. The team of course is mired in a tango with the city of St. Louis leaving the franchise’s future in flux, so perhaps that larger issue will leave Fisher to languish in purgatory a bit longer. Fisher is no stranger to leading a franchise nowhere. For his part, Fisher remains optimistic “I’ve been doing this for probably short of 20 years, and I’ve never gone into a game or into a season worried about my job security.” Perhaps if the franchise had a solid grip on it’s future it would be more inclined to make a change. Until then, nothing will stick to Teflon Jeff.
Two weeks ago, Cam Newton was taken to task a bit for his dance celebrations in the end zone drawing the ire of a Titans fan who felt compelled to write an editorial on the affects the incident had on her daughter. Various talking heads and radio hosts jumped at the chance to debate this topic demanding that Cam be held accountable for his actions. Newton, enjoying a MVP season by the way, had no problems poking fun at the mini-controversy and elected to bust out the twist in the end zone in Detroit as a not so slight jab toward the entire ordeal. Curiously, Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce finally scored after many shutout weeks and decided to celebrate his touchdown by doing “the quan,” very well I should add. Sports commentator Robert Flores of ESPN had no problem bringing some levity to the ridiculous controversy from the previous week as he rightly questioned live on air “I’m wondering why there’s no letters to the editor. I wonder why they’re not doing that. Oh wait, it’s because he’s not black. That’s probably what it is.” People, people, let’s all calm down and just enjoy the games and the celebrations that come with them. Please think of the children.
After last week’s embarrassing incident involving Case Keenum and his very apparent on field concussion going unnoticed, the NFL has appeared to step up it’s ATC spotting game. The officials in the Steelers and Seahawks game were quick to remove Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier from the game, despite his insistence of being OK. Peter King revealed that head coach Mike Tomlin stepped into the conversation and demanded that Shazier listen to the doctors. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was also taken out of the game and despite his early comments to the contrary, Tomlin did confirm that his star quarterback was also in the concussion protocol. The emphasis on player safety is at an all time high and while the stakes are equally high when it comes to winning games, it will take a full team effort to ensure that players are protected not only from concussions but from themselves.
1. New England Patriots (10-1), last week 1: They finally lost and lost yet another integral player to injury but this team still ranks atop the league and will be getting healthier soon
2. Carolina Panthers (11-0), last week 2: The schedule the rest of the way is not difficult so it will be up to the Panthers to beat themselves
3. Arizona Cardinals (9-2), last week 3: The Cardinals got a bigger test from the Niners and the referees than they were anticipating but still won
4. Cincinnati Bengals (9-2), last week 4: After a little mid-season speed bump, the Bengals appear to be back on track
5. Denver Broncos (9-2), last week 5: As long as the Broncos keep winning, Peyton will remain ‘injured’
6. Green Bay Packers (7-4), last week 6: A home loss to the Bears was not part of the Favre festivities
7. Minnesota Vikings (8-3), last week 7: In a classic AP game, the Vikings get back into the win column
8. Seattle Seahawks (6-5), last week 11: They lost Graham for the rest of the season and will now have to make zero adjustments to their offense
9. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5), last week 8: The Steelers hung tough before getting knocked out in Seattle
10. Indianapolis Colts (6-5), last week 13: All Hasselbeck does is win
11. Kansas City Chiefs (6-5), last week 14: The Chiefs have now won five straight after losing Charles but now have to find a way to keep winning after losing Justin Houston
12. New York Jets (6-5), last week 15: The team that showed up last Sunday looked like a completely different team from the previous three weeks
13. Buffalo Bills (5-6), last week 9: Chalk up last week’s loss to another Rex coaching error
14. Atlanta Falcons (6-5), last week 10: The Falcons have lost four straight and are fading fast
15. New York Giants (5-6), last week 12: The G-men gave up a golden opportunity to stake a claim on the NFC East crown
16. Oakland Raiders (5-6), last week 17: The Raiders get a much needed win as they get prepared for a couple of upcoming division games
17. Houston Texans (6-5), last week 18: The Texans are in a surprising fight for the AFC South lead
18. Chicago Bears (5-6), last week 19: Just when you count the Bears out, they get an impressive division road victory
19. St. Louis Rams (4-7), last week 16: Keenum or Foles, I guess it doesn’t matter
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-6), last week 20: The yo-yo season of a rookie quarterback continues
21. Washington (5-6), last week 24: Some how, some way, the Skins are making it happen
22. Philadelphia Eagles (4-7), last week 21: This team has given up 5 TD’s each to Stafford and Winston and now faces Brady
23. Miami Dolphins (4-7), last week 22: Miami jettisons their offensive coordinator after getting crushed in New York
24. Dallas Cowboys (3-8), last week 23: And just like that, the Cowboys season is over
25. New Orleans Saints (4-7), last week 25: This team can’t wait for the season to by over
26. San Diego Chargers (3-8), last week 27: The 6 game losing streak is now over, finally.
27. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-7), last week 26: The Jags missed a big opportunity to keep pace with the Texans and Colts
28. Baltimore Ravens (4-7), last week 28: Baltimore’s B-Team gets the Ravens their 4th victory of the season
29. Detroit Lions (4-7), last week 31: A visit from the Eagles was just what the Lions needed to keep the good times rolling
30. San Francisco 49ers (3-8), last week 30: At least this team isn’t giving up on their coach
31. Tennessee Titans (2-9), last week 29: One step forward, two steps back is the Titans season.
32. Cleveland Browns (2-9), last week 32: This is truly the Factory of Sadness