The Lowdown for Week 9. This is my little corner of the fantasy football universe — feel free to pull up a chair and stay a while!
Adventures in Babysitting
As predicted, last week’s Dallas-Detroit game was a track meet featuring two of the best receivers in the game today,
Calvin Johnson and
Dez Bryant. Both receivers had pretty strong performances: Bryant reeled in three passes for 72 yards and two touchdowns (including a spectacular grab in the end zone that had me shaking my head in amazement), while Johnson put up an eye-popping 14 catches for 329 yards and a score.
While both Johnson and Bryant had strong games, both were a bit disappointing in other ways. Johnson could have had at least two more scores, but was stopped inside the 1-yard line twice. Bryant was … well … an idiot.
Bryant, clearly frustrated by a baffling game plan that called for him to be targeted only six times, exploded at both teammates and coaches on the sideline during the game. Cameras caught him being very animated in expressing his frustration, directing his histrionics against
Tony Romo and
Jason Witten. Romo seemed to take it in stride while Witten gave as good as he got — and both players took the high road in post-game interviews, citing Bryant’s passion for winning and his immense physical talents.
The Cowboys players, coaches and idiot owner may not say it, but I will: Bryant is an immature, selfish player. Yes, he has amazing talent and will only get better; but acting like a spoiled diva is poison for the team. Bryant needs to shut his mouth and focus his energy on the field of play, not the sidelines. At the very least, he needs to bring that crap behind closed doors; embarrassing your quarterback on the sideline is no way to get more passes thrown your way.
The San Francisco 49ers activated linebacker
Aldon Smith this week from the non-football injury (NFI) list. Smith was in rehab since being placed on the NFI list on Sept. 23; he left rehab and surrendered to authorities Tuesday night in connection with felony weapons charges. According to nfl.com, Smith “knows he’s going to have to earn his way back onto the field” and will likely only play a few snaps against Carolina in Week 10.
The 49ers face a bit of a conundrum here: they’ve been 5-0 during Smith’s absence, so his return might risk disrupting team chemistry. On the other hand, Smith is one of the premiere defensive players in the NFL, a difference-maker. What do you do if you’re
Jim Harbaugh in this situation?
The answer is simple: you play Smith as soon as he’s physically able to contribute. While the 49ers defense has been very good, the one area they are a bit lacking is in rushing the passer: only 17 sacks (No. 22 in the NFL) thus far, and 4.5 of those belong to Smith!
Look, Smith made some mistakes but he appears to be making amends; it’s cool to be tough on problem players (like Dez Bryant), but sometimes a different approach is warranted. Here’s hoping that Smith can conquer his demons and get back to being one of the premiere young stars in the league.
Observing the Golden Rule
It must be great to be young, carefree and idiotic … in other words, it must be great to be WR
Golden Tate. In a week when my column seems to be focused on players with issues, Tate wins the award for “A–hole of the Week.”
Last season we were made aware of Tate’s idiocy when, after blindsiding Dallas linebacker
Sean Lee with a vicious block, he preened and pranced and made a show of pointing to his nameplate on the back of his jersey. Pretty brave. He’s just lucky Lee is on the Cowboys, a team comprised of what I can only assume are Pop Warner players, since not one of them tried to extract any sort of payback for their fallen teammate.
Against St. Louis last week, Tate scored on an 80-yard pass from
Russell Wilson. It was a great catch, but it was marred by Tate yielding to his urge to taunt the Rams on his way to the end zone. Not only did he cost his team 15 yards, but he
almost drifted out of bounds before scoring, as he literally was too busy taunting to realize where he was on the field.
I’m not an old geezer … I like end zone dances and players showing some fire and enthusiasm after making a play. But immature dolts like Tate are nothing more than annoying losers — especially a wide receiver like Tate. Unlike the “old days” where Tate’s nonsense would be greeted by a safety knocking his block off (think
Ronnie Lott or
Steve Atwater would have tolerated that nonsense?), Tate feels protected by the rules. He’s like
Roger Clemens, who would throw at batters knowing he himself would never be beaned (since the designated hitter rule prevents American League pitchers from batting).
I’m not ashamed in saying I can’t wait for Tate to cross the middle on a pass and have the arrogance knocked out of him by someone like
Brandon Merriweather. Talk about a collision of morons …