“Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow”
How amazing was the Colts vs. Bills game on Sunday? The records didn’t matter. The actual game-play didn’t matter. All that mattered was the snow. It was an ugly game for on-field execution, but is was a beautiful game for aesthetics. Seeing giant, super-human type athletes slog through the snow was about as fun as it gets. Seeing clouds of snow explode after every tackle or diving catch was mesmerizing. And even though Adam Vinatieri missed two field goals, watching him nail the game-tying extra point from over 40 yards away was one of the greatest kicks I have ever seen.
I hope we get a few more of these types of games this season. They make some of these less interesting matchups much more enjoyable.
The year of the injury
Carson Wentz going down sucks. It just does. And I’m not even an Eagles fan. I just hate to see young, superstars-in-the-making getting hurt this late in the season and possibly ruining their team’s chances of winning it all. It’s just one more monumental injury for the 2017 NFL season. Deshaun Watson. J.J. Watt. Andrew Luck. Ryan Shazier. Odell Beckham Jr. David Johnson. Aaron Rogers. It seems like every week, another star player goes down with a potentially season-ending injury. Let’s hope we don’t see any other big names drop before this season ends or we could be stuck with some less-than-stellar playoff matchups.
One bit of good news: Aaron Rogers has been cleared to return to football and the Green Bay Packers are still alive in the NFC playoff hunt. Aaron Rogers and postseason football are meant to be together so let’s hope he can come back strong and push his team across the finish line.
Any given Monday
I hate the New England Patriots, so when they lose in a primetime game, it makes my heart very happy. Seeing them lose to the Jay Cutler led Miami Dolphins made it even better. But getting away from my petty hatred of all things Patriots, the bigger takeaway is that any team can beat any other team on any given day. We see it every season. That is what the NFL wants. As my brother correctly pointed out two weeks ago, the NFL does not want every team to be 8-8. It never has wanted that. But it does want competition. It does want every team to feel like it has a chance when it steps on the field. So football fans should be happy to see a team like the Empire…I mean, the Patriots lose to a team like the Dolphins. It gives every fan base hope that each week is a chance at victory. Unless you are the Browns. If so, forget everything I just wrote.
The Un-breaking of Marcus Mariota
Marcus Mariota is broken. The reasons for this are many.
It could be mental – his mechanics have been bad all season. His confidence looks shaken at times. He doesn’t seem to trust what he is seeing on the field.
It could be physical – he broke his leg in the second to last game of the season last year. He didn’t have an offseason to do normal football stuff, instead he spent it in rehab. He injured his hamstring early in the season and has clearly been less mobile since. He has hurt his knee, his shoulder, and now, according to Paul Kuharsky, his ankle appears to need offseason surgery to correct something that was missed in the last offseason surgery. All of those elements create problems for a quarterback who is used to relying on his legs. He can’t run like he used to – as he has done his entire football career. This forces him to stay in the pocket feeling vulnerable. This has led to poor mechanics in his throwing motion – he is not planting his feet correctly and has become an arm-thrower too often this season.
It could be coaching. The playcalling has been confusing this season. To some Titans fans, it has been so bad they are demanding that both Offensive Coordinator Terry Robiskie and Head Coach Mike Mularkey be fired – either now or at the end of the season. Regardless where you stand on the coaches, one thing is for certain: the offense has not been good and has slowly digressed throughout the season, culminating in a completely inept performance against the Arizona Cardinals this past Sunday. The Titans led for the majority of the game yet they only ran the ball with their running backs 19 times. For a team that talks a lot about running the ball, smash-mouth football, and all the rest, running the ball 19 times in a low-scoring game is borderline negligent. Taken with the knowledge that Mariota is far below 100%, it’s completely indefensible. I’m not suggesting that they need to fire some of these coaches, but I do think quietly letting Robiskie retire in the offseason might be the best move this team could make.
So those are a few of the reasons for Mariota’s struggles. He has been bad this year. It hurts to write those words because I am about as big of a Mariota fan as you will find. (Just read through my Titans Tuesday articles for proof.) My hope is that the team will make a conscious effort to make things simpler for him for the rest of this season. That starts with running the ball a bunch on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers – the 25th ranked rushing defense in the league. Don’t ask your already injured and shaken QB to throw the ball 30+ times on Sunday. Ask him to manage the game and stay as healthy as possible. Give him easy throws – screens, quick slants, dump offs to the running backs. Put this game on the shoulders of Murray, Henry, and the offensive line. That is the first step to start fixing Mariota. I realize this sounds like I am asking the team to hide its franchise QB, and in a way, I am. He needs it right now. He is not himself. He needs a chance to get right and this is the kind of game where he can do that, if the coaches do the smart thing and rely on their running game. Will they do it? I have no idea, and that’s a problem.