When Asked By His Rookie Quarterback If He Wanted To Run Some Pre-Game Routes, Kelvin Benjamin Responded With A Flat "No"
First and foremost, there is absolutely no way that this interaction was as funny in person as it is in the comedic dramatization I'm envisioning. When I read that tweet I see a youthful and exuberant Josh Allen running up to his elder in Kelvin Benjamin and patting him on the knee as he sits on the bench in stained sweatpants and asking him if he wants to have a catch, only to be shot down with the type of ruthless vigor that damages a kid's psyche well past adolescence. That, of course, is quite a bit of hyperbole, but if you can't see shades of Charlie Brown dejectedly sulking away when you read that Josh Allen couldn't coax a couple pregame 7 routes out of a former first round pick who, at that point, had all of 8 catches in 5 games then I don't want to know you.
Regardless of how common (or uncommon) it might be for a player to turn down a chance to create a little more chemistry with a rookie quarterback prior to a game, this is objectively another bad look for someone whose potential is going to die looking at its watch while being stood up waiting for him at the doorstep of receiving relevance. Having turned down Josh Allen for some much needed reps, it's now official that the most initiative Kelvin Benjamin has ever taken in changing his reputation to something other than that of an overweight wideout with suspect hands and a lousy work ethic was when he blamed a former MVP, in Cam Newton, for all of those shortcomings.
Kelvin Benjamin is literally nothing if not a cautionary tale that has way too many snooze-worthy chapters to get through. That's not to say he's the first or last player to have opted out of running routes for a rookie quarterback due to differing pregame routines, but he's probably pretty close to the first player who has done so with one heavy foot rested firmly on the fringe of the league in which he makes a living. I appreciate the use of the "say it with confidence and you won't be questioned" method, but something tells me that abject apathy can only bide you so much time when you're not getting your work done on the field.
The media, as it tends to do, most certainly made this a bigger deal than it was, but considering the amount of fingers he manages to point, Kelvin Benjamin should really be a lot better at catching a football. If only there were a time in which he could sneak in some more practice doing so...
Take it away, Snark Ingram...
Welp, it seems Sean Payton's forgiveness for the insider-enabled witch hunt that cost him an entire year of his career, and potentially a whole hell of a lot more, only extends so far. Opposing sidelines have only recently come to be included in that distance, but the worldwide web? Eh, looks like were still a long ways off from any sort of online pardon being granted.
Personally, I think Sean Payton should feel free to take as many unprovoked shots - be they subtle, obvious, petty, or profound - at the weasel that tried to save his own ass by putting that of the man that gave him the opportunity to raise a Lombardi Trophy to the fire. Honestly, I'm really not sure there's one thing he could say or tweet about Gregg Williams that I would deem over the line. Though, as a Saints' fan that thinks Sean Payton is at his best when he DGAF, I'd be cool with him prepping for the Divisional Round during his next bye week by mailing a box of diseased rodents to the doorstep of the human that shares their blood type.
Eli Manning Should Give Thanks To Odell Beckham Jr., Whose Antics Serve As A...Wait For It...Distraction From The Actual Problem
At this point, it's very clear that Odell Beckham Jr. does not enjoy playing wide receiver for an Eli Manning "led" team, and the truth is that no one can really blame him for that. The Giants are unbearably awful, and - as bad as they are - the offensive line isn't entirely to blame for rendering inept a unit that has no shortage of top-end talent. The aging quarterback, whose best days are both far behind him and were never really better than slightly above average anyway, is killing his team's ability to be even mildly mediocre offensively, and frustrations have boiled over as a result.
I just can't understand how the main source of those frustrations, who has now somehow made an actual habit of fist-fighting intimate objects, still can't comprehend that every one of his episodes takes the negative attention away from the person he wants replaced. The truth is that Eli Manning owes Odell Beckham Jr. a "thank you". Obviously it wouldn't be for showing him up by screaming on the sidelines, or for being in such desperate need of hydration that he sulked off the field shaking his head while under his own power with two seconds remaining in the half and his team on offense, or for delivering a three-piece combo to a mechanical fan. Rather, it would be for intentionally doing dumb, dramatic shit that makes just as many headlines as the piss poor quarterback play that instigates them. Odell Beckham Jr., though he doesn't realize it, might as well be extending an olive branch to Eli Manning every time he engages in some infantile bullshit that even slightly lessens the load of the scrutiny that he's sure to face.
The fact is, Odell Beckham Jr. is a distraction. He's most certainly not the type of distraction that is costing the Giants football games, as he could have simply sat down Indian style with his arms crossed in anger during every one of his routes and it wouldn't have effected the outcome of the game. He is, however, the type of distraction that is detracting from his own Lil' Wayne supported message. Even one second that's wasted talking about the antics of an attention whore of an All-World wideout is a second that wasn't spent talking about the failures of the player that's leaving him comically underutilized. As the Giants are currently misconstructed, Odell Beckham Jr. is just about the furthest thing from the problem, but the guy who signed on the dotted line for tip-top dollar knowing damn well who his quarterback was going to be this season certainly does have an uncanny way of making it more difficult to focus fully on the actual problem.
Geno Smith, Who Thinks Ben McAdoo Is Owed An Apology, Allegedly Went All Of Last Season Without A Playbook After Misplacing It
I want to crucify Geno Smith for demanding an apology on behalf of the almost impossibly overwhelmed buffoon who literally mindlessly roamed the New York Giants sideline last year. I really, really do. The team still sucking sans the presence of the mustachioed man who lost the entirety of the locker in which he spent a season walking around looking like he came straight from auditioning for a role in A Bronx Tale reboot is not a compliment to his leadership qualities. Being in charge of a roster that remains structurally flawed even after his dismissal certainly didn't strengthen his case as competent, but the Giants would have to go on to lose every game by 100 for me to retrospectively look back on Ben McAdoo as an answer to any question that wasn't "which former NFL coach would make for a much better stay-at-home father?".
Unfortunately, I can't crucify Geno Smith for doing so, for - as an absolute punchline of a backup quarterback - he should be showing an allegiance to anyone that has ever believed in him, even if it was out of pure desperation. We're talking someone whose jaw got wired shut by his own teammate during his most prominent stint as a starter. A professional athlete who once missed a team meeting because time zones are, like, really hard. Someone who, allegedly, was still given an opportunity to end the 222 game starting streak of a two-time Super Bowl MVP despite having no idea as to where he put his playbook months earlier...
"Geno, you should apologize to your former teammates since you lost your playbook for a whole year," said Banks, the Giants' radio color analyst.
"One hundred percent, didn't have his playbook for a whole year and tried to fool everybody. Everybody knew because they can check whether or not you're looking at your plays with these iPads."
I suppose it's fair to question just how true this playbook accusation is, as the accuser is a Giants' lifer in Carl Banks, who probably has at least one dog named after the lifeless corpse of a quarterback that is Eli Manning. If you're really, really interested in the whole truth then you could seek another source before believing a story that would sound patently ridiculous and absurdly unbelievable if the subject of it were almost anyone else. That, however, won't be me, as I don't want the visual of Geno Smith going about his day-to-day for a entire NFL season acting like a paranoid cubicle worker hearing footsteps during the late stages of his 9th straight game of online solitaire to be ruined. Especially since it's that image that reinforces my belief that Ben McAdoo is pretty close to the coaching equivalent of Geno Smith.
The Sights And Sounds Of The Saints Locker Room Following Drew Brees' Record-Setting Night Were Exactly What You'd Expect Them To Be
Countless daps and hugs? A celebratory dance off around the awkward white guy? An approving postgame speech from Sean Payton, capped off by the presentation of the most deserved of game-balls? A selfless show of grace and gratitude from the one player who's definitely owed a disproportional amount of the thanks? A reminder from said player of what the ultimate goal is?
For what scene lacked in containing any sort of surprise whatsoever, it sure made up for in being special. There's enough players on SnapChat for the fanbase to know exactly what the locker room looks like when this particular Saints' team is feeling themselves, but it was still nice to have an in-focus video of a group that's taken massive strides over the last five weeks as they enjoyed a historical night for their unquestioned leader in preparation of their week off. If not only commonplace, it was also cool to listen to Drew Brees back up his record-setting play on the field with the type of words that make him impossible not to rally behind. The night was truly his, and it ended with him surrounded by a team that, in both sights and sounds, is truly starting to believe that the season might be theirs.
Carlos Dunlap Made A Fat Joke At The Expense Of Ben Roethlisberger, Which Is Quite Fitting Of The Bengals/Steelers Rivalry
Look, there's no denying that fat jokes are the low hanging fruit when talking about someone whose face has long appeared to have been pulled from a hornet's nest, but - in fairness - it's not like said fruit was ripe for Ben Roethlisberger's lunch box when Carlos Dunlap decided to pluck it.
In all seriousness, I can't help but feel like this is the perfect prelude to another iteration of a rivalry whose bad blood has been kept at a consistent boil by years and years of crippling cheap shots and lewd low blows. Again, fat jokes aren't typically my thing, but did we really expect the Bengals or Steelers to pull even the most blindsided of punches during the proverbial weigh-in? At this point, doing the verbal equivalent of smushing the cheeks of the Steelers' starting quarterback is just about the nicest mean thing you could say about a dysfunctional organization that's the flicking of one lit cigarette away from going up in flames at any given time. Carlos Dunlap's carnivalesque guesstimation on just how much Ben Roethlisberger dents the scales was probably as gratuitous as his diet on behalf of AFC North animosity. That said, all is fair in hate and war, and this week serves as preparation for an inevitable and bi-annual clash of those two things.
The term 'project' can be a scary one in the world of sports. It implies uncertainty. Calls for the acceptance of an above average possibility of failure. Demands patience from those either in or invested in a field in which instant gratification is not only paramount to success, but also key to unlocking some job security. For that reason, trading two first round picks that are typically viewed as immediate contributors for a 'project' at a pressing position of need (that isn't quarterback) is about as comforting an idea amongst predominantly risk averse football minds as...well...trading with Bill Belichick.
Luckily for the Saints, Marcus Davenport is no ordinary project. What's been fairly obvious throughout the first five games of his career is that it's not as if the Saints chose to return from IKEA to a painstaking process that will inevitably be elongated by coming to find out that an unexpected piece is missing from the box when they moved up and select a 6'6 freak of an athlete out of small school in San Antonio. Instead, his drafting already compares favorably to deciding upon paying extra for the delivery of a performance mattress while knowing it'll take some breaking in. Not every intricacy of being a well-rounded, every down pass rusher that's tasked with facing the most trusted member of each opposing offensive line has quite yet sunken in, but Marcus Davenport's physical makeup is helping him conform and become more and more comfortable with each passing game...
Consider that Trent Williams is unquestionably a genetic anomaly in his own right...
...and it becomes even more impressive that Marcus Davenport was able to overpower and outmaneuver him on multiple occasions.
If only because of how much better he could be with more seasoning, 'raw' is still an accurate way to describe a player that manages to defy his size for the better on a weekly basis. With that being the case, he's raw like premium quality sushi that was rolled by an amateur chef. We're just getting a taste of the absurd things he's capable of, even if the bites are a bit inconsistent for the time being. Marcus Davenport is a project, just not the kind that requires anywhere near as much maintenance as other front offices feared.
Antonio Brown Is Being Sued For Nearly Killing A Toddler With The Furniture He Launched From His 14th Story Balcony A Day After Having $80,000 And A Gun Stolen From His Apartment
TribLive- Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown nearly struck a toddler and his grandfather with furniture thrown from a 14th-floor balcony in a rage fueled by the alleged theft of $80,000 from his closet, according to a lawsuit filed by the toddler’s family and a police report from the incident.
The incident was investigated by security personnel, who determined Brown was responsible for throwing the objects. Surveillance video also shows the objects falling from the 14th floor balcony and landing close to Amnon Sternberg and his grandfather, the suit said.
The incident apparently came a day after Brown returned to his apartment and discovered $80,000 and a handgun missing from his closet.
According to a Sunny Isles Beach police report, Brown returned home from a 10-day trip about 11:30 p.m. on April 22 and discovered the money and a 9mm-handgun missing. The money and firearm had been in a tote bag in a closet, he told police.
He said the apartment had been cleaned and his laundry put away, though he reported to police that he had not hired a cleaning service, according to the report.
Security footage showed three women identified as housekeepers entering Brown’s unit on April 13, according to the police report. The security director at the complex told police that when the housekeepers arrived that day, they contacted Brown for permission to enter the unit.
“An unknown representative” for Brown answered Brown’s phone and advised security to let the women into the apartment to clean it, according to the report.
Oh, the Pittsburgh Steelers, or - as the tabloids like to call them - the gift that keeps on giving. Honestly, you can't make this stuff up at this point. We're damn near reaching a Shameless-level of ridiculousness with these storylines, but even the dumbest and drunkest person on that show understands that your cash is as good as gone when you leave $80,000 chillin' in a tote bag around an apartment that you've, at times, granted others access to.
More importantly, when you nearly squash an infant like an insect with an end table thrown from 14 floors above, a better reasoning than "someone took advantage of my extremely shady method of money management and reckless gun storage" is probably warranted. Especially since it was spurned by a robbery that took place just days before you stumbled upon the "stolen" luxury sedan you misplaced...
All this insanely erratic behavior does explain why he spends so much time desperately maintaining his own image on Instagram, but what it doesn't do is add up to Antonio Brown being a decent person with a stable mind or a functioning memory who is grounded anywhere near reality. Not that he has to be to play under the clouds in which Mike Tomlin's head can be found, but it would probably behoove the most talented wideout in the NFL to not risk his livelihood by aimlessly grenade launching his love seat 200+ feet below into communal areas. Despite being the actual victim, literally every single plot twist in what serves as another dramatic episode of the soap opera that is the Pittsburgh Steelers' season makes their star wide receiver look bad. Missing or not, no bag of cash and firearms can buy you sympathy amongst those that actually do understand why it's frowned upon to turn your ottoman into an asteroid while living in an apartment complex.
“I have no comment about that. I know nothing about it,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said during his weekly news conference Tuesday.
If we're being honest, regardless of Josh Norman delivering the first jab, I'm not sure I'm a huge fan of Michael Thomas returning a not-so-subliminal shot at a disgraced cornerback whose bark has long been bigger than his backpedal, though that's not necessarily saying all that much. I'm typically entertained by players carrying their issues with each other off the field and onto the internet, but that tweet feels a lot like punching down. Especially since the target of it, who took the "high road" by not "wasting his breath", has never been short of hot air whenever his play has actually allowed him to start huffing and puffing. To put it bluntly, one of the most dominant and trustworthy pass catching options in the entire NFL should have bigger fish to fry than the one that looked like he got caught out of water before being iced on the bench...
If anything was evident on Monday Night, it's that the Saints were going to go wherever they wanted with the ball whenever they wanted (see 26-29, 363 yards during a game in which they took their foot off the gas in the 3rd quarter). Therefore, Josh Norman's best defense against Michael Thomas - any time he happened to run a route into his particular area of the field, that is - was Drew Brees' desire to get complimentary receivers heavily involved in the offense for the first time all year. You can't guard Mike, and - even on the off-chance you could - it wouldn't be with the type of zone-reliant cornerback that gets rendered unplayable by his own coach's unspoken admission that they can't protect Josh (as evidenced below)...
It's true that Michael Thomas was "held" to a relatively pedestrian stat line (4-74) by his exceptional standards. However, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the guy who is one off the league lead in catches and leads the universe in catch rate wasn't feeling too bothered by how his blocking assignment was trying to bracket him...
Especially when that blocking assignment was this helpless in getting under his own damn pads...
I'm Pretty Sure That Eli Manning Is Now Beefing With Lil' Wayne Because Odell Beckham Is As Bad At PR As He Is Godly At Football
As a noted nitpicker of Odell Beckham's personality, I should start by saying that I don't have much of a problem with his message. Not sure I'd like the type-slick method of delivery if I were one of the other 52 guys standing on the sideline with him, but I can look past how problematic the "why?" and the "how?" are because of how accurate the "what?" was regarding the one dopey looking reason or another that his talents aren't being taken full advantage of in New York. Love him or loathe him, Odell Beckham Jr. was absolutely right about Eli Manning.
The "who?" on the other hand, is where he loses me completely. Going behind the back of the team whose quarterback situation was already decided when they inked him to a deal that pays a market resetting 19 million a season and proceeding to tip-toe around calling their two-time Super Bowl MVP a statuesque corpse with a neutered arm is such a Highly Questionable move that it's almost criminal that it didn't take place on the set of Dan Le Batard's show. Doing so while seated next to a rapper whose spent the last decade self-medicating himself into a stupor by way of cough syrup cocktails, on the other hand, is just flat out dumb.
There's simply no way to surmise that a video co-sign from Weezy Baby grades out as anything more than an 'F' in the eyes of any that's old enough to know that the brain of the celebrity spokesperson for the recreational use of liquid codeine ascended into oblivion ages ago. Odell Beckham honestly might have been taken more seriously if he gave that answer while seated next to the spiteful, shit-eating grin of Tiki Barber, so I think we can conclude that he is equally as bad of a publicist as he is great of a football player.
Like, the idea that we now have Eli Manning answering questions about Lil' Wayne midseason, and Lil' Wayne responding in kind runs so preposterously counterproductive to changing the narrative that your a dysfunction-driven diva that that it could have only been brought about the PR tactics of the millennial's millennial. Admittedly, I often think the impact of "distractions" is extremely overblown. However, even though the Giants followed up Odell's crackpot image management with their first 30-point performance since Barack Obama was President, I'm not so sure there's staying power to trying to fix your tire-fire of a team by embroiling it's quarterback in a passive aggressive pettiness war with a higher-than-high hip hop artist. Especially when said team is the same damn one that Odell Beckham Jr. signed up for when he inked his name on the dotted line in committing his future to a fatally flawed roster.
Despite Drew Brees' Demands, The Record-Setting Return Of The Domefield Advantage Was A Night That Was His And His Alone
To his credit, he tried. He really did try. After manipulating the defense, in a way that was as vintage as it was mechanical, into leaving Tre'Quan Smith open for what was a casual and uncontested stroll atop yet another chapter of the history books, the forever humble and systematically selfless Drew Brees did the absolute most in trying to incorporate everyone else into a night that was realistically never meant to belong to anyone but him.
Whether it was the youthful exuberance of him jumping for joy amongst his teammates, or acknowledging a teary-eyed crowd that's long appreciated him for a whole hell of a lot more than any of his record-setting numbers, or sharing a warm embrace with the head coach with which he already shares a brain, or - most notably - taking the time to turn it into a teaching moment for his kids before planting one on his wife, the newly crowned king of professional passing was as diligent as ever in making his milestone an "us" thing for the entirety of the Who Dat Nation...
Still, the night was that of Drew Brees, and Drew Brees alone, as he clinically dissected the Washington Redskins with a performance that was eerily reminiscent of so, so many that have come before it. 26-29. 363 yards. 3 touchdowns. The most statistically accurate game throughout the eventual Hall of Fame career of the most historically accurate quarterback of all time. A game script that allowed for a 40-spot come the halfway point of the 3rd quarter and ingenuously incorporated more secondary characters on the fly than a Curb Your Enthusiasm improvisation. An effort so unstoppable that it seemingly served as a steroid to a banged up defense that suddenly looked dominant. In a way that was both fitting and familiar, the outcome of last night's contest felt like it was in doubt for all of about 5 minutes, as the SuperDome was the type of abuzz that could only come as a result of rostering someone as unquenchably competitive and cutthroat as Drew Brees.
Now, to be fair, there are plenty of other storylines.
Other than some suspect ball security, Mark Ingram chomped right back at that bit in showing exactly the type of energy, versatility, and power he brings to a Saints' offense that - despite what its point totals might suggest - was missing a little something without him.
Tre'Quan Smith and Cameron Meredith finally busted out and took a huge weight off the overused shoulders of Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara in letting them serve spectator to history. If they keep it up, a downright dangerous Saints' offense will be unspeakably hard to stop.
The secondary not only absorbed the blow of losing Marshon Lattimore to concussion protocol, but appeared to treat it as a challenge that the likes of P.J. Williams and Justin Hardee readily accepted. If that confidence in their execution is here to stay then the first three weeks of the season will be a distant memory in no time.
The pass rush, led by Cam Jordan and followed by Marcus Davenport, had Alex Smith seeing 6'7 ghosts all night. The former is all but a formality at this point, but the latter is a sign that it's only a matter of time before the bang matches the buck in regards to the first round athletic freak whose coming out party included some fireworks.
All in all, the whole team just looked poised to take advantage of the Domefield advantage from the outset, and the combination of that mood and the knockout punch of a momentum swing that typically follows is something that has been somewhat lacking in recent years. If last night was any indication then the Saints are all the way back to being a complimentary football team that simply decimates the will of their competition at home. That will is obviously easier to decimate when it's that of a team that's taking stupid, untimely penalties and struggles to get anything going downfield, but you still couldn't ask for the Saints to be in a better head space than they are heading into a two week break on a 4-game win streak with each victory proving more decisive than the next.
That's especially true considering their quarterback appears to be in common form as the record-setting and history-defining force behind an absolute juggernaut at 39 years young. Drew Brees has literally thrown himself into the conversation as the GOAT, and - considering the youth and talent that's finally been built around him - I don't see anything short of another championship bringing a stop to that anytime soon. Last night was his, but it won't be the last last night that was his, as his right arm clearly still holds quite a few reminders of how under appreciated he is outside of a city that lives vicariously through his graceful greatness.
Sean Payton Says The League Tried To Get Him Fired With The Punishment They Handed Down For 'BountyGate', Which Makes A Whole Lot Of Sense
You know, in retrospect it seems silly that I never really considered that the NFL was trying to strong arm Sean Payton out of his job for good by making an example out of the New Orleans Saints instead of looking in the mirror in regards to the player safety agenda they still stumble over their own feet in trying to push. Looking back on it, it seems pretty obvious that by giving him an unprecedented penalty (for a practice that was common, albeit unspoken) that forced him entirely out of an insanely demanding job in which the small amount of security barely allows for a week's vacation, never mind a year long shunning, was meant to get him ousted to the unemployment line.
Of course, this new tidbit that two unnamed owners basically let Tom Benson in on the league's intention when a sentence got handed down makes that an indisputable fact, but - after seeing how the NFL has handled just about every controversy since - the lines don't seem as though they should have been all that difficult to read between. The NFL couldn't flat out fire Sean Payton, but if it was their heavy-handedness that was ultimately responsible for getting him canned then they'd forever have his disgraced dismissal to point to as proof of just how deeply they care (about looking as though they actually care) about the well-being of players. I'd never use the word "genius" to describe Roger Goodell & Co., but in being one step ahead in their thinking they were actually two steps ahead of how far most people deem them capable of thinking.
Unfortunately, they chose the wrong target. A head coach that were even slightly less than psychotically competitive might have been broken by being blamed for BountyGate, and I know that because even the most psychotically competitive of head coach was noticeably bent by it. Which was the cause and which was the effect is a little hard to differentiate when looking at the relatively dispirited of demeanor that Sean Payton had on the sidelines through three straight 7-9 seasons, but you won't find too many Saints' fans that didn't think 2012 threw a wet blanket on the fire burning inside him.
As the result of some combination of "time heals all" and "winning cures all", that fire is now as blazing as it's ever been, but a suspension that lasts the NFL equivalent of an eternity isn't served in a vacuum. The extent of it is uncertain, but there was a hangover of sorts that...well...hung over both the Saints and Sean Payton after the wasted year in which they weren't granted the opportunity to build on the championship run that got away in 2011. Granted, they were a playoff team again in 2013, but that seems like an aberration given the three year purgatory of the rebuild that followed.
I can't speak for Sean Payton when it comes to why he chose now to be so open about the time he had his livelihood unceremoniously stripped from him, but considering that he's two weeks removed from randomly seeming friendly with the man with which he fairly recently held an obvious grudge (Gregg Williams), it leads you to believe that he's finally been able to put the past in the past. A head coach of lesser conviction probably couldn't have done so, as Sean Payton's commitment to continuing his career in New Orleans is, in conjunction with the loyalty of the late Tom Benson, likely the main reason why the NFL's true objective of getting him axed by New Orleans mostly remained a mystery until right now.
The New Orleans Saints Returned Home To A Sight For Sore Eyes In The Other Half Of The Best Running Back Duo In The NFL
Incidental or not, the suspension that Mark Ingram just finished serving was of no fault but his own. He has no one to blame but himself for the four games he potentially compromised by way of his unavailability during the start of a season that had all the makings of being one of the most special in Saints' history. I have nowhere near enough faith in the NFL, their testing policies, or their priorities to consider Mark Ingram selfish for whatever illegal substance he happened to let in his system, but he certainly wasn't selfless in being at least mildly irresponsible with regards to what he put in his body and/or when he did so.
I say all that not to trash a guy whose presence was sorely missed in a rushing attack that only yesterday finally managed to get things going on the ground, but rather to highlight just how beloved that presence is amongst a team that appears absolutely amped that he's back. Doesn't seem to be even one hard feeling within a group whose jobs were made more difficult by the lack of the type of back who can give a struggling defense a breather, as there's nothing but a soft spot for Mark Ingram inside a locker room in which he's undeniably become a leader...
Of all the players that have been scapegoated by the fanbase during the Sean Payton era, Mark Ingram might be the player who was most often served the nuttiest dose of undeserved shit. When you think about how many wildly overpaid defensive additions have churned out performances that were both literally and figuratively defenseless throughout the years, that's certainly saying something.
I say that not to bring up bad memories, but rather to highlight exactly how far Mark Ingram has come by running off the stink in the process of winning over the entirety of the Who Dat Nation. It is now absolutely indisputable how important he is to both the Saints' recent success, as well the cohesive culture that's equal parts the cause and the effect of it. Regardless of why he was out in first place, a team that somewhat miraculously managed to go 3-1 without him knows exactly how much better off they are with him. Both on and off the field, Mark Ingram is a vital piece to the championship caliber puzzle, as - for the most part - it was painfully obvious it wasn't quite close to being complete in his absence.
There are probably a couple players whose physical impact is bigger than that of one of the many offensive weapons at the Saints' disposable, but I'd contend that there aren't nearly as many whose emotional impact looms as large. I suspect his season debut in the Dome for 'Monday Night Football' will put that full array of contributions on display, as he spent the preseason running like he was motivated to put out the fire that looked to be burning under his ass.
While Being Carted Off With A Broken Leg, Earl Thomas Returned "The Favor" The Seahawks Refused To Do Him This Past Offseason
Excuse my french, but - in case putting two and two together is too much math for you - what I am saying is that the Seattle Seahawks fucked Earl Thomas. The explicit gesture he held up towards the sideline he's spent so much time roaming as a transcendent talent on the dominant defense of a Super Bowl champion/contender? A fitting response given how he was treated by the franchise that refused to do right by him when they were quite obviously headed in the wrong direction. Unprofessional? Perhaps, but Pete Carroll and Co. basically spent the entire summer flipping off Earl Thomas with how infantile they were in dragging their feet when it came to trading a star player they had no intentions of paying past what was sure to be a complete waste of a season.
Now, some might not see it that way, as a shockingly large percentage of fans tend to side with management instead of those who put their physical and mental well-being on the line for their entertainment, as well as non-guaranteed paychecks that pale in comparison to the profits collected by NFL organizations. However, what can't be denied is that all Earl Thomas did by finally showing up and honoring his contract was cost himself millions upon millions of the future financial security that the franchise he gave his body to refused to give him.
Of course, I'm not naive enough to think that even the worst case scenario playing itself out in front of a sports' world that's stuck in it's own ways is enough to sway everyone's opinion on Le'Veon Bell's holdout, but I'll be damned if it shouldn't be. For the injury suffered by a 29 year old stud safety whose days in which to be compensated as such were already numbered was absolutely not a case of "bad timing" as much as it was a case of stubbornness, selfishness, and stupidity by a bad team that cost themselves a good asset by wasting the work of a star player while hopelessly waiting for a great one to be offered to them. I understand that the NFL is a cutthroat business, but that's not a good excuse, as running the risk of playing Earl Thomas onto the IR ahead of free agency was undeniably bad for business...
When you're considered to be one of the preseason favorites in your conference and appear to have a relatively easy (not that anything ever comes easy in the NFL) schedule to start your season, you'd prefer it not take until the conclusion of the first quarter of said schedule to be able to pencil in a 'W' before the clock strikes zero.
Obviously that hasn't been the case for a Saints' team that, in a lot of ways, was 2-1 despite itself, but it sure felt good to experience a win that had quite a bit in common with the casual 49 yard scamper that put an exclamation point on 3-1...
Just as Alvin Kamara never really pulled all that far ahead of the trail of defenders in his wake, it was also all but an inevitability that he was going to run both himself and his team off the field with a comfortable margin of victory. The Saints certainly didn't play a perfect brand of football, as evidenced by the drop-induced field goal fest that was the first half, but they consistently played a step ahead of an opponent that never really seemed capable of catching up. I wouldn't consider yesterday a sign that New Orleans is hitting its stride, as they still made a bunch of inexcusable mistakes. However, I would consider the fact that they put up 33 points during a "meh" offensive performance to be a reminder of exactly how dangerous they can be when they do play complimentary football.
The Giants are to scoring 30+ points what the Saints are to pitching a shutout, so Eli Manning and his extremely offensive line are more likely to instill a defense with false confidence than they are to truly help one measure it's effectiveness. That said, with what the likes of Calvin Ridley and Co. were able to do in past weeks, it was still encouraging to see the Saints collect some sacks while making modest the All-World talents of Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham.
I consider every year it's own distinct entity in a sport as fickle as professional football. However, with regions of the Who Dat Nation having comforted themselves during yet another slow start by referencing last season's quick turnaround, it bears mentioning that yesterday's effort had some similarities with last year's Week 3 win over the Panthers. Of course, statistically speaking, that road victory was much more desperately needed, but it was also just as dominant as it was flawed. If the Saints can even mildly mimic the success they had in building off this like they did that then great things could be in store for a group that still hasn't proved it's any better than pretty good at this point.
- I'll never understand how Alvin Kamara makes what should be physically impossible feats seem so easy. On his first and third touchdown runs he had the look of someone that was taking a leisurely jog in the park, and on the second he basically defied gravity in keeping his knee off the ground. With Mark Ingram's suspension coming to an end, it's almost scary to think what he might be capable of going against defenses that are made even a half step slower by the amount of options in the Saints' backfield. Though, I'd imagine it's probably something a little like his historically efficient ROTY campaign...
- I don't know how a team that stumbles upon otherworldly offensive talent on an annual basis still can't manage to find themselves someone to safely secure a punt/kick, but it's going to unnecessarily cost them a game sooner rather than later if they don't. For as well in hand as it seemed, that game could very easily been yesterday if not for a fortunate bounce or three...
- Taysom Hill is simply a game-changer. I don't just say that as an empty compliment of a versatile player, but rather as a factual acknowledgment that he has now made a massive impact at a crucial time in two straight games. With the way the Giants moved the ball on their opening drive, who knows how things could have turned out if it was given back to them on a second straight 3-and-out. Sean Payton feeling confident enough one him to call a fairly contested fake on 4th down speaks volumes, never mind him proving that decision to be the right one with a perfect throw on the run.
- Demario Davis looks like a 5th defensive lineman out there whenever they let him loose on the blitz. He's starting to prove as advertised in other aspects of his game, but he's offered a boost to a pass-rush that's getting incrementally better as the season wears on.
- Since Week 1, Marshon Lattimore's name has been heard with a lot less regularity, and silence is what you want out of a kid who can shut up some of the best playmakers in the sport when he's at his best.
- Not related to the actual game or anything, but it was cool to Teddy Bridgewater getting a closer look at his future offense. It can be easy to forget that another starting caliber quarterback is on the roster when Drew Brees is cooking and Taysom Hill is doing all that Taysom Hill does, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Sean Payton is slowly simmering the perfect reminder.
The Vikings' Long Snapper Played On After Having Part Of His Pinky Ripped Off In A Facemask Last Night
While I absolutely do have to credit Kevin McDermott for toughing it out after looking down to see a bloody stub where his pinky spent 28+ years rounding itself out, I don't have to envy the position he was in when he made the decision to do so. As someone with one job, and one of the most thankless jobs at that, the hand of the Vikings' long snapper could have turned as purple as his jersey and he'd still have felt peer-pressured to keep on blindly slinging that pigskin through his legs during situations that don't seem all that pressurized until punctured by an unexpected problem.
I don't know what type of injury a long snapper would have to endure before his bruised and battered teammates would encourage him to prioritize prompt medical attention ahead of providing them peace of mind, but not even that pinky going missing would have been enough for him to feel justified in leaving the game for good to go find it. Take one look at a veteran defensive lineman's unwrapped hand and it becomes quite clear, a healthy looking grip is highly overrated on the gridiron. Especially when you play a role that doesn't seem important until it needs to be filled by someone with less game-action reps than fully-functioning fingers.
Off hand, does anyone happen to know how many words are in the English language? An exact number isn't all that important, I suppose, as I am simply trying to narrow down what kind of seemingly insurmountable odds that Ohio State managed to beat (no pun intended) by making one of the top 5 most tone-deaf options in the entire dictionary their hardly relevant motto on the heels of a silence-enabled scandal.
In fairness to the Buckeyes' marketing team, I have always said that complete silence was extremely important to a game with as many moving parts as football, and it's been made pretty damn clear that Ohio State cares nowhere near as much about anything else as it does its pigskin. In that sense, it would fit their problematic priorities pretty well to block out all the noise and mute an outside world that continues to implicate their head coach of pathologically lying about that one time he was medically induced into conveniently forgetting to speak up and fire the domestically abusive douchebag on his staff.
Of course, the victim might not take too kindly to the powerful program that was complicit in her continuing to fear for her life deciding to embrace the very same approach that got them in this whole mess in the first place. Luckily, you only have to listen to Urban Meyer creatively avoid saying the name 'Courtney Smith' but so many times before realizing that they don't give a shit what she thinks!
Domestic violence association, be damned! Silence for one, silence for all! We're nearing Saturday of Penn State (can't make it up) week and that means both schools need to shut up and focus on student-athletes sacrificing their brains and bodies for room and board!
Kelly Bryant Is Transferring From Clemson After Losing His Starting Spot, And (Wrongfully) Called The Move A "Slap In The Face"
Let me start by saying that I don't expect a 22 year old kid who has had a hell of a lot of success at the highest level of college sports to immediately respond to his mid-season demotion in a matter of fact manner. The stats could be making the most damning argument of all time (they pretty much do) and Kelly Bryant, or anyone even remotely as competitive as him, would still debate them passionately enough to leave Will Ferrell's character in Old School speechless. Athletes are an emotional bunch, and that goes ten-fold for those that are both young and near the top of their craft. Therefore, it doesn't come as a huge surprise that Clemson's starting quarterback didn't totally take his finish as such in stride.
That said, the fact of the matter is that the aggrieved party was replaced a top the depth chart by an objectively superior player, and - in the rarest of rare occasions - it actually came at a time that was, believe it or not, convenient to the student athlete instead of those profiting off his efforts. Simply put, what Kelly Bryant got what was the fairest shot possible in a sport that is institutionally unfair. Comparatively speaking, if having the chance to lead a team into National Championship contention for 18 games before being given the opportunity to choose from the pick of the litter in finishing off his highly accomplished college career is a "slap in the face" then the ringer that those who have came before him have been put through is basically a bullet to the scrotum. If anything, I'd call the reality check that Kelly Bryant was just offered a splash of cold water to the face, as it's nothing more than a shocking reminder that sports are often merciless in being a meritocracy.
I hate to say it, as I typically side with those who are not getting paid handsomely for their successes on Saturday's, but Dabo Swinney is right. It's not middle school. Other than room and board, Kelly Bryant was owed absolutely nothing. Yet, somehow, he still got a massive parting gift as he conceded his starting position. That gift was a red shirt that will come in handy as he looks to prove what most people readily accept, which is that he's more than good enough to fill the role of QB1 for approximately 90% of the schools in the NCAA. I totally understand why he might not consider himself lucky now, but - seeing as he was going to lose his job regardless - hopefully in time he realizes that he basically hit the college football equivalent of the lottery in being the first to benefit from a long overdue rule change.
The Saints Have Placed Patrick Robinson On IR, As What Was Originally Thought To Be A High Ankle Sprain Is Really A Broken Ankle
I suppose it was only a matter of time. Without doing too much research, I think I can confidently say that not one professional football season has ever come and gone without a team having had to endure a single serious injury to a starter. Knowing the New Orleans Saints' luck, they definitely weren't about to be the first.
Of course, you typically prefer that those injuries don't come as a result of scumbag maneuvers made in a game that's plenty dangerous enough without lineman intentionally rolling the entirety of their body weight over the ankle of someone half their size...
It also goes without saying that, if you absolutely have to absorb a loss in your starting lineup, you hope upon hope that it doesn't end up coming at the expense of the one player in a position group that somehow had gone relatively guilt-free despite being a part of a unit that's gotten shredded to the tune of 103 points in three games.
Make no mistake, with the flat out frightening manner in which Ken Crawley and P.J. Williams have performed thus far, Patrick Robinson getting carted out of the slot and onto the IR hurts in a way that's reminiscent of when the Saints' primary source for secondary help was plucking dudes off the street in 2016. Granted, they didn't have a top-notch talent like Marshon Lattimore at the time, but if Calvin Ridley's unencumbered track meet on Sunday was any indication than this team needs a lot more than one capable corner if they want whatever broken scheme they've been running to be even mildly successful.
The news of a potential Sterling Moore signing is encouraging in the sense that he's familiar with the team, but it's discouraging in the sense that said team was pretty damn hopeless when he was fighting above his weight class in playing a significant role for it. Oddly enough, one of the better efforts of his first tenure came against Odell Beckham Jr. the last time the Saints traveled to New York for an early season showdown. Unfortunately, that's not me trying to predict a repeat performance as much as it's me pointing out the deja voodoo of misdiagnoses and trying to patch a secondary that's as wounded as its confidence with a stopgap like Sterling Moore.
The fact is that the Saints need Ken Crawley to figure out what the hell changed over the summer and start treating this season like the contract year that it is. They need Marcus Williams to stop trying to improvise his way past his nightmarish end to last season. They need Dennis Allen to make a damn adjustment or two to a defunct defense that's easily looked the weakest at it's presumed strength. With their d-line coming around and their linebackers developing a bit of chemistry, they can overcome the loss of one of the better slot corners in the league. Whether or not they actually will, however, is dependent on the last line of defense changing things up a bit by actually playing some.
Vikings' Stud Pass Rusher, Everson Griffen, Didn't Make It To Their Game This Past Weekend Due To A Hospitalization For A Mental Health Issue
FOX9- The Minnesota Vikings have confirmed defensive end Everson Griffen was not at Sunday's game for personal reasons.
"We are aware of the situation involving Everson Griffen and certainly concerned by what we have heard," said Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman in a statement. "We are currently focused on Everson's well-being and providing the appropriate support for him and his family."
According to Fox 9 law enforcement sources, Minneapolis Police were called to the Hotel Ivy Saturday afternoon on a report of threats being made by a guest. When they arrived, hotel personnel said Everson Griffen was making vague threats about “shooting the place up.” No weapon was ever shown or implied. Griffen agreed to leave the hotel.
Griffen was later detained by police in Western Hennepin County. Records show he was never booked into the county jail. Law enforcement sources said Griffen was taken to a local hospital in protective custody for an evaluation.
Griffen was already going to sit out Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills due to an injury, but later missed attending the game on the sideline.
The good news, and I mean "good" in the most relative sense possible, is that given what we know now, we don't have to immediately assume that Eversen Griffen is some homicidal maniac with a thirst for armed violence. I suppose that he very well may be, but - as there have been no reports of such inexplicably erratic behavior in the past of a 30 year old player with a family - the bad news is that the episode that led to his hospitalization may be the result of the three letter acronym that typically waits until later in life to show it's unforgiving face.
Of course, I wasn't standing next to Everson Griffen when he received the diagnosis of his mental health evaluation, but we've gotten to a point where you have to instinctually worry/wonder about the health of every brain belonging to a professional football player who is randomly involved in news that leaves you scratching your head while muttering "wtf". Like, if we are basing our opinion of this story on recent history then the best case scenario is probably that one of the league's preeminent pass rushers got his hands on a tainted batch of synthetic weed, but I don't know that one bad trip would lead to a prolonged absence from the team.
Speaking both prematurely and speculatively, this sounds like it could possibly be the beginning of the end for Everson Griffen as a player, if only because it's the right decision for him as a person. The hope is that his worst fear isn't realized, but the depression and/or addiction associated with degenerative brain diseases has so often become the problem that it's tough not to consider him slowly saying goodbye to a game that demands an outrageous amount of physical and mental sacrifice to be one obvious solution. Again, it's impossible to know what actually happened or what the motivation for it was, but it requiring an active, dominant player to get a psychological evaluation is as scary a sign as it has ever been for those involved in the professional pounding that is NFL football.