From hot days to hot takes to Hard Knocks, each week we'll give you all the 2018 NFL Preseason news you can handle in under three minutes. (Disclaimer: You can stay longer than three minutes. Time is relative.) Here's the best of the NFL from Preseason week 3.
Even In August, Expectations Hang Over $84 Million Man
Preseason or not, you can’t blame Minnesota Vikings fans if they’re a bit frustrated about newly acquired quarterback Kirk Cousins's dreadful start against the Jaguars last week, perhaps wondering, “This is what we got for $84 million?”
So expectations are huge for the new guy, which raises the question of how he’ll handle the SKOL pressure. Cousins played well enough with the Redskins to become a heavily-pursued free agent and earn some serious cash, but he's never won a playoff game. When you look a Cousins, though, he's the ideal QB size, he puts up big stats and he's got that competitive fire that coaches dream about.
In the third preseason game, which is traditionally the dress rehearsal for the regular season, Cousins somewhat made up for last week's pitiful start, but as it is, scrutiny will be heightened going into the season.
Indeed, while this may be the summer of the rookie quarterback, with first-round draft choice Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, and Josh Allen already earning raves for their pre-season play, none of them have the Super Bowl-or-bust expectations that hang over Cousins.
Not to mention that monster contract...
Our advice to Kirk: win.
Hard Knocks: Coaching Intrigue Takes Center Stage
Hard Knocks is starting to feel like the early scenes of a mafia movie. As in, how soon before Hue Jackson gets whacked?
The speculation started the minute new GM John Dorsey brought Todd Haley on board as offensive coordinator back in January. Haley has been openly critical of Jackson on the HBO show, to the point where you can almost hear the dramatic background music in the background. During a coaches’ meeting in the first episode, Haley openly called out Jackson for not being tough enough on players. Haley has plenty of constructive criticism for other coaches as well, throwing a tantrum this week when quarterback Tyrod Taylor took a bump from a defensive lineman during practice.
“Good teams don’t touch the (bleeping) quarterback,” he yells. “Good teams don’t do it.”
To which defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, also fond of yelling and team building, responded, “Then block ‘em. Somebody’s gotta block ‘em.”
Jackson stays out of that fray, but he is clearly the target of a Haley zinger when penalties cost the Browns late in the ensuing pre-season loss to the Bills.
“That’s what we get,” Haley says disgustedly. “That’s how we practice, that’s what we deserve.”
If Jackson isn’t already looking over his shoulder, he should be because he is far from a made man.
Also, get pumped for next week's episode. Josh Gordon is officially BACK.
Dancing His Way…To The Pro Bowl?
Redskins’ cornerback Josh Norman is wearing an 18-pound vest during training camp practices this summer, pushing himself in an effort to stay at an All-Pro level, which is fascinating in itself.
But here’s the kicker: his motivation to train at the highest level possible came from his appearance on “Dancing With The Stars” last spring.
“I pushed my body farther than I thought it could go,” Norman told reporters of his training for the TV show, at which he reached the finals before losing.
As such he decided to up the football ante by wearing the vest during practices, testing himself mentally as much as anything.
“Everything you do is mental,” Norman aid. “Be disciplined in your mind and you can go through anything.”
Ok, but you can’t help wondering: does Odell Beckham, Jr., Norman's nemesis across the line of scrimmage, know about this? We can only hope for a dance-off to settle their differences.
Putting Mahomes’ TD Bomb In Perspective
For anyone wondering why Chiefs’ QB Patrick Mahomes has generated so much hype for a guy who is unproven in the NFL, you only had to see his astonishing 69-yard touchdown pass to Tyreek Hill against the Falcons last week.
According to the NFL, the ball officially traveled 68.6 yards in the air. To put that in perspective, the longest pass anyone in the league threw last year was 61.8 yards, by the Rams’ Jared Goff.
In fact, it’s the longest throw in the two years since the NFL officially began tracking in-the-air distance of passes.
No wonder the Chiefs were willing to let Alex Smith leave as a free agent. Two things are now certain for the Chiefs: 1) Patrick Mahomes has an absolute cannon for an arm; 2) Andy Reid's closet is filled entirely with Tommy Bahama shirts.
Mack Is Now A Prop Bet
You know this is no ordinary holdout now that Las Vegas is taking bets on where Khalil Mack is most likely to get traded.
It’s the Green Bay Packers, by the way, who have been established as 11-4 favorites by the Bovada sports book in Vegas to land the pass-rusher extraordinaire.
Well, other than the Raiders, that is. You can get them at 3-2, which means the bookmakers believe Mack will eventually work out a new deal with his current team.
But they know at least some frenzied Packers’ fans, among others, won’t be able to resist putting down a bet, wanting to believe Mack can be had. And the Packers do have two first-round draft picks in 2019, which is what it might take if the Raiders actually decide to trade him.
For the moment, Mack has already been fined $1.6 million for missed practices and pre-season games, and there is no indication he is backing off his demand for a mega-deal.
The real test will be to see if he is willing to miss game checks come September, but in any case, it’s hard to imagine the Raiders trading him. Still, if you’re so inclined, in addition to the Packers, the Bills are 7-1; the Cowboys, Colts, and Jets are 8-1; the Redskins are 9-1; and the Steelers are 12-1. Maybe you can parlay that bet with how many skittles Marshawn Lynch will eat during the second quarter of week 1. Best of luck.
*Out-of-market games only. Select int'l games excluded.