The Brady vs Rodgers impact; Tomlin’s harsh words; Media payback on Patricia: Just another week in the NFL. We’ll give you all the 2018 NFL 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 Week 9.
No Wonder The NFL Protects Its QBs
You think quarterback star-power moves the needle in the NFL? As expected, the football nation tuned in to see the epic matchup of Tom Brady vs. Aaron Rodgers on Sunday Night Football. And in eye-catching numbers.
Never mind that Julian Edelman threw perhaps the most important pass of the night, as a trick play proved pivotal in the Patriots breaking a fourth-quarter tie en route to their 31-17 win over the Packers.
A hyped, rare meeting between the two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks proved to be must-see TV, as NBC’s 15.6 overnight rating, according to Sports Media Watch, was the highest ever for a Week 9 game in the 13 years of Sunday Night Football.
And just how much do they love them some Tommy B in New England? The overnight rating of 37.9 in Boston was higher than the local rating for four of the five Red Sox World Series games. Huh? Brady over Betts? November Pats over October Sawx? Somebody get Big Papi some oxygen.
Obviously, watching Brady never gets old in Boston, but beyond that, Sunday night’s big rating was something of a punctuation mark to a trend in the NFL as TV ratings are on the rise this season. For the entirety of Sunday’s Week 9 games, in fact, overnight ratings were up 17 percent compared with the same Week 9 in 2017, and the play of so many star quarterbacks is surely a factor.
In addition to Rodgers and Brady doing their thing, Patrick Mahomes’ emergence has been breathtaking; Drew Brees is breaking records practically every week; Jared Goff is the Rams’ new Kurt Warner; and four first-round draft picks at least offer hope for the fans of the Browns, Jets, Cardinals, and Bills.
Add it all up and it’s easy to see why the rules have evolved to keep QBs out of harms way.
Age Is But a Number
Speaking of QBs…remember when the new kids were all the rage, during the pre-season and early fall as Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, and Josh Rosen all earned the nod as starters?
Don’t look now but 2018 is turning into the Year of the Graybeard. Yes, relative youngsters Mahomes and Goff are having spectacular seasons, but otherwise Brees, Brady, and Philip Rivers are all right there with them in the running for NFL MVP so far this season (along with Todd Gurley).
Meanwhile, the league is making life miserable of late for those rookie first-round draft picks, who are either injured (Allen) or struggling to deal with the complexity of NFL defenses. You want proof that experience matters? Check out ESPN’s current Total Quarterback Ratings, which measures a QB’s impact as it applies to passing, running, turnovers, and penalties.
Mahomes ranks No. 1, but Brees, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Rivers rank 2-3-4, and Ben Roethlisberger and Brady rank 8-9. At the other end of the spectrum, of the 32 ranked QBs, Mayfield is No. 28, Rosen No. 30, Darnold No. 31, and Allen No. 32.
The only non-rookie among that bottom five, at No. 29, by the way?
Say it ain’t so, Eli.
The drop-the-hammer Quote of the Week comes courtesy of Steelers’ coach Mike Tomlin, when asked about the chance his holdout running back, Le’Veon Bell, would be returning soon:
“We need volunteers, not hostages,” Tomlin said pointedly, in his overly-dramatic fashion.
The coach can afford to be cavalier since James Conner has emerged as a force in Bell’s place. Named the AFC Offensive Player of the Month for October, Conner added another 163 total yards in a win over the Ravens Sunday, and is on pace for a whopping 2,170 all-purpose yards, just short of Bell’s single-season best of 2,215.
Meanwhile, Bell has to report by next Tuesday, November 13th to be eligible to play this season, but the 5-2-1 Steelers aren’t exactly pining for his return.
“I love playing with Conner,” offensive guard Alejandro Villaneuva told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I don’t have anything to say about Le’Veon. I don’t even know what shape he’s in right now.”
Should be a warm and fuzzy reunion, if Bell is in fact showing up.
A Lot Of ‘Posturing’ After Lions Loss
You could see this one coming the minute Matt Patricia rather famously told a reporter to “sit up” and “respect the process” before the Lions’ coach would answer a question about the Golden Tate trade last week as his press conference.
Keep in mind Patricia, the former Patriots’ defensive coordinator, doesn’t exactly have Bill Belichick-like cache yet in his first year on the job in Detroit. He does have a Belichick-like wardrobe, sweatshirts and hoodies abound, but without the championships that only makes you more of an unkempt wannabe than a quirky genius.
So, sure enough, when the Lions lost to the Vikings on Sunday to fall to 3-5, the Detroit News responded with a zinger of a headline:
Ah, yes, good times in the Motor City, as always, it seems, for a futile franchise that last won a championship in 1957.
The Clock Is Ticking On Cowboys’ Garrett
Is it the quarterback or the coach in Dallas?
Dak Prescott had a lousy game Monday night in the Cowboys’ 28-14 loss to the Titans, paying dearly for a terrible decision to throw into double-coverage in the end zone, and later losing a fumble when the game was knotted up at 14-14.
But if halftime adjustments are a way to measure the effect of coaching, Jason Garett had a (another) rough night as well, as the Cowboys were shut out 14-0 in the second half, averaging 3.9 yards per play as opposed to 6.8 yards in the first half.
This, despite the fact that newly acquired Amari Cooper made an impact in his first game, showing the ability to get separation in his route running, which was something the Cowboys were clearly lacking.
After the game, Jerry Jones said flatly that he won’t consider an in-season coaching change, but his Cowboys are 3-5 and the clock is clearly ticking on Garrett, in part because of Prescott’s continued regression since his brilliant rookie year in 2016.
“When you have a guy like Dak Prescott go backwards, there needs to be a change in philosophy,” ESPN analyst Ryan Clark said Tuesday. “There needs to be a change in play calling, a change in strategy and the feel around the building, and I don’t think Jason Garrett is the guy to do it.”
How 'bout dem Cowboys?!?!
Tick-tock, Mr. Garrett.
*Out-of-market games only. Select int'l games excluded.