Overreactions, Exaggerations & Just The Plain Out Truth – Week 14
We are creeping towards the end of the regular season with another week coming and going.
Week 14 brought some much needed wins for teams like the Denver Broncos and Minnesota Vikings. It delivered some crushing defeats; as felt by Las Vegas Raiders and Washington Football Team, while some teams saw their fortune multiply without even playing a minute, the Indianapolis Colts.
Week 14 ushered in a few more answers but as always conjured up probably even more questions. Here’s a look at the week’s action.
Punt and kick returns rarely matter in the NFL anymore: With his 97 yard punt return Sunday against the Green Bay Packers Jakeem Grant became the first player to return a punt for a touchdown this season.
I’ll repeat that, the first punt return of the NFL season happened this week, Week 14 of the season by Chicago Bears running back Jakeem Grant. Besides field goals, at this point special teams has boiled down to the receiving team not making a mistake as the goal.
Gone are the days of the great return man or a team putting their most explosive players back for a punt when they need to change the flow of a game or need a big play to flip field position. You just don’t see the likes of Dante Hall, Josh Cribbs or Devin Hester anymore.
In 2018 the NFL changed a few rules that effected kick off and other special teams plays to alleviate the amount of collisions players were having and to reduce concussions and head injuries. With the implementation of these rules, the spark special teams have had has been little to non existent in recent years.
This season has seen only six kick returns by five players, with Kene Nwangwu being the only player with two. In 2020 there were only seven kick returns for touchdowns and eight punt returns that reached the end zone, all by different players.
Not one player had more than one touchdown as a returner on special teams. In the current climate of the NFL, special teams don’t produce game changing plays anymore, unless it’s the kicking team making a mistake.
NFL defensive rookie of the year: I wrote about the case of Mac Jones being the favorite to win the offensive Rookie of the Year award last week and how he shouldn’t be, it should be Ja’Maar Chase, who scored another touchdown this week by the way.
When it comes to defense I don’t think there is any question who the leader of the pack is, Micah Parsons of the Dallas Cowboys. Parsons who had another solid week of play, registered another two sacks and what may become known as the staple play of his rookie season, a sack/fumble which lead to a 37 yard td by Dorance Armstrong.
With two more sacks against the Washington Football Team, Parsons has twelve sacks on the year, which ranks seventh in the league with 53 tackles on the season.
I’m not sure if there is any other player who has played at the level of Parsons as a rookie and I think he may register as close as possible to a unanimous choice for the Rookie of the Year award.
Alvin Kamara and what a rushing attack means for a team: The return of Alvin Kamara to the New Orleans Saints lineup proved once again to be main cog in the Saints overall grand scheme of things. His return to action and play was much needed, it helped the Saints snap a five game losing streak.
Kamara who had been out the last four games with a knee injury sat on the sidelines the last few weeks and watched his team every game he wasn’t apart of. With his return to action, in which he netted a total of 145 yards from scrimmage, the Saints offense scored 30 points, a feat they hadn’t done since Kamara’s injury.
Recently in history the passing game has taken over as the main component on offense in the league and running backs have seemingly become dispensable.
The argument to the concept is players like Alvin Kamara, a do it all running back; not only a running back who takes the hand off and finds openings in the defense on the ground but a running back who can take the extended hand off, shovel pass, dump pass or catch the ball in the flat and still operate in the same manner as if he was just giving the ball right from the quarterbacks hand.
It’s not a lost art, there are plenty of running backs who offer an all around game, all be it not at the skill level of Kamara but very feasible. Maybe running backs mean a bit more than what we have heard and seen in recently memory?
COVID-19 Reserve list will play a part in the final results of the season: Get your calculators out and do the math with me… The Los Angeles Rams have placed nine on list, the Cleveland Browns eight, Washington Football Team ten, two for the Kansas City Chiefs, three for the Miami Dolphins, I could go on.
All in all, as of Monday with all of the new additions, the COVID-19 Reserve list sits at nearly 100 players total, with 37 positive tests Monday, which set the record for most players testing positive at one time. To add insult to injury, the league expects the total to rise even more in the next coming days.
Names like Odell Beckham Jr, Jalen Ramsey, Myles Gaskins, Jarvis Landry and Rashawn Slater all were added to the list and must now be reevaluated and retested in the next few days. Teams like the WFT and Browns have some sizable game day roster players listed and barring some sort of miraculous change will most likely be playing without some of its much needed pieces.
Missed game action by key players will no doubt hurt some of the teams chances.
Demaryius Thomas: Wishing the best for all his all his family, friends and associates. Prayers to the most high. I hope he eternally rests easy.
Style points don’t matter in December: The name of the game is win, win at every cost, especially in December. No matter how you get the job done, getting a win in the NFL is king and you see that premise more than ever in the month of December when teams are jockeying for playoff seeding and division crowns.
Style points are out the window and you seen that this past week in many of the games. As always, buckle up for the last few weeks of the season, because as unlike any year prior, the playoffs will include seven teams competing to reach the Super Bowl. There are a ton of things to sort out in the last four weeks of the season, as well as a plethora of games that still matter, getting wins will be the name of the game.
Teams Missing the playoffs: After a week where no teams were added to the list of early departures, this week we see another casualty appear on the list. The Las Vegas Raiders who began the season at 5-2, now find themselves on the outside looking in after getting drilled by the Chiefs this week.
Besides being swept by Kansas City, the Raiders have fell by the side of road, now sporting a losing record at 6-7. They sit at the bottom of the AFC West and have seven teams in front of them in the wild card standings, two of them being the Denver Broncos and Los Angeles Chargers.
It’s over, maybe not mathematically but who in their right mind would think they have a chance to run the table?
I expect to see no less than two teams added to the list next week, as the Pittsburgh Steelers are at point where they either win or it’s the end of the road for them in my mind.
The Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints and the loser of the NFC East showdown between the Philadelphia Eagles and WFT are all on life support all needing a victory to not be added to the list.
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