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On “Opting Out”…

| July 31st, 2020


Tuesday, Eddie Goldman opted out of the 2020 NFL season. He wasn’t alone. He was joined by essentially the whole of the New England Patriots.

So why are players punching out of this season? A few things to remember about Covid-19.

First, this disease disproportionately impacts black and brown communities and roughly 70% of NFL players are black. While most of these young men will be unaffected by the disease, we still don’t know what the long-term impacts on the body come from the diagnosis.

Second, it’s not only about the health of the players themselves. These are young men and they have parents and grandparents dealing with the exact comorbidities that make them gravely susceptible to this virus. And cutting off from those relatives for a five-month period is simply a non-starter for most.

When a receiver in peak physical condition is exposed to the virus, he’ll likely see little to no health impact. When his diabetic mother is exposed, her life is at risk. That’s the decision these athletes face heading into 2020.

Does it suck for teams and fans? Of course it does. The NFL’s tight salary cap does not allow for depth at most positions. When Goldman opts out of the coming season, there isn’t another Goldman in the wings.

Does it suck for writers like me? It sure does. It’s getting a awfully difficult to engage this season with any real intensity when it feels like we’re one bad news story from the whole thing collapsing.

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Week 7: Patriots at Bears Game Preview

| October 19th, 2018

[Disclaimer: The following game preview is being written under the assumption that Khalil Mack will play Sunday. It is also being written under the assumption that he’ll be limited, to a degree, by his ankle injury.]


Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears…

…and I just like this game, hence yesterday’s flamboyant column. This should be the most intense, feverish crowd at Soldier Field in five plus years. And don’t be surprised if the Bears come out and match that intensity, eager to prove last week’s rollover in Miami was a fluke.


The Game Limerick

There once was a goody named Brady

Whose fitness guru seemed a bit shady

The coach tossed him out

Now Goody got gout

But at least he still has a rich lady


Why the Bears Will Win

  • Patriots on the Road. New England is 4-0 at home and 0-2 on the road but it’s how they’ve looked on the road that’s been jarring. They didn’t just lose to Jacksonville and Detroit. They lost by a combined score of 57-30 to mediocre teams. The Bears have a better defense than the Jaguars and currently a better offense than the Lions. (Note: These games were pre-Julian Edelman’s return and Josh Gordon’s arrival.)
  • The Andy Reid Coaching Tree. Matt Nagy isn’t going to require much research when building his game plan to attack the Pats defense. Look no further than the success Andy Reid had versus New England Sunday night. Okay, fine, look further. Doug Pederson put up more than 500 yards of offense on Bill Belichick & Co. in the Super Bowl with Nick Foles under center. (I still contend Pederson’s success with Foles is one of the most impressive playoff runs in league history. Foles is terrible.) The blueprint is drawn. And Nagy is very close to the men who drew it.
  • Taylor Gabriel is becoming a star in this offense and he’s going to be wide open 2-3 times against this Pats secondary because, quite frankly, Gabriel has been wide open for more than a month. But there are soft areas in New England’s deep zone and teams have had an easy time exploiting them. Trubisky HAS TO hit those throws Sunday.

Why They Won’t

  • Belichick. He’s the best coach in the history of the NFL and has made a career out of confusing young quarterbacks into bad decisions. Trubisky will see 3-5 looks he’s never seen previously. Stat: quarterbacks under 25 years old are a career 1-42 at Foxboro. (Yes, I know this game is not there but that stat is absurd.) Here’s what Mike Lombardi said about it: “He makes them play left-handed…He takes away what they do and they don’t have the experience to go and do other things.”
  • Tom Brady. He’s Tom Brady.
  • Edelman. Maybe this is the Sunday hangover talking, but it’s inconceivable that Josh McDaniels won’t throw 5-7 bubble screens against this defense and see if their performance in Miami was an anomaly or a trend. One would think those throws would would go to Edelman, the most elusive of NE’s receiving targets.

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Putting My Thoughts on the Trade of Martellus Bennett in One Place

| March 18th, 2016

Dec 22, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Chicago Bears tight end Martellus Bennett (83) carries the ball during the second quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles defeated the Bears 54-11. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Twitter is not the avenue for nuance. Hopefully DBB can be. My thoughts on Martellus Bennett’s trade to New England:

  • I completely understand the trade from the front office perspective. Ryan Pace is a young GM in a high-pressure gig and he’s not going to employ anyone he views as not having bought into his program.
  • Nobody begrudges Bennett wanting more money as he’s one of the best tight ends in the league. But when his lack of commitment on the field was perceived as linked to financial demands, his hour glass flipped.
  • Hard to criticize a player for not trying hard but I’ve done so with Bennett multiple times this season. It was also very clear from watching the games that Jay Cutler didn’t believe Bennett fought hard enough for balls thrown in his direction.
  • The phrase “buy in” puts everything on Bennett. But did the Bears try and sell him? Did Pace ever sit Bennett down and explain how he can thrive in this system, with this quarterback? It was in the best interest of both parties to make this work.

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The 2015 NFL Season Begins Tonight

| September 10th, 2015

nfl season

Three Picks for Week 1

Steelers +7 over Patriots

Line just feels too high for a week one match-up between two fairly decent teams. Patriots 24, Steelers 21.

Bills +3 over Colts

My favorite mismatch of the first week is the Bills defensive line against the Colts offensive line. Andrew Luck is in the conversation for best player in the sport but I continue to argue that his coach is mediocre and the roster construction around him is poor. Bills win outright. Bills 16, Colts 14.

Cowboys -6 over Giants

Historically, nobody has been wronger about a team as I have about the New York Giants. So my instincts you should me to ignore my instincts entirely and pick them to win the Super Bowl. But not with that defensive roster and not with the questions along their offensive front. Cowboys 27, Giants 20.

Season Record: 0-0

 

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Super Bowl Sunday

| February 1st, 2015

Seattle Seahawks v Atlanta Falcons

A Note on the Super Bowl

I hear a lot of Bears fans say, “I’m not even going to watch the Super Bowl for this reason or that reason or the other reason or a few different reasons than the other reason.” There’s a sadness to that sentiment. This is the Sunday wherein the sport’s history is written. What is past – regular season, wild card, divisional, title games – is merely prologue.

Fans of the thirty teams not represented in Glendale watch this game with dreams in their hearts. Everything a Bears should want from their club will be represented by the two teams battling this tonight. Every emotion a Bears fan should want to experience will be felt by one of the club’ fan bases well through the evening hours.

This is the Super Bowl.

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Super Bowl Preview Volume V: Game Prediction

| January 29th, 2015

superbowl

It has to happen.

You can listen to any sports radio show in the country and hear hundreds of analysts breaking down the nuances of this wonderful Super Bowl match-up. (And it is a wonderful match-up.) But for me, the most amazing moments of Super Bowl XLIX will be after the game has been played. Because then, on the stage at midfield, commissioner Roger Goodell and NBC’s Dan Patrick will hand the Lombardi Trophy to Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick. Then those same gentlemen will hand the Super Bowl MVP trophy to Tom Brady.

It will be the glorious conclusion of all this deflation of football drama. And it will present the Kraft, Belichick, Brady trio the grandest stage in all of television to smugly address a suspect public and antagonistic media. Sports are always great theatre. No Super Bowl postgame scenario will have ever been more drama laden.

New England Patriots 24, Seattle Seahawks 16

PS.

I can’t get the images of the Seahawks v. Packers game out of my head. Seattle was awful for the entirety of regulation. No pressure. No passing game. Penalties galore. And after Green Bay had gifted them the lead late their “legendary” defense allowed Aaron Rodgers to walk down the field for the field goal. (Don’t legendary defenses NOT do that?) Two things I believe: (1) If Seattle had settled for a field goal in overtime they would have been beaten by Rodgers and (2) I believe the best team in the NFC is home right now. The Patriots don’t allow fake field goal touchdowns or onside kick recoveries. They are too well-coached for that.

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Super Bowl Preview Volume II: Final ‘Audibles’ of the 2014 Football Season

| January 27th, 2015

audibles

THREE THOUGHTS ON THE GAME ITSELF

  • The outcome of Seahawks v. Packers disguised the story of Seahawks v. Packers: Seattle’s complete lack of pass rush. If Aaron Rodgers had mobility the game would never have been in question (and let’s be honest, it should not have been in question anyway). Tom Brady’s two Super Bowl losses to Tom Coughlin and the Giants had a similar theme. The Giants pressured him. They pressured him consistently. If the Seahawks don’t they will need to score a lot of points to win this game.
  • Who is Richard Sherman covering? The Patriots have no issue not throwing the ball out wide so are the Seahawks going to allow their best cover man to be relegated to Brandon LaFell all evening? The middle of the Seahawks defense can be attacked and I would expecte Edelman and Gronk to live there most of the night.
  • Steve McNair still holds the Super Bowl record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 64. I expect the Seahawks to try and break that record with Russell Wilson. Pete Carroll can say whatever he wants but he learned a week ago his quarterback is at a severe disadvantage when chasing the game. Pats will want to be aggressive on the edges. Expect Wilson to take advantage of that and hit them for some zone read runs.

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