Before I get into the column, my thoughts and prayers are with the people of southeast Texas as they’re going through hell right now due to the remnants of Hurricane Harvey. To my friend Jordan in Houston who is a loyal reader of the blog – stay safe and dry.
FIRST DOWN: Unnecessary injuries dominate Preseason Week 3
Enough is enough. It’s time to do something about the preseason. Don’t believe me? Ask the four key players who suffered season-ending knee injuries this weekend…
Patriots WR Julian Edelman
Chiefs RB Spencer Ware
Bears WR Cameron Meredith
Cowboys LB Anthony Hitchens
Edelman was Tom Brady’s security blanket in the passing game. That will hurt initially but New England is still so deep and so good that I won’t revise my 16-0 prediction. Ware was likely to be replaced anyway in Kansas City by 3rd round pick Kareem Hunt but it’s still a painful loss for a team looking to win the AFC West for the second straight season. Meredith was Chicago’s most proven wide receiver and leaves QB Mike Glennon with virtually no effective weapons in the passing game. The Bears’ receivers are almost as terrible as the Jets’…which are historically awful. And Hitchens was a key contributor on a Dallas defense which needed to rise up early to offset the suspension of offensive star, running back Ezekiel Elliott.
If I were a coach, there’s absolutely no way I’d ever play one of my key starters in any of the four games. And I mean that. As a fan, there’s no way I’ll EVER pay close to full price for a preseason game ticket.
In a sport looking to cut down injuries, get safer, and further appeal to fans, meaningless games which include notable players getting injured isn’t a good start.
The NFL MUST eliminate 1-2 preseason games per team and team owners MUST cut the ticket prices down significantly.
Expect the preseason debate to be a focal point of labor renegotiations for the league and players in 2021.
SECOND DOWN: Preseason Week 3 Observations
As much as I dislike the concept of these games…here are a few thoughts as to what I saw:
-Welcome back John Brown…he looked razor sharp against the Lions and might be the Cardinals’ #2 wide receiver once again.
-I think I’ll have to revise a few predictions before next Monday’s NFL predictions column – one of those being the Jaguars. They will never win anything, including their divisionm with Blake Bortles at QB and their avoidance to addressing the position is mind-boggling.
-I might have to upgrade the 49ers somewhat. They won’t be very good but at least they should score some points with coach Kyle Shanahan running an up-tempo offense.
-QB Mike Glennon showed me something in Chicago’s win over Tennessee on Sunday. He might actually hold off #2 overall pick Mitchell Trubisky and keep his starting job until at least mid-October. Either way, he’ll be looking for a new team in 2018.
-The Browns might have something with QB Deshone Kizer from Notre Dame, their 2nd round pick in 2017. He throws a nice ball…but I predict inconsistency will plague him. I’m interested to see whether the team truly believes if he’s the QB of the future.
-It’s safe to say this…but upgrade Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt in your fantasy drafts with the loss of Spencer Ware for likely the season. He just went in the 3rd round in mine on Sunday and don’t be surprised if Hunt is this year’s version of Jordan Howard, a fantasy impact player.
THIRD DOWN: College Football Week Zero Observations
A lesson to all college football fans: CALM DOWN when favored teams are down early. Example: Awful San Jose State led touted South Florida 16-0 after one quarter on Saturday. Twitter was up in arms. How could new coach Charlie Strong blow it for the Bulls so quickly? And then USF scored 42 points in a row…so there’s that. Don’t overreact to games after the first quarter, folks.
I liked Rice to keep Stanford fairly low-scoring and to stay within the 31 point spread during the game played in Sydney. And then Stanford scored 38 in the first half and the game was a rout. As discussed on our radio show in early-August, Fanatic host Jeff Dean might be right about Stanford. They looked really REALLY good despite losing stars Christian McCaffery and Solomon Thomas to the NFL. David Shaw is such a good coach and I shouldn’t have been so quick to rule them out of the Pac-12 championship discussion. The game against USC in a few weeks should be a barnburner!
Oregon State looked like garbage in the second half against Colorado State…not that I expected them to win. But a 25 point loss…yikes. BYU looked about as bad on offense as possible against lowly Portland State and managed only 20 points in a lackluster win. I think LSU will crush them on Saturday in the game to be moved away from its scheduled neutral site in Houston. And what does it say about the state of UMass’ football program when Hawaii, who traveled 8 zillion miles to the game on the East Coast, couldn’t find a way to hold on for the win?
FOURTH DOWN: Mayweather-McGregor Recap
I have to admit…I was wrong about Conor McGregor. I may know next to nothing about boxing but to me, the Irish MMA star was in fact the winner (by perception) despite being knocked out in the 10th round by the 50-0 world champion, Mayweather.
I didn’t think he stood a chance in hell at keeping the match close. In fact it’s tough to argue that if the match had only lasted eight rounds, McGregor would’ve been declared the winner. Unfortunately for him, it was clear to see that stamina clearly favored Mayweather. Conor was weary from Rounds 8 and beyond and I found the referee’s decision to stop the fight a bit of a saving grace for him.
Considering McGregor had NEVER professionally boxed before…then went toe-to-toe with one of the all-time greats for 10 rounds was borderline incredible. He wasn’t dirty as I thought he might be; in fact the sportsmanship both fighters showed after the match was impressive.
Mayweather connected on more than half of his punches and outlasted the early flurry of jabs from McGregor. Unfortunately Conor’s threw way too many wasted punches which failed to land. Props to both on a good fight. Will this be the last truly notable fight of our lifetime? At the rate the sport is declining, don’t rule it out.