Russell And The RefsTuesday, September 25, 2012
Rotoworld is a fantasy sports site. This is a fantasy football column. But how on earth can anyone who watched last night’s traveshamockery in Seattle be thinking about anything else this morning?
First things first: Yes, in the grand scheme of planet earth, what we’re dealing with here — utterly incompetent, incomprehensible and apparently irreversible football refereeing — is an extremely minor issue.
With that out of the way...this is a disaster. A dumpster fire. Gigli meets Jose Canseco’s Twitter feed. There’s simply no excuse for what the world’s self-proclaimed greatest sports league has allowed to unfold these past three weeks.
The contrarians will say only losers blame losses on officiating, and that the “real” refs make plenty of terrible calls, too.
The realists will say, were you watching Sunday and Monday night? Before the “refs in name only” were making phantom roughing the passer calls, penalizing cornerbacks for offensive pass interference and ruling interceptions touchdowns, they were losing control of a game in Baltimore.
Sunday’s Patriots/Ravens game was so poorly officiated, we witnessed both the home crowd chanting an expletive for upwards of five minutes, and the road coach — one of the greatest minds in NFL history — accost a referee on his way off the field.
All for what? So 31 billionaires can say they won a negotiation? The NFL isn’t used to losing. It has an anti-trust exemption, only partially guaranteed contracts and a player’s union with a reflex to capitulate.
But this one’s over. You lost. The fans are against you, the coaches are against you, the press is against you, and quite vividly, the players are against you. We’re not talking about the games on Mondays and Tuesdays. We’re talking about how Lingerie Football League and NFL Europe castoffs marred them.
If the NFL truly wants to, it can continue to ride this out and break the referees’ backs, just like it’s done to so many others before.
But it won’t fatten the owners’ wallets in any meaningful way, and no negotiating “win” will stick in the public’s craw quite like the win that was stolen away from Green Bay on Monday.
Even champions lose sometimes. It’s time for the NFL to admit defeat.
City of Brotherly Off-Handed Remarks
They’re most popularly known for sinking ships. But did you know they can also set off Twitter firestorms on a sleepy Monday afternoon?
Such was the case yesterday, where Eagles coach Andy Reid casually opined that, yes, Michael Vick is still his starting quarterback, but that, yes, that could change at some point.
It was a strangely unguarded look into the future from a coach who’s watched his franchise quarterback turn into a perpetual motion turnover machine.
Of course, it’s perpetual motion that’s been aided by turnstiles along the offensive line, but Vick has been turning the ball over at a dangerously high rate.
His three lost fumbles are more than all but five teams. His six interceptions are tied with Jay Cutler and Brandon Weeden for the league lead.
Vick has never exactly been BenJarvus Green-Ellis with the football (Which, by the way BJGE. Claim to fame? Gone.), but this is the kind of play that can overshadow 905 passing yards and 94 rushing yards through three games played.
Reid predictably backtracked before the drivetime rush, saying Vick was his quarterback “period.” But whether or not it was intentional, Reid has given life to the idea that Vick’s poor play might not only warrant a benching if it keeps up, but necessitate one.
Is this likely to happen? No. Do we have a better idea of what Vick’s coach might do if it does? Ask Andy Reid’s loose lips.
The Timelines They Are A-Changin’
Typically, that means one thing: setback. That wasn’t the case in Buffalo on Monday, where the Bills got a double whammy of excellent running back news.
First there was Fred Jackson, who said he’s ready to return to practice barely two weeks after going down with what was supposed to be a four-week injury.
F-Jax gave himself a 70-75 percent chance of suiting up Sunday, but ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported he’ll “probably” play against the Patriots.
That’s great news. It’s made all the better by the fact that Jackson may not be stepping in for C.J. Spiller (shoulder), but complementing him.
Initially feared lost for multiple weeks, Spiller’s timeline has gone from “1-2 weeks” to possibly suiting up Sunday. The incentive to rush Spiller back will decrease if Jackson looks healthy in Wednesday’s practice, but the fact that missing no time is even a possibility bodes extremely well for one of 2012’s breakout fantasy stars.
We’ll get a much better idea of Jackson and Spiller’s status when the Bills return to practice Wednesday.
Monday Night Football Notes: Russell Wilson is who some worried he might be: a game-managing, low-end QB2. That could change in a hurry, but it will be tough in a division that’s suddenly home to four bruising defenses. … The Randall Cobb show is on hiatus. Cobb has touched the ball only four times since his Week 1 eruption, and apparently isn’t quite ready to wreak PPR havoc as a gadget third-down back. … Cedric Benson predictably struggled against the Seahawks’ dominant front seven, but will be on full breakout alert in Week 4 against a Saints’ “run defense” that’s been scorched for an astounding 645 yards through the season’s first three weeks. … Greg Jennings was healthy enough to draw 10 targets. He should be back to his usual self against New Orleans. … Take away Golden Tate’s miracle Hail Mary “reception” and what do you have? A wideout who caught two passes — one of which happened to be in the end zone — for 44 yards.
Running Back/Quarterback Quick Slants: Steven Jackson (groin) confirmed he escaped Sunday’s loss without further injury. … An MRI of Reggie Bush’s left knee turned up no structural damage. He could return to practice as early as Wednesday. … Ahmad Bradshaw (neck) has been cleared to practice. … Matt Forte (ankle) has made “good progress,” and may return to practice on Wednesday. … Matthew Stafford’s leg ailment is believed to be a hamstring injury. The early consensus is that he’ll play against the Vikings. The Lions claim they’ll have a decision by Friday.
Wideout/Defensive Quick Slants: Austin Collie was lost for the year with a ruptured patella tendon. It’s a worst-case scenario for the oft-concussed slot receiver, and has his status in doubt for the beginning of camp next summer. An impending free agent, it’s possible Collie's Colts career is through. … Hakeem Nicks (foot) “definitely anticipates” playing Sunday. … Pierre Garcon’s (foot) status remains up in the air. … Jeremy Maclin (hip) is expected to play this week. … Greg Little (drops) could be benched. … Darrelle Revis (torn ACL) was lost for the season. It’s hard to imagine a tougher defensive loss for any team in the league. … Bucs RE Adrian Clayborn was ruled out for 2012 with a torn “knee ligament.”