What a wild week of news and strange situations in the NFL. It never really stops. While I enjoy a news cycle that never takes a breath, nothing beats when we all make it to Sunday. Here we are in Week 6 and despite the games not looking terrific on paper, the action was fun starting at 9:30 a.m. with the Jaguars FINALLY getting their first win since the 2020 season opener.
Speaking of fun, I attended a beautiful wedding in Philadelphia this weekend. It was really the first time I’ve been out for a big night with my husband since the birth of our son in August. Nobody told me that one sip of wine pretty much equates to five bottles after you give birth. While I danced and enjoyed the excellent DJ and a cocktail hour that could feed a whale, the best moment I had was discussing the state of the Eagles with the other guests. These fans have no patience, although it was pretty touching after news of the Zach Ertz trade made the rounds, hearing their favorite stories of the tight end (along with passionate discussions about where he falls in terms of top Eagles players of all time. Lots of great arguments made too.). I’m always entertained by any team’s fandom along with the traditions, especially in Philly. It was all on display Thursday when I arrived in the city around 6 p.m. It was about two hours before kickoff, with the team playing at “the Linc.” I could see and feel the excitement in the city. I was sitting in the back of an Uber watching parents walking with their children, wearing Philly gear on the streets, and saw buildings lit up with the green letters E-A-G-L-E-S. The driver was playing the “Rocky” theme song “Gonna Fly Now” while we were driving right by the Philadelphia Art Museum, where the Rocky statue lives. I can’t make this up. It’s all so goofy and incredible at the same time.
They have their traditions and I have mine. Every Sunday we rip through the good, the bad, and the ugly from the games. Since Sundays are also a family day in my house and we always eat the same exact meal, I thought it would be fun to combine it all every week.
So, here’s my Sunday sauce, football style.
Garlic bread (a little something that tastes so good)
Watch out for the truck! Dallas defensive end Randy Gregory has been disruptive all season long for the Cowboys, but his dominance was on full display Sunday against the Patriots. Headed into the game with two sacks, his third one in this game should count as two. Gregory looked as if he split New England rookie QB Mac Jones in half. Who needs a gory Halloween movie when we have this pass rush? Jones meets Mack Truck! Gregory finished with two sacks on the day as the Cowboys’ defense continues to improve and this team is quickly becoming one of the best teams in the NFL.
Pasta: We cook ours al dente (Al dente literally translates to “to the tooth.”). So, let’s take this literally.
Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow and wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase. This duo has been electric to watch every single week. Chase already is getting support for the Rookie of the Year award.
Through six games, he is averaging more than 92 receiving yards. He is clearly Burrows’ favorite target and will continue to be so if they both keep this up.
That said, it was just a few weeks ago when I tweeted this:
This was in response to Chase going on GMFB on the NFL Network and talking about wanting to break every Bengals record.
The responses to my tweet were astonishing. Cincy fans were livid and even confused. Many critics of the tweet asked in response: “Doesn’t breaking records lead to wins? What’s the problem?” We’ve seen individual records broken by players who played on bad teams. Hello Detroit. Chad “Megatron” Johnson is the best example. Tons of individual records broken by the former wide receiver, but not many team wins. Of course, some other tweets were filled with more colorful language, but the same point was being made over and over. “Let the kid be himself! “What’s wrong with goals?!” For me, based on years of conversations with successful coaches and players, focusing on team success always trumps individual success. I thought for a rookie, sharing his own goals as a receiver who hadn’t even finished playing his first month in the NFL, felt premature and kind of immature. Now, here we are in mid-October. Chase is one of the best wideouts in football and his team is winning. A head coach once said to me that he wanted “show-me, not tell-me players.” Chase might be both but, it seems everyone is winning … for now. Either way, the Bengals are a different team than years past thanks to Joe and Ja'Marr.
The Sauce: The most important part of the meal. All the ingredients have to come together at the right time. Some people like it spicy, some people like it sweet, but either way the sauce is the star of the show. When it’s good, it’s memorable and delicious
“The Jackson 4”
Normally we are all raving about Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson and trust me- I probably could write about nine more paragraphs about his talent. Sunday against the Chargers it wasn’t just the typical run game featuring Jackson, it was all of Baltimore’s running backs. The Ravens rushed for 187 yards as a team. Devonta Freeman, Latavius Murray, even Le’Veon Bell got in on the action. These are players who I thought were ready to retire, yet Sunday they looked as if they were resurrecting their careers. Don't forget, these players are replacements for J.K. Dobbins, Justice Hill, and Gus Edwards, all of whom had season-ending injuries. Like we saw with the Jackson 5, the youngest one is the star, but if these Baltimore running backs all have the “I’ll Be There” attitude we saw Sunday, we’ll be seeing the Ravens dancing in January.
What a meatball! Most of us really like meatballs and they are essential on our Sundays, but if you are called a “meatball” by one of my uncles, you probably did something really stupid, so this could be a play, a team, a call or a decision.
Instead of the movie “How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days,” Sunday in Detroit we saw, “How to Lose a Locker Room in 10 Seconds.” The Lions, who are winless, might be headed toward more trouble. My meatball goes to their head coach Dan Campbell. Quite the shift from last week when Campbell won over so many fans when he stood at the microphone after the game and cried about Detroit’s consecutive heart-breaking losses. Sunday, Lions QB Jared Goff was 28-of-42 for 202 yards and an interception in their loss to the Bengals. He looked bad, and he is accumulating a concerning number of turnovers. Campbell was asked if he considered benching Goff. From SI.com:
“I feel like (Goff) needs to step up more than he has and, I think he needs to help us, just like everybody else. I think he is gonna need to put a little weight on his shoulders here, and it’s time to step up and make some throws and do some things.”
Oof. I see no lies here, but we rarely see head coaches calling out individual players and their efforts for a reason. I saw it in Washington for years with then-head coach Jay Gruden. He was notorious for criticizing his quarterbacks, especially Kirk Cousins. It was uncomfortable and I can tell you confidently, it didn’t work. In fact, Goff is the last person Campbell wants to put pressure on. We saw Goff’s and Rams coach Sean McVay’s relationship fade over their last season together. McVay even owned up to his role in the deterioration of his relationship with Goff, on the Rich Eisen Show, explaining there was a communication breakdown. Campbell might not have any wins but you can see his players are giving their best effort. He’s won over a locker room without getting a victory. Comments like this, combined with more losses, is a recipe for more tears, except this time those tears won’t be applauded.