Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think this is what I liked about Week 6:
a. Linebacker Jon Beason, in his Giants debut, with a team-high 12 tackles. That’s what you call looking on the bright side of an 0-6 team.
b. Brandon Marshall’s green shoes in the win over the Giants Thursday night. Easy for me to say, “Take the silly $5,000 fine,’’ but it was worth it to draw attention to the issue of mental health.
c. Adam Podlesh, the Chicago punter, who had but three boots Thursday—but they pinned the Giants back at their 8-, 9- and 11-yard lines.
d. Where did that 106-yard evening come from, Brandon Jacobs?
e. What a throw by Ben Roethlisberger to Heath Miller, up the seam, high, between two Jets.
f. And loved the backward pass from Ben to Antonio Brown, who rolled out and threw a quirky spiral to Felix Jones for a first down.
g. Ref Gene Steratore’s explanation
h. Great catch by A.J. Green, high above the defense in the Buffalo end zone.
i. Nifty shovel pass by Andy Dalton to Gio Benard, which Bernard freelanced into a touchdown gallop.
j. Brandon Tate’s 29-yard punt return in overtime, weaving and bobbing, to set up the winning field goal for Cincinnati in overtime.
k. An efficient day for Cam Newton: 20 of 26 with no picks. And a 35-10 stunner in Minneapolis.
l. John Fox after the 16-point win over the Jags. “There is resistance out there. It’s called the other team.” Love that.
m. The New York Times headline on the Denver-Jacksonville game: “Broncos beat Jaguars but not the spread.”
2. I think this is what I didn’t like about Week 6:
a. It’s easy to pick on Eli Manning, because he’s thrown 15 interceptions. But it’s also hard to pick on Manning, because he’s getting chased all over the field every week, and because it appeared his second interception Thursday was a result of Reuben Randle running the wrong route.
b. Love so much of what you’ve done, Terrelle Pryor. But there’s no way you make that careless, risky interception in a 7-7 game.
c. Speaking of utterly preposterous, I bring you the interception of T.J. Yates, who threw to Janoris Jenkins in the end zone like he was the intended receiver.
d. Cover the man, Sam Shields, not some invisible person in the backfield.
e. The Houston Texans are in the most stunning free-fall west of Atlanta (I say the Texans are a bigger surprise than the Falcons). The Texans were clearly one of the three or four most talented teams I saw in training camp this summer. Losing by 25 at home to the Rams? One of the strangest results I’ve seen in my years covering the league.
f. Geno Smith’s consistency. Or lack thereof.
g. The Tennessee running game. Chris Johnson at Seattle: 12 carries, 33 yards. Maybe he’s channeling his inner Trent Richardson.
h. Brandon Weeden’s self-proclaimed “bonehead” shovel pass intercepted by Detroit’s DeAndre Levy. Just another brick in the wall to a first-round quarterback for Cleveland in 2014.
3. I think Andrea Kremer deserves applause for her story on Packers defensive tackle Johnny Jolly, back from prison and addictions to drinking and codeine. “At the rate I was going, I could’ve been dead,’’ Jolly told Kremer. And a lot more.
4. I think you’re not going to need a first-round quarterback, Raiders, from what I’ve seen out of Terrelle Pryor. And that comes after he made too many mistakes at Kansas City.
5. I think this is just a guess, but I Donte Whitner/Hitner’s going to wake up one day at, say, 39 and say to himself: “I’m changing it back. Like, right now.”
6. I think in case you missed it, Justin Blackmon showed in the 35-19 loss to Denver why he’s the most important Jaguar. This is the game Jacksonville was supposed to lose by 40 and didn’t because the Broncos couldn’t cover the rangy and dangerous Blackmon (14 catches, 190 yards). It’s is absolutely incumbent on the Jags that they corral Blackmon’s personal life and make sure he stays out of trouble for the future. As long as the Jags put him on the field, they’ll be no offensive pushovers.
7. I think, after watching a good bit of college football over the weekend, I can picture Marcus Mariota throwing to Justin Blackmon over the corners of the AFC South for years to come, if Blackmon can find a way to stay on the straight and narrow after his dangerous dalliances with alcohol. (You can tell I’m dubious.) But as I said on NBC Sunday night, what was once a virtual certainty—either Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater or South Carolina pass rusher Jadaveon Clowney being the first pick in the draft next May—is now in doubt. Mariota will be draft-eligible next May (as will many other attractive quarterbacks, including Johnny Manziel) because he’s in his third college season out of high school. And at least two teams love Mariota to the point that I believe if he comes out those teams would have him higher on their board than Bridgewater.
8. I think forcing a team to do Hard Knocks, as the NFL suggested it could do last week to ensure the show going on each summer at some team’s training camp, is just plain wrong.
9. I think the Giants should trade Hakeem Nicks. They’re not going to sign him after this season, and some team would give them a draft choice to rent Nicks for the last 11 weeks of the season. No downside for either side, if you ask me.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. David Ortiz knows drama, I’ll say that.
b. Seventeen months ago, Michael Wacha was pitching at Texas A&M. Amazing to think he’ll likely have a better pro career than the far more famous Texas A&M thrower.
c. Wow. How impressive is Wacha? Striking out Yasiel Puig with the bases loaded on a 3-2 count, then getting one of the best clutch playoff hitters, Juan Uribe, on a K next. Good to watch.
d. And Anibal Sanchez? And Max Scherzer? Lord. What pitching over the weekend in the two championship series. If Detroit had a bullpen, the AL series would be just about over this morning.
e. And I don’t want to hear about what a horrible job Joe West did behind the plate Saturday night. The check swings that enraged the Red Sox all checked out correct on replay, and none of the marginal strike calls was over-the-top bad, the replay showing them at least touching or very close to the strike zone.
f. Good decision to step away and get as healthy as you can with your epilepsy issues, Jerry Kill. And good support from the University of Minnesota to back you as strongly as it does.
g. Coffeenerdness: I have nothing to say about coffee this week, other than I drank a lot of it during the week. Can I have a week off?
h. Beernerdness: So it’s October, and I wrote last week about the cool pumpkin ale from Harpoon. I’ve got a weakness for trying these pumpkin brews. So over the week I had the Southern Tier Imperial Pumking Ale. I’ve praised Southern Tier Hopsun in the past, and hear great things about this brewery. But Pumking Ale’s not for me. It’s a taste explosion—too much pumpkin, too many spices (and too strong), and too sweet. I’ll take my pumpkin ale on the conservative side.
i. Congrats, Alice Munro. I love modest, humble and talented people winning awards they truly deserve.
Who I Like Tonight
Indianapolis 27, San Diego 23. The focus will be on two high-pick quarterbacks, which is understandable given the Monday night stage. But I hope you take time tonight to appreciate a quiet one, Indy wideout Reggie Wayne, who is four catches from 1,000. This is how Chuck Pagano praised him Saturday: “He takes a beginner’s mentality every year that he shows up to training camp. All the great ones do that. Phil Jackson, coming off winning six championships, right? You read his book, all he ever talked about with his players every year, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, whoever: take a beginner’s mentality. This is your rookie season. And that’s what he’s done. Every year he comes in, it’s like starting over. He’s got his iPad out, he’s got his notepad and he treats it like his rookie year.”
The Adieu Haiku
Sunday in Boston:
Brady first, then Big Papi
Worcester’s hoarse today.