I hate for my title to start the new NFL season with a NFL number rule change beef, but Brady once again was Mr. Right. We’ll get into that, Brian Flores and rookie wide receivers while I mix in a little bookie talk.
Between the Chalk
Let me start by saying that Week 1 of the NFL was a huge success. COVID didn’t show it’s ugly head – although word out of the Saints locker room isn’t looking good as I write this. More on this as the story develops.
Before we move on though, did you see my last article, talking about where Between the Chalk came from and some other things to watch for in this column?
200 Años Independancia Costa Rica
It was a crazy weekend here at the beach in Costa Rica. This beautiful country celebrates its 200th birthday tomorrow, September 15th! And the party was in full force all weekend.
The beaches were full, basking in the heat and battling the occasional rain shower. After all, it is the green season.
The drinks were going down easy all day and all night, and needless to say, I was a bag of shit all day Monday. Bangers and hollywoods were the theme, washing it down with way too much whiskey.
NFL Number Rule Change
The NFL number rule change is just a personal thing for me. I knew who guys were and what their place in the defense was. Brady was correct in saying that the number change is a huge advantage for the defense. Will this make any professional handicappers think twice about totals?
On offense, it’s almost always plain to see what a players role is, but on defense when you see a massive body standing somewhere around the line of scrimmage with a number 6 on his jersey, it just doesn’t compute with me.
I can imagine what a 20+ year veteran of the league is thinking when they lineup and see these numbers. We all know that blocking is what makes or breaks a lot of running backs. Many of the prototypical 3rd down, pass-catching RBs couldn’t master defenses enough to figure out blocking, and are no longer in the league. Now this gets thrown in.
It’s a stupid NFL number rule change, one that serves no purpose other than letting a player wear a certain number for sentimental purposes.
Rookie WRs Taking Charge
One thing that stuck out in my head this weekend was the success of rookie wide receivers. I know, I know – easy on the first week overreactions – but with names like Ja’marr Chase, DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle light up the boxscore, you take notice.
Chase came with more fanfare than last season’s breakout rookie WR Justin Jefferson, teammates at LSU during their glory season that saw Joe Burrow blossom. There were many down on him during training camp, reportedly dealing with the drops – something he never did in college.
All that went away after lighting up the Viking D, leading the Bengals with 5 catches on 7 targets for 101 yards and a TD. Jefferson went 5-71-0 for Minnesota, with Thielen leading the way (9-92-2).
Crimson Tide & Saban
DeVonta Smith started his NFL career in fine fashion. He was last year’s Heisman Trophy winner, recording over 1,800 yards with 23 touchdowns for the Crimson Tide.
On the Eagle’s first drive of the game, the first of Smith’s career, had his 1st NFL catch, hauling in an 18-yard Jalen Hurts pass on 3rd & 4 for a touchdown!
He went on to finish with a stat line of 6 receptions on a team-high 8 targets for 71 yards and the lone TD. Smith did not look out of place, continuing the long line of NFL ready players coming from Alabama. Love em’ or hate em’, Nick Saban is a genius.
The third, and last wide receiver in this flashy group of rookies I’ll talk about was Smith’s teammate last season. None other than Miami Dolphin Jaylen Waddle. Waddle was reunited with another college teammate when he was drafted 6th overall in the 2021 NFL draft. Him and Tua hooked up for a TD in their professional debut together. Waddle caught 4 of 6 targets for 61 yards and a TD.
The Dolphins took the kickoff to start the second half tied 10-10. Tua moved the ball down the field, including a huge 30-yard strike to Parker on 3rd & 8. After a 4+-minute drive, Waddle caught a 3-yard TD pass.
The Dolphins never trailed in the game again, beating AFC East rival New England Patriots 17-16.
What Was Flores Doing?
I don’t want to get into the Flores thing too much, but what the f^k was he doing to end the 2nd half? He had plenty of time, timeouts and it seemed he was content running out the clock, settling for a field goal attempt.
Did he not expect to move the ball so quickly from the 25-yard line following the touchback and not have enough plays called? It seemed very amateur to me, especially against his old coach and mentor Bill Belichick.
If you didn’t see the possession, here’s what happened. Take a look at the Dolphins at Patriots play-by-play over on ESPN.com for reference.
Following the Pats lone TD, kickoff sails into the endzone.
Miami ball on the 25.
Tua throws a bomb to Waddle for 39 yards … then a 5-yards neutral zone infraction.
Miami 1st & 5 on the NE 34!
They cat shit around, bring in Jacoby Brissett on a 3rd &1 (you could see Tua was pissed), get a false start penalty.
Then get this! Flores decides to take the 10-second runoff instead of using a timeout!
Next two possessions are an incomplete pass then a sack.
Timeout taken – the FIRST and only one of the 1st half for the Dolphins. Then the lead footed Jason Sanders hits a 48-yard FG.
Why was Flores wishing time off the clock?!? Get in the endzone, get the ball to start the second half and take a commanding lead. BAD COACHING in my opinion.
Do you like the NFL Number Rule Change?
The 2021 NFL Week 1 bookie report is showing clearing skies with huge chance of a winning season. You know I’m just saying that to jinx those mfers!