It's Only A Game! Off The Ball Observations: Week 4
By Rob Ward
Your old mate Wardy returns with his weekly dose of mirth. And with the first coaching casualty of the 2020 NFL season, there’s only one place to start:
BOB Bounced Out Of Houston
Bill O’Brien. The Dark Lord, the Sith, the Putin of the NFL, the Evil Emperor, the Cruel Dictator (come up with whichever despotic and megalomaniac nicknames you like) is finally a goner! No longer will that bum chin grace the Texans’ sidelines. Much like Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the man who wasn’t content with his lot and sought greater power has fallen on his sword.
Texans owner Cal McNair plays the unlikely Macduff in this somewhat extravagant analogy. McNair rose to the top of the board room upon his father’s passing and it fell on to him to undo his father’s wrongdoings and slay the beast his father fed. It is a classic tale of ambition, power and greed. It’s the nearest thing to Game Of Thrones the NFL could come up with and I bloody loved every minute of this classic tragedy.
The Washington Football Team have unceremoniously dumped and brutally humiliated their first-round draft pick of 2019 who hasn’t just been made backup, he is now the backup to the backup…
Dwayne Haskins has gone from being the fiancé to the person you wouldn’t even offer a late-night booty call to when stumbling home from a club at 3am. And after all the hard work Washington did this offseason to seem like the nice guys!?! On a bright note, this could beckon the return of Alex Smith to a football field which would be a remarkable thing in itself.
In other quarterback change news, Joe Flacco returns to the football field in what suddenly seems a million years since he was good. Sam Darnold has a dodgy shoulder apparently, but don’t let those pesky Jets fool you! Last year it was mono; my money is on another juvenile illness. Chicken pox? Fifth Disease? Maybe he’s just teething.
Bag It Up
Paper-bag-on-the-head watch. We saw our first this season in Houston as the Texans fell to 0-4. Who knew Gareth Southgate’s 1996 Pizza Hut advert would inspire Houstonians a quarter of a century later. What odds on the waistcoat and tie combo being the attire of all head coaches in 2045?
You Thielen Okay?
Adam Thielen catching the ball and sprinting from one sideline to the other should be played out to the Benny Hill theme tune.
FIIIIIIIIIGHT!!!! And what a beauty it was between Golden Tate and Jalen Ramsey. To add to the drama this one had a backstory involving an ex-girlfriend, a sister and a bad breakup. This was straight from the courtroom of Judge Judy and we love anything with that sort of pedigree.
I enjoyed watching Cole Beasley – described by Rob Ryan on Sky Sports as “150 pounds soaking wet” – fall on his head when catching a TD. I enjoyed even more watching him leap to his feet in celebration and somehow leaving a Raiders player hurt on the play.
A Kicker A Week...
The Jags are on their fourth kicker of the season. A reminder, we’re only four weeks in. Is Mike Zimmer offering Doug Marrone advice from afar?
OK, two of those kickers may have got injured but shut up, you’re spoiling the narrative.
Our weekly Kansas City beekeeper face shield watch. Andy Reid may think he has the best getup in the City of Fountains but his thunder was well and truly stolen this past week by offensive coordinator and “the next big thing” Eric Bienemy. The assistant coach was sporting both your standard facemask AND the beekeeper shield.
Elsewhere, Bill Belichick chose to go with two facemasks for both the game and the press conference, adding further protection for ‘The Hoodie’ against those pesky journalists.
RoJo A NoGo
The look of sheer disgust on Tom Brady’s face when Ronald Jones dropped not one or two but three passes that went his way was both a thing of beauty and a strong indicator that there may not be many more balls heading in that direction.
A beautiful sight to see Josh Norman back and instantly running his mouth following his classic Peanut Punch. The league and your old mate Wardy has missed his sheer skullduggery.
Death, Taxes, And...
I placed the commentator’s curse on old man Jason Witten. As I laughed at him waddling around the field and questioned the logic to bring him in outside of being “a great locker room guy”, the veteran tight end lept like a salmon and caught a 4 yard TD pass. It’s reassuring to know in Covid times that sometimes the more things change, the more they stay the same.
'Veteran Game Manager'
How about 14-year veteran Brian Hoyer taking a sack and ending the first half when literally every other option would have given the Pats the chance of a field goal and a tied game? You love to see it.
And Final In Fantasy...
Rant of the week and it’s a beauty…. Calvin Ridley! Calvin ‘bleeping’ Ridley!!!! Just catch a pass soft lad. One catch, that’s all some of us needed. 6 points, that’s all others needed (mentioning no names eh-hum)…
Just when you thought he’d saved the day at the last, Packers safety Adrian Amos turns into peak Troy Polamalu and knocks the ball out of Ridley’s hands in the endzone. The pillow went flying across the bedroom, I’m not afraid to admit it. Hate this game sometimes.
ROB IS A LOVER OF ALL THINGS 49ERS AND HOST OF THE COLLAPSING POCKET PODCAST IN WHICH HE, SIMON CARROLL AND SAM AKROYD BUTT-FUMBLE THEIR WAY THROUGH THE WORLD OF THE NFL. AWAY FROM SPORT, ROB IS A PROFESSIONAL WRITER AND PERFORMER. HIT HIM UP ON TWITTER @ROBWARDRW!