It's Only A Game! Off The Ball Observations Week 1

By Rob Ward

Thursday night saw the return of the NFL to our screens, with Kansas City picking up where they left off in the 2019 season and torching the Texans. Whilst most of you will have been impressed by the irrepressible Patrick Mahomes, your old mate Wardy was much more enamored with Andy Reid’s beekeeper-in-chief getup. That steamed up face shield was a sight to behold…

Football is a serious game, but there are comic berries to be picked each and every week. So let’s start with the first Sunday of the season – which, to every NFL fan, is better than Christmas morning.

Greying Gunslingers

It's Only A Game
Credit: Butch Dill (Associated Press)

The Brady-Brees Bowl was built up as the fresh start for the fresh-faced 42 year old Tom Terrific, but it was the same old same old that caught your old mate Wardy’s eye. How about Sean Payton needlessly going for a touchdown on 4th down in the dying seconds of the game with the result secured? Top shithousery!

As for the other head coach, you’ve gotta love Bruce Arians totally throwing Brady under the bus in his post-match presser. When asked about the two picks, Arians didn’t mince his words:

“One was a miscommunication between he and Mike (Evans). He thought Mike was going down the middle. It’s a different coverage. Mike read it right. He should’ve bent across his face, but Tom just overthrew it. The other one was a screen pass with an outlet called. He threw the outlet, and there was a pick six. Bad decision.”

You may be the man brought in to guide this team to Super Bowl glory, you may already have 6 rings, but you don’t cock up on BA’s watch. Never change Bruce. Never change…

Use Your Head...

Come on Jamie Collins; if you’re gonna be ejected for headbutting an official, at least make a proper job of it. Give him a Glasgow kiss, give him the Zidane on Materazzi treatment, give him something! I was also disappointed in said official for not giving it the Paul Alcock theatrics after that notorious Paolo Di Canio shove.

Just Gotta Ride It

It's Only A Game
Credit: John Munson (Associated Press)

The Josh Allen Experience is open once more. Our favourite upstate New York theme park has been shut down for several months after that infamous lateral in the Wildcard meltdown, but it was back with a bang in this game.

Allen opened and closed the first half coughing the ball up in the Jets’ 20 with some comical trips and pratfalls, yet inbetween led the offense to a 21-0 lead with some delightful scrambles and dashes.

Watching Allen reminds me of the rollercoaster at Gulliver’s World in Warrington that I used to brave as a kid. It was all aboard and hold on for dear life. Remarkably I lived to tell the tale. With this elite defense, and the occasional brilliance of their third year QB, I suspect The Bills Mafia may just too.

Put Some Effort In Jerry!

For someone who bangs on about the importance of standing for the anthem, did anyone else think Jerry Jones’ weak effort at the old hand-on-heart routine looked more like Mary Berry clutching her pearls?

Mitchell Motors

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Credit: Jose Juarez (Associated Press)

Just when you thought Mitchell ‘Don’t call me Mitch’ Trubisky was on the scrapheap, he found himself a brand new engine in Motor City. Make no mistake, he was wonderfully awful in the first half, but engineered a stunning turnaround for the Bears to leave Super Bowl hero Nick Foles on the bench for another week at least.

On that game… oh Lions fans. I mean, wow. Just wow. Not only do the Bears get a go-ahead touchdown but to rub salt into those gaping wounds De’Andre Swift drops a pass that would have given Stafford another famous late turnaround to follow the Bears famous late turnaround. Brutal…

Some people say the Lions are boring but when they’re painting masterpieces like this I couldn’t disagree more. Admittedly this was more ‘The Scream’ than it was ‘Guernica’, but one man’s meat is another’s poison.

Good Old Fashioned Knees Up

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Credit: BillsWire (USA Today)

Yeah yeah yeah, Cam rolled back the years and rushed for two TDs… but how about Ryan Fitpatrick’s knees-up dainty trot into the endzone? A thing of beauty. The three picks weren’t, but why do you people always have to focus on the bad?

Minshew Masterclass

Minshew Mania is in full swing in Jacksonville, and just when you all thought the Jags’ Tank for Trevor (or ‘Go Povo for Lawro’ as I prefer to call it) was on, the bloke from the 118 adverts flashed you the v’s and went 19/20, 3 touchdowns and a passer rating of 142.3.

Meanwhile. poor old Philip Rivers may have jumped ship in the offseason but was still left with that sinking feeling. Much like the Chargers did for most of his tenure, the Colts marched down the field at will but couldn’t rack up the points. Then with the game on the line, as sure as night turns to day, Big Phil is gonna hurl the rock into the grateful hands of the opposing defensive backs.

Also… massive LOL to all you fantasy anoraks creaming your jeans over Jonathan Taylor and Marlon Mack in this game when it was my mate Nhyiem Hines who stole the touchdowns.

Kicking Themselves In The Foot

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Credit: Bobby Ellis (Getty Images)

And finally…

It hasn’t been a great few months for kickers. Aldrick Rosas is in the dock on a hit-and-run charge, the Pats drafted a Nazi and promptly released him and then poor old Matt Gay had the ignominy of being dropped by Tampa. That’s Tampa! The funeral home of kickers.

Things didn’t improve much in Week One. Bills rookie Tyler Bass looked more like Lance Bass (there’s a 90s reference for you!) missing his first two attempts in the NFL, whilst Rams new boy Sam Sloman was true to his surname as he smashed the upright with a kick that barely left the deck. I had more hope for the fabulous named and bespectacled Rodrigo Blankenship – the Edgar Davids of the NFL – but he also wellied the bar from about 20 yards out.

However, the WTF Week 1 A-Wardy goes to an old favourite. Not to be shown up by these new kids on the block, terrace legend Randy ‘Macho Man’ Bullock doinked a chip shot that would have given Joe Burrow a chance at a winning start in Cincy, before making out he’d done his hammy in the process. I actually applauded the sheer brassneckery of it.

Rob Ward