When the NFL Network did its “Top 100 Players” countdown, the Baltimore Ravens had one player on it. It wasn’t Terrell Suggs, C.J. Mosley, Joe Flacco, Mike Wallace or any of the Ravens’ more recognizable names.
It was Marshal Yanda.
If you follow the NFL closely enough, you know Yanda. He’s perhaps the best guard in football. He didn’t just sneak on that NFL Network top 100 list; Yanda ranked No. 43. The next two players on the list were Cam Newton and Larry Fitzgerald, the 2015 NFL MVP and then a sure Hall-of-Fame receiver. Casual fans might not recognize the name because he plays a position that doesn’t get much attention, but he’s a great player.
And now he’s done for the season. Yanda fractured his ankle last week. That injury might not have sent people scrambling to the waiver wire in your fantasy league, but it’s as big of an injury as there has been in the early part of this season. The Ravens go into Sunday’s game at London against the Jacksonville Jaguars, which will be streamed on Yahoo Sports, without their best player.
“Losing one of the leaders of our offense and the whole team in general, it’s definitely a big hit to the team,” left tackle Ronnie Stanley said after Sunday’s game, according to the Baltimore Sun. “But we know that football, it has to go on. I know Marshal would say the same thing. We’ve got to keep pushing forward.”
The Ravens have been pounded by injuries the past couple months, but still have started 2-0. That’s mostly thanks to a defense that has been among the best in the NFL. The Ravens have allowed just 10 points all season. But the offense hasn’t been that great, and it probably won’t get better without Yanda.
Yanda has made the Pro Bowl each of the last six seasons, with two first-team All-Pro nods. The 2007 third-round pick out of Iowa has been a starter since early in his rookie season and has developed into a remarkable player.
His absence affects the Ravens’ run game. It affects the protection for Flacco. His absence will affect Baltimore’s offense in plenty of ways. Even if you didn’t know Yanda’s name or understand his importance to one of the NFL’s eight 2-0 teams, just know that it’s a crushing injury for the Ravens.
“It’s brutal,” guard Tony Bergstrom, who will replace Yanda, told the Ravens’ website. “Obviously, you can’t replace a guy like that. The toughness he has and the kind of character he brings to the team, it’s rough. … There’s no replacing him, but you still have to move on.”
Smith has seen many people threaten to take his post, but he keeps lasting in his job. He has said a strike or lockout seems like a “virtual certainty” in 2021, and he’ll presumably be there to fight for the union against the NFL.
The relationship between the two sides has grown as contentious as ever. A lot of the debates center around the NFLPA’s angst that Goodell has absolute power over player discipline. However, if and when there’s a work stoppage, the key issue will be money. It always is. The NFLPA didn’t win too many battles in the last work stoppage, but perhaps in a few years will fight harder for things like guaranteed contracts and the elimination of the franchise tag.
Smith has his detractors and challengers, but he hasn’t been ousted of his spot yet. He’ll be there another four years, too.
In that spirit, Fox Sports is trying something different. For the Tampa Bay Buccaneers-New York Giants game on Oct. 1, Fox is having twin brothers Ronde and Tiki Barber do the color commentary. Ronde was a great cornerback for many years with the Buccaneers and Tiki was a star running back for the Giants.
The twist, other than them being twins, is that Ronde has carved out a nice career as a color analyst, while Tiki – while being very media savvy before and after his career – doesn’t have that experience.
“Tiki is a novice in terms of calling games, and there are so many different mechanics that go along with it,” Ronde Barber said in a Fox Sports statement. “We have always shared our life experiences with each other, so he knows what he is getting into by virtue of me.”
The other twist is that Tiki Barber won’t exactly be a Giants homer. He was critical of coaches and teammates when he played and he didn’t quit when he retired. He has notably been critical of Giants quarterback Eli Manning. Listening to Barber call a game with Manning at quarterback by itself is worth tuning in.
The Barber twins will join Kenny Albert in the booth. It’s a fun idea to get some new blood onto a game broadcast, and it might get really fun if Tiki Barber starts unloading on Manning again.
The “Peanut Punch” might be coming to law enforcement.
Former Chicago Bears cornerback Charles “Peanut” Tillman, most famous for forcing fumbles by punching the ball out of receivers’ hands, is training to enter the FBI according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. Tillman had a dream job for many people last year – a spot on Fox Sports’ “Fox NFL Kickoff” show – but he is apparently shifting focus to another dream job.
The FBI couldn’t comment to Biggs for the story.
Biggs pointed out that Tillman is trying to enter the FBI just in time: FBI agents must be at least 23 years old and younger than 37 years old at the time of appointment, and Tillman will turn 37 next February.
Tillman earned a criminal justice degree at Louisiana-Lafayette, so his shift to law enforcement isn’t totally out of the blue. He’s presumably not doing it for the money, since his NFL contracts were worth more than $45 million, but because this is a career he really wants to pursue. Tillman was always known as one of the smartest players in the league (and one of the most charitable – he was once given the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year award) and it’s not surprising that he’s pursuing a high-profile career outside of football.
And if Tillman is as good in law enforcement as he was on the football field, the FBI will be getting a heck of an agent.
Even Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti can’t pretend to be fired up. When you read this quote, keep in mind that every single time a team has moved in modern sports history, it has generated plenty of excitement in its new city.
“We embrace any team that comes, we’re certainly happy to have the Chargers in L.A.,” Garcetti said during a recent interview on “The Dan Patrick Show.” “But I think we could have been happy with just one [team], too.”
That one team would be the Rams. During the interview, Garcetti (who is an admitted Rams fan) said getting the Chargers was “gravy.”
It’s amazing. Through the years, cities have treated landing a new pro team like a historic, city-changing event. In many ways, it is. Los Angeles didn’t exactly go crazy about the Rams, but there was some buzz. There’s practically none for the Chargers, and Garcetti said the city would have been fine had the Chargers stayed in San Diego.
“Absolutely. Absolutely, and I said that at the time,” Garcetti said. “I said it’s great and both the Raiders and the Chargers, it would have been nice if they could have stayed put where they are because Oakland and San Diego have huge fan bases, there’s a big tradition … I’m glad the Chargers will build up a fan base and it really is Southern California, but I believe in players playing for a long time on teams, and teams staying in a city for their lives.”
You have to wonder what the NFL thinks about moving two teams to Los Angeles now, especially with photos of a half-full Los Angeles Coliseum for Rams games and stories of the Chargers’ issues filling a 27,000-seat stadium in Carson, Calif. The Chargers and Rams both played home games Sunday and they didn’t have a higher combined attendance figure than the USC-Texas game the previous day. Maybe it turns around for the Rams and Chargers, especially when the new stadium in Inglewood opens, but no other relocated teams have struggled this much early on. The NFL has to privately wonder if it would have been better off taking Charges owner Dean Spanos’ relocation fee and all the other costs associated with moving a team and put that money toward a new stadium in San Diego. Everyone would have been better off. But Spanos and the league had its feelings hurt that San Diego taxpayers didn’t pay for a new stadium, then they made what appears to be a bad business decision.
The Chargers move has such little momentum, you have to wonder if Los Angeles will even still be their home years from now. If they move again, the mayor of Los Angeles wouldn’t seem to mind, and everyone else in the city might not even notice.
Here’s something nobody would have predicted in mid-September of 2017: Robert Griffin and Santana Moss beefing over the firing of Mike Shanahan four years ago.
The topic of Shanahan’s firing from the Washington Redskins and Griffin’s reaction to it came up during an interview with Moss on 106.7 The Fan. Moss indicated that Griffin, who was benched in late 2013, gloated a bit about Shanahan being fired.
“(W)e hear that Mike Shanahan’s not coming back the next year, then we hear the quarterback like, ‘Hey. Mm hmm,’” Moss told 106.7’s Chad Dukes. “Like, basically saying that, ‘You got me out of here not playing last year, the last few games, then that’s what happens. You get fired.’ You can’t do that. One thing I’ll just share with you: God don’t like ugly. So the little credit that he did take for saying that, ‘Hey, they didn’t like what I was doing,’ or ‘they benched me and not allowing me to play,’ that’s what happens.”
Moss said about Griffin, “it comes back and bites you in your behind. Because now you see this guy is at home.” Griffin is unsigned after playing with the Cleveland Browns last season. Moss said gloating about Shanahan’s firing was the “dumbest mistake” Griffin could make.
“God don’t like ugly,” Moss told 106.7 The Fan. “So try not to be in those shoes, to be the guy to reap off of someone’s downfall.”
It didn’t take long for Moss’ words to reach Griffin, who then called out his former teammate.
No subtweeting needed Santana Moss, I treat you like a brother & have always had your back. To openly lie about me is a betrayal…..
Didn’t expect this feud, did you? Moss hasn’t been in the NFL since 2014, after a long career. Shanahan hasn’t coached since 2013. Griffin last appeared in a game with the Redskins in 2014. But the messy way it ended for Shanahan and then Griffin in Washington is still a hot topic there.
Moss told Dukes he brought it up because Griffin taking delight in Shanahan’s firing was “the number one wrong thing to do” and “that’s the only thing that ever bothered me as a player” and it bothered him to this day.
The Shanahan-Griffin situation in 2013 was truly ugly, with plenty of leaked stories from both sides. The comments from Griffin and Moss this week is a sign that all the wounds from that time haven’t healed.
Chris Long wanted to do something positive in Charlottesville, Va., and he is using a good portion of his Philadelphia Eagles salary for it.
Long, a defensive end for the Eagles who is in this 10th NFL season, will donate six game checks to fund two scholarships in Charlottesville, his hometown. In August a car struck anti-racism protesters in Charlottesville after a white nationalist rally, which made headlines across the country.
Those events led to Long and his wife Megan setting up the scholarships.
“In August, we watched people fill our hometown streets with hatred and bigotry,” Long said in a statement. “Megan and I decided to try to combat those actions with our own positive investment in our community.”
Long’s base salary this season is $1 million. The scholarships will promote “equality through education,” Long’s statement said. Two middle-school students will get a seven-year, all expenses paid school program through the Chris Long Scholarships. The scholarships will be administered through Long’s alma mater, St. Anne’s-Belfield School, and they’ll be given to two members of the Boys & Girls Club of Central Virginia.
Long has a reputation as one of the most outgoing and conscientious players in the NFL. When a tragedy hit his hometown, he and his wife reacted with generosity.
In the draft, the Kansas City Chiefs added a dynamic offensive player. Presumably frustrated with not being able to get over the hump in the playoffs, perhaps they figured a new offensive star could take them to another level.
The Chiefs drafted Patrick Mahomes, too.
Mahomes was the star of the team’s draft class, but running back Kareem Hunt is the one who has changed the Chiefs’ offense right away. Kansas City couldn’t have known Hunt would be this good right away. If the Chiefs knew that, they wouldn’t have waited until the 86th pick to take him. But he looks like the kind of impact player that might finally get the Chiefs past the divisional round of the playoffs for the first time since Joe Montana was their quarterback.
Sunday provided a good example of Hunt’s impact. The Chiefs were in a battle against the Philadelphia Eagles, trailing 10-6 late in the third quarter. Then Hunt took a run 53 yards for a touchdown. The Chiefs never trailed again. Although 50-yard runs look easy on Saturdays against disinterested college defenses, it’s not easy in the NFL. Hunt is the first NFL player since 1955 to have 50-yard touchdowns in each of his first two career games. A playmaker like that is special in the NFL. Hunt appears to be the kind of player who can change a game in an instant.
While Hunt has five NFL touchdowns already, this is a bit out of the blue. He didn’t test like a guy who could break 50-yard touchdowns in the NFL. His combine was average at best, with a 4.6-second 40-yard dash and unimpressive numbers in other drills. That’s why he was still available for the Chiefs in the third round. Plenty of teams who passed on Hunt could use him now.
The Chiefs were the second seed in the AFC last season, and they were a good team. But they lost their playoff opener as a couple decades of playoff disappointment continued. Maybe Hunt can change that. Coach Andy Reid knew how to use multi-dimensional backs like Brian Westbrook and Jamaal Charles, and he knows what he has in Hunt. The Chiefs seem to have the NFL’s latest superstar back, and he lifts their playoff ceiling significantly.
Here are the power rankings after Week 2 of the NFL season:
32. New York Jets (0-2, Last week: 32) Anyone remember the basketball player Tony Campbell? He was a good, solid player who ended up as the best player on the expansion Minnesota Timberwolves in 1989-90. And his first two seasons he averaged 23.0 and 21.8 points per game. His career best in any other year was 11.0. He scored a lot because it was a professional team and someone had to score. He did it by default. That might be Jermaine Kearse this season for the Jets. Kearse, who was traded to the Jets from the Seahawks right before the season, had two touchdowns on Sunday. He’s going to end up putting up decent numbers basically because someone has to.
31. Indianapolis Colts (0-2, LW: 31) The fact that the Colts have ruled out Andrew Luck on Monday every week so far this season tells me he won’t be back anytime soon. If there was even a tiny chance of him playing, they’d keep that door open all week, if for no other reason than to keep the opponent guessing. He’s at a zero percent chance to play now. It’ll take a while until Luck is at 100 percent ready.
30. San Francisco 49ers (0-2, LW: 30) Credit to the 49ers’ defense for nearly pulling off an improbable upset. Carlos Hyde going for 124 rushing yards against the Seattle defense was impressive. But 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan needs to figure out a passing game. Quarterback Brian Hoyer has 292 yards in two full games. Tom Brady had 294 in the first half alone on Sunday. You have to wonder how close the team is to trying out rookie C.J. Beathard.
29. Cleveland Browns (0-2, LW: 29) Corey Coleman’s broken hand is a tough blow. This is the second straight season he’ll miss time with a broken hand. Coleman has played well when he has been healthy, though his durability is becoming an issue. And Cleveland isn’t very deep at receiver (that Kenny Britt contract is looking really bad now).
28. Chicago Bears (0-2, LW: 27) The Bears weren’t good to begin with, and now injuries are really piling up. Their top two receivers are on IR. They have four guards hurt. Inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman suffered a season-injury in Week 1 and his replacement Nick Kwiatkoski probably suffered a season-ending injury too. Running back Jordan Howard has an injured shoulder. They can’t overcome all that.
27. Cincinnati Bengals (0-2, LW: 24) I don’t really know why there’s a thought that AJ McCarron would be a significant upgrade over Andy Dalton. It won’t fix the offensive line, and McCarron would just be a new quarterback for Bengals fans to complain about.
26. New Orleans Saints (0-2, LW: 25) The Saints are allowing 512.5 yards per game. Only one other team (Patriots) is allowing more than 409 yards per game. I don’t think that pace continues all season … but I can’t guarantee it won’t, either.
25. Buffalo Bills (1-1, LW: 28) I’m not sure whether to be impressed they almost won a game in which LeSean McCoy had nine yards on 12 carries, or be concerned they couldn’t win a game in which they gave up 255 yards and no touchdowns. Buffalo had 176 yards and 10 first downs, and now gets to play the Broncos’ defense in Week 3.
23. New York Giants (0-2, LW: 14) While there will be plenty of criticism for Ben McAdoo’s play-calling and the offense in general, it might be a different game Monday night if Brandon Marshall doesn’t drop a pass that hit his hands down the sideline. It was 17-10 early in the fourth quarter at that point. A catch by a wide-open Marshall gives the Giants first down in Lions territory. Instead he dropped it, and the Lions returned a punt for a touchdown two plays later.
22. Arizona Cardinals (1-1, LW: 21) Chris Johnson looked OK, gaining 44 yards on 11 carries. Kerwynn Williams wasn’t so good, with 22 yards on nine carries. The Cardinals have to patch together a run game without David Johnson, and Johnson is going to be out a couple months. The Cardinals probably can’t get very far riding Carson Palmer and Chris Johnson for half of a season or more, but what choice do they have?
21. Houston Texans (1-1, LW: 26) If we’re being realistic, the Texans’ offense still looked terrible last week. Quarterback Deshaun Watson got very little going outside of one big run. Every week is going to be a struggle until the Texans figure out how to generate some points.
20. Los Angeles Rams (1-1, LW: 20) Todd Gurley looked great with 136 total yards, a couple of touchdowns and one fantastic hurdle. The Rams lost, but seeing Gurley play his best game since his rookie year is a clear positive.
19. Washington Redskins (1-1, LW: 23) Maybe it’s time for Washington to at least see if Chris Thompson can handle more carries. The past two seasons, Thompson averaged 6.2 and 5.2 yards per carry. Yet, he has had double-digit carries in a game only once (12 carries, 73 yards vs. Detroit last season). Thompson had 77 yards on three carries Sunday and was Washington’s best player. It can’t hurt to find out if he’s capable of more.
18. Los Angeles Chargers (0-2, LW: 15) The Chargers had two last second field goals to tie a game at Denver and win a game over Miami. Instead they’re 0-2, two games behind all three teams in a tough AFC West. Remember always that the margins of error in the NFL are incredibly thin.
17. Miami Dolphins (1-0, LW: 19) Jay Ajayi had 28 carries on Sunday. Every other running back on the roster had one combined, a 3-yard loss for Kenyan Drake. Miami needs to figure out some depth, because Ajayi can’t hold up with that many carries.
16. Baltimore Ravens (2-0, LW: 16) The London trip will be a little tricky for the Ravens. Jacksonville’s defense is legit, and the Ravens aren’t great on offense. But the Ravens are really good on defense. Baltimore would be happy with a low-scoring, ugly win overseas.
15. Detroit Lions (2-0, LW: 18) Ziggy Ansah looking healthy again, and him getting three sacks on Monday night (even if they came against stuggling Giants left tackle Ereck Flowers) is great news for the Lions. He’s a true difference maker for the defense.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0, LW: 17) Doug Martin sat out with a suspension. DeSean Jackson had 39 yards. Tampa Bay’s two talented tight ends had three catches combined. And the Buccaneers still led by 26 at the half. Sure it was against the Bears, but it was a great opener.
13. Minnesota Vikings (1-1, LW: 10) It’s hard to take much from Sunday’s loss without Sam Bradford. The problem is, he’s no sure thing to stay healthy for the final 14 games.
12. Tennessee Titans (1-1, LW: 13) Now the Titans’ Week 1 loss just reflects well on a good Raiders team. What the Titans did Sunday – their final seven drives against a good Jaguars defense resulted in four touchdowns, two field goals and killing the clock by taking a knee – serves notice that Tennessee was worth all that preseason hype.
11. Philadelphia Eagles (1-1, LW: 12) A lot of teams are going to lose at Kansas City this season. The Eagles played them tough. Carson Wentz was good on third downs against the Chiefs; the next step is becoming more consistent on first and second down.
10. Carolina Panthers (2-0, LW: 11) The Panthers had just nine points on Sunday and were struggling to move the ball. So why did Christian McCaffrey get just 12 touches? McCaffrey didn’t seem to be an obvious fit in the style of offense the Panthers have played the past couple seasons, and it seems the Panthers are still figuring out how to best use their rookie back.
9. Seattle Seahawks (1-1, LW: 8) I’m not sure what to make of Seattle now. The offense has been really bad. The Packers didn’t look great on defense against the Falcons, the 49ers were only OK on defense against the Panthers, and those two opponents held the Seahawks to one touchdown in eight quarters. Maybe the Seahawks are trying to tell us they’re not that great this season. Next Sunday at Tennessee will be a great test for that.
8. Dallas Cowboys (1-1, LW: 6) Sometimes you just run up against a team that gives you matchup problems, or simply has a great day. I don’t think Sunday’s blowout loss at Denver is indicative of what Dallas is. It’s just a reminder that what Dallas did last season, going 13-2 before sitting out Week 17, was always going to be nearly impossible to duplicate.
7. Denver Broncos (2-0, LW: 9) You could make an argument that the best team so far this season is this one right here. Ignore the last part of the fourth quarter against the Chargers, because there were a couple fluky turnovers there. If you take out that Chargers surge at the end, the Broncos outscored the Chargers and Cowboys 66-24, and those are two tough opponents. Why does it look like the Broncos are so much better? Trevor Siemian will be the common answer. What has changed most is the run defense. Denver was 28th in run defense last season. On Sunday, they held rushing champ Ezekiel Elliott to 8 yards.
6. Green Bay Packers (1-1, LW: 2) The Packers seemed hamstrung with their play-calling on Sunday night. Both tackles were out, Jordy Nelson dropped out early and Randall Cobb was knocked out late. If they play the Falcons again in January the game would look a lot different. And that rematch might happen.
5. Oakland Raiders (2-0, LW: 7) Two games in, Derek Carr has a 126.5 passer rating. It’s early, but if you picked Carr to win MVP this season, you should feel pretty good about it.
4. New England Patriots (1-1, LW: 5) Not every question was answered, but this was mostly the Patriots team we expected to see. I still believe this is likely the best team in football, or will establish itself as such by the end of the season.
3. Kansas City Chiefs (2-0, LW: 4) Probably fair to say not enough was made of Justin Houston having a healthy offseason, unlike last year. He has three sacks in two games and should make a strong run at NFL defensive player of the year.
2. Atlanta Falcons (2-0, LW: 3) We have to acknowledge that Kyle Shanahan’s new team hasn’t scored a touchdown, while the Falcons with Steve Sarkisian calling plays looked like a machine for most of Sunday night. While not taking anything away from Shanahan’s remarkable 2016 season, maybe his departure wasn’t that big of a deal if you still have Matt Ryan, Devonta Freeman and Julio Jones.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-0, LW: 1) Le’Veon Bell ground out 87 rushing yards on 27 carries. He still doesn’t look quite right. You can probably chalk up two games to him getting in football shape. If it extends into a third week, you’d have to call that a slump.
When the New York Giants hired Ben McAdoo to replace Tom Coughlin as head coach, it was a little strange. The Giants wanted a change, but they hired Coughlin’s offensive coordinator.
However, it made sense on another level because McAdoo had done a fine job as New York’s offensive coordinator. The Giants wanted continuity for quarterback Eli Manning and the offense. He got the job.
So here we are, 18 regular-season games into McAdoo’s career as Giants head coach, his offense is one of the worst in football and the Giants are off to an 0-2 start this season. The offense was bad last season too, but the Giants had a great defense and won a ton of close games to make the playoffs. McAdoo officially gets credit for an 11-5 record last season, but the Giants won in spite of his poor offense.
There’s no hiding this season. The Giants are bad and it’s almost entirely because the offense is terrible. McAdoo might be in some trouble if that doesn’t turn around.
The Giants’ offense is bland, predictable and ineffective. It has been on prime time twice in two weeks and was unwatchable both times, the latest being a 24-10 loss to the Detroit Lions on Monday night. Fans were booing from the first drive, when the Giants called a give-up run on third-and-13. It never got much better. The Giants have scored 13 points with just one touchdown in two games.
There are personnel issues on offense, but it shouldn’t be this bad. The offensive line is not good, mostly because Ereck Flowers is overmatched as a left tackle. But after Lions end Ezekiel Ansah had two sacks, Flowers was left on him with no help and Ansah got sack No. 3. That’s on the guy calling the plays, who happens to be McAdoo. The coach deserved some blame too when the Giants decided to go for it on fourth-and-goal at the 2-yard line, the play came in slow and they took a delay of game. It might be hard to focus on details like those when you’re dealing with everything as a head coach.
If you think about hiring practices in the NFL, it doesn’t always make sense. The most common hire in the NFL is to go get the hottest offensive or defensive coordinator. Those men get a head coaching job and usually have to give up play-calling because it’s too much to do both jobs. So they have to give up the very thing that got them to their dream job and made them attractive in the first place.
Or new coaches try to do both. That’s not easy and it’s understandable why anyone would struggle to juggle it all. McAdoo doesn’t seem adept at handling both jobs. He’s not doing well at either this season.
McAdoo was a tremendous offensive coordinator when he came over to the Giants. Eli Manning had two of his best seasons with McAdoo calling plays in 2014-15. Then McAdoo got promoted and the offense fell apart. Maybe that’s coincidental, and McAdoo was elevate to head coach right as the personnel eroded. But probably not.
The Giants are 0-2 and have done practically nothing on offense in two games. They are spending a ton of money on the defense, and that unit is pretty good. The Giants probably figured that if they added to the defense, McAdoo could coach the offense to big things. That’s not happening, and you have to wonder if McAdoo’s seat will start to get hot as a result.
We found out Monday night that Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has an audible he named after his childhood pal and baseball superstar Clayton Kershaw. It’s a good thing Stafford used it now, because “Kershaw” probably won’t be any good in October.
Jokes aside, you hear some fun stuff when you listen to audibles, most notably when Green Bay Packers Aaron Rodgers called out “New York Bozo” as Chris Christie was in attendance. On Sunday, Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr checked to a play called “Seattle” and then threw it instead of handing off to Marshawn Lynch at the goal line, which was (probably) an unintentional and humorous callback to the Seahawks’ famously bad Super Bowl play call.
In the third quarter against the New York Giants, Stafford didn’t like the play that was called so he changed it at the line of scrimmage by shouting out Kershaw’s name. It’s hard to figure out why “Kershaw” was a check to a run off tackle for Lions running back Theo Riddick, but that’s what it was.
It would have seemed more appropriate for it to be a play to the left, because Kershaw is a left-handed pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers, but it must make sense to Stafford. And it did work pretty well: Riddick gained 8 yards.
ESPN heard the audible too and that led to the well-worn story of how Stafford and Kershaw grew up together in the Dallas area. Although most of us know the story by now, it is pretty amazing how two of the most notable athletes in sports were friends as kids.
Kershaw probably wasn’t watching, since he was pitching on Monday night for the Dodgers against the Washington Nationals (and giving up his first grand slam), but he still got a shout-out from his friend anyway.