It has been another frenetic week in the NFL. But whilst the Titans and a certain Jared Goff have been hogging the headlines, some of the following may have escaped your attention.
1. Michael on the Move
It was only a few weeks ago that the Seahawks were lauding Christine Michael, praising the development in his game and setting up to be the man who would keep their running game going after Marshawn Lynch‘s retirement. Now, with Thomas Rawls apparently back to full strength and fitness, Michael has been booted out of the Seattle door for the second time in his career. Fortunately, he easily found a new home in Green Bay, although revitalising the Packers’ moribund offense might not be the easiest task he’s ever been given.
2. A Walsh Away
We reported last week that the Vikings had held a kicking contest to make incumbent Blair Walsh fight for his job. Word is that the intention was to improve the kicker’s game by making him angry that anyone could doubt him. Sadly for Minnesota fans, that backfired on Sunday when Walsh shanked another extra point attempt. Former Redskins and Saints kicker Kai Forbath is the man with the dubious task of replacing him as the Vikings continue their slide down the rankings.
3. Gronk’s OK, Though
It takes a lot to stop Rob Gronkowski, but he described the hit that he took from Seattle’s Earl Thomas on Sunday evening as the hardest he had ever felt. News reports at the time suggested that the tight end may have suffered a punctured lung, but more recent medical bulletins are encouraging and Patriots fans can expect their main – arguably sole – offensive weapon to suit up this week.
4. More Bad News (for the) Bears
Another wheel fell off the clown car that is the Chicago Bears’ offense with the news that star wide receiver Alshon Jeffery will miss the next four games after violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. In the long term, this almost certainly guarantees that he will follow Jay Cutler out of the door in February. In the short one, it means that, over eleven weeks, the Bears have lost their starting right tackle, right guard, center, two quarterbacks and number one receiver, with the possibility that rookie running back Jordan Howard, the one bright spark in their dismal season, will also miss time with a leg injury. It’s a wonder head coach John Fox has any hair left.
5. Good News for the Browns
Speaking of dismal seasons, the winless Browns received a modicum of good news this week as Robert Griffin III (remember him?) was cleared to return to non-contact drills. Whilst head coach Hue Jackson has indicated that they will roll with rookie Cody Kessler for the time being – and there seems no point rushing RG3 back with the season already in the dumper – when you’re staring at becoming only the second team ever to go 0-16 you have to take your good things where you can find them.
6. Revis Island is Sinking
Keeping the Jets’ defense under control seems to be like trying to gift wrap a balloon at the moment – no sooner do you get one bit covered than something else breaks out. After the much-publicised problems with Sheldon Richardson and Mohammed Wilkerson earlier this month, the last thing Todd Bowles needed was for his star defensive player to come out and admit that he was getting past it. Which is precisely what Darrelle Revis did earlier this week, putting the downturn in his play this season down to ‘getting old’. The days when quarterbacks shied away from throwing to Revis’ corner of the field were already long gone, but what the Jets needed was a few weeks of stability, not more good news for their opponents.