We have a lot of games to get to this week but before we begin I have a very simple and logical request of all NFL kickoff returners: Please stop taking the ball out of the fucking end zone.
Stop that right now. I know you think the protection looks dandy and that you can use your otherworldly speed to scamper to midfield and beyond, but you are wrong. You are going to get destroyed at the 15 and I will hate you forever for your hubris. And if you take it out from deep in the end zone, you should be strangled.
Once the NFL moved the kickoff touchback to the 25-yard line, it effectively negated any strategic advantage from attempting a return. The only reason they kept the kickoff at all is for ceremonial purposes, and so that we can still have cool onside kicks at the end of games. This year, the leaguewide average for kickoff returns is 22.5 yards. Only nine teams average better than 25 yards per kickoff return, and they don’t clear it by much (and remember, they include end-zone yardage in those stats). The average starting field position for kicks taken out of the end zone? Why, that would be the 22.9 yard line. The Bucs, bless their stupid little hearts, start from the 12.5 on such returns.
Not a single kickoff this season has been returned for a touchdown. The risk/reward ratio is completely askew. The NFL is basically screaming at you to take the 25 and be happy with it, and yet it’s amazing how many teams blindly ignore this implied directive because they think they’re special.
If you take the ball out of the end zone on the kickoff, not only are you risking both an injury and a turnover, but you are statistically unlikely to advance the ball as far as you would have if you had just taken a knee. (By the way, this applies to picks in the end zone, too; the median INT return is just 15 yards). Only one team this season—Green Bay—has not bothered to attempt a kickoff return. I can’t believe a Mike McCarthy outfit is ahead of the curve on tailoring return strategies to the data, but there you have it. If there’s a special teams coach out there who has not yet realized the folly of attempting an end zone return and saved his best return man exclusively for punts, they should be managing a KFC.
The league changed this rule for safety, but it only works if teams take the hint that the NFL doesn’t want you returning kicks anymore, unless you have to because you fielded the ball in play. I swear they could put the touchback at the 50 and some returner would still think to himself, “Oh, I can house this.” Everyone should know better by now. If your name isn’t Deion, get down and stay down.
All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms.
Packers at Cowboys: Did you know Mark Schlereth is a color commentator now on Fox? I didn’t realize it until last week, when I heard incoherent babbling coming from Dick Stockton’s broadcast partner and I was like, “Oh God, is that... oh no,” and it was! This man is incapable of failing downward. Every other sports media personality will be dead or laid off one day, but Mark Schlereth will somehow still manage to be gainfully employed, hawking terrible hot sauce and saying shit like, “Dom Capers wants this team to be PHYSICAL.” I can’t stand it.
Chiefs at Texans: Is The Orville a drama? I only ask because it’s an hour long and last week’s promo featured Seth MacFarlane sternly demanding some alien or something give him back his ship, like he thought he was Harrison Ford or something. Who the fuck could possibly want an hourlong Seth MacFarlane space drama beside Seth MacFarlane? I’d rather watch Blake Bortles try and win a stuffed dog at the ring toss.
By the way, they’re still allowing MacFarlane to make albums of jazz standards. If that isn’t proof that America is a lost cause, I don’t know what is. The entire island of Puerto Rico got six rolls of Brawny and this asshole gets space operas and record deals thrown at him. Someone’ll probably give him the fucking Chargers for free.
Panthers at Lions: We are now at the stage of affairs where “Put Matthew McConaughey in an ad and have him act like a weirdo” is now the brand strategy of, like, six different companies.
Elsewhere during your football game ad break, it’s still early fall, which means all of the movie promos are for shit like The Snowman, which will either be very scary or comically not scary at all, as evidenced here:
Is the snowman the killer, or does he put a snowman head on you after he’s murdered you? I will not pay $12 to find out. And Geostorm! At some point the world will have to come to grips with the fact that someone paid good money to finance a Gerard Butler movie called Geostorm. I really hope there’s a scene where Butler is like, “You see, ‘geo-‘ means EARTH, and ‘storm’ means STORM. That means we are dealing with an EARTHSTORM.” Man has always loved his weather, but what if the weather said NO MORE?
I’m sorry that this entire column has turned into a WHO ARE THE AD WIZARDS WHO CAME UP WITH THIS ONE? routine, but I gotta make fun of one more: That Papa John’s ad where Papa John and Peyton thank the groundskeeper for keeping the grass all nice and pretty. I thought that ad was gonna have a punchline, but no. No, it’s really Papa and Peypey giving shitty pizza to some poor landscaper and thankin’ him for all he does for footbaw. I bet Papa John tips people in nickels.
Seahawks at Rams: I love this Rams team unconditionally but put me in with everyone else who would like them to never wear mismatched helmets and uniforms again. Just stay blue-and-white all over and put the gold shit in an incinerator. I have no idea why the Rams would ever want to actively remind you of the Fisher era.
Chargers at Giants: I love me a good Dumpster Bowl. I don’t know how the Chargers can un-fuck themselves without Dean Spanos selling the team. Maybe that was his plan all along (the franchise’s value, at least on paper, skyrocketed after the move to L.A.), but they will NEVER draw fans in Los Angeles as long as he owns them, and no other city will have them for the same reason. If I were the betting sort, I would put money on Spanos selling the team within a few years, and then having it come out in a Seth Wickersham longform article that Jerry Jones forced him to do it. It’s the only way the London Chargers will ever happen.
As for the Giants, if Odell is gonna get shit for going on boats and peeing like a doggie, he deserves an equal amount of credit for having his finger snapped back into place on the sideline and then going back in to action. Look at this Martin Riggs shit:
GAHHHHHHHHHH!!! I just made two protective fists involuntarily. Finger injuries are secretly the most horrifying injuries: Odell, J.J. Watt, Steve DeBerg, that one scene in Syriana, etc. I can watch a knee injury without throwing up, but finger injuries ruin me.
Patriots at Bucs: I wanna believe that the Patriots defense has completely collapsed and will remain awful for the remainder of the season, but I know better. I know they’ll get their shit together and Belichick will sign six cashiers from off the street and mold them into a unit that gets lavish praise from broadcasters for bending instead of breaking. You’ll see. They’re gonna skyrocket from 32nd in defense to, like, 17th, and that’ll be enough.
Cardinals at Eagles: I was watching the Twins-Yankees game the other night and the Twins went up 3-0 right away. So I shit-texted our own Barry Petchesky about it, because he’s a Yankees fan and a terrible person. The only problem was that I did NOT text Barry. By accident, I texted…
Vikings at Bears: Oh shit here comes Mitch Cumstein! Given that Deshaun Watson is quickly becoming a stud, Mitch Trubes better go out there and throw six TDs against Minnesota (not out of the realm of possibility) or else Bears fans will find Ryan Pace and drown him in the Chicago River. I’m still aghast that Watson went at 12. The Niners, Jets, and Bills all passed. Un-fucking-real. All those teams alternate between drafting QBs when they shouldn’t and passing on QBs when they shouldn’t.
By the way, where the fuck is Gerry Austin when they throw it to him in the booth? It sounds like he’s on speakerphone from a condo, sitting on a couch covered in plastic wrap. He may be dying. Someone get Gerry a nurse on call.
Bills at Bengals: I really want to believe the Bills are good after they beat the Falcons on the road, but I’ve attended this particular rodeo before. I have lived through the boilerplate Bills hot start, where they amass a surprisingly above average September record only to re-Billify in the ensuing final three-fourths of the season. Remember when they beat the Pats in 2011? They started 4-1 that year. They finished 6-10. Hell, they started 4-2 last year. They finished 8-8. The Bills only ever impress in small sample sizes.
Ravens at Raiders: In four games, Beast Mode has run for 151 yards and averaged just 3.4 yards per carry. I think maybe it’s time for Jalen Richard to have that job. They really hired Marshawn just to be a goodwill ambassador anyway.
Jaguars at Steelers: Oh look, it’s Big Ben taking a shit on one of his own teammates:
“It’s just unfortunate that it happened, and it’s unfortunate that he acted and reacted that way.”
It still appalls me when Captain DTF here has the stones to accuse another person of being immature. But wait! Somehow it gets worse:
“‘You know, if that were Heath Miller, I’d probably ask Heath on the sideline, ‘Hey Heath, were you open?’ and he’d probably tell me ‘No,’ because he wouldn’t want you to feel bad, that’s just who he was ... that goes a lot further than throwing a temper tantrum.”
How is lying to you about your shitty pass more productive than expressing legitimate frustration? “Guys, Antonio Brown needs to grow up. The next time I miss him wide open, he should tell me he wasn’t open so that I don’t feel bad. He should lie to me like our old and barely adequate tight end, because I am a big stupid baby.” Fuck this guy.
Titans at Dolphins: Now that the Titans have pulled Brandon Weeden out of the bingo hall, I am actively rooting for teams to continue their run of signing awful quarterbacks just so they look even dumber for not kicking the tires on Colin Kaepernick. Like, I’m ready for someone to give Johnny Football a second chance. That’s the next level of blackballing. They will go to a bar at 10 a.m. and drag Johnny Football to the practice field before they DARE to sign the kneeler guy. Let’s make this happen.
Besides, we’re now too late for Kaepernick, much less any QB off the street, to make a difference on any team. Even if a team signed Kap now, it’s Week 5. He’d go out there and pull a Josh Freeman and then what would happen? You would get every tape-humping asshole going DURRRR I TOLD YOU SO for weeks on end. No thank you.
Niners at Colts: The bye weeks have begun in earnest and as always, the best teams are somehow now on bye every week. This is the block of the season where there just 10 games a week and they all feature the Jets somehow. Speaking of which…
Browns at Jets: Our own Samer Kalaf noted that the Giants are now in a much better position than the Jets to get the No. 1 overall pick and draft Sam Darnold or Lamar Jackson or the franchise QB of their choice. That would be the most Jets thing to ever happen, and I’m deeply ashamed that I never considered the possibility prior to this season. Of course the big brother New York team is gonna pull a 2011 Colts while the Jets are left to draft Kyle Brady Jr. This was always how it was gonna play out.
Pregame Song That Makes Me Want To Run Through A Goddamn Brick Wall
“Ghost with a Boner,” by Diarrhea Planet! Ah yes, let us celebrate the return of Nashville’s finest to the Jamboroo. Here’s reader Kyle:
If a hilarious dick punch shared with your closest friend could sprout arms and hammer out a few chords, it would sound like Diarrhea Planet. I dare you to listen to this a few times and not be singing “Ghost with a bo-oh-oh-oh-oh” everywhere you go.
It really is terrific. Take Hüsker Dü’s “New Day Rising,” toss in the word BONER, and you have my heart forever.
Gregg Easterbrook Memorial Haughty Dipshit Of The Week
I think it’s time for us to all start paying attention to veteran cloud-yeller Phil Mushnick of the New York Post, who is on a late-career run that easily rivals that of Peyton Manning’s time in Denver. In the past seven days alone, he has gifted us with so many angry old man takes. See for yourself!
Giants’ co-owner John Mara has been receiving customer complaints about Beckham’s insufferable behavior since 2015.
I love that John Mara only gets complaints about potentially signing Kaepernick and Odell making peepee like a doggie, and apparently hears nothing from surly Giants fans about, like, the stadium being a coffin.
Mara, a decent man…
AHAHAHAHAHAHA OKAY BUDDY
“Sir, I am aware of the urine, and I am unhappy about it.”
…with promises to try to move Beckham in a more “mature” direction. This week the Giants were walloped with complaints about Beckham’s worsening conduct.
“Mistuh Mara, dis fuckin’ Beckham guy is making a mockery of da Giants’ classiness WHOA HEY LOOK AT DA TITS ON DAT FUCKIN’ BROAD MAMMA MIA (bites fist)”
Again, Mara promised action.
I enjoy that Mushnick views this as some kind of active crisis, as if an earthquake has struck team headquarters. Like, the wideout pretended to pee. Ereck Flowers is right there, man. You talk about a REAL disaster.
Meanwhile, along NFL sidelines, players were exploiting the national anthem to let all know that America, which twice elected a black president, is racist.
Indeed. THE GALL OF THESE UNGRATEFUL URINATORS. Can you imagine telling people America is racist? AMERICA! The country that twice elected a black guy! And then was so freaked out by the social progress wrought by that black guy that the majority of white people scrambled to elect a sociopathic con man whose only goal is to undo everything the black President did and then throw every nonwhite immigrant over a fancy wall! America! Which had centuries of slavery followed by 100 years of segregation! That place, racist?! THE MIND REELS.
Prior to the media anointing him a dignified commentator on race — another with one-way vision — Kaepernick could be seen, after throwing TD passes, kissing his biceps.
Disgusting. Anyone who kisses their guns should obviously have their tongue removed.
The best thing about Mushnick, by the way, is that every column has sections, so that he can Larry King his way through every last grievance, like so!
Why don’t our national men’s and women’s soccer teams always wear red, white and blue — our school colors since Betsy Ross got the itch to stitch?
Ooooh I bet you know why.
Because Nike owns enough of both to dictate the colors, and Nike, among others, go with those colors that best reflect what unpaid fashion-consultant street gangs favor.
GANGS! GANGS WILL GIT YA! Please note that Mushnick watched the movie Colors 30 years ago and believes A) It was a documentary and B) Everything is still exactly the same. What is John Mara doing about our street gang problem?
Rex Ryan’s Lock Of The Week: Dolphins +3
“MEN! Men, I just watched a show with my grandson, BUZZ, called Paw Patrol. Now this show is from Canada, which is a bullshit country. But let me tell you what the show is about. It’s about a small, weak, helpless Canadian town. And when they have a problem, they yelp for help, and these little goddamn dogs come running with fire engines and police cars and all kinds of other machinery that you and I know dogs are really bad at.
“Men… I want you to learn from this shithead cartoon produced by a bunch of snow-humping Canucks. If you gentlemen have a problem out there, I don’t want you yelping for help like some dickless idiot. No, I want you to CRY FOR WAR! Don’t wait for a bunch of cute puppies to come to your rescue! THERE ARE NO PUPPIES WALKING THROUGH THAT DOOR! My friends, it is YOU who are the dog! The dog is a wild, unkempt, savage beast within you! BE THE DOG YOU WERE BORN TO BE! Drool and scratch your balls! Leap up and bare your fangs and sharpen your claws and tear that fucking problem limb from limb! And then we’ll all have bones for lunch! FUCKING DOGS OF WAR ON THREE 1-2-3!”
Ryan 2017 record: 4-0
Fantasy Player Who Deserves To Die A Slow, Painful Death
Oh, that Chiefs D/ST. I was not personally boned over by that last-second cover on MNF, but I definitely know what it would be like to be boned over by a last-second garbage TD like that. I know that anger well. You could tear open planets with it. Betting is fun!
Fire This Asshole!
Is there anything more exciting than a coach losing his job? All year long, we’ll keep track of which coaches will almost certainly get fired at year’s end or sooner. And now, your potential 2017 chopping block:
Jack Del Rio
(*-potential midseason firing)
Hey Adam Gase, how’s your offense going?
“I’m upset about the way our offense played. I’m just tired of watching it for two years. Just garbage. So, we’re going to figure something out.”
Please note that Gase gave this Mora-worthy sound bite BEFORE Miami went out and got shut out by the Saints, of all defenses, in London. Apparently, they did NOT figure something out. Quite the contrary. At some point, Gase is gonna have to answer for thinking that paying Jay Cutler $10 million to buff his nails out on the field was a good idea.
Great Moments In Poop History
Reader Chris sends in this story I call AMERICAN POOPER:
I was deployed to Bagram, Afghanistan (as a contractor) years back and I worked in a section of the base that was away from most of the rest of the facilities, so if/when we wanted food, we had to drive or walk about a mile or so to the nearest dining facility. So we tended to only eat once or twice a day (we could bring some extra food back.) Walking was preferred unless it was shitty out (more shitty than normal shitty.) We had shifts and mine was 4pm to 4am, which I didn’t mind at all. Our shift usually went to the dining hall together.
Thanksgiving rolls around and we decide to take the walk for a fancy Thanksgiving dinner. We wait in line in breathless anticipation. Then it is time to fill our plates with turkey, not-salty-at-all stuffing, potatoes and greens, all slathered with turkey bits gravy. Pies, cookies and Rip-its (energy drink) ended this fine meal.
So we walk back. Mind you, it’s a little less than a mile. Not even halfway to home base, there is a rumble in my stomach that immediately causes my head to begin sweating. I feel movement in my bowels that I have never experienced before. Like there is a large serpent moving south through my insides. I begin to feel a ....filling?....of my colon, forcing me to tense my body, slowing my walk. Most people in the group keep walking...one turns back...”You coming?”
“Oh...you guys go on...I’m just thinking a bit. I’ll be there...soon” I stammered, sweat starting to bead on the back of my head (never a good sign.)
I looked to our facility...still more than a quarter mile away. This isn’t good. The more I have to go, the slower I have to walk. Could I go off the roadside and squat? This seems like it might be the only (good) solution to this problem. Except for two reasons: 1) military vehicles on the road passing by and 2) oh yeah, there are old Russian mines hidden within the brush and debris that have never been removed. With nice signs warning you about this. Keep walking kiddo.
I can see home...I CAN DO THIS! OH NO I CAN”T....and it happened. The slick warmness came out and started to run down both legs as I got the entrance of the compound, just before I passed by the guard shack. I had to stop to clench to make sure the other 3/4 of the contents of my bowels didn’t empty. With hands on my hips, face in a grimace, I stood there, which of course, prompted the guard to come out of his shack.
“You alright?” (Thankfully he recognized me and didn’t suspect I was up to no good.)
“No. No I am not.”
“Get the burger.”
“Your pants are wet.”
I start slowly walking the long walk of shame, pants soaked, front and back, shit sloshing into my boots, back to my container of a home. Thankfully I did not have a roommate at the time. Could barely get to the toilet before the dam broke. While sitting in my filth, I took a look at my situation. The shit was not your typical color. A terrible yellow, mixed with what looked like vegetable greens. Greens can’t get through your body in less than an hour can they?
I finished, went into the shower, cried, cleaned, went back to toilet, shower, toilet, shower for about two hours.
Clothes were bagged and thrown away.
I went back to work. “Hey you made it back!”
Gametime Snack Of The Week
Chick-fil-A chocolate chunk cookies! These cookies are amazing and I would like to reissue my plea to Chick-fil-A to sell them in milkshake form. If they ever introduced a chocolate chunk cookie shake, I would leave my family for it.
Gametime Cheap Beer Of The Week
Black Shield Stout! From the verdant jungles of Myanmar comes 40 oz. of pure bottled fury. Reader Sean:
Driving across Myanmar, it’s impossible to go five minutes and not see a Black Shield Stout sign. Don’t be fooled though, this beer is elusive! Most stores or restaurants only have Myanmar Beer, their national equivalent of Budweiser. I happened upon this rare beast at a bar and in my excited state immediately ordered two (a HUGE mistake). At 8.1%, it’s about the strongest beer you’ll find in country but I can only describe the taste as stale Guinness that’s been filtered though a well used tube sock. After a long day of hiking around the dusty cities and trekking across the arid plains, this is the last beer you need to be drinking. The hangover the next morning only reinforced this.
Good God that beer looks like it could kill you on first contact. You may as well hit me with a supply truck. Why would they even sell stout in Myanmar? Stout is for when you’ve been sitting on a Scottish mountaintop all day. I MUST BE DESTROYED BY IT.
Jim Tomsula’s Lifehack Of The Week!
“Never just walk by a dead mouse in the road, okay? I’ve made a lot good rope out of mouse tails. A mouse tail rope won’t fray on you.”
Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Week For Browns Fans
The Terminator. Please God, someone get Hollywood to stop making Terminator movies. No more, I beg of you. There were two perfectly good Terminator movies and the rest have been utter dogshit, and there are concrete reasons as to why that is:
- Expounding on any time travel story is bound to cause endless headaches for both the filmmakers and, more important, the poor audience.
- The entire Terminator franchise has had three characters worth a shit, and two of those characters were robots. Quick: tell me something interesting about John Connor apart from the fact that he led the resistance against SkyNet. YOU CANNOT. The most memorable John Connor was played by Eddie Furlong, of all people. That shouldn’t be possible.
So please, stop making these fucking movies. No one’s gonna go see them. They will never be good again. I don’t care if you bring back Arnold and his 97 facelifts to put on the biker jacket. Find another piece of IP to run into the ground.
Gratuitous Simpsons Quote
“Mmm... Crumbled-up cookie things”
Enjoy the games, everyone.