Despite backdoor shenanigans aplenty from Jerry Jones, the NFL finally worked out a nine-figure contract extension for commissioner and block of Muenster cheese Roger Goodell. That means Goodell can finally turn his attention back to the business of ruining the NFL through 2024, and I assure you that he will not be shy about doing so.
Because while the Ginger Hammer can be accused of many things, sloth is not one of them. This has been, by all accounts, yet another “What’s wrong with the NFL?” kind of season, the latest in a string of many. And neither Goodell nor his bosses are the type to sit there and be happy about sagging ratings, half-full stadiums, and dead quarterbacks strewn about the playing field. The NFL has always proved willing to constantly tinker with their product in order to appease a fickle viewing public, for better or worse, and this offseason will be no different.
So you better get ready for a drastic overhaul of the sport, because it’s coming. They are gonna throw a shitload of rule changes at the wall just to see what sticks. They are gonna do EVERYTHING possible to win you back, even if it’s too far gone for such things. I have no inside information whatsoever on this, but I can take a few educated guesses as to how America’s foremost open source league will once again attempt to debug football’s operating system once the Super Bowl is over.
1. Targeting. That college rule where you get ejected for headhunting? That’s coming. It’s a lock. And honestly, I don’t think the NFL gives half a shit if that rule is unfair to defensive players. Most of the league’s stars—thanks to fantasy, largely—are on the offensive side of the ball. They don’t care if a defensive player gets tossed. That’s a bonus to them because it only makes life easier for the QBs, wideouts, and backs left out there. They’re gonna start ejecting defenders for simply SAYING Tom Brady’s name. Speaking of which…
2. You’re never gonna be able to touch a quarterback again. Get in all your sacks now while you can, defenders. Because after this year, the sack party is over. They’re gonna implement 57 new rules to keep your hands off of Aaron Rodgers, Carson Wentz, Deshaun Watson, and the like. By my count, seven teams lost their starting QB to injured reserve, and a team without its starting QB is ruined. Go look at the Colts. With Andrew Luck, that’s a watchable team. Horribly coached, but watchable. Without him, it’s poison. When these kind of QB injuries pile up, it renders a significant fraction of the league irrelevant. They never want this to happen again, which is why Luck is gonna take the field in 2018 in a red pinnie and breathing on him will incur a flag. The Colts will still find a way to murder him anyway.
3. Everything is gonna be a catch. As I’ve said before, it does the NFL absolutely no good to have a rule in place that favors incompletions over completions. The NFL’s competition needs to take this tweet to heart:
Anything that promotes more offense and scoring is gonna be considered, and simplifying the catch rule to “ball secured, two feet down” is an easy, and welcome, way of doing that. I’d also be fine if they adopted the college rule of just having one foot in bounds to make a catch a catch. I don’t care. I like catches more than I like non-catches, and the NFL is breathtakingly stupid for not feeling likewise.
4. Players are gonna have to stand for the anthem. Ol’ Rog may have been deferential about this matter during the course of the 2017 season. But once the games stop, I can pretty much guarantee he’ll find a way to end the protests, either by dumping more cash into the shady Hopewell Fund or outright forcing players to stand. The current CBA expires in 2021 and everyone knows a work stoppage is coming anyway. Goodell isn’t exactly shy about antagonizing his own players, so he may as well get a head start on it.
5. Something with replay. When in doubt, the NFL will fuck with a rule just to say they fucked with it, à la shortening overtime. As it stands now, the NFL’s replay system is arbitrary, tedious, and often ineffective. I hate it, so much so that I’d now like replay banished altogether. But that’s not gonna happen. Instead, the NFL is gonna gift teams an extra challenge, or graft a Surface tablet directly onto Jeff Triplette’s face in order to speed up the process. Given that Dean Blandino ran the NFL’s officiating for years and is wrong virtually every time Fox calls on him during a telecast, I’m not optimistic about any replay change being for the better. But they’ll change it somehow.
6. Coaches will be in the QB’s headset for longer. This year Rams coach Sean McVay has brilliantly exploited the rule where the QB’s headset is shut off with 15 seconds left on the play clock by having Jared Goff get the offense to the line of scrimmage at 25 seconds left, so McVay can read the defense and more or less tell Goff where to throw the ball. Not only are coaches gonna copy that, but the NFL could also give them an assist by elongating that window and shutting off the headset at 10 seconds, maybe even five. Does this turn a QB into a de facto avatar for a micromanaging head coach? Yes. Does the NFL care? No. Quarterbacks are gonna get every break the NFL can possibly provide them, and Buddy Ryan will turn over in his grave.
7. Eased up holding calls. Holding calls basically kill everything, and the league’s offensive lines already suck plenty. The NFL will never legalize holding outright, but they’ll almost certainly gather their refs together this offseason and issue tacit edicts to swallow their fucking flags whole. I have no objection to this.
8. Thursday Night Football will get weirder. Thanks to the happy accident of the Falcons-Patriots fog bowl, fanboys like me got to cream themselves over finally watching a full game from the MaddenVision angle. You can see how they’ve already begun to reposition Thursday Night Football as the SkyCam Game of the Week in order to draw in curious bystanders (and with this week’s matchup being the Broncos and Colts, they need all the bells and whistles they can get). Short of mercifully killing TNF because everyone hates it, the NFL is gonna use that slot every week to experiment, and not just with shitty uniforms. Now that they have a deal in place with Verizon so that you can watch football on your phone (instead of using your phone to look away from football), they’re gonna tailor the broadcast to every last pesky MILLENNIAL need. Much cane shaking will ensue.
9. Infamously bad fields need to be dealt with. That means the shitty grass in Pittsburgh, Washington, and L.A. It’s counterintuitive but there’s evidence to suggest that Field Turf is less likely to cause injury than regular grass, especially pockmarked minefields like the kind they have at FedEx. I am constantly amazed at how much NFL teams invest in players only to have them play on a fucking sandlot. It needs to be addressed.
10. SNOW. If there’s a blizzard in your town, that’s where they’ll move that week’s Colts game. Barrow, Alaska will become the new London.
That’s just the tip of it. If you believe the NFL has been bastardized beyond recognition lately, it’s nothing compared to what’s about to happen. Steel yourself. Because Goodell and company aren’t gonna sit by idly and watch every superstar get his knee obliterated again. They’re gonna do something, even if that something is rash and unhelpful. They’re gonna try to save football by destroying it, and it’s a good bet they end up only accomplishing the latter.
All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms.
Patriots at Steelers: I am pathetic because I treat every Pats regular season loss as some kind of grand, historically equalizing triumph. Like, they go and lose down in Miami (which, surprisingly, they do quite often) and I’m like, “AHA! Take THAT, Brady! Your days of lording over this league are OVER!” Meanwhile, that shit is just a blip on the way to them winning a sixth ring because everyone else’s QB died along the way.
Packers at Panthers: OH GOD HE’S BACK OH FUCK:
Man, I bet he’s pissed, too. It’s entirely predictable that the bulk of this season would feature a bunch of surprise teams ruling the NFC, only to end up having the same goddamn faces (Rodgers, Wilson, Newton) end up deciding who gets to play in the Super Bowl. This is horseshit. I DEMAND A REFUND.
Rams at Seahawks: That Apple iPad girl? She’s lying. She knows what a computer is. Don’t play dumb with me, little girl. Typing away on an iPad in a Brooklyn backyard is sucky and you know it. Get a real laptop.
Chargers at Chiefs: I am deeply dismayed that the Christmas Music Industrial Complex has decided to indulge Seth MacFarlane’s vanity lounge signing career. We put on a Christmas music channel the other night and they mixed his agonizing rendition of “The Christmas Song” into the rotation like it was perfectly acceptable and not an act of war. You listen to me, radio programming bots: Stop encouraging this man’s Sinatra wet dreams. Seth MacFarlane looks like someone drew a face on a fucking wall.
Dolphins at Bills: The Dolphins’ throwbacks looked dynamite on Monday Night and it’s amazing how little I appreciate old uniforms until I see them in throwback form. Like, I didn’t give a shit about the old Dolphins unis back when they were the regular Dolphins unis. But then they came on in the throwbacks on Monday and I was like, “Damn those look GOOOOOD.” Then they crushed the Pats with them on, and now I’m convinced those unis are magic. They need to ditch the Jaguars farm team unis and just go back to the Marino getups. Sixty percent of all teams would be better off going back to their old crap.
Bears at Lions: While we’re on the subject of uniforms, I’m surprised that the NFL hasn’t followed the lead of every other brand and gussied up for the holidays. They’ve already done the whole camo routine, so I’m shocked they don’t spend every December doing a Salute To Christmas and forcing John Fox to wear a fucking elf hat over on the sidelines and slap a decal on the Bears helmets with Christmas lights wrapped around the C and what not. I’d pay at least four dollars to see the Bears humiliated like this. Put Mitch Trubisky in a full reindeer outfit. It can’t possibly hurt.
Falcons at Bucs: On Monday Night Football, Sean McDonough lightly teased Gruden about the fact that he thought that the Bucs would be a surprise team this season. He was like, “If I recall, someone in this booth thought the Bucs would have a good year.” And I’m telling you, the booth was DEAD silent for, like, a minute afterward. I can’t prove that Gruden wanted to murder Sean and toss his lifeless body out of the booth and onto the crowd below, but I could SENSE it. And then Sean scrambled to recover and was like, “As did MANY people!” but I don’t think Gruden was all that assuaged. His silence always means rage. He’s gonna go back to coaching the Bucs and he is NOT in the mood to be ribbed about it.
Texans at Jaguars: I think they’re running out of TD celebrations because I’ve now seen roughly half a dozen golf-related celebrations in the past month. It’s clear now that teams are gonna have to start hiring professional choreographers out of Julliard to plan and block out routines. I don’t think it’s fair to make players come up with this shit on their own. Get Paula Abdul Jr. in the building to map out an end zone tribute to Pirates of Penzance and dedicate offseason practices to it. That’s just good football right there.
Vikings at Bengals
Cowboys at Raiders
Jets at Saints
Cardinals at Skins: The best Christmas gift every year is a Skins collapse. It’s better than any SMEG or Nintendo Switch. A month ago, I would have told you that Jay Gruden had virtually no chance of being fired. But now that the Skins have quit en masse? IT’S A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE, I tell you. And they’re gonna somehow run Kirk Cousins out of town! Amazing. I’ve got a boner that stretches to the North Pole.
Apart from Dan Snyder, the biggest reason the Skins are a disaster is because of team President and fluid enthusiast Bruce Allen, but Snyder will NEVER fire Allen because Allen’s job isn’t to assemble a decent team, but rather to get loaded with Virginny officials and get them to sign off on a moat stadium. Everything else, including retaining their most consistent QB in decades, runs secondary to those duties. Gruden will take the fall and Bruce’s office beer fridge will remain fully stocked. The Skins amaze me in the same way Trump amazes me. Just when you think you can’t possibly be any more appalled, they outdo themselves.
Eagles at Giants: What happened to Carson Wentz last week is proof of how fragile these miracle runs are for most teams, and how quickly they can fall apart when something disastrous happens. Like, one second, you’re on top of the NFL world, and the next you gotta stare down the prospect of Nick Foles giving away your first playoff game. It makes the Pats’ run over the new century—with not a single losing season to be had—all the more astonishing. I would give them credit, but I hate them, and so they clearly cheated.
By the way, ages ago Virginia Tech had a QB named Grant Noel who played without an ACL, and I’ve always wondered if another QB like Carson Wentz has tried to put off surgery and play out the season with a big hole in their knee. I gotta think Wentz was in the locker room Sunday like, “Lemme gut it out until after duck season” and the Eagles were like, “NOOOOOOOO.” He’s 100 percent crazy like that.
Titans at Niners: I was drinking with a friend the other day and he mentioned the song “You Never Even Called Me By My Name” by David Allen Coe and I was like, “What’s that?” And he was floored. He said this is the unofficial last call song for a shitload of bars in the Deep South. I had no clue. I swear I have lived on this planet for 41 years and never heard a bar of this song in my life. Then, just a day or two after he introduced me to it, I heard it AT a bar in New York. Suddenly I am awash in old country music. I feel like Rip Van Winkle.
Ravens at Browns
Broncos at Colts
Pregame Song That Makes Me Want To Run Through A Goddamn Brick Wall
“Everything’s Ruined,” by the great Faith No More! From Hamilton:
This song is somewhat of a classic, but I was a couple years too young to be deep into Angel Dust when it first came out and somehow never realized before last night that there was a music video. It is one of the most berzerk music videos I’ve ever seen. That is the only way it can be explained.
I expect nothing less from Faith No More. Please note how this clip uses the old video technique where the band just floats over the footage in the background, making the whole enterprise look like it cost three dollars. That’s quality ancient MTV content, right there. The song still holds up, by the way. I was a huge “Angel Dust” fan back in the day. You can really freak people out by screaming “YOUR MENSTRUATING HEART” at top volume from inside your dorm room.
Gregg Easterbrook Memorial Haughty Dipshit Of The Week
Rex Ryan’s Lock Of The Week: Chiefs +1
“Gentlemen I wanna tell you a story today about a player I had back in Waxahatchee named Dusty Lurdnurger. Now Dusty was five-foot-nuthin’, a hundred and nuthin’ pounds. He only had one working eye and limped like a dying dog. That’s why I called him New Yeller. And the other boys on the team didn’t cotton much to Dusty. They’d curse him a blue streak and tape him to the goalpost and shit in his cleats. But lemme tell you something: Dusty never said ONE word about it. Never fought back. Never even shed a tear. He came to practice every single day and got the tar kicked out of him and never ONCE made a big deal of it.
“Now, men, the reason I tell you that story is because…I don’t want you to be ANYTHING like Dusty. Dusty sucked. Personally, the boy creeped me out. He smelled wrong. And his daddy! WOOHOO WHAT A COMPLETE PIECE OF SHIT THAT GUY WAS! Anyway, if any of you get messed with the way Dusty got messed with and you don’t speak up or fight back, I will personally tear out your kidneys! AIN’T NO ONE-EYED LOSERS IN THIS GODDAMN CLUBHOUSE!”
Ryan 2017 record: 9-5
Fantasy Player Who Deserves To Die A Slow, Painful Death
This week Andy Behrens pointed out that Tom Brady is the Black Widow of the fantasy playoffs:
Good God. As if I needed yet another reason to despise this man. And reader Michael ain’t exactly pleased with Marcus Mariota, either:
You know you suck when you get outscored by Nathan fucking Peterman in a goddamn blizzard. Get fucked Mariota!
Tough but fair.
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)
I’ll believe it when I see it, but this really might be it for Marvin in Cincinnati. FUN FACT: He’s been in Cincy longer than we’ve had troops in Iraq. There comes a time when continuity becomes flat-out ennui and that happened with Marvin, like, nine years ago. Given that the Bengals often look like they don’t even know the rules of their own sport, it’s way overdue for him to go. Also, Jay Gruden may be free soon! CAN’T PASS THAT UP.
Great Moments In Poop History
Reader Jeff sends in this story I call POOPYBALL:
A few years ago my girlfriend at the time’s parents were visiting up in the bay area and decided it would be fun go to a Raiders game. (Her dad was a big enough football fan to know what he was getting into, but since none of us rooted for the away team, we felt it wasn’t a horrible idea.)
As we walked into the stadium we saw a drunken fan being escorted out of the O.co Coliseum by the police while his friend filmed and mocked him, so things we’re starting out hot.
I’d be out drinking the night before and had a somewhat large breakfast, but had no real reason to believe that things would devolve into desperation shortly. We took our seats and my stomach started a slight rumble, but I didn’t think anything of it and took the beer her dad offered me. After a few more beers and over a quarter of truly awful football the rumble returned. I started to get a little concerned, but thought it myself “I’m sure I can make it, there’s no fucking way I’m shitting in The Coliseum.” I was incorrect.
Suddenly it hit me like a kick to the nuts. The Sharp Poo Cramps. Coming in hard with all the vengeance of the prior evenings bottom shelf bourbon and this morning’s breakfast burrito. They were not be denied. I quickly but carefully got up and mumbled something about getting a round of drinks and scuffled off to the restroom.
This was right before halftime so there was a line of upstanding gentlemen in all black waiting to get into the bathroom. I broke out in a cold sweat, tried to ride out the cramps and mentally prepared myself for what was going to be a very unpleasant next 10 minutes. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in the bathroom of the Oakland Coliseum, a building that is famous for it’s inability to keep shit from flooding into what I can only assume are the nicer bathrooms that the millionaire athletes use mind you, but whatever your picturing in your head is probably right on.
I got to the front of the line and kept doing the thing where you shamefully wave people ahead of you as the urinals open up and the people behind you realize you have to shit. I will admit, the looks in their eyes were kinder and more sympathetic than I imagined. As a stall opened up I rushed into it as the person who walked out refused to make eye contact with me. When I looked down I realized why. There was nothing but shit. The whole bowl was full. It was a disaster zone. I didn’t dare try to flush it for fear it would overflow the bowl and get me killed when it got on Darth Vader’s shoe.
After about a quarter second hesitation I admitted that this was happening now and I didn’t have a say in the matter. I dropped trou, hovered over what I tried to pretend wasn’t a Lovecraftian hellscape and did my business as quick as possible. It was awful. A just brutal, terrible experience I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.
As I walked out of the stall a guy started walking past me towards it and said “you don’t want to do that man.” He laughed and said something to the effect of “this isn’t my first Raiders game man.” As I walked up to the sink I hear “OH FUCK!!” yelled from the general area I just vacated. I washed as quick as the memory of what just happened to me would allow and rushed back to my seat.
As I sat down my girlfriend’s dad looked at me, clearly noticing my pale and disheveled state and kindly asked where the beer was.
Oh man, waving people by to use the urinal is the WORST. “Yes, it’s me: the poop man. Everyone stare at the poop man as you pass by.”
Gametime Snack Of The Week
Deviled eggs! I can’t stand mayonnaise but I’ve been known to make an exception when it comes to a properly deviled egg. We were out at brunch a while back and they brought deviled eggs with chopped onions to the table and I must have housed half a dozen of them. I was inoperative for the rest of the day. I regret nothing.
Gametime Cheap Beer Of The Week
PRIPPS BLA EXTRA STARK! The Ingmar Bergman of shitty beers! BORK BORK BORK! From Brian:
I moved to Sweden back in August and wanted to humbly submit Pripps Blå Extra Stark for cheap beer of the week.
In Sweden, the government runs the only liquor stores around (making alcohol super expensive), and you can’t buy anything stronger than 3.5% in grocery stores, so naturally people get their drink on with the strongest, cheapest beers around when they get the chance to hit up Systembolaget in the middle of a week day (it’s closed on Sundays and closes early Saturday).
Enter: Pripps Blå (pronounced “blo-ah”) Extra Stark, ringing in at 7.2% ABV. Make no mistake, this is literally just a tall boy of Natty Ice with a Sailor Jerry tattoo on it. It tastes like somebody spit a pack of snus into a warm Bud and left it in the sun for a while. Skål.
My god that looks like canned puke. I MUST SNIFF IT. I bet one whiff would make you faceplant right onto your IKEA Bjursta breakfast table. Now that’s what I call truly BLO-AH! The name alone lets you know you’re in for a night of lonely desperation. I bet this is a popular beer for drinking after you’ve killed a man.
Jim Tomsula’s Lifehack Of The Week!
[takes out old bone tied to a piece of twine]
“You see this bone? This is for the lineman that gets after it, okay? This is my BEEF MACHINE award. If you play naked, and you really get your business in the other guy’s business, I call that a beef play. You rack up six beef plays, you’re the Beef Machine that week. Please note I won’t give this out all season because I gotta make soup at some point.”
Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Week For Browns Fans
Jurassic World, which has more product placement in it than any movie I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen Michael Bay’s The Island. They’re not subtle about it at all. Half this movie is beauty shots of the front of a Mercedes. I’m surprised the megalodon didn’t have a fucking Starbucks logo etched into its skin. The whole thing makes me glad Colin Trevorrow got booted from the final Star Wars installment. He would have had Kylo Ren guzzling a Pepsi One before chatting up Snoke.
Gratuitous Simpsons Quote
“Reverend Lovejoy, with all that’s happened to us today, I kind of feel like Job.”
“Well, aren’t you being a tad melodramatic, Ned? Also, I believe Job was right-handed.”
Enjoy the games, everyone.