What has been apparent from the very first week, maybe even training camp, was that the NFL was dead set on completing every game on its schedule, no matter what it had to trudge through or rearrange. In the league’s mind, it would be a show of its strength, dominance, and/or ingenuity that it gets through it all, despite the state of the world. The league has always seen itself as proof of the strength of the nation or some such horseshit. That’s why the Ravens will play on a Tuesday, and that’s why the Broncos were allowed on the field Sunday. Even though the latter goes against everything the NFL has told you in recent years.
While we all spend at least a small portion of Sunday bemoaning yet another puppy-shit soft roughing the passer call, what the NFL is trying to do and show is that it realizes keeping QBs as healthy as possible is paramount to competitive interests. It’s the same with the sliding rule, the sensitivity to hits outside the pocket, the cavalcade of rules about how you can and can’t tackle a quarterback. The league recognizes that losing a QB will ruin the season of most teams, and greatly alter the seasons of all teams. It sounds strange that in the sport with the biggest roster, one position, one player is so very important. But that’s the game.
So when the Broncos were robbed of all their QBs, they were essentially unable to compete. They could not put a viable product on the field. They were a non-entity, and no one should have been subjected to it.
The NFL backed itself into this corner by not slating any windows for makeup games. It probably should have gone for a 14-game schedule in a 16- or 17-week period of time to make up for this very eventuality. But it didn’t, because any shortening of the schedule would show some sort of weakness that the league, and all its employees for some reason, decided doing so was a non-starter.
It’s easy to focus on all the faults of the Broncos elsewhere, but that misses the point. They were unable to compete. The Saints, competing for a top-seed in the NFC, which means even more this season, were allowed a game against a non-competitive team, which quite simply isn’t fair.
The NFL and its fans have become dangerously fascinated by their “next man up” attitude. But it doesn’t apply here, because the “next man” doesn’t get ruled out by merely being in the same room with the starter’s separated shoulder in normal times. And you can blame the Broncos QBs for not following protocols or whatever, but the result is the same. They fielded a team that simply was non-competitive. If you don’t have a quarterback, you aren’t viable.
And It very well may happen again on Tuesday. The league has used the star power of its quarterbacks to run the league, to boost fantasy teams and make everyone more interested and invested in the game. Take that out, and you have a farce.
Which is what this whole season has been anyway.
The Jaguars embarked on their 17th rebuild yesterday when they fired their GM after yet another loss, It marked their third-straight 10+ loss season, and that’s apparently enough for Jags owner Shad Kahn. It should be noted that Kahn’s Premier League team, Fulham, has one win in nine games and is well on its way to a second relegation in three seasons. One begins to wonder if it isn’t too difficult to spot where the problem might be.
The Jaguars, like any long-suffering team, have been undone by their decisions at QB. Blake Bortles was the draft pick, and after his one season spasm of competence, proved to be a walking “DUUUUHHHHHH.” They tried to fix that through free agency, which led to the fraud of Nick Foles, who was then replaced by Gardner Minshew, who played like someone named “Gardner Minshew,” which led them to the confused giraffe that is Mike Glennon yesterday. And that’s how you send a football team into the outhouse.
Fear and loathing continued in the MLS playoffs, where Orlando FC didn’t quite get their fill of mishegas with their slapstick penalty shootout win over NYCFC. In their loss to New England they had Mauricio Pereyra sent off for this simply ludicrous tackle, and then spent the rest of the match acting... well, like Republicans. Every call saw them borderline assault the referee, and they could have easily finished the match with eight guys. They even got a make-up call and a penalty to equalize late, which saw captain Nani fulfill his tried and true finisher of snuffing it when it really counts and have his penalty saved.
In the other Eastern semifinal, Columbus defeated Nashville SC in extra time, where Gyasi Zardes scored, assuring everyone that we will once again get to watch him waste everyone’s time with the national team in the near future. Time is a flat circle.