Tagovailoa debacle shows NFL still has a major concussion problem

Hey, NFL: Your concussion protocol has a problem.

After what happened to Tua Tagovailoa in the past few days, it is obvious the protocol is flawed or broken and needs to be fixed. Immediately.

The program works when a player suffers a serious concussion the way Tua did Thursday night against the Bengals when he was on the field for 10 minutes, taken off the field on a stretcher and immediately taken to the hospital, although they probably should have been allowed to fly back on the team plane.

The major problem is what happens in a situation like the one Tua faced against the Bills on Sunday when his head hit the turf and he shook his head when he got up and then stumbled to the ground,. but was able to get back up and walk off the field. 

He was taken to the locker room and cleared to return to the game by the team doctor and an independent neurologist. He finished the game and even did his post-game interview.

They followed the current protocol. A player who stumbles to the ground is allowed to return if he is cleared. 

That needs to change. The protocol should be changed to make it mandatory to sideline a player for the rest of the game if he stumbles to the ground. And he should not be allowed to play the following week and maybe multiple weeks so he has more time to heal. .

The league needs to set set mandatory rules because the team and the doctors can’t be trusted to follow common sense. The Dolphins said after the Bills game that he suffered a back injury and not a head injury. Even after the Bengals game, coach Mike McDaniel was still insisting he didn’t suffer a head injury against the Bills.

Do players stumble and fall from a back injury?

Of course, we will never know if the injury he suffered Sunday contributed to the concussion he suffered Thursday night. After all, brain injuries are difficult to diagnose. But it is well known that if a player suffers a concussion, he is more liable to suffer another one, especially if he returns to action too soon. Better to err on the side of caution. 

The NFL mindset on concussions definitely needs to be changed. After the Bengals game, McDaniel even said Tua had nothing more serious than a concussion.

He seems oblivious to the fact the concussions are the most serious injury a player can suffer. They can cause CTE and dementia or worse. Look at what happened to Muhammad Ali, who took too many blows to the head. You can replace hips and knees. You can’t replace brains. 

The NFL and NFLPA have to sit down and rewrite the concussion protocols. The NFLPA announced it was going to investigate Tua’s injury against Bills with interviews starting the day after the Bengals game. Obviously, that was too late.

It is time for the NFL and the NFLPA to act. They not only have to change the protocol, but the mindset. 

Previewing NFL Week 4

Buffalo and Kansas City will be in the spotlight Sunday when they both attempt to bounce back from losses last week.

Buffalo will play at Baltimore in the 1 p.m. game that will be shown in much of the country as the CBS early game. It will feature a duel between Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson, who bet on himself as his own agent when he rejected the Ravens’ offer. It is now paying off because he is off to a fast start. An upset victory over the Bills would help his case.

In the Sunday night game, the Chiefs will go against a Tampa Bay team that is trying to rebound from the 14-12 loss to the Packers when Tom Brady didn’t get a two-point conversion off in time.

It is uncertain where the game will be played because of Hurricane Ian ravaging Florida. The NFL will move it to Minneapolis if it can’t be played in Tampa. The Vikings are in London for a game that starts at 930 a.m. East Coast time. But look for a lot of Packer fans to attend if it is played in Minneapolis. Green Bay is a 278-mile drive to Minneapolis and a lot of Packer fans usually make the trip when the Packers play at the Vikings. Washington might have between a better neutral site with the Commanders at Dallas.

Miami plays Thursday night at Cincinnati and Jacksonville plays at Philadelphia Sunday so the hurricane won’t affect the other two Florida teams.

The loser of the Chiefs-Bucs game will fall to 2-2.

The NFL, though, doesn’t have a good doubleheader game with New England-Green Bay and Denver-Las Vegas the two options. Each will be shown in about half the country.

The Monday night game also isn’t much of an attraction with the Rams going to San Francisco, which is struggling with Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback.

One of the most interesting attractions will be Doug Pederson’s return to Philadelphia as coach of the Jaguars, who are off to a surprising 2-1 start after winning just four games the past two years. But the game will be shown mostly in the two markets involved because the Bills-Ravens game is the feature attraction.

The Thursday night game features the 3-0 Dolphins at the 1-2 Bengals, who posted their first victory last week over the Jets. With the Browns figuring to beat the Falcons to stay on top of the AFC North, the Bengals probably need a win to avoid falling two games behind the Browns.

NFL Week 3 in review

Is this the season of parity or mediocrity?

Nobody knows for sure, but it is obvious there currently isn’t a dominant team in the NFL.

After just three weeks, there are only two 3-0 teams —Miami and Philadelphia. And one 0-3 team – Las Vegas.

Except for the 1-1-1 Colts and the 0-2-1 Texans, all the rest of the teams are 2-1 or 1-2.

And some of the games have been disappointing to say the least. Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady figured to have a memorable duel, but the final score was 14-12 in favor of the Packers when Brady failed to get a two point version attempt off in time, a rare mistake for a future Hall of Famer.

The 49ers-Broncos prime time game was even worse with the Broncos winning 11-10 on a safety caused by Jimmy Garoppolo stepping out of bounds in the back end of the end zone. That mistake saved the 49ers five points because he also threw a Pick Six on the play.

Jimmy G. obviously isn’t ready to play because the 49ers thought they were going to trade him in the offseason and didn’t include him in training camp practices. But there wasn’t a market for him because of his shoulder injury and he agreed to take a paycut to stay and become a free agent at the end of the year. And then he was thrust into the starting lineup when Trey Lance was lost for the season with a broken ankle.

Kansas City and Buffalo were expected to go into their Oct. 16 matchup undefeated, but they both lost. Buffalo had problems dealing with the heat and injuries in Miami while the Chiefs were the victims of their own mistakes in a loss to the 0-2 Colts, who had been blanked by the Jaguars the previous week.

A muffed punt let to a Colts touchdown and their fill-in kicker Matt Ammendola missed an extra point and a 34-yard field goal attempt and the Chiefs couldn’t execute a fake field goal attempt.

Besides the 3-0 Eagles and Dolphins, the most surprising team may be the 2-1 Jaguars, who routed the injury-depleted Chargers. The Jaguars have a good shot at winning their division and getting their second home playoff game since 1999.

Las Vegas may be the most disappointing team at 0-3 under new coach Josh McDaniels after making the playoffs last year. They now face long odds in getting back to the playoffs.

Previewing NFL Week 3

Not a good weekend for watching NFL games.

The primetime games are Steelers-Browns on Prime on Thursday night, 49ers-Broncos on Sunday night and Cowboys-Giants on Monday night. Of those six teams, only the Giants are 2-0.

The most interesting game may be the Bills at Miami. Both are 2-0 in a division game. The Bills won their firsts two games in blowouts and we will see if they can do it again. Miami is coming off its comeback win over the Ravens.

CBS has decide to give more exposure to the Chiefs-Colts game than the Bills-Dolphins game  at 1 pm even though the Chiefs are a popular choice in the survivor pools over the 0-1-1 Colts.

Either way, the Bills and Chiefs, likely the two best teams in the AFC, figure to go to 3-0. If they both win, they will be the only 3-0 teams in the conference.

The Bengals are likely to be another popular survivor pool choice when they go to the Jets, who pulled off a comeback win over the Browns after being down by 13 with two minutes left. Bengals are a 4.5 choice.

The Chargers would normally be a good survivor pool choice over the Jaguars and still are favored by a touchdown but Justin Herbert’s rib injury has caused some oddsmakers to be cautious about the game. The Jaguars are also noted for struggling on the West Coast They are 1-9 in their last 10 games against the Chargers on the road.  

The Jaguars are getting more exposure than they usually do as the lone CBS second game. Fox has the doubleheader game and will feature the 1-1 Packers and Aaron Rodgers at Tampa Bay against the 2-0 Bucs and Tom Brady. The Bucs are a 2.5 point choice.

The Patriots are a home underdog against the Ravens. In the previous 19 games when they were a home underdog with Bill Belichick as the coach, the Patriots were 15-4 against the spread.

Of the five 0-2 teams, two play each other with the Raiders at the Titans with the Raiders a 2.5 point choice on the road. Cincinnati figures to beat the Jets to avoid an 0-3 start while the Falcons are a 1.5 underdog at Seattle and Carolina is a three point underdog at home against the Saints.

NFL Week 2 in review

The first two weeks of the season have been unpredictable.

The favorites went 16-16 and 19 of the 32 teams started off 1-1. And no lead appeared safe.

But one team was very predictable—the Buffalo Bills.

Picked by many oddsmakers to win the Super Bowl, they look like the frontrunner after two weeks. After beating the Rams 31-10 in the opener, they crushed the Titans, a team they lose to last year, by a 41-7 margin as Josh Allen threw four touchdown passes, three two Stefon Diggs.

They are one of six 2-0 teams and now the team to beat.

By contrast, five teams – Cincinnati, Tennessee, Atlanta Las Vegas and Carolina – are 0-2. They now have an uphill climb to get into the playoff race. Of the 18 teams that started off 0-2 the last two years, none of them made it. Two teams are at 0-1-1 so 21 of 32 two have a los and five have two losses.

Besides the Bills, the Chiefs and Dolphins are 2-0 in the AFC and the Giants, Eagles and Tampa Bay 2-0 are in the NFC.

The Giants are the most surprising team to 2-0 and they have to show they are for real.

Except for the dominance of the Bills and the five teams at 0-2, there aren’t many trends in the first two weeks.