Sadly, Watt’s greatness is being lost to injuries

We may now be left only with the memories of what J.J. Watt once was.

And another reminder that NFL players are always just one play away from losing the skills that made them what they were.

We may remember Watt as a defensive Gale Sayers or Terrell Davis, two Hall of Famers who were like meteors in their careers. They flashed so brightly and then were struck down cruelly by devastating injuries.

For five years, Watt was in a league of his own. Three Defensive MVP awards. Two 20-sack seasons. The Houston Texans star was so versatile he caught three touchdown passes in 2014.

And he became an icon in Houston and across the nation, the kind of star the NFL desperately needs as it copes with declining TV ratings.

Continue reading “Sadly, Watt’s greatness is being lost to injuries”

Five things to watch: NFL Week 5

Five things I’ll be looking at in the fifth week of the 2017 NFL season:

1. Can the Rams keep on rolling?

The Los Angeles Rams, coming off a victory over the Dallas Cowboys last week, have been a surprise team this year. But Jared Goff and Todd Gurley haven’t faced a defense the caliber of Seattle’s.

On the other hand the Rams have won four of six games against Seattle the last three seasons. A victory over the Seahawks would give the 3-1 Rams a two-game lead over the Seahawks and raise more questions about whether the Seahawks’ window is closing after they were a yard away from back-to-back Super Bowl victories three years ago.

2. Can the Cowboys awaken from their surprising slumber?

Continue reading “Five things to watch: NFL Week 5”

Steelers are winning, but Brown tantrum hints at trouble

The Pittsburgh Steelers find themselves with an interesting dilemma Sunday.

They are nine-point favorites over the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are the worst team in the league against the run and the best against the pass.

So it figures their game plan would feature Le’Veon Bell, who finally got into a groove last week against Baltimore when he ran 35 times for 144 yards and caught four passes for 42 yards.

But things are complicated because it is also the first game since Antonio Brown had a temper tantrum last week when quarterback Ben Roethlisberger didn’t throw to him when he felt he was wide open.

Brown flipped over a Gatorade bucket and angrily brushed off offensive coordinator Todd Haley.

Continue reading “Steelers are winning, but Brown tantrum hints at trouble”

USC’s Darnold no longer looking like a sure NFL thing

Sam Darnold is making things difficult for NFL scouts.

The USC quarterback was supposed to be the consensus No. 1 pick in next year’s draft, but his shaky play at the start of this season has raised questions about just how good a prospect Darnold really is.

In USC’s 30-27 loss to Washington State Friday night, he completed only 15 of 29 passes for 164 yards with an interception and a fumble that ruined the Trojans last bid for a late victory.

Washington State had lost 15 in a row to ranked opponents.

So far this year, Darnold has nine touchdown passes and eight interceptions. Last year, he had 31 touchdown passes and nine interceptions.

Continue reading “USC’s Darnold no longer looking like a sure NFL thing”

Taking a look back at the NFL’s Week 4

Five observations on the fourth weekend of the 2017 NFL season:

1. The 1972 Miami Dolphins can start putting the champagne on ice. With the season only four weeks old, Kansas City is the only unbeaten team in the wake of the Chiefs’ 29-20 victory over Washington and Atlanta’s 23-17 loss to Buffalo.

By contrast, there are four winless teams – the Cleveland Browns, New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Chargers.

The odds, though, are against the Chiefs going unbeaten. They barely escaped with the victory over Washington on a field goal with four seconds left. They added another touchdown, recovering a fumble on the last play when Washington tried the Stanford band lateral play.

That enabled the Chiefs to cover the spread and the over so a lot of money changed hands on that last play. But looking at Andy Reid’s playoff record – only one Super Bowl appearance and an overall 11-12 mark — it is too early to crown them as a favorite to make it.

Continue reading “Taking a look back at the NFL’s Week 4”