I hope you will all excuse me, but I need a break (for one week) from checking the progress of Rookies around the NFL. Instead, I would like to use this week’s column to express some opinions on various topics around college and NFL football. No politics and not too heavy, I promise.
Football Musings from Pigskin Paul
Anyone who knows me a bit realizes by now that I am absolutely opposed to the rugby-like “Tush Push.” It is a craze around the NFL. Why is it against the rules to pull the ball carrier forward by his teammates? But it’s OK to push the scrum forward? If I want to see rugby matches or Australian rules football I will move across the waters and adopt a new passion. But I prefer to get the push-pile out of the American football game.
Or at the very least let’s make this a bit more even in consideration of the Defense practitioners. How about no more forward progress for the offensive ball carrier?! If he gets to the first down marker but is still fighting for more yardage though in the grasp of one or more defenders, let them push him backward until he is on the ground. Then mark the ball there. It seems like an equitable, logical next step to even things up a bit. Let’s go Competition Committee… make it fair to both sides of the ball. Or, just outlaw the tush-pushing.
I am absolutely enthralled with the JOSH DOBBS saga currently unfolding in Minnesota. I have never considered myself a Vikings fan. Although I have no rooted dislike for the organization. And that comes from a guy who lived in Wisconsin for 40 years. I became a Packers fan while there (the Pack wore me down over time). No, it is DOBBS who captures my fancy.
I am guessing that a major factor in the saga is the fact that DOBBS (the astronaut to be?) clearly combines athletic ability with a beautiful mind. It would be OK with me if he could actually lead the Vikings to an NFC North championship and a playoff run. The LIONS look to be the rulers of that division, but there is a chance the Vikings could grab a Wild Card slot.
EVEN MORE NFL
The 2023 Rookie season for Number One Draft Pick BRYCE YOUNG has been mediocre, to say the least. And the performance of C.J. STROUD, the Number Two Pick, in Houston is making Bryce Young‘s work to date look even smaller than it realistically has been. Count me among the group that feels like YOUNG is in great part the victim of “non-support” from the PANTHERS organization.
The team began digging a hole for YOUNG even before they drafted him. Last fall they traded away their top offensive weapon Christian McCaffrey. Along with his hefty contract, to the 49ers for picks. Then they allowed RB D’ONTA FOREMAN, their leading rusher with 914 yards last season to leave via Veteran Free Agency. Even more bitter of a pill…it was the thieving BEARS who signed him away.
And in the process of securing pick one for Bryce Young, they were forced to include their top wideout D.J. MOORE. So that left the team with Chuba Hubbard/RB, with 466 rushing yards. And WR Terrace Marshall, as their leading returning receiver with 28 receptions last season.
Are you kidding me? Now I look for a serious “hands-on owner” DAVID TEPPER to likely jettison HC FRANK REICH by season’s end. If not before. It seems impossible to imagine, but things could be even worse for BRYCE YOUNG in 2024. From a supporting cast standpoint.
These circumstances have little (excuse the pun) to do with concerns about Bryce Young’s diminutive 5’10, maybe 190 lbs., frame. Time to shed a few Defensive starters to accumulate some 2024 Draft Capital over the next few months perhaps. YOUNG seems like a good young man, so here’s hoping he’s not being ruined by a muddled franchise situation in Carolina.
I am conflicted, to say the least about what needs to be done in the college football cheating/scouting accusations by Michigan, under the guidance of the Harbaugh regime. And yes, I think this may fall well within the parameters of “loss of institutional control” at the very least. But my interest has been piqued by the sports media members who have hinted that maybe JIM HARBAUGH will flee the college madness and seek coaching employment back in the NFL as a Head Coach.
After all, Harbaugh had a fairly successful run in that role with the 49ers once upon a time. However, as I burn up a few more precious brain cells in deep thought, I wonder what Owner, and/or General Manager of an NFL team would want to take on the often contrarian attitude, and undeniable “control freak” nature of the Jim Harbaugh personality. Not me, says I, but then again I am not an NFL Owner or GM. Historically I think those kinds of guys have done some pretty crazy things relative to coaching hires.
MORE CFB MUSINGS
Is it just me, or is it a less-than-subtle irony, that the PAC-12 will only have 2 of those 12 teams who are currently in the conference returning for next season? The other 10 schools have already committed to exit for membership in the Big Ten, ACC & other destinations, geography be damned, and yet it has been one of the strongest football conferences in the nation from top to bottom. And they also have the most legit pro-QB prospects of any conference in the nation.
Primarily due to playing many of their games when the Eastern part of the continental USA is in bed, they can’t garner the mega-bucks from TV contracts that Eastern schools can. It falls under the category that everyone gravitates to where the big bucks are. I get it, but being an old guy, I also have respect and fondness for traditions of sorts. And football rivalries, both college and pro, fall into that traditional basket for me.
2024 NFL DRAFT MUSINGS
It seems to me that despite what his father might have said last month, star QB CALEB WILLIAMS is on my list of expected declarations for inclusion in the 2024 NFL Draft pool of prospects. After watching his frustration at leading his Offense to 40+-point scoring losses in the past month, and taking a pummeling behind an OL that is the equal of the Trojans’ poor (and I am being kind) Defense, this young man has got to get out of SoCal.
And to all you Trojans fans let me remind you that I was one of the skeptics when LINCOLN RILEY jumped ship from Oklahoma and headed West. His Defenses were almost non-existent while he coached the Sooners and his short tenure at Southern Cal has shown he still spends most of his time and energy playing with his skill-position offensive players, led by WILLIAMS. Go pro young man before you lose your health, both of a mental and physical nature.
Just some of the musings about the world of football that are rolling around in my head and begging to be let out. I cannot afford a professional counselor to walk me through all these things, so thanks for listening/reading.