On January 22, 1973, Joe Frazier fought George Foreman for the WBA, WBC and The Ring heavyweight championship of the world. Both boxers were undefeated but the fight would last less than 6 minutes. Foreman scored a technical knockout at 1:35 of the second round. Hall of Fame announcer Howard Cosell made the memorable call, “Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier!” Most in attendance were shocked at how easily Foreman manhandled the man they called “Smoking Joe”, Foreman knocked him down six times during the contest. Decades later, when I was old enough to watch this fight’s recap on HBO’s legends of boxing, I thought to myself, Why would anyone want to be fighter, it is a brutal sport that can have long term effects on your mind and body? After seeing J.J. Watt and Odell Beckham Jr. being taken off the field on Sunday, I am starting to think the same thing about football. Why would anyone want to play in the NFL? It is beyond brutal.
Watt is out for the season after he suffered a tibial plateau fracture. Beckham Jr. will undergo surgery this week to repair a fractured ankle suffered in Sunday’s game. Over the past few weeks three MVP candidates, Watt, OBJ and Derek Carr have all experienced devastating injuries. The NFL is now becoming the survival of the fittest. I hope, over the next few years, the NFL can figure out a way to make the game safer for their players. No one wants to see players miss the season and risks their future, because of injuries.
Here are 5 Things The Sports Whisperer learned in Week 5 of the NFL.
#5) The Titans, Mike Mularkey, is a terrible head coach.
When I heard Tennessee hired Mularkey my reaction was that of Tom Cruise from the 1988 movie Rain Man. “Can you repeat that… because I can’t believe my f’ing ears.” Mularkey was 2-7 as the Titans interim coach in 2015 and the so called “powers that be” decided, they liked what they saw.” Bill Parcells once said, “You are what you record is.” The Titans coach is 29-49… 20 games below .500. Under his leadership Tennessee has gone 14 straight games on the road without an opening drive touchdown. Well coached teams prepare all week to put in new plays on the opening drive to confuse opposing defense. Mularkey is so predictable and the play calling is so boring, teams know exactly what they are going to run to start the game. It’s a miracle they won two games this season. The Titans lost to the hapless Miami Dolphins on Sunday 16-10. As a team they rushed 20 times for 69 yards. Back up quarterback, Matt Cassel averaged 4.4 yards per completion. Mularkey better hope Marcus Mariota hurry’s back from his hamstring injury because without him they have no chance to win any game. Mariota has managed to win some games despite Mularkey’s incompetence. Below is what the Titans do with Mariota in the lineup and what they do without him.
#4) Is it over for “Big Ben” in Pittsburgh?
Ben Roethlisberger threw 5 interceptions as the Steelers were thoroughly dominated at home by the Jacksonville Jaguars 30-9. Roethlisberger said after the game, “”Maybe I don’t have it anymore.” I tend to agree with him. He threw for over 300 yards on Sunday it time he threw for that many yards since week 10 of last season. One coach who wanted to remain anonymous said to me, “Ben looks old, slow and punch drunk, it’s like the game has passed him by and he’s too fat and slow to catch up.” Antonio Brown caught 10 passes for 157 yards but Le’Veon Bell only had 47 yards rushing. For the year, Bell is averaging only 3.6 yards per carry. If the Steelers want to make a run at the playoffs, Ben and Bell have got to be better. If not, this could be the last year for Mike Tomlin as the coach in Pittsburgh.
#3) Cam Newton has got his swag back.
In 2015, Cam Newton had 45 total touchdowns and 10 interceptions and won his 1st MVP award. Newton struggled in the Super Bowl that season losing to the Denver Broncos 24-10. In 2016, Newton and the Panthers had what appeared to be a Super Bowl “hangover” The former Auburn quarterback, had only 19 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions. It was almost as if, all his confidence left him, after losing the Super Bowl. All that changed two weeks ago when the Panthers defeated the New England Patriots on the road 33-30. Over the past two games, the man they call “Superman” has had 7 total touchdowns and almost 700 yards passing. The Panthers are 4-1. If Newton continues to play like this, they will be a legitimate contender to get back to the Super Bowl.
#2) Jets fans don’t celebrate
The New York Jets are 3-2 and the entire City is talking playoffs, slow down! What is the end game here? The Jets have a 38-year-old journeyman as their quarterback . I have seen this script before. Does everyone remember Ryan Fitzpatrick? In the biggest game of his life, Fitzpatrick let the Jets down. On the last game of the 2015 season, the Jets lost to the Bills 22-17, crushing their playoff dreams. Fitzpatrick was 16-37 with 3 interceptions. All three interceptions came on the Jets last three drives. Josh Mccown will Never win a playoff game. The goal here should be to get a top 3 draft pick. The Jets haven’t been to a super bowl since 1969. That is the last time they had a franchise QB, Joe Namath.
#1) Aaron Rodgers is a bad, bad man.
Two years ago, when I started my sports writing/broadcasting journey, I went on a podcast in Wisconsin. At the end of the show I told the host, I would not only take Aaron Rodgers over any quarterback in the NFL, I would take him over Brett Favre any day of the week and twice on Sunday’s. You would have thought I said the earth was flat. People called in the show and cursed at me, tweeted me to drop dead and told the host to never have me back on. I stand by that statement. Tom Brady may have 5 Super Bowl rings but I have never seen a quarterback be one step ahead of everyone on the gridiron like Rodgers. Against the Cowboys, on the road, he led his team to another game winning touchdown. The Packers won 35-31. In 5 games, Rodgers is completing 67% of his passes has 13 touchdowns, 3 interceptions and has passed for over 1,300 yards. I predicted Rodgers would win the MVP this season and I like my chances so far.
Jerry Jones should stop worrying about players peacefully protesting and take care of his own backyard. 3 players on the Cowboys roster were arrested this off-season. The Cowboys are now 2-3.
Deshaun Watson is making every team pay for not drafting him. Watson had 5 touchdown passes against a very good Kansas City Chiefs defense. Houston lost to Kansas City 45-34 but Watson is a star on the rise. The Former Clemson national championship, is completing 62.1 % of his passes, has 14 total touchdowns, only 4 interceptions and a QB rating of 100.7. Watson was picked 12 by the Houston Texans in the 2017 NFL draft. I am sure 11 teams including the Jets are shaking their heads right now.
How about those Eagles… 4-1 with the best quarterback in the NFC East… Carson Wentz.
No one saw the Giants going 0-5 to start the season. How bad is it? All three of the wide receivers are hurt and the Jets have a better record.
The Chicago Bears have now had 30 starting quarterbacks in 25 years.
Going into last week the Dolphins were the only team in the NFL to not score a touchdown in the 1st half. Their offense is terrible on every level.
The Sports Whisperer’s NFL Power Rankings:
#5) New England Patriots…3-2.
#4) Carolina Panthers…4-1.
#3) Philadelphia Eagles… 4-1
#2) Green Bay Packers…4-1.
#1) Kansas City Chiefs 5-0
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