NFL WEEK EIGHT: Aaron Rodgers puts Matt LeFleur in a class of his own, Titans replace the irreplaceable Derrick Henry and Mike Zimmer is done in Minnesota
- Another ludicrous week in the NFL – wins for three back-up quarterbacks
- Green Bay and Buffalo look the pick of the bunch after promising wins
- Brady and the Bucs lost to the Saints, while the Cowboys won without Dak
- The trade deadline came and went with Von Miller the most significant mover
Where in the wide world of sport to start? Brady and the Bucs lost to the Saints again. Green Bay are still looking like a 13-3 (13-4? 14-3?) team and Buffalo are the only real deal in the AFC.
Speaking of which, Derrick Henry is out for the season, ruining any hopes the Titans had of going deep in the playoffs, the Chargers made it back-to-back defeats and the Chiefs just about scraped past the, er, Giants.
It was a blinding week for back-up quarterbacks with Mike White, Trevor Siemian and Cooper Rush conjuring victories against supposedly savvier opponents. Although one was Mike Zimmer.
And the trade deadline passed with little note. Von Miller joined the Los Angeles Rams while several unhappy Vikings went untraded, despite Zimmer’s best efforts to frustrate them out of US Bank Stadium.
A CLASS OF HIS OWN
Thursday Night Football is seldom the preserve of elite football – think London games at an unreasonable hour – but the Cardinals and Packers provided one of the best games of the season.
Despite missing several offensive weapons – including two lineman and several top targets – Aaron Rodgers looked frustrated but ultimately relieved after Rasul Douglas’s game-winning interception.
It means Matt LaFleur has 33 career wins after his first 40 games in Titletown. That’s more than any coach in the Super Bowl era.
The magnificent Aaron Rodgers helped the Packers to a seventh consecutive win
RIDLEY BOWS OUT
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley will not be seen on an NFL field for a while.
The wide receiver, 26, will ‘step away from football at this time’ to focus on his mental health.
Ridley did not travel to London for Atlanta’s win over the Jets but played against the Miami Dolphins last week.
‘These past few weeks have been very challenging and as much as I’d like to be on the field competing with my teammates, I need to step away from football at this time and focus on my mental wellbeing,” Ridley said in a statement on Twitter. ‘This will help me be the best version of myself now and in the future.’
Head coach Arthur Smith would not elaborate on details after the 19-13 defeat by the Carolina Panthers but said: ‘Calvin’s dealing with something personal. And it’s going to remain personal on my end. Calvin’s statement speaks for him, and so when we got here today, we talked and put him inactive.’
The Colts lost. Again. It was painful.
THE END OF AN ERA?
Hands up if you picked the Chiefs to go to the Super Bowl. But things aren’t exactly going to plan.
Seeing players targeting fans on social media is always a good sign, don’t you think?
‘This might be one of the most toxic fan bases in all of sports,’ Mathieu wrote on Instagram.
Mathieu was agreeing with Anthony Hitchens, who hit back at a fan account, saying his deal was one of the three worst moves from Chiefs General Manager Brett Veach.
‘All we did was go to 3 AFC championship games and 2 Super Bowls and 1 SB win in my first 3 years here so far,’ Hitchens wrote. ‘y’all fans will never be satisfied it’s sad!’
HE’S STILL GOT IT
Derrick Henry’s out indefinitely. So are the Titans now.
Derrick Henry has had surgery on an injured right foot but could miss the entire season
But that didn’t stop NBC tweeting about the arrival of Adrian “All Day” Peterson.
Because running backs – and even Todd Gurley – look great almost three years ago.
The Mike Zimmer era has been one marked by ludicrous events, painful defeats, poor clock management and latterly putting your faith in Kirk Cousins, a man for whom the word robotic could have been invented.
You could argue that Zimmer could have won a Super Bowl with Minnesota (in 2016, in case you’re asking) but since reaching the NFC Championship game in 2017, his record – and Cousins’ – has been.
Mike Zimmer’s fabled defense could not stop Cooper Rush from leading the Cowboys to a win
On Sunday Night Football both Zimmer and Cousins had the chance to show they were almost relevant against a Cowboys team without Dak Prescott. They came up well short.
Clock mismanagement has been a hallmark of Zimmer’s eight years in Minnesota and his calling of two consecutive time outs (with a little help from the referees) was the latest example of Zimmer falling short.
That it was against Mike McCarthy must have hurt even more.
Combining that level of slapstick with conservative playcalling adds salt to the wounds.
As for Cousins, he’s earning an awful lot of money to throw to CJ Ham well short of the pylons when the Vikings need to move the chains.
Plenty of other teams would make use of Adam Thielen, Justin Jefferson and Dalvin Cook, but the Vikings seem content to play fearful football from the late Eighties. The defense is playing as though they are in their Forties too.
The Vikings play the Ravens off a bye in Baltimore on Sunday. It’s a trip to the Chargers after that. And then they welcome Green Bay to US Bank Stadium.
If Zimmer’s still in a job after that I’ll eat my Vikings cap.
WIN NOW MENTALITY
The Broncos traded Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller to the LA Rams.
After blockbuster trades for Jalen Ramsey and Matthew Stafford, Rams GM Les Snead again showed he is happy to give up draft potential for proven winners.
On a conference call, Sean McVay said his initial reaction to Miller’s arrival was: ‘You’ve got to be s—ting me!’ That’s what I said. I’m like, “No way”.’
TEARS TO A GLASS EYE
Tough not to mention Tom Brady, who lost for the third time against the New Orleans Saints while wearing a Bucs uniform.
He’s been to 10 Super Bowls, though – here’s a trip down Memory Lane
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