Water Cooler Shorts – 8/30/2015

Latest edition of my Water Cooler Shorts…giving you the quick updates you need to know from this weekend’s game before you go into work on Monday morning.

My “conspiracy” might have been on the money

If you missed the article, check it out here. But basically, I theorized that Jay Gruden was trying to get RG III hurt intentionally.  Well, reports have surfaced that he and his coaching staff don’t want Griffin around and even kicked the tires on potential trade opportunities (according to ESPN).  So they’ve already named Kirk Cousins the week 1 starter – even though Gruden tried to back-pedal after that was reported.  Simple fact is, RGIII is not in his long-term plans and there’s a good chance that both sides part ways before the season starts.

Packers should boycott preseason

A week after losing Jordy Nelson for the season, Mike McCarthy was smart enough to sit out Aaron Rodgers for their preseason game on Saturday. They were down three offensive linemen and McCarthy didn’t want to roll the dice. Makes sense – but he still played his other starters and right on cue, Randall Cobb landed awkwardly on their first offensive series and was seen walking to the locker room with a shoulder injury. Early reports are an injury to his AC joint, and it’s not considered severe. All the Cheeseheads can take a deep breath now, but the Packers should think long and hard before they play anyone that matters in their final preseason game.

Brady played and looked…un-Brady like

All preseason the Patriots have been in a tough spot while they wait for resolution to his ‘Deflategate’ suspension. They want Brady to get reps, but obviously need Jimmy G to be ready to roll week 1 if Brady’s not available. So I was curious how much run Brady would get in this game, one that is commonly referred to as a “dress rehearsal” for week 1. Well, Brady played the entire first half and looked pretty terrible for most of it. He threw two really ugly picks trying to hook up with Aaron Dropson, I mean Dobson…and didn’t build any rhythm for the first 28 minutes of the game. Thankfully, he ran the 2-minute drill to perfection and engineered an 80-yard TD drive at the end of the 1st half that should calm the nerves of Pats fans.

The real question, whoever is QB week 1, is whether they’ll have a complete stable of weapons around them. Edelman is still nursing an ankle injury and hasn’t been a full participant in practice, and Brandon LaFell was in a walking boot and has yet to participate at all. They signed Reggie Wayne this week, but that’s an addition that sounds better than it actually is. Wayne’s got nothing left in the tank, so if they’re relying on production from him to replace either LaFell or Edelman, they’ll be seriously screwed.

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Eagles’ offense looked unstoppable

I know it’s just preseason, but the 1st half of their game against the Packers on Saturday was pretty impressive. If you missed it, the Eagles put up 39 points in the first half behind a perfect 10-10 effort from Sam Bradford (121 yards and 3 TDs), and a solid effort from Mark Sanchez in relief (13-19 for 150 yards and 2 TDs). They spread the ball around, got lots of different receivers and backs involved and Chip Kelly’s up tempo offense looked great. If Bradford can stay healthy (which was always the big question mark) he has big-time potential this year. Chip Kelly made a concerted effort this offseason to put his stamp on this roster…and he definitely did. So this is a big season for him to prove that his system works…so far the early results have been extremely positive.

That Tyler Lockett kid is FAST

It’s not like the Seattle Seahawks had major holes going into this season (after back-to-back Super Bowls), but their only criticism has always been the relative lack of weapons around Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch. Well, they traded for Jimmy Graham this offseason and then they drafted this kid…Tyler Lockett. Not sure how involved he’ll be in the offense, but he’s already made his presence felt on special teams with a kickoff returned for a touchdown in week 1 and a punt returned for a touchdown this weekend. Kid must be wearing his PF Flyers…

Julio got paid $$

The Falcons locked up star receiver Julio Jones with a 5-year contract extension worth $71.25M on Saturday. He then promptly sat out of their preseason game that night. Smart move – you locked up your stud…no reason to trot him out there anymore in games that don’t matter. He’s one of the best in the game and now it’s possible he’ll be doing the Dirty Bird and A-Town Stomp until 2020.

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Water Cooler Shorts – 8/24/2015

What you need to know from the weekend (and last week) in the NFL:

Injury News

The big news from this weekend is coming out of Green Bay, where the Packers lost star wide receiver Jordy Nelson. Initial reports are a torn ACL and he’s lost for the season. He’ll have an MRI today to confirm the prognosis, but it’s a tough pill to swallow. If any team is equipped to handle this kind of injury though, it’s the Packers. They seem to constantly churn out productive receivers from every draft and Davante Adams will slide right in to fill Nelson’ s role on the outside. Plus, they still have that guy named Rodgers at QB, so they’ll be okay. The other big injury happened earlier in the week when the Panthers lost their young stud receiver – Kelvin Benjamin. He went down in practice, also with a torn ACL and is officially done for the year. Any time a guy goes down without contact, you know it’s not good and in both of these situations it appears to be worst case scenarios.

One other injury nugget – not as flashy, but still worth noting, is that the Steeler’s Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey injured his ankle yesterday and was carted off. He will require surgery and the timetable for his return is still unknown at this point. Either way, it’s a big loss for a team that wants to establish the run and needs to protect Big Ben.

Jimmy G Update

For all those Pats fans who were on the ledge after week 1 of the preseason, you can step down and relax. Yes, I understand that Garoppolo was facing 2nd and 3rd stringers on the Saints. But he was also playing with 2nd and 3rd stringers on his side of the ball and did what you would expect from a capable quarterback…he led the offense on 5 scoring drives and was efficient doing so: 28/33 for 269 yards and 1 TD (also 1 INT), which I consider impressive considering his top receiving threat was undrafted rookie Chris Harper. Assuming that Brady is out for the first 4 weeks, as I said last week…I think the Pats will be just fine.

No other major news. Week 3 of the preseason will be the ‘dress rehearsal’ for most teams, so expect the starters to get lots of action in preparation for week 1. Knock on wood if you’ve already had your fantasy football draft and pray that your guys make it through in one piece.

Conspiracy Theory Time

As if dealing with the endless saga of Deflategate wasn’t enough for Patriots fans, now they’ve had to listen to other nonsense like Peyton Manning believing the visitor’s locker room at Gillette is bugged. The suspicion dates back to his time with the Colts, but resurfaced this week when Dan Patrick interviewed Tony Dungy on his radio show. It’s just a ridiculous notion…but even as a Patriots fan I have to admit that I wouldn’t put it out of the realm of possibility. Either way, it’s obvious that Belichick had (and probably still does have) a good chunk of real estate in Peyton’s head.

Anyway, it got me to thinking…The Office Sports Guy can do conspiracy theories too! So here it is, my first conspiracy theory of the 2015 NFL season:

Jay Gruden hates RGIII and secretly wanted him to get hurt

Honestly, after watching last night’s preseason game between the Redskins and Lions I feel pretty good about this theory. Even if you just caught the highlights on ESPN, it was blatantly obvious that the Redskins offensive line played horrendously and left RGIII constantly running for his life. He took some huge shots…stuff that would have been primed for the ‘Jacked Up’ segment on NFL Countdown (if ESPN hadn’t pulled it once they finally realized they should be more sensitive to player safety and concussions).

It’s week 2 of the preseason and you’ve got your starting quarterback, arguably the face of your franchise (although there’s obviously some questions on that now) out there taking shot after shot because your offensive line can’t protect him. Any head coach who gave a crap about their “franchise QB” would protect him by either: (a) making more conservative play-calls – i.e. more run plays, max protection, etc. or (b) just pull him from the game because IT’S PRESEASON!!. Get that shit figured out in practice when there aren’t 250-300 pound defensive lineman from an opposing team trying to obliterate him.

But instead, Jay Gruden left him in the game to take a beating. The end result: RGIII left the game with what has now been diagnosed as a concussion, creating questions about his availability for the rest of the preseason and going into week 1.

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So the only conclusion that I can draw is that this is exactly what Jay Gruden wanted. Maybe he secretly loves Kirk Cousins and wants him to be the starter. Maybe he’s upset that RGIII did Subway commercials with Jared back in the day.  But Gruden definitely doesn’t want him to be his starting QB week 1 or moving forward. Gruden is on a mission to destroy what little faith the Redskins fanbase and locker room has in RGIII (and probably his self-confidence at the same time). If I were RGIII, I’d hire some extra muscle and definitely look both ways when I walk out of the Redskins facility…Jay Gruden might he lurking around the corner, ready to “accidentally” hit him with his car.