By Cal Braid
Westwind Weekly News
Well, you blink, and the Blue Jays season is over. You blink twice and the Astros and Phillies are in the World Series. In real-time, it probably happens in slow motion. The point being that in this column, we don’t blink much from September to early February as the NFL season plays out. We’re all eyes, but baseball and every other sport are peripheral; the NFL is tunnel vision.
To revisit the last column in which the stats that we dug up about the lowest and highest-scoring teams of all time got a bit discombobulated in print, we decided to delve into history again, hopefully in a more legible manner. (Author’s note: I distinctly remember who introduced me to the word discombobulated as a young man, intently watching a big game: it was the late great John Madden!)
Our focus returns to the Denver Broncos, a team justifiably scorned by primetime viewers everywhere. We’ve been subjected to four primetime appearances in which the Broncos’ offence has been putrid while the defence hustles like gangbusters. Their offence has scored 16,16, 11, 23, 9, 16, and 9 points en route to a 2-5 start. They’ve scored 100 points through seven weeks, second worst to the equally inept Chicago Bears, who won’t play their seventh game until Monday night. Technically, Denver’s averaging 14.2 points per game (ppg), which stinks, but that average is misleading because it’s boosted by the whopping 23 points they scored in a loss to the Raiders.
We decided to eliminate ancient stats (pre-1980 when scoring was more limited, and then we looked at post-2000 when scoring and offensive numbers steadily increased). We felt that the last twenty years, 2002-22, would give us a better perspective on how Wilson and Co. stack up. These were the worst offences during that period. In 2006, the Oakland Raiders averaged 10.5 ppg. In 2009, the St. Louis Rams averaged 10.9 ppg. In 2011, the St. Louis Rams averaged 12.1 ppg. Their records in those years, in order, were: 2-14, 1-15 and 2-14. The hate that the Broncos are receiving this year seems threefold: First, the defence really is lights-out time and again and their efforts just go to waste. Second, their rookie coach made a couple of major blunders early in the season and it cost them. Third, Russell Wilson has gone from golden boy to whipping boy. Yes, he’s been a useless starting QB in 2022, but…his offensive line regularly opens holes for pass rushers and blitzers like they’re trying to create running lanes for their own running backs. Wilson most definitely has regressed, plus he seems like a phoney, a prima donna, a standoffish teammate, and blah, blah, blah. It’s just odd that he’s experienced such a fast and inexplicable regression; he’s not old enough to have lost it due to age. And we’re pretty sure that two years ago this month, he was the obvious frontrunner for league MVP. It’s a real head-scratcher.
Anyway, enough of that. We’ll shift our focus away from the Broncos as they fall farther out of contention. There are plenty of other interesting teams and scenarios. Let’s conclude this segment with a new section we’ll entitle: ‘Go Figure’
The Carolina Panthers fired their coach of the future, Matt Rhule, after five weeks, essentially giving up on the season. They promptly appointed Steve Wilks as interim head coach. In his first game as coach, he sent starting wide receiver Robbie Anderson from the sideline to the locker room after Anderson got too uppity with the coaching staff. They traded Anderson the next day. Four days later, they traded their star running back Christian McCaffrey to the 49ers. Three days later they beat the Tom Brady Buccaneers 21-3. Go figure.
One more. Tua Tagovailoa made a triumphant return two and half weeks after getting knocked unconscious and laying with his fingers splayed in a frightening pose that looked like part paralysis, part-seizure. Sunday night in his medically cleared comeback against the Steelers, on two occasions, he scrambled and went head and shoulders first into a Steeler defender rather than sliding. On one of those runs, he practically instigated a helmet-to-shoulder hit that would have surely earned a defender a 15-yard penalty. Gotta love the guy but, go figure.