Wednesday, April 5, 2006
- The NFL made a nice move Wednesday when it announced that there will be flexible scheduling in weeks 10-15 and in week 17. As someone who watches football not only as a part of my job, but someone who enjoys the game, it will be nice to be able to see games that matter on Sunday evenings (presuming I get back from the Dome in time which isn't always the case). Nonetheless, it is good for the league and good for the game to have marquee games in primetime. People just don't want to see the Jets and Saints when they are a combined 4-16 playing on a Sunday night. In fact, most people who aren't fans of those teams probably would rather watch Extreme House Whatever or one of the other shows that is on Sunday night. The other nice thing it does is it allows teams who aren't expected to be good at the beginning of the year and have no primetime games scheduled to get to play in front of a national audience. Some teams nobody gets to see until the playoffs when everyone is watching and it's a shame because they are hidden. For instance, Cincinnati had just one primetime game a year ago, a Sunday night in week 5. For me, watching Chad Johnson do his thing is one of the most enjoyable things going in the league. It's a shame that wasn't available to a national audience more last season.
- Of course, this is just one step in the right direction. With Monday Night Football moving to ESPN, it would be nice to see some of those games get the added dimension of flexibility. While the Sunday Night game is going to become more prominent because it is on a national, non-cable channel, the Monday Night game will still be something that draws plenty of attention. It looks like that schedule is set and won't have the opportunity to be flexible. That means the potential for more useless late season Monday nighters such as Baltimore versus Green Bay, which took place in week 15 last year.
- I'd be remiss if I didn't complain just a little about some of the rules changes that came out of the owners' meetings last week. The added scrutiny to player celebrations is particularly pointless. Players can longer use props for celebrations, there are no group celebrations (which apparently includes something as simple as a chest bump) and players must remain on their feet. So, celebrations such as Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt's leaping back bump is no longer allowed by NFL standards. That leaves me with just one question, why? Why shouldn't players be allowed to celebrate when they score a touchdown or make a big play? By the logic of not allowing multiple chest bumps (assuming you can do one, I suppose), a running back isn't allowed to simply congratulate or thank his offensive line for helping him get into the end zone. I understand the aspect of not wanting to taunt or show up an opponent. But if both teams have the ability to celebrate equally, I don't think anyone is going to get mad with a little bit of swagger in the end zone. Besides, fans love it. It's always fun to see the creative sides of these players come out and gives fans a glimpse into that player's personality. For example, Barry Sanders would usually flip the ball to the ref after scoring a touchdown. That spoke volumes about who he was off the field as well, quiet and reserved. But Chad Johnson's antics are a direct reflection of who he is off the field, a fun loving and sometimes boastful guy who wears his emotions on his sleeve. I have no problem with placing some limits on where a celebration can go, but to almost eliminate them completely seems to hurt the spirit of the game.
- I'm happy for Mike Furrey that he landed in Detroit. Furrey will likely move back to receiver for Mike Martz's offense and provide that young receiver corps with a steady, positive influence. It's most likely that the majority of Furrey's time on the field will be on special teams, but he could work his way into the offense. Not many expected him to do that last year when he moved to defense for the Rams, but he ended up leading the team in interceptions and making some big plays. Furrey was truly one of the good guys and here's hoping for nothing but the best for him in Detroit.
- With each passing day, the NFL Draft takes a new turn. Some players are dropping, some players are rising. Who really knows what to believe? The fact is, most teams are just now heading toward the finish line in stacking their boards, but things change on a daily basis with every board on every team. There is still plenty of jockeying to be done among the teams at the top and there could be all kinds of movement in the teens with teams looking to move up or down. As for the Rams, they seem content at No. 11, but that could change depending on the way the first six or so picks fall. There's no rush to make a deal until you know if a player you want could fall into a reasonable range. Reasonable range, in most cases, means within three picks of your current position. So, if say an A.J. Hawk somehow fell to the No. 8 range, the Rams would at least explore their options as far as a trade is concerned.