Colin Kaepernick’s effort to make himself “relevant” again hasn’t yet translated on the field, but it did apparently succeed in one respect, that being when TIME magazine got the notion of buying into his self-serving publicity stunt and bestowing upon him the “honor” of its front cover. Not that I think it really mean all that much; TIME—like it’s chief competitor Newsweek—has in recent decades, due to declining sales, traded away its credibility as a serious repository for objective news by targeting specific demographic groups (particularly women) with stories they would likely find serving their own personalized agendas. Let’s just call things the way they are: in his statement “justifying” his stand on police shootings, Kaepernick took care to shield himself from being “lumped in” with characters he has no commonality with, by carefully distancing himself from the criminal elements and those whose contempt for the law and those who are tasked to enforce it is largely the cause of the breakdown in civilized behavior from both sides.
The cynic finds proof of this in Kaepernick’s rather quizzical effort to place himself on the side of military veterans he claims that have been shot by police, even though this is clearly at odds with the numbers. The actions of other athletes in “solidarity” with their community over the deaths at the hands of police is not about “patriotism” or “privilege,” but “pride.” The reality is that players involved in this are less interested in “solidarity” than in their “hurt” pride in being seen by the nation at large as being rooted in a dysfunctional community; it is much better for their “pride” if their “brothers” are seen as “victims.” One wonders, however, if "pride" enters into the maelstrom of violence that is self-perpetrated.
Now with the games:
Bengals 22 Dolphins 7 There is nothing like a not very good team to resolve the problem of sullied expectations, which the Dolphins were for the Bengals last Thursday night. On their first offensive possession the Dolphins covered 81 yards on two plays and conveniently went into hibernation the rest of the game, which meant that Andy Dalton could put up big, meaningless numbers that looked better on paper than on the scoreboard.
Jaguars 30 Colts 27 Once again, Andrew Luck led a late game comeback that fell short. The question is why can’t the Colts play more than one quarter of quality football? Is it because it takes him and the team until the fourth quarter to decide “Hey, this game is almost over. You think we ought at least give an impression that we actually want to win this thing?” Maybe if they actually played two quarters against bad teams, they might actually be 3-1 instead of 1-3.
Texans 27 Titans 20 Some people might find this hard to believe, but despite their 27-0 loss to the Patriots third-string quarterback with three days of preparation last week, the Texans are not only 3-1 this seasons, but “solidly” in control of their division after just four games. Everyone else is 1-3, with only the Colts seeming to be a “credible” challenge if they ever get their act together.
Redskins 31 Browns 20 The Browns actually led in this game and were driving into position to take a 10-point lead on the Redskins late, and actually looked as if that score was an accurate barometer on the actual play on the field. But a fumble, another fumble and then an interception later—well you know how it goes for these “borderline” teams.
Seahawks 27 Jets 17 I was hoping for a different result, but the supposed vaunted Jets’ front line never gave the supposedly injured Russell Wilson any trouble at all, and although Ryan Fitzpatrick threw only half as many interceptions as he did last week, he threw them all in the second half when it was still a game, so it amounted to the same amount of idiocy. No matter how much he is being paid, we may soon be hearing those dreaded calls for Geno, both for Jets fans and Fitzpatrick.
Falcons 48 Panthers 33 The Panthers supposedly have a good, if not great, defense, but they were blitzed for 571 total yards and nearly 50 points in this game. Matt Ryan threw for 503 yards on just 37 passes, with Julio Jones accounting for 300 of those yards (unlike running backs, of course, receivers run mainly through open fields). Cam Newton was knocked of the game, and Derek Anderson looked just swell in leading two touchdown drives to make the score “respectable” for a little while, followed by two interceptions, which made things less respectable in the end.
Raiders 28 Ravens 27 The Ravens out-gained the Raiders 412 to 261, but a fumble and a special teams breakdown erased whatever “advantage” the Ravens had on paper. Although this is this their first loss of the season, games like this can plant seeds of doubt, since the Ravens three victories have not been particularly convincing statements of competence.
Bears 17 Lions 14 Bryan Hoyer is working for his fifth team in in eight years, and without the pressure of playing for a good team, he only had to emit a pulse to beat the hapless Lions, back to their bad old ways. Only a missed field goal early and an 85-yard punt return late made this game appear not to be a contest between a bad team and a worse team.
Bills 16 Patriots 0 Wow, maybe Bill Belichick isn’t such a “genius” after all. Jacoby Brissett wasn’t awful in this game, but unlike his counterpart, Tyrod Taylor, he could keep drives going with short passes here, and short passes there. The Patriots converted on just 1 of 12 third downs, and they just seemed to quit in disgust after a 90-yard pass play on the first play of the game was overturned on a penalty. A 58-yard pass play with the score 13-0 seemed to affect a brief revival for the Patriots, but a Brissett fumble at the Bills’ 10 took down that tent and sent everyone home.
Broncos 27 Buccaneers 7 Last year the Broncos won the Super Bowl with defense, and this year may have to plan on doing that again. Trevor Siemian was knocked out of the game, but with the defense forcing three turnovers even a green rookie like Paxton Lynch can step and play like everything is cool. Meanwhile, Jameis Winston can’t brag that he’s having a better season than Marcus Mariota, because he isn’t. He needs the support of a running game to keep the pressure off his mind, and that ain’t happening.
Rams 17 Cardinals 13 Unless Russell Wilson’s knee gets bent in four different directions, you might as well hang it up for the rest of the NFC West. The Cardinals offense with or without Carson Palmer has turned inefficient if not ineffective, and a lot more of the latter if Drew Stanton has to come in very often (he should try just tiny bit harder if he wants that 0.0 QB rating). Meanwhile, the Rams have won three in a row with Case Keenum at something resembling a quarterback, and by virtue of their victory over the Seahawks they are technically ahead of them in the standings, for now; that 1.8 yards-per-rush won’t keep them there long.
Saints 35 Chargers 34 Drew Brees didn’t throw for 400 yards again in this game. In fact, he barely threw for half that many, and throw in two interceptions. The Chargers led 34-21 when the Saints all but conceded the game, punting the ball with less than 7 minutes to play. Melvin Gordon, who might be picking up fantasy points scoring touchdowns but otherwise his ball-carrying kind of sucks, fumbled on the very next play, giving the Saints an extremely short field to close within a touchdown. A miracle! For once the heavenly saints were bestowing their grace on the football Saints, because on the Chargers very next play they fumbled the ball away again, and suddenly they were losing. There was still two minutes to play for a field goal, and one would think that the Chargers would learn from their mistakes, but all they did was try out new ones. Phillip Rivers inexplicably threw two deep balls instead of two short ones, neither accomplishing their mission, particularly the second one, which was intercepted.
Cowboys 24 49ers 17 Trailing 21-17 with 11 minutes to play and starting in great position at their own 45, someone on the 49er sidelines (Chip Kelly?) tried to “surprise” everyone in the stadium by having Blaine Gabbert throw the ball as far he could. Unfortunately, this was not supposed to be a Punt, Pass and Kick competition for the kiddies, but intended to be caught by someone down there by the other team’s goal line. Unfortunately, it was the other team’s guy wasn’t too shocked to catch the ball. And that was that, folks. If you don’t have a rookie running back averaging 100 yards a game like the Cowboys do to keep the pressure off their rookie quarterback, you should at least make certain that your own journeyman quarterback doesn’t devolve into the humorous footnote most people wrote him off as.