I can’t help but start my five-point CFL and NFL roundup this week by addressing Vernon Adams’ injury. The Alouettes quarterback saw his name put on the injured reserve list for six games after sustaining an injury Monday in the game against the Ottawa Rouge et Noir.
This absence obviously hurts the Alouettes a lot since he is not only the number one quarterback of this team, but he is a leader and he shows dynamism both on the field and with his teammates on the lines of. side. Having to manage without the services of your starting quarterback at mid-season is a huge loss for the team.
While it was far from perfect this season for Adams Jr., who suffered from interceptions, made poor decisions on some play reads and struggled to find his receivers at times, the The Alouettes’ offense was still able to move the ball in order to advance on the field.
Matthew Shiltz is entering the fray and I don’t hide that I had my doubts in the past considering him. Having observed him in training and in some intra-team matches, I found him hesitant in his decision-making. As soon as he couldn’t go for his first or second option, he decided to run. On the other hand, in the games in which he came into relief, against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and more recently against the Rouge et Noir, he did the job. He moved the ball well, peeled the pitch well, didn’t hesitate when the time came to release his passes to receivers and we saw him use his legs to good effect.
He will never have such a good chance to show off in the Canadian League as there is only Shea Patterson behind him in the Alouettes’ hierarchy and he has just joined the organization. Shiltz has been with the team for several years and it’s up to him to remove his own handcuffs so that he can play with less fear. It’s up to him to prove he’s got what it takes to be a starting quarterback in the Canadian League and the next few games will show us if that’s the case.
Lamar Jackson shines as a passer
After the Alouettes quarterbacks, I turn to the Baltimore Ravens in the NFL: Lamar Jackson. In a simply dazzling game Monday night in a 31-25 overtime win over the Indianapolis Colts, Jackson recorded three personal bests that captured the attention of the football world.
According to the network ESPN, he had the highest percentage of completed passes in a game in which a quarterback threw more than 40 (37/43 for 86%). He’s also the first player in history with over 400 yards flying, four touchdowns, no interceptions and running for 50 rushing yards. He is also the first quarterback to complete 85% of his passes in a game over 400 yards which is very impressive. Especially since in the case of Jackson, we have long wondered about his qualities as a passer in the NFL. I had doubts too, but just as Josh Allen was able to prove to us, he is the example to me that a quarterback can improve his accuracy and his passing skills even once in the NFL.
Jackson started out in the 11th week of activity in 2018 and in the past two weeks he’s just pitched his second and third game over 300 yards. That total of aerial yards is still a standard in the NFL and he should have done it more often since his debut. But you can sense a change from his side and in a game in which the Ravens faced a 22-3 deficit, they needed the aerial game and Jackson delivered the goods. You can always say there were injuries in the Colts’ tertiary, but the fact remains that it is a defensive unit in the NFL and Jackson has just proven that he can be a good passer in this. league. It remains to be seen if he can remain consistent in this facet of the game.
Too much kicking
I want to talk about the NFL kicker theme after a tough weekend in post-touchdown transformation with 13 total misses.
It will be recalled that when the NFL decided to back the kicker for this transformation, from 19 yards to 32 yards, it was in the hope of seeing teams turn to two-point conversions more often with attack on the ground. On the contrary, the teams do not opt for this option by still turning to their kicker. They prefer the transformation of two points when the score on the board indicates it which is similar to what happened before the rule change.
So the League only gave more importance to this facet of the game which rests on the kicker’s foot when in my opinion, it must be reduced. It’s nothing against kickers, but I don’t think this game should have such a big impact on the outcome of a game. I consider that we should return to what prevailed before the change with a much shorter kick so that it is not a transformation of a failed point that is responsible for the outcome of the game. I wondered if another option could be preferred, but I think we should keep the option for teams to choose between one or two points to add after the touchdown.
The NFL tried something, it didn’t have the desired effect, and I’m leaning towards a comeback with one-point conversions on 19 yards.
One backfielder per committee
During the Monday night game between the Ravens and the Colts, a situation jumped out at me. In the same game, Jonathan Taylor was seen running efficiently, Nyheim Hines left the backfield on another play to grab a pass and at another point, Marlon Mack added to the Colts’ backfield for in turn be used as a running back.
The scenario was the same with the Ravens and by pushing my research, we realize that the era of one running back per team in the NFL is over. I have toured the teams in the circuit and even if some have more work than others, I am thinking in particular of Derrick Henry with the Tennessee Titans, the fact remains that he too shares the work with teammate Jeremy McNichols.
Teams want to make sure their running back stays fresh and available, and dominant every time they touch the ball. They don’t want a running back to get hit 30 to 40 times in a game because their lifespan for their career will necessarily be cut short. Even if one team has a clearly superior running back than their teammate, the second is able to have a few tools in their arsenal to add a different touch to the attack or be similar in some ways.
The watchword in the NFL these days is versatility and in the backfielder that allows deployment for a wider range of games. It might be a shame for poolers who have to choose between several running backs for their fantasy, but this reality with two or three running backs per team is the watchword in the NFL today.
A resignation required
I end my overview with obviously a word on the forced resignation / dismissal of Jon Gruden at the helm of the Las Vegas Raiders.
This bomb fell on the NFL during the Monday night game and the decision is totally justified that he hand over the reins of the team. There can’t be a coach in a professional league who got caught with not one, but multiple emails over a seven to eight year span that included misogynistic, racist, homophobic and other deplorable comments.
Gruden had no choice but to resign. He wouldn’t have had respect in his locker room anymore anyway, especially since the only player to have openly shared his homosexuality in NFL history, Carl Nassib, finds himself there.
The question that comes now is what will happen to other people involved in the Gruden emails. What is their role in all of this? How did they act? I recall that this situation arises from the investigation into the toxic climate within the Washington football team. We still do not have the full results of this investigation, but it is quite obvious that Gruden is not the only one within the circuit to have such acts to his credit.
In my opinion, this is only the tip of the iceberg and other heads are to be expected to fall. It is a shame to see what is happening and that such comments have been made by individuals, but in any revolution there have been difficult times, but that is precisely part of these revolutions for culture change. We want every time one of these stories comes out that people realize that there is still some way to go, but that we are going in the right direction. We are still far from reaching our destination.
Interview by Maxime Tousignant