Welcome to The Truda Report everybody. Today there is a lot to talk about, so I'm going to try and let everyone know everything going on with Sunday Night Football, and Monday Night Football. Hopefully I can hit on everything you've been wondering about those two games from this week. Make sure to share this article as it helps TTR grow.
If last night's MNF game wasn't so hectic, this would easily be the game everyone was still talking about. The Seattle Seahawks defeated the Philadelphia Eagles, who had previously held the best record in the NFL at 10-1. The 24-10 final score doesn't justify my feeling throughout the game, which is that the Eagles were completely outmatched, and subsequently beat down. Seattle's decimated defense, missing two Pro Bowlers in Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman, held the Eagles previously number one ranked scoring offense to only 10 points, despite giving up 425 yards. Many people defended Philadelphia for that reason, saying they just couldn't find the end zone and the yards prove this offense is one to fear. I can agree that this one game doesn't define Philly's offense, but it has to be disconcerting. Carson Wentz, an MVP candidate, played poorly against a playoff defense in a playoff environment. This is what the Eagles are going to be seeing this Postseason, so this lackluster performance is not encouraging.
Speaking of MVP candidates, how about Russell Wilson? He easily has my vote, as he has been putting up historic numbers all year long. He accounts for 29 of Seattle's 30 touchdowns, and is accounted for 82% of Seattle's offense. If the season ended today, that percentage would be an NFL record. The numbers don't say it all, by the way. There were a number of plays on Sunday in which Wilson should have been sacked for a huge loss, and yet he turned the play into a large gain. Those plays seem almost routine when Wilson is on the field, and are what make him the clear MVP pick for me.
This style of play has to be concerning for the Seahawks though. They cannot possibly count on Wilson to bail out their average receivers, below average running backs, and garbage offensive line every single game. He has done it throughout the regular season, but at some point in the Playoffs it won't hold up anymore. That brings me to my next point about Seattle and Philly, which is what this game means for them and their Playoff status. Obviously, I don't see either of these teams missing the Postseason, but this game does say a lot about how they should perform in Playoff football. The young Philadelphia team looked overwhelmed by Seattle, and since the Eagles have played mainly poor teams this year this game doesn't look good for their future performances this January. Hopefully this was a wake up call for them. For Seattle this game is great in that their backups have done a great job stepping up on defense, but the offense would keep me up at night. They can't go very far if it's just Russell leading the way.
I don't want to talk much about this games playing, and more about its politics. This, to many, was an atrocity. First, Ryan Shazier, an incredibly talented and well respected linebacker for the Steelers, went down with a horrible injury when making a tackle. He sniffed the play out, ran for the receiver running an underneath route, and when the offensive player shifted Shazier's momentum took the crown of his helmet straight into the hip of the Bengal. He dropped to the ground, reached for his back, and then started flexing his right hand. Shazier couldn't move his legs, was carted off the field, and remains in the hospital. Today, reports have come out saying that he has regained some feeling in his lower half, but this is still scary. Many think that it was a spinal contusion, and that is what's causing this temporary paralyzation.
With head injuries already at the front of everyone's minds due to the physical and dangerous history of the Steelers Bengals rivalry, this emphasized the danger of the NFL. That didn't stop each team from getting in their physical and unnecessary shots though. Late in the game, Ben Roethlisberger threw a quick pass to Leveon Bell, who turned up field to pick up the first down. JuJu Smith Shuster, a slot receiver, layed down a vicious block of Vontez Burfict who was in pursuit of Bell, placing his helmet right underneath the face mask of the linebacker. Then, as Burfict lay motionless of the ground, Shuster stood over Burfict staring down at him for what seemed like an eternity. Burfict is okay, but he had to be taken off of the field of a stretcher.
On that same drive, Antonio Brown caught the game tying touchdown pass in the back of the endzone, but that play was also riddled with extracurricular activity. Safety George Ikola launched himself right into the head of Brown as he jumped up to catch the touchdown. It's incredible Brown doesn't have a concussion.
After the game, when Shuster was giving an apology to Burfict in an interview, Brown can be heard screaming "karma" in the background repeatedly. Brown also said in his interview that the game was filled with karma, and that he would pay Shuster's fine for him, clearly approving of the hit. This was all, obviously, related to when Burfict laid a hit on Brown straight to his head as he was a defenseless receiver running over the middle of the field a couple of years ago in the Playoffs.
All of that from the game was then dismissed as "NFC North" football by Ben Roethlisberger after the game, but it is clearly more than that. This is not the view the NFL wants or needs, as the game was one of violence and scary injuries. Like I said at the beginning, a lot of people found this game to be an atrocity, but I can't bring myself to agree. This is football. The players know what they are signing up for, and they understand each and every game that there will be hits to their head, legal or not, and they will have lasting impacts from that as life goes on. I think that the NFL needs to do more to try and stop this as player safety is obviously a huge priority, but it bothers me that people are acting like all of this was out of the blue. This has been happening for years upon years, it just hasn't been seen on a stage like this before. Just yesterday the NFL suspended Rob Gronkowski for his cheap hit to the head of Tre'Davious White, who is now in the concussion protocol.
That suspension brings me to my last thoughts for today. Gronk was given a one game suspension for a very cheap hit to the head of a defenseless player (if you want more info check out yesterday's article). Today both JuJu and Ikola were given one game suspensions by the league for their hits, but this, for me, just brought up more image questions for the NFL. How is it that JuJu was given the same suspension as Gronkowski when Shuster's hit was not intended to hurt Burfict, and it was a bang-bang play. Gronkowski purposely, after the play, layed out to smash White's head into the ground, while Shuster gave a block that wouldn't be disciplined by any coach in the league. I think Shuster does deserve a game suspension since the NFL needs to further push that there can't be hits to the head, but that means Gronk and Ikola deserve at least two games. If Talib and Crabtree were given two game sentences each for having a fight that injured nobody and had nothing to do with brain trauma, then Gronk and Ikola deserved at least that.
Again, I think that this has to be expected to a certain extent from a game as violent as football, and last night was an extreme showing of those dangers, but there is obviously work the NFL can do to fix that. The biggest thing I think they can do, is to start giving out punishments that actually fit the crimes.
Sorry for how scattered this article is, I just had a lot to talk about and not very much time. I hope I hit on everything about those two games that anyone wanted to hear, even if it was just briefly. Thanks for reading.
High School Senior from Connecticut obsessed with sports stats, facts, and management.