Week 1 is upon us and it is by no means appeared higher.
I am again with my weekly insider pocket book this season right here at CBSSports.com, and we’ll use this house identical to final yr to spotlight pattern tales, empty out the pocket book from journeys across the league and make picks on all 272 video games this season.
However earlier than the picks (and I received 67.8% of them appropriate final season), I will start with a few officiating notes to set you up for what’s to come back this week and past.
The NFL skilled an offensive explosion final season because of revolutionary offensive schemes and quarterbacks who’re extra correct than ever. However officiating — and extra particularly, lax officiating on offensive penalties — additionally had one thing to do with it.
I am advised the league’s de-emphasis on offensive holding penalties will proceed into the 2021 season. Offensive holding flags went from 724 in 2019 to 462 in 2020. Put one other method, groups averaged 2.74 offensive holding flags in video games between 2015-2019 however simply 1.8 flags in 2020.
This offseason, the NFL competitors committee checked out 100 potential offensive holding penalties that went uncalled in 2020. Ninety of these no-calls stood upon evaluate, whereas the league would have appreciated to see penalties on the opposite 10 because of their proximity to the purpose of assault/sport motion. With that, it stands to purpose there could also be a slight uptick in offensive holding this season, however solely marginally.
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The league workplace was happy with how defensive cross interference was officiated this previous season, which is one other good factor in the event you like POINTS. Officers threw 309 flags for DPI final season, which was essentially the most I may discover in a season courting to at the least 1998. However the league desires officers to be a bit sharper on offensive cross interference.
In 2020, simply 62 flags for OPI had been known as in comparison with a mean of 97.6 within the earlier 5 seasons. That amounted to 1 OPI flag for each fourth sport, and 2020 represented the fewest OPI flags since 2013 noticed simply 60. Just a few extra OPI flags will act as a slight counterbalance in a league the place offenses frequently get the profit.
Firming down the taunting
There is a bizarre controversy the place the competitors committee and league preserve saying the brand new emphasis on taunting was inspired by the NFLPA, with the NFLPA in flip saying that is not true in any respect and that it desires the purpose of emphasis overturned instantly.
The NFL desires to clarify it is not banning landing or turnover celebrations. It simply would not need gamers showboating on the expense of a competitor.
“[W]e must work at bringing this again to creating an setting that’s respectful of our opponents, and demonstrating the picture that the NFL desires to challenge,” Walt Anderson, NFL SVP and head of officiating coaching and improvement, mentioned in his digital presentation to coaches this preseason.
The Tyreek Hill “peace” signal is clearly not going to be tolerated (nor Antoine Winfield Jr.’s for that matter.) And it is simple for people to say “simply do not rejoice towards/at your opponent.” However anybody who’s performed the sport will inform you the feelings are tough to maintain in test in these moments, and docking a group 15 yards for flexing a muscle is a bit a lot.
I worry this rule may dominate the primary couple weeks of the season very similar to the roughing-the-passer penalty did in 2018. And on the subject of celebrations, that brings me to…
Much less time to rejoice touchdowns
The NFL has already been in communication with particular groups coordinators this preseason about being extra ready for a faster extra-point operation in 2021.
And no, this has nothing to do with the taunting rule.
We advised you again in July the league was partnering with Hawk-Eye to hurry up its instant-replay course of. The partnership will lower delays attributable to replays each in coaches challenges and computerized critiques for turnovers and scoring. And that can very possible affect the size of time groups should rejoice touchdowns.
With the league having the ability to affirm touchdowns in near-real time, which means the play clock may be wound and able to go extra rapidly for the extra-point try. When gamers rejoice scores, they frequently get a bit of further time to take action because of the automated evaluate. If these performs are confirmed extra rapidly, that little further time goes away.
I would not count on officers to wind the clock for the additional level moments after an apparent landing is scored; they’re going to be cheap right here, I consider. However the operation from landing, to celebration, to evaluate, to further level will probably be a lot sooner this yr and groups needs to be prepared for it.
Really feel-good story of the week
Robinson had worn jersey No. 25 from actually the primary time he ever performed organized soccer all through his profession at Illinois State. When he went undrafted and signed with the Jaguars, No. 25 was taken on the time by cornerback D.J. Hayden, who had eight years within the league. So he took No. 38 and shared it all through camp with one other undrafted participant (on protection), earlier than surprisingly making the group after which going to No. 30 for his rookie season.
He totaled essentially the most scrimmage yards by an undrafted rookie in NFL historical past in 2020, which helped him earn NFL Prime 100 honors and deliberate to play this season in No. 30 once more. However greater than every week in the past, No. 25 got here open when security Jarrod Wilson was launched and Robinson noticed his alternative.
The Jaguars beginning operating again will play Sunday in opposition to the Texans in his outdated No. 25 after hanging an undisclosed cope with the league to make the change. However he isn’t leaving his followers hanging.
So here is the story: Jaguars PR supervisor David Wolf went to Robinson this week with an concept he ought to do one thing for the followers. See, in Jacksonville, there are nonetheless loads of Blake Bortles, Jalen Ramsey, Nick Foles, Calais Campbell and, sure, Tim Tebow jerseys on the market. Robinson was staying with the group, however the change made his outdated jersey out of date to a point.
How may that be mounted?
The 2 brainstormed concepts. One thought was autographing a brand new No. 25 jersey and sending it to a fan who may show they already had a No. 30 jersey. However Robinson needed to deal with extra individuals than only one fan. So, with some assist from Robinson’s agent Samantha Sankovich, the plan to signal all No. 30 jerseys was hatched.
Followers with No. 30 jerseys needed to take an image of themselves sporting the jersey and ship it to the Jaguars PR Twitter account by way of direct message to show they already had one. Wolf says inside lower than two days, greater than 100 followers despatched footage with the intention of sending of their jerseys for a signature. He’ll give it a few weeks for all of the shipments to come back in, after which he’ll line up the jerseys for Robinson to signal someday after which ship them again to the respective fan.
(This, by the best way, isn’t any small process for an NFL PR particular person within the common season. Including 100-plus transport packages — and ensuring you get all of them proper — to a routine that entails a Week 1 away sport, plus your property stadium internet hosting Packers-Saints, plus getting ready for a Week 2 residence sport your self is not making your job simpler).
Kudos to Robinson for doing proper by the followers. Gamers ought to have the liberty to vary their jersey numbers, however followers spend hard-earned cash on these jerseys — particularly on an undrafted operating again! It is one factor for a man to get launched or traded, but it surely’s one other when he merely desires to go down 5 digits and swiftly you are in an outdated jersey. That kind of energy does include a accountability, and I am glad Robinson acknowledges that and is doing what he can to deal with his followers.
Season sneaks up
Will Brinson and I spoke about this earlier within the week on the Choose Six Podcast and I’ve to say, the rhythm entering into Week 1 was vastly totally different than what we’re used to. I do not bear in mind the common season sneaking up on me the best way it has another yr — even final yr with no preseason video games.
Brinson and I figured it needed to do with the brand new preseason schedule. The traditional rhythm of the offseason had been fourth exhibition, adopted by roster cuts 48 hours later, waiver claims the following day after which a Labor Day Week 1 apply that Monday. That move will not ever be again, although. With three exhibitions and the minimize deadline on a Tuesday, this preseason allow us to get lulled to sleep a bit on an extended weekend that the majority NFL people have by no means gotten earlier than.
Personally, I will take it. We had been in a position to make a journey to the mountains for the weekend with minimal NFL news missed. Texting sources across the league (after I had service), I discovered plenty of others having fun with a while away from the group amenities on a weekend the place usually they had been doing large roster cuts and watching movie of potential new acquisitions in years previous.
Total I feel the brand new preseason is a constructive in numerous respects. And I am certain that final evening’s sport will usher in main rankings, so it is not just like the totally different preseason will affect viewing habits. I am undoubtedly locked in for the season now, however just some days in the past I used to be reminding myself that Week 1 actually, actually is right here.
Week 1 picks
I had a fairly good yr final season choosing video games straight up, however I by no means received that good week that I needed. Let’s strive it once more beginning with this week, the place I picked the Bucs to beat the Cowboys. Undefeated! By no means misplaced!
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
TV: CBS | Stream: Paramount+ (click here)
Ben Roethlisberger appeared like a shell of himself final season, however I used to be very impressed with him in his restricted motion in opposition to the Lions within the preseason. All experiences out of Pittsburgh have him turning again the clock. Sadly, I do not belief his offensive line but, and I feel the offense goes to be a piece in progress. The Payments second-teamers almost relegated the Bears first-teamers final month. Buffalo retains it rollin’.
The choose: Payments
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
TV: CBS | Stream: Paramount+ (click here)
It is exhausting for me to purchase in on Sam Darnold proper now after he was solidly common throughout coaching camp. Matt Rhule has to take the bubble wrap off his QB on Sunday, and I feel he winds up getting the “W” on this revenge sport. The Panthers’ first eight video games are a bit of mushy, so I may see them stunning individuals with the place they’re at within the standings come Halloween.
The choose: Panthers
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET
TV: CBS | Stream: Paramount+ (click here)
Cleveland has, for my part, the very best roster high to backside within the NFL. I feel the Browns have high quality starters in any respect positions and actually good depth, they usually may completely be taking part in within the AFC title sport in late January. However Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes are nearly unbeatable most any time within the season and particularly in September.
The choose: Chiefs
Different video games
Eagles over Falcons
Vikings over Bengals
49ers over Lions
Jaguars over Texans
Seahawks over Colts
Titans over Cardinals
Chargers over Soccer Staff
Dolphins over Patriots
Packers over Saints
Broncos over Giants
Rams over Bears
Raiders over Ravens