WILL HE RETURN TO THE NFL?
By now you know that Berry wants to remember important events, and keep them close. You also know he thinks a lot about his life beyond football. That he’s at his best when driven by purpose. This is where he’s talking about a potential return.
He thinks a lot about what he missed when he was playing. That he was so hyper-focused on football that he didn’t fully appreciate the impact his story had on people.
When he meets fans, they rarely bring up football, even though he was one of the league’s best defenders — he made the Hall of Fame’s All-2010s team. They are more likely to tell him their grandma felt lifted through her own cancer battle and watches his ESPY speech everyday, or that their nephew was inspired by Berry to get through his own specific adversity.
This is one of the points in the conversation where I stop Berry, to better understand him. I tell him it sounds like he would need to be in a place where he could better accept and feel those messages of inspiration before he decided to return to football. I ask: Am I getting it wrong?
“No, you’re not getting it wrong,” he said. “I feel like everything to me is artistic, when you really look at it. A lot of people look at a Basquiat or a Picasso painting, or a fashion designer and say, ‘Wow, they came out with a great piece of art or this great collection and they do it time and time again.’
“First off, he’s physically — I mean, he has all the talent you could possibly want,” Mahomes said, via Pro Football Talk. “He’s tall, he’s fast, he’s big, he’s physical and then you can tell his dad was a player. You tell those guys that they’re smart, they understand the game, even for a rookie, he has a veteran mindset. He understands what they’re trying to do as a defense. He’s someone you definitely have to know where he’s at every single play and he’s getting better and better each and every week.”
This season, through 11 games and 10 starts, Surtain has 37 total tackles, 31 solo tackles, one tackle for loss, three interceptions, 11 pass deflections and one touchdown.
Chiefs’ offense vs Broncos’ defense
One of the weirdest things about this 2021 season is how Patrick Mahomes seemingly looks mortal. Barring a scorching finish he’ll wind up with the least efficient regular season of his career to date. Is there anything to attribute this to?
Among the scariest parts of the KC offense is how Reid puts teams in conflict as they try to defend both Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. In the past we’ve seen a good bit of 3X1 sets with Hill the #3 inside and Kelce alone on the other side of the formation as it can serve as a way to isolate linebackers and also creates the threat of deep crossers. Will that continue? Is there anything Denver can do against this?
After the big 2, who could give the Broncos the most issues?
Denver’s had a slew of issues against teams with the personnel to pound the ball between the tackles this year and KC’s interior OL is lowkey dominant. Will Reid try and establish the run in this one? Is there anything Denver can do to slow it down?
It’s a bit surprising, but KC has had their fair share of struggles in the red zone this year, last I checked they were 26th by DVOA in the RZ.
Kansas City Chiefs 27-20 Denver Broncos
ML: +340 · 6-5
WHERE: GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium (Kansas City, Mo.)
WHEN: 8:20 p.m. ET | NBC
SPREAD: Broncos +9.5 | O/U: 47
Nice job by NBC flexing into this game. Nice job by Denver winning last week to make it more interesting. I feel like I know what I’m going to get from the Broncos’ offense, short on offensive tackles, against a revived Chiefs defense. They’ll be passable, they’ll break tackles in the running game and they’ll probably play close to a draw. I have no clue what I’m going to get from either the Chiefs’ offense or the Broncos’ defense, two of the highest-variance units in the NFL. An improving Denver pass rush suggests that the best way to beat the Broncos is to run at their lightweight crew and avoid their talented secondary. Andy Reid, however, is not a man to do the obvious, especially coming off a bye.
Broncos at Chiefs
Kansas City Chiefs -9.5
You know how the song goes. An-dy Reid, off the bye! An-dy Reid, off the bye! Enough said.
The Pick: Chiefs 28, Broncos 17
Props, Best Bets: Under
The Rest Of The Pack
Jones’s chances start to dwindle when looking at the DPOY race this season and the players in it. Let’s begin with Myles Garrett, who has been an absolute terror to offensive lines and quarterbacks alike. Garrett leads the league in sacks at 14, 42 combines tackles, 15 tackles-for-a-loss, 14 hurries, and 43 pressures. He is the frontrunner for this award at the moment.
Others in the DPOY race are Trevon Diggs, who leads the league in interceptions (eight), T.J Watt, who is 2nd in the league in sacks (12.5), Matthew Judon, who is 3rd in the league in sacks (11), and Aaron Donald, who has been destroying offensive lines single-handedly this season. Jones would have to catch up to either of them to be able to have a decent shot at winning the award. So, what does the rest of the season hold for Jones?
Around the NFL
Dallas Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy knew watching Thursday night’s game from a hotel in Frisco, Texas, would be difficult. He just didn’t know how difficult.
The good news is McCarthy’s Cowboys beat the New Orleans Saints 27-17 to end a two-game losing streak and open up more room over the Washington Football Team in the NFC East with five games to play.
“It was rough, I’m not going to lie,” McCarthy told ESPN via phone after the game. “I’m proud of the guys and how it all turned out, but I don’t ever want to do this again.”
The suspensions follow a Nov. 18 report published in the Tampa Bay Times in which Brown’s former chef alleged that the Bucs’ wideout obtained a fake COVID-19 vaccine card.
Brown’s attorney, Sean Burstyn, told Rapoport at the time that Brown was vaccinated against COVID and maintained that stance Thursday.
“Mr. Brown is vaccinated and continues to support the vaccine for any person for whom it is appropriate,” Burstyn said in a statement obtained by Rapoport. “The NFL made its determination and, instead of going through the drawn out and distracting process of challenging the outcome, Mr. Brown wrapped this up promptly and he will make this most of this time by treating his ankle injury. Mr. Brown will be motivated, well rested, and in the best shape of his life when he returns in [W]eek 16.”
Following the November report, the Buccaneers released a statement stating they had received COVID-19 vaccination cards from all their players and “no irregularities were observed.” NFL clubs are responsible for verifying player and team personnel vaccination status.
Any and all attempts by team personnel or players to use fake or forged cards, which is a federal criminal offense, are cause for review under the NFL’s personal-conduct policy.
5 Austin Ekeler
Los Angeles Chargers · Year 5
2021 stats: 11 games | 135 att | 604 rush yds | 4.5 ypc | 7 rush TD | 51 rec | 473 rec yds | 7 rec TD | 2 fumbles
Ekeler has been one of the top pass-catching running backs this season with his seven receiving TDs being the most in the NFL among backs heading into Week 13. A top-five running back in scrimmage yards, Ekeler has his work cut out for him against a Bengals team that ranks fifth in run defense.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
In three of their last four games, they’ve converted less than half of their third-down attempts — including only four of 12 attempts against the Dallas Cowboys. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes believes there’s room for improvement in the situation they succeed more than any other NFL team this season.
“The great offenses in history and obviously in today’s age, they really do a great job of third downs,” Mahomes told reporters during his Wednesday press conference. “I just feel like in these last few weeks, here and there we just didn’t execute at a high enough level in certain parts of the game in third downs — and just like every week, we kind of evaluate and try to find plays we know we can have success with.”
Immediately following the Cowboys game, Mahomes detailed what kind of third-down defense has given them the most trouble.
“I think when you get in those third-and-medium areas, where teams are playing that man-thief coverage, just finding ways to beat that. A lot of teams are playing it to us. We have to be better there... finding ways to beat coverages that have given us some funks here and there throughout the season. At least you know what they’re going to play, so you can try to find ways during this bye week.”
But it’s not just about having a good game plan for the defenses.
On Thursday, offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy explained to media members that it’s more about what the offense is seeing on the field and in the moment.
“Pre-snap recognition,” Bieniemy noted. “All the key indicators that will give you a sense of what is about to take place. Then — once that ball is snapped — from what you see, you have to have a post-snap reaction; then you just have to react and play. Teams are doing a good job of mixing up different coverages, whether they’re playing some form of 11 robber — bringing that guy down late — or they’re playing a shell defense and cheating another guy down late. That’s all a part of it.”