The Lions lost to the Packers on Sunday. That shouldn’t come as a surprise. Quarterback Matthew Stafford, now in his sixth season, was three-years-old the last time the Detroit Lions won a football game in the state of Wisconsin.
With an uninspiring regular season record of 7 – 8 – 1, the Carolina Panthers won the NFC South title. In doing so, they became the first back-to-back champs since that division was created back in 2002. They also became only the second team ever to win a division after losing six consecutive games. That certainly doesn’t say much for the Falcons, Saints or Buccaneers.
I have a little trivia question. What do Ryan Lindley, Case Keenum and Chase Daniel have in common? Three things immediately come to mind. They’re all NFL quarterbacks. None of them ever expected to actually touch a football this season. And most notably, They were all Week 17 starters in games with serious playoff implications. Other unlikely starters included Charlie Whitehurst and Connor Shaw. Those aren’t exactly household names so what the heck is going on?
Over the past several seasons, the NFL has made a concerted effort to protect its quarterbacks. Numerous safety rules have been put in place and more are sure to follow. You can’t hit a quarterback above the shoulders or at or below the knees. You can’t hit them with the crown of your helmet or lead with your helmet. You can’t touch their facemasks even if your intent is to delicately brush hair out of their eyes. You can’t lay a finger on their head or helmet, and that’s true even when the quarterback lowers his head and initiates the contact. Although tackling is still legal, at least for now, you’ll draw a flag if the official decides you were trying to “drive the quarterback into the ground.” Isn’t that the definition of a tackle? Quarterbacks aren’t cocooned in bubble wrap yet but it has been proposed and will be discussed at the next round of owners meetings. And starting next season, farting, cursing or raising one’s voice within five yards of a quarterback may result in a personal foul and a substantial fine. Fines could potentially be reduced if the offender writes a letter of apology the quarterback and the NFL both deem sufficiently sincere.
There’s no question these safety precautions have changed how professional football is played. There is some question as to whether or not they actually protect the players. There are 32 teams in the NFL. Exactly half of them made at least one quarterback change at some point during the season. In some cases–Jay Cutler, Geno Smith and Robert Griffin III leap to mind–quarterbacks were benched because they stink. However, no fewer than 9 teams made changes because they had no choice. And several teams, including the Vikings, Rams, Cardinals, Texans, Titans and Browns, lost multiple starters all due to injury. I don’t know how many different quarterbacks took snaps this season but a conservative estimate is something north of 50. Did I mention there are only 32 teams? How is that even possible? Here’s my theory. Quarterbacks are so used to not getting hit that their bodies can’t handle it on those increasingly rare occasions when they actually get tackled. The solution? Strip off those pads, strap on a leather helmet and let’s play some FOOTBALL. We’ll worry about the brain damage later.
This week’s game day recipe is for Bacon Jalapeno Deviled Eggs. They’re tasty, very easy to make and a definite crowd pleaser
12 large eggs
4 strips crispy bacon, crumbled
½ cup Miracle Whip (mayonnaise if you prefer)
1 Tbsp. spicy brown mustard
2 Tbsp. minced jalapeno pepper
2 Tbsp minced onion
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
paprika (to taste)
2 Tbsp finely shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
Place eggs in a large sauce pan and cover with cold water. Bring to a rolling boil, remove from heat, cover and let stand 20 to 24 minutes. Rinse eggs in cold water until cool enough to handle, then peel and cut in half lengthwise. Spoon yolks into a small bowl, mash, and mix with Miracle Whip, mustard, pepper, onion, Worcestershire sauce, bacon and cheese. Fill egg halves with yolk mixture, top with paprika and refrigerate until ready to serve.