1. We have to start with the current happenings with Dallas Cowboys edge defender Greg Hardy. He is a terrible human being that was able to avoid jail time by settling out of court with the person he physically abused- a person who undoubtedly wanted to put all of this aside and not be dragged through the public spotlight. Who can blame her for that?
We all knew what Hardy did. We all knew that he avoided jail time. We know that he was paid in full for the 2014 season, before sitting out the first four weeks of the 2015 season and playing the Patriots as his homecoming. It turns out that the Dallas Cowboys knew, too.
"While we did not have access to the photos that became public today, we were and are aware of the serious nature of this incident," The Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said in a statement. "We as an organization take this very seriously. We do not condone domestic violence. We entered into the agreement with Greg fully understanding that there would be scrutiny and criticism. We have given Greg a second chance. He is a member of our team and someone who is grateful for the opportunity he has been given to move forward with his life and his career."
The Cowboys were aware of the severity of the incident, and still thought he was deserving of a contract? Disgusting.
And it's not an issue that only lies with the most valuable team in sports. Patriots fans would like to point to Myra Kraft's influence on the team and the story of how she was able to get Robert Kraft to give up the rights to 1996 5th round pick Christian Peter due to the player's history of domestic violence. The issue still pervades the Patriots.
Running back Corey Dillon was arrested for domestic violence in 2000, before the Patriots ultimately traded for him in 2004. Dillon was arrested again in 2010 for assaulting his wife. In 2011, defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth was charged with sexually abusing his waitress. The Patriots traded for him three months later. Cornerback Aqib Talib has a history of violence, including abuse of a taxi driver. The Patriots traded for him and he's lauded as one of the best mid-season trades under Bill Belichick.
Point is, if a player is good enough, teams will find a place for them- any team, no matter how righteous you think they might be.
I want to feel sick that the Cowboys would sign a piece of human refuse like Hardy to a top dollar contract after knowing what he's done. But the league from top to bottom has given zero signs or reasons to believe otherwise. While it would be easy to point to Roger Goodell and his punishments as an easy punching bag, that's merely looking at a symptom instead of the cause.
Hardy is 100% at fault for his actions. The owners are 100% at fault for allowing players like Hardy back into the league.
Owners need to step up and say, "Knowing the facts and severity of the actions, we will not sign a player like Hardy."
That's what it takes to make the first step towards decency. No major sweep of rosters around the league. Just a statement that shows the owners are aware of the issue and that understand that they are the source of the resolution. There's no room for a player like Hardy in this league, and no amount of We Love Women! promotion in the month of October will change that.
2. Here's an interesting article from FiveThirtyEight that shows that the Cowboys are the most watched team in America. The Patriots are fifth. It's all about the $$.
3. The Detroit Lions just fired their front office and the Tennessee Titans just fired their head coach. The Colts fired their offensive coordinator and the 49ers are benching quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Imagine if the league pushed the trade deadline back just one week? It would allow all of these midseason shenanigans to play into whether or not a team is willing to punt away this season and start trading short-term assets for long-term prospects.
The NFL has the earliest trade deadline of the major US sports. Even if the argument of well, it takes weeks for players to get acclimated into a new system were true, that just adds to the risk of potential acquisitions. There's no harm in extending the deadline and it means that some players could click in their new franchise just in time for the playoffs.
4. Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt was fired after posting an appalling 3-20 record as the Tennessee head coach over a year and a half. Two of those victories came during week 1 of 2014 and 2015. The only other win was a 16-14 win over the Jaguars in 2014.
If we want to count back 20 losses for the Patriots, it takes us to 2009 and the Monday Night spanking at the hands of the New Orleans Saints on November 30th. That's nearly six years ago.
5. This is another fun article from FiveThirtyEight covering the increase in the baby name of "Peyton" in Indianapolis during the quarterback's tenure. I did the same thing with Tom Brady:
"Thomas" and "Brady" baby names in Massachusetts (Brady not in top 100 in 2000, 2001, or 2014). pic.twitter.com/JowO0dVKFt— Rich Hill (@PP_Rich_Hill) November 6, 2015
It seems that Brady peaked in 2007. The name did not register in the top 100 names in 2000, 2001, or 2014. I would expect it to make a comeback in 2015.
6. When Bill Belichick was asked about the success of the Patriots pass rush this season, he gave credit to the team's secondary:
"It's all tied into the coverage," Belichick said on Friday. "If you have the receivers covered, it gives the pass rush more opportunities. If you don't have the receivers covered then even a good rush isn't going to result in the quarterback getting tackled probably. The interceptions are a result of pass rush just like sacks are a result of coverage.
"I think it's really team defense, so the better team defense we've played, the more production we've had. When an area of the team defense breaks down, then that affects the production not just in the catching end or the sacking end but the other end, too. I'd say when you look at a lot of our sacks, a lot of them are on three-man rushes. A lot of them are on good coverage situations.
"And then there are times we come clean and make the play, too. There is a little bit of everything there, but overall you need good coverage to have a good pass rush. You need good pass rush to have good coverage. When those two have been in sync, we've been more productive and when they haven't, we've given up some plays."
The Patriots were trying to improve their secondary at the trade deadline, but we need to give credit to Belichick and Nick Caserio in the front office for making what could have been a major weakness into a true asset.
Safety: Devin McCourty (98% of the snaps), Patrick Chung (78%), Duron Harmon (52%), and Jordan Richards (23%)
Cornerback: Malcolm Butler (98%), Logan Ryan (76%), Justin Coleman (39%), Tarell Brown (33%), Bradley Fletcher (14%)
These are the players with over 2% (10 snaps) of the defensive snaps. The top four safeties were all drafted by the Patriots, while Butler and Ryan were groomed in the system. Coleman joined the team after a tug-of-war with the Seattle Seahawks over his services, and then the other two veteran cornerbacks are no longer on the active roster.
This is a team that is entirely built out of the Patriots college scouting of defensive backs and, with some growing pains, has helped create one of the top units in the league. The scouting of college wide receivers could use some help, but you'd be hard pressed to justify criticizing the scouting in the secondary. Praise be to Rutgers.