To look at the NFL today it’s hard to imagine it without the diversity it displays, but there was a time when there wasn’t. In honor of Black History Month, we will look at the changes the NFL has gone through as it pertains to African American players.
African Americans have been a part of the American Football evolution as far back as the 1920s with players like Fitz Pollard and Bobby Marshall leading the way. The position of quarterback had not been a position that was openly offered to African Americans, but in 1968 that all changed with Marlin Briscoe.
What a season! Who would have thought with the start that the New York Giants had they could even be having thoughts of a playoff run. But, believe it or not, there is still hope. Very slim, but hope.
It seems as though after the bye week the Giants have started to find themselves. In the past 3 weeks, the Giants have had a close loss against the Philadelphia Eagles, and two good wins, one against the Chicago Bears and the latest impressive win against the Washington Redskins. The Giants have improved their record to 4-1 after the bye.
Now, if the beating they gave Washington was a glimpse of what might be if given the chance to enter the playoff season, the Giants may be in good shape. Unfortunately, it isn’t that simple.
Cincinnati Bengals are off to a cool start with a 4-1 record heading into our sixth week. Although the path to victory has not been a smooth one the Bengals have managed to only fall behind the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs, which puts them in second place in the AFC.
Examples of that “rocky path” are their defeat over the Atlanta Falcons by one point, and then having to overcome a 17-point deficit this past Sunday to beat the Miami Dolphins at home. Luckily, due to a couple of wild touchdowns from defensive ends Sam Hubbard and Michael Johnson, they were able to beat a team that was favored to win by six points in another come-from-behind victory.
This style of winning has caused some to be cautiously optimistic and not ready to declare this “the year”. In fact, most believe the Bengals should’ve dominated a team like the Dolphins, but let’s face it even good teams have off weeks. The difference between a legitimate contender and an average team is finding a way to win, even when they aren’t playing their best game. That is what Cincinnati did this week.
It looks like history may repeat itself for the New York Giants. They are facing a 0-3 start if they fall to the Houston Texans this weekend. Once again, the Giants offense continues to struggle and unfortunately, all eyes will be on Quarterback Eli Manning.
Former New York Jets defensive lineman Damien Woody gave his thoughts during an interview with ESPN:
“Eli is toast. He is toast, OK? Listen, everyone has talked about the offensive line. I mean, I live in the New York tri-state area. You hear it all the time. ‘The Giants offensive line is trash.’ Which they are. They’re bad. They’re bad. There’s no question about that.”
He continued, “But there’s been one constant with the Giants. They’ve had change at GM. They’ve had change at the head coaching position. They signed (wide receiver) Odell Beckham. They drafted a running back. But there’s been one constant, and that’s the quarterback, OK? Eli Manning.”
If learning from failure results in success, let’s hope New York Giants learned a lot this week. To say the offense struggled would be an understatement. On 25 first down plays against the Jaguars, the Giants were only able to average 3.28 yards, which is the fifth-worst average gain on first downs among all the teams.
It didn’t help that the Giants set themselves back on their very first opening drive. With a penalty earned, the Giants had a first and 17 to begin the drive which resulted in them turning it over on downs. Five of the Giants’ seven penalties of the day came on offense and three of those five came on first downs.
That famous quote definitely applied to the Monday Night Football game between the New York Jets and the Detroit Lions. Starting rookie quarterback Sam Darnold proved this to be true in particular in his debut performance.
Already having the pressure of being the first choice of coach Todd Bowles, and then the added pressure of this being your NFL debut, Darnold had a lot riding on the game. Unfortunately for Sam, it looked like it was going to be a long night.
On his very first play, he rolled out, locked on his target and released the ball but regrettably the intended target was nowhere in sight. However, Detroit Lions cornerback Quandre Diggs was, and he returned that pick for the Lions first touchdown.
Undaunted by his dreadful start, Darnold quickly adjusted, leading the Jets to a 48-17 victory at Ford Field. Darnold finished the night with 198 passing yards and two touchdowns.
Cincinnati Bengals have started the season off on a positive note, with two games behind them and a win for each. That being said, their next move was a little puzzling as the Bengals release safety George Iloka and now list rookie Jessie Bates as the starter at free safety.
George Iloka was a fifth-round selection by the Bengals in the 2012 NFL Draft. Iloka had become a very important piece to the franchise and a leader on the Bengals defense since starting in 2013. Iloka’s performance included 227 tackles, 32 blocked passes, 9 interceptions and 2 forced fumbles since joining the Bengals. I am sure this will have big ramifications for the team moving forward.
The offensive line will remain a huge question for the Bengals as they get ready to meet up against the Buffalo Bills in their 3rd preseason game. During the Week 2 game against the Dallas Cowboys, the offensive unit seem to struggle throughout the game. Frank Pollack, the new offensive line coach, will have a lot to consider before this next game.
Unfortunately for the New York Jets, the game on Thursday night against the Washington Redskins left more questions than answers in regards to who will be the Jets starting quarterback.
Both rookie quarterback Sam Darnold and the more experienced QB Teddy Bridgewater are up for the job. Darnold had somewhat of a shaky start. It was not the performance he was expecting, and am sure Coach Todd Bowles was hoping to see more since Sam had missed the first practice at training camp, but this was not Darnold’s night. Although his performance was not bad, the New York Jets would like to see a clearer picture of who will be there starting quarterback.
Darnold went 8 for 11 and 62 yards. He made some impressive throws, but his last one was a turnover in the red zone. Head coach Todd Bowles did, however, absolve Darnold by blaming the mistake on poor play calling.