So I've just finished watching Tony Romo have another meltdown game, this time against the Bears, though how much of that was actually Romo's fault is up for debate. Suffice to say that his receivers didn't help him much and in particular Dez Bryant has a lot to think about in the week ahead.
That aside, there are two things that have really struck me so far.
Number one - and I say this every season - but I can't believe we're already a quarter of the way through the season. Given the length of the lay off in between seasons, I'm starting to come around to this idea of having an 18 game season with two bye weeks. It would dilute the importance of some of the games a little, but if the final three games were all divisional match ups, with the other three division games restricted to the second half of the season that might help to keep teams "honest" through to the end of the year.
Secondly - and I say this every season - but I'm getting sick and damn tired of seeing "pick" plays. Just so we're clear I'm talking about pass plays where two offensive receivers run routes close to each other such that one receiver can "pick" or "rub" the defender off of the other receiver. Of course "pick/rub", is just a short, polite and politically correct way of saying what nobody is prepared to go on camera and say (risking the wrath of the NFL), which is "deliberately and with malicious forethought, run into and obstruct a defender, interfering with his legitimate attempts to cover a receiver, in complete contravention of the rules on pass interference, with the foreknowledge that no official in the country will call the play because the league wants a pass first/offense favoured game style".
At first it used to just be a few teams that ran it, mainly the Colts with Peyton Manning and the Patriots with Tom Brady. Now, everyone seems to have at least two or three of these plays in their playbook.
Despite being an offensive guy, I hate these plays. There is literally nothing that the defense can do about it and I'm sorry, but that just irks my sense of fair play. Providing the receiver makes the catch and the quarterback can get the pass off in the first place, then you have basically a guaranteed first down at least, and quite often a touchdown.
It's completely ridiculous and completely illegal per the NFL's rulebook which bans receivers from making contact with defenders down field until after a catch has been made. These plays are well known about and are banned per the rules. And as I say every year, the NFL likes to tout the fact that it has an official watching every elligble receiver in order to pick up interference, so how come it never gets called?
Well, actually it has been a few times. By the replacement officials during the lockout. Presumably they weren't let in on the dirty little secret that pass interference by the offense gets the wink and nod from game officials, while the slightest hint of defensive pass interference (and even when there is none present) draws a flag and a spot foul in favour of the offense.
It's annoying because it's basically a form of officially sanctioned cheating, while also diminishing the value of the game because we all know that one of the only reasons modern quarterbacks set such crazy passing records is because of how much the game has been skewed against the defense. It's actually getting kind of boring to watch as well, knowing that offense's in trouble can just play for interference or run a pick play to get themselves out of a hole that they've been put in by otherwise superb defending, something which that same excellent defense can then do nothing about.
And while we're on the subject of officials and find it amusing that the regular refs came back to applause from the crowds and praise from commentators, but then went straight back to making terrible calls in various games. The only difference now is that nobody wants to admit that the replacements were no better or worse than the regulars, and thus negative light cannot be shed on the regular officials less everyone look foolish for forgetting just how bad the regular refs often were.
P.S. The 49ers shut down the Jets. This makes me happy for two reasons; 1) because I'm a 49ers fan and 2) because the Jets are gradually being forced into a situation where they'll have no choice but to put my man Tim Tebow back on the field.