NFL’s appeal of Deshaun Watson suspension takes big step forward, plus Raiders roll in Hall of Fame Game
Welcome to the Friday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!
After waiting 172 days, we finally got an NFL game on Thursday night and it was amazing. Sure, it was a little boring and somewhat sloppy and, yes, we got subjected to three straight hours of Jaguars football, but it was still football, which is better than no football.
Coming up in today’s newsletter, we’ll be looking at the good, the bad and the ugly from the Raiders’ 27-11 win over Jacksonville, plus we’ll be giving you an early preview of this weekend’s Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony in Canton, Ohio.
As always, here’s your weekly reminder to tell all your friends to sign up for the newsletter. All you have to do is click here and then share the link. Let’s get to the rundown.
1. Today’s show: NFC South burning questions
For the past week-and-a-half on the podcast, we’ve been previewing each NFL division by asking several burning questions that each team needs to answer before the start of the season.
For today’s episode, I joined Will Brinson and we spent roughly 45 minutes trying to answer every burning question we could think of for each NFC South team. Although the Buccaneers seem like a lock to win the division, even they have a few questions. For instance, will Tom Brady finally regress? Will Todd Bowles actually be a good coach? Can they overcome the loss of Rob Gronkowski and three starting offensive linemen (Ali Marpet, Alex Cappa, Ryan Jensen)?
Besides the Buccaneers, the other three teams have plenty of questions and one of the biggest questions in the NFC South is: Can Jameis Winston deliver a big season for the Saints?
Brinson says no.
“I am hesitant to think that Jameis Winston is going to step in this season off an ACL injury and magically be this efficient quarterback that everyone wants him to be, and let’s not forget, he won’t have Sean Payton [like he did last year]. I don’t think Jameis is going to do what people think he’s going to do.”
I actually agreed with pretty much everything Brinson said about Winston. With Payton as his coach, Winston played well in two games last season, but was very average in the other five. Not only is Payton gone, but the Saints might be missing one of their best offensive players to start the season and that’s Alvin Kamara. The running back is involved a legal situation that could lead to a suspension — he was charged with battery resulting in substantial bodily harm back in February — and if he’s out an extended period of time, I think that will be devastating for both Winston and the Saints’ offense.
Anyway, Brinson and I actually answered THREE questions about EACH team in the NFC South and if you want to hear those answers, you’ll have to listen to the entire episode, which you can do by clicking here. If you prefer getting your podcasts in video form, you can watch today’s episode on YouTube by clicking here.
2. Hall of Fame Game: Recapping the Raiders’ blowout win over the Jaguars
We won’t dissect the entire game here — because no one wants that — but we will take a brief look at the good, the bad and the ugly from the Raiders’ 27-11 win.
Josh McDaniels played to win. This was a homecoming game for McDaniels — he was raised in Canton, Ohio — and there was no way he was going to lose. The crazy thing about this game is that McDaniels actually decided to play several starters. Although we didn’t see star players like Derek Carr and Davante Adams, we did see Josh Jacobs, Keelan Cole and Fabian Moreau. McDaniels also sent out several of his starters on the offensive line. With so many starters in, this was a big reason the Raiders got off to such a hot start on offense, scoring on each of their first three possessions, which included two field goals from Daniel Carlson and an 8-yard TD run from Ameer Abdullah. Zamir White shines for Raiders. The Raiders rookie running back, who was taken in the fourth round this year, looked like a player who could end up being a steal. White totaled 85 yards in the game with 11 carries for 52 yards, plus three catches for 23 yards. Not only did he have a nifty 14-yard run, but he also had no problem turning into a human bulldozer and plowing through Jaguars players on shorter runs. Travon Walker was one of the few bright spots for Jacksonville. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft showed flashes of why the Jags took him with the top pick. In his short time on the field, not only did Walker pressure the QB multiple times, but he also picked up a sack in the first quarter (The Jaguars’ defense totaled five sacks in the game). If you’re the Jaguars, this was exactly what you wanted to see from Walker in his first NFL action.
The game got delayed. The fourth quarter of the Hall of Fame Game is usually unwatchable due to the fact that most NFL fans have never heard of any players on the field and it becomes even harder to watch when it’s being played at midnight. Due to lightning in the area, the start of the game got delayed for 40 minutes, which means things didn’t kick off until nearly 8:45 p.m. ET. The game then lasted nearly three hours, pushing it to nearly midnight. I would like everyone to know that I watched the entire game just so I could write about it in this newsletter.
The Jaguars looked like the Jaguars. The Jaguars are the Jaguars because they regularly make embarrassing mistakes and we saw a few of those on Thursday night. Offensively, we saw the Jags lose a fumble in the first half and then fail on a fourth-and-1 in the second half due to a fumble by quarterback Kyle Sloter. We also saw Doug Pederson call for a 60-yard field goal attempt, which of course, was not successful. Defensively, the Jags got steamrolled by the Raiders, who rushed for 159 yards on 33 attempts. The Jags also had an 88-yard punt return TD called back due to holding.
For more takeaways from the game, be sure to click here.
3. Hall of Fame induction going down this weekend: Here’s what you need to know
If you’re planning to watch the Hall of Fame induction ceremony this weekend, you better make sure your schedule is open around lunch time on Saturday because that’s when the ceremony will be going down. After years of holding the enshrinement ceremony in prime time, this year’s event will start at noon ET.
The Hall of Fame’s Class of 2022 consists of eight people, including six players, one coach and one contributor. Here’s the order of induction for the ceremony, which will air on ESPN and NFL Network:
1. LeRoy Butler
2. Sam Mills
3. Richard Seymour
4. Art McNally
5. Tony Boselli
6. Bryant Young
7. Cliff Branch
8. Dick Vermeil
Of the eight inductees, two of them are no longer alive (Sam Mills and Cliff Branch). Due to that fact, Mills’ wife, Melanie, will speak on his behalf while Branch’s sister, Elaine, will give a speech to honor her brother.
If you want to read more about this year’s Hall of Fame class, be sure to click here.
4. Deshaun Watson update: Roger Goodell selects former New Jersey attorney general to hear NFL’s appeal
The Deshaun Watson case is inching toward a resolution and it took a giant step forward on Thursday when Roger Goodell officially appointed the person who will be in charge of hearing the NFL’s appeal.
Here’s everything you need to know about where the case currently stands:
Roger Goodell appoints Peter C. Harvey to hear the appeal. Goodell could have put himself in charge of hearing the appeal, but instead he stepped aside to let Harvey handle things. The former New Jersey attorney general will now have the final say on the matter. According to the collective bargaining agreement, whatever Harvey decides will be final and binding. Why Goodell chose Harvey. The former federal prosecutor has plenty of ties to the NFL. For one, he currently serves on the league’s diversity advisory committee. Also, and probably more importantly, this isn’t the first time Harvey has been designated to handle a decision like this for the league. According to ESPN, Harvey “was one of four members of an expert panel that reviewed the league’s domestic violence investigation into Ezekiel Elliott.” Harvey was also an arbitrator between former Washington GM Scot McCloughan and the team. Harvey sided with the team in that dispute, which means both his past rulings have been favorable to the NFL. What’s next for Watson. The quarterback’s legal team has until the end of today to file a response to the NFL’s appeal. This isn’t anything they have to do, but it would make sense for them to do it. Watson’s camp could use the response to point out why the NFL’s appeal is flawed and they could also use it to argue that their client should only serve six games because that was a punishment that an independent disciplinary officer came up with. What’s the timeline? The NFL originally said it wanted to have this all wrapped up before the Browns started training camp on July 26, but that didn’t happen. The Browns play their first preseason game next week and you have to think that the league would like to have the appeals process finished by then. Basically, we’ll likely see a decision at some point next week and it would be surprising if we haven’t heard something by next Friday at the latest. Watson is allowed to play in the preseason. As things stand right now, Watson is allowed to practice with the team and participate in preseason games and that’s exactly what’s going to happen. According to PFT, the Browns are definitely planning to play Watson during the preseason.
As for the NFL’s appeal, one thing that’s still on the table is a possible settlement. Watson reportedly turned down an offer last month that would have seen him suspended for 12 games, but he might be more open to something like that now that the NFL is in control of the case. If there’s no settlement and Watson’s suspension ends up getting extended by the NFL, there’s a very real chance that this case could end up in federal court, but we won’t cross that bridge until we get to it.
5. Rams sound slightly concerned about Matthew Stafford’s elbow pain
If you’re an NFL team, the last thing you want to see in training camp is your quarterback taking time off due to a sore arm, but that’s exactly what’s happening in Los Angeles with Matthew Stafford.
The Super Bowl-winning quarterback has had a nagging right elbow injury all offseason and despite getting a lot of rest, it still hasn’t gone away. According to ESPN.com, Stafford got an injection into his elbow at some point this offseason, but it hasn’t quite been the cure the Rams were hoping for.
Stafford didn’t throw during OTAs or minicamp and the Rams were hoping that rest would help the elbow heal, but so far, that hasn’t been the case.
Here’s what we know about the injury:
It might be tendinitis. According to NFL.com, Stafford is battling tendinitis. Rams coach Sean McVay was asked about the possibility that it’s tendinitis and he deflected the question. “I don’t know what you would really call it,” McVay said Thursday, via team transcripts. “I just know the elbow issue and I’m not a doctor.” If it is tendinitis, that’s not ideal for the Rams, because even if Stafford starts to feel better, it could still flare up at any point. McVay is going to give it one or two more weeks before he starts to get concerned. “I’ve seen things that are encouraging [with Stafford],” McVay said. “But I think it’ll give us a better idea probably about a week, two weeks from now, to really just say, ‘Okay, is this getting the results that we want? And then are we going to start going back to a normal workload or what does that really look like leading up to Sept. 8?'”McVay admits this isn’t a normal injury for a quarterback. “It is a tricky deal and you want to make sure that you’re getting with the right people that are experts in this field,” McVay said. “It’s a little bit abnormal for a quarterback, some of this stuff is things that MLB pitchers deal with, so it is something that we’re kind of learning about on the fly and his feedback.”
Those are definitely not things you want to hear your head coach say about your starting quarterback with less than five weeks to go before the opener. At this point, it makes sense that the Rams aren’t overly concerned — because Stafford has plenty of time to heal — but I would be at least somewhat concerned if I were them. Stafford has had all offseason to heal and he’s still dealing with the injury, which means there’s no guarantee that it’s going to be healed in time for the Rams’ opener against the Bills on Sept. 8.
6. Rapid-fire roundup: Aaron Rodgers says taking a psychedelic drug helped him win MVP
It’s been a wild 24 hours in the NFL, and since it’s nearly impossible to keep track of everything that happened, I went ahead and put together a roundup for you.
Aaron Rodgers reveals the secret behind his recent success. We don’t talk about psychedelic drugs often in this newsletter, but we are today thanks to Rodgers. The Packers QB says he went to South America and took Ayahuasca, and apparently, taking the psychedelic completely changed his life. If you want to know more about this wild story, be sure to click here. Chris Godwin returns to practice. Less than eight months after tearing his ACL, the Buccaneers receiver was back at practice on Friday. Godwin likely won’t be playing in any preseason games, but the fact that he was out there practicing definitely had to be encouraging for the Buccaneers. Tom Brady misses practice. Although Godwin was at practice, he didn’t have Brady throwing him the ball and that’s because Brady wasn’t there. The 45-year-old was excused from practice for personal reasons. This marks the third straight day and second straight practice that Brady has been out. Brady didn’t practice on Wednesday and the Buccaneers were off Thursday. Mike Evans leaves practice. More Buccaneers news? Yup, more Buccaneers news. Although the Bucs got Godwin back, the trade off is that that they lost Mike Evans. The receiver had to leave practice after tweaking his hamstring and it’s not clear yet how serious the injury might be or if it’s even serious at all. Saints to sign Kiko Alonso. After a three-year hiatus, Kiko Alonso is back in the NFL. According to NFL.com, the linebacker is expected to sign with the Saints this week. Alonso has played with four NFL teams since being drafted in the second round by the Bills in 2014. Alonso’s last NFL appearance came back in January 2020 when he played in the Saints’ wild card playoff loss to the Vikings.
Diontae Johnson signs two-year extension. The Steelers wide receiver was looking for an extension and he finally got it on Thursday when he agreed to terms on a deal that will add two years to his current contract. The new deal is worth a total of $36.71 million and includes $27 million in guaranteed money.
Cardinals assistant facing two domestic battery charges. Cardinals running back coach James Saxon is facing two counts of domestic battery stemming from a situation that happened in May. The incident took place in Indiana and Saxon is accused of assaulting a woman in front of two children. For more details on the case, you can click here.