The NFL: Where Everyone Has a Gimmick, Until They Don’t

The NFL season zips by, which might be one of the hundreds of reasons it remains our national religion. There isn’t really time to get bored with it, and everything that happens in it feels truly important. Which means any team that can string a few good weeks together has turned some mythical corner that we wouldn’t assign to an NBA or NHL or MLB team for a couple of months. Which means genius gets amplified even when it’s maybe just a gimmick. It might even take over a season and a half. Mike McDaniel had solved offense not so long ago. Sprint motions, receivers schemed wide open, push-button QB play, all seemed so simple. Sprint motions and receivers schemed wide open, and push-button QB play seemed simple, until it became clear Tua Tagovailoa couldn’t make any play that was off-script and can’t put any zip on a ball from the living room to the kitchen. They beat one winning team all season and coughed up the division at home Sunday night. The Jacksonville team also struggled and had a plan, too. Jacksonville had a rookie QB prospect, but to win 10 games in a season in a hardly convincing division. They coughed up a playoff spot to a going-nowhere Titans team. The Eagles were missing for weeks. They were seconds from a Super Bowl win not so long ago, and now they’re the old dog you can’t watch be in pain anymore. It’s a ruthless business. The tease is that no team has to get something to work for all that long to make a massive difference to their season and outlook. It’s like three or four weeks, with maybe another counter for that for another couple weeks. But time runs out on that. The MLB is just the Dodgers now. The Dodgers signed Teoscar Hernandez to a one-year deal to man left field. It gives the Dodgers a little more bottom to the lineup after their first four hitters, though Hernandez saw an uptick in his strikeouts last year as well as a decrease in his pop. Follow Sam on Twitter @Felsgate and on Bluesky