NFL: Week 8 outtakes and more

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EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 02, 2020 - Inside Linebacker Devin White #45 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before the game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. The Buccaneers won the game, 25-23. Photo By Kyle Zedaker/Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Saints prevail, Cowboys collapse, White shines and Sneed returns from injured reserve.  Aaron S. Lee with news and notes from the NFL’s mid-season hump heading into Week 9.

By Aaron S. Lee

After all the scuttlebutt of will-they-won’t-they concerning the reality of a 2020-2021 NFL season due to the continuing spread and subsequent protocols of Covid-19, it’s hard to believe professional football finds itself at the midpoint of a rather uneventful season to date.

Aside from the fact that a majority of teams are still playing in front of zero to minimal attendance due to host city pandemic restrictions, the NFL’s TV numbers through the first quarter of the season are rather concerning.

According to an internal NFL memo sent to team owners following Week 4, overall viewership is down by 10 percent compared to last year. 

NBC’s “Sunday Night Football,” the league’s marquee prime-time TV slot, is down 14 percent. CBS’s NFL schedule is also suffering a similar decline with national interest in football seemingly waning.

Wims receives a two-game suspension for striking Saint

Whether Chicago Bears wide receiver Javon Wims was sticking up for a teammate or not, there is simply no room in professional football — or any sport at any level — for the abhorrent behavior the 26-year-old from the University of Georgia displayed when he sucker-punched Saints safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson.

For his actions, Wims will serve a two-game suspension. Perhaps a season ban and salary forfeiture would prove a better deterrent to future assaults?

Wims told Bears officials Gardner-Johnson spit on him prior to the punch that got Wims ejected from Chicago’s eventual 26-23 overtime loss to New Orleans on Sunday.

Cameras did capture Gardner-Johnson ripping out Wims’ mouthpiece and jabbing a finger in the face of fellow Bears receiver Anthony Miller on a previous play, but Gardner-Johnson insisted Monday that “I’m innocent.”

Cowboys’ season continues downward spiral

”Big D” is taking on an entirely new meaning in Dallas. Instead of standing for the team’s namesake locale, the fourth letter in the alphabet is perhaps better represented by the word ”disaster” when used in conjunction with the Cowboys.

If losing ”franchise” quarterback and former Haughton Buccaneer Dak Prescott to a gruesome season-ending leg injury wasn’t enough, it’s been a comedy of errors for the now 2-6 Cowboys.

Former Bengal Andy Dalton, who guided Dallas to its lone win after making the save for the injured Prescott late in the third quarter against the Giants, now finds himself on the team’s reserve/Covid-19 list two weeks after suffering a concussion following an illegal hit from Washington linebacker Jon Bostic.

Dalton’s replacement, Ben DiNucci, looked rather pedestrian in his pro debut as a starter. The 23-year-old seventh-rounder from James Madison went 21 of 40 for 180 yards with no touchdowns — or interceptions — in a losing cause to the NFC (L)East-leading Philadelphia Eagles (3-4-1).

Even beleaguered team owner Jerry Jones admitted afterward that the cards were stacked against DiNucci heading into the game.

“Well, I think it was a lot for him,” said Jones after the lopsided loss, 23-9. ”I think we certainly, as a team, paid the price to have him come in under those circumstances, and that’s almost trite. It was, frankly, more than he could handle. I don’t know what you could have expected for somebody to come in under those circumstances.”

Now the Cowboys are set to start their fourth quarterback of the season — either recently signed Garrett Gilbert or re-signed Cooper Rush — when they face the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers (7-0) on Sunday.

Neither has ever started a game and both have combined to throw nine passes in their careers. 

Prescott. Dalton. DiNucci. Nobody can save these Cowboys, not even Staubach or Aikman in their prime.

Bring on 2-14, and a possible shot at the projected first overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft come spring — Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence. But as long as Jones presides over the Cowboys and has the final say, Lawrence might be better off going to the Jets should he forgo his senior year and declare himself eligible.

White a ’catalyst’ on Bucs defense

A week after earning his first NFC Defensive Player of the Week award for his three-sack performance against the Las Vegas Raiders last week, Tampa Bay linebacker and North Webster alum Devin White notched his fifth sack of the season and shared the team lead in tackles during the team’s 25-23 win over the Giants on Monday night.

And Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians acknowledged just how important the former LSU Tiger is in the overall success of the Tampa Bay (6-2) defense.

“He’s the catalyst,” said Arians. “I think the second year in [the league], plus he’s very, very healthy. He learned a lot last year playing with a brace on his leg. His explosiveness was gone last year at points and then he got it back the last three or four games. Just the second year in the defense, he’s running the show and he’s got a lot of pride. He’s a great leader.”

Sneed set to return from injured reserve

A little more than a month after breaking his collarbone in a Monday night win over the Baltimore Ravens, Kansas City Chiefs (7-1) rookie cornerback L’Jarius Sneed has been designated to return from injured reserve.

The Minden native and former Louisiana Tech standout started the season on fire with a 39-yard interception return in his pro debut.

Sneed led the league in interceptions (2) through the first two weeks of the 2020 season after having also picked off Chargers QB Justin Herbert for what Chiefs head coach Andy Reid called a ”momentum-shifting” play to set up a game-tying drive from Patrick Mahomes.

The reigning Super Bowl champions went on to beat Los Angeles in overtime, 23-20.

The designation to return from injured reserve means that Sneed will have a 21-day practice window. During that time the team will have to decide whether to activate him to the 53-man roster or leave him on injured reserve.

— Featured photo courtesy of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers