The football games finally count!
No more breakdowns of vanilla offenses or debate over who the fifth wide receiver will be. The regular season starts this week. It’s really real and with that we should celebrate the beauty of this violent competition. For it will become the central distraction for us in our lives over the next six months. It will make us laugh, cry and maybe even curse at our neighbors. So join me for another season of my weekly cavalcade of joy that is Third and Long.
Happy 100th National Football League, you don’t look a day over 75.
- Mama I’m Coming Home– Lamar Jackson is THE player that Ravens fans are hoping will have a big day this Sunday in Miami. Jackson grew up just a half hour from Hard Rock Stadium in Pompano Beach. So no doubt he’ll be excited to make a triumphant return to his old stomping grounds. I’m sure he’ll get few thousand more ticket requests than usual but hey it’s Miami – there will be plenty of seats. Jackson was interviewed this past Wednesday and he wasn’t short on confidence. “I just can’t wait to get in that environment. I know it’s going to be crazy. Fans are going to be going wild. I just can’t wait to put on a show.” Greg Roman’s Lamar centered offense will finally be unveiled but to me all that matters is can he make basic throws and take a deep shot or two when necessary. Doing the little things correctly, like footwork and pocket awareness will show that he truly has grown from his freshman season and it will mean that the Ravens could be for another successful campaign.
- Fitz-Magic or Fitz-tragic?– Ryan Fitzpatrick, who still resembles a homeless Conor McGregor was surprisingly named the starter for the Dolphins. Josh Rosen was traded for in April and the former first-round pick should be the starter at some point it’s just a matter of when. For now the journeyman swashbuckler will be at the helm as a starter for the eighth team of his career. Fitz was known for the hot start that had him as the talk of the league with the Bucs at the beginning of 2018. He eventually landed with a thud and was soon on the bench and out of Tampa. So who will we see this Sunday in Miami? I have a feeling if he starts slinging the ball around the strong Ravens secondary may have a field day fighting over interceptions.
- Who to Watch?– On offense it’s hard not to focus on Lamar. However I’m extremely interested in yet another new look purple receiving corps. Who will step up among this group? Mark Andrews and Willie Snead had success last season and seem the most likely candidates. Rookies Brown and Boykin will see plenty of action as well as former first rounder Hayden Hurst. On defense the Ravens interior line will be asked to stuff running back Kenyon Drake who should receive a ton of touches. Huge tackles Brandon Williams and Michael Pierce will need to occupy the lineman to allow Kenny Young and Peanut Onwuasor to fly to the football. If Baltimore can make the Phins attack one-dimensional it could lead to trouble for Fitz’s offense.
Legend of the Game
Years as a Raven (2011-2014)
James Torrey Smith played at the University of Maryland and was drafted by Baltimore in the second round of the 2011 NFL draft. He was expected to provide a deep threat and speed to take the top off of defenses, something they lacked the previous year. After a slow start Smith was electric in Week three against the Rams scoring on each of his first three career receptions. It was only the twelfth time in league history that a rookie had ever accomplished such a feat. He finished the day with 152 yards, a Ravens record that still stands as well as a 30.4 yards per catch average. Other Raven highlights include a game-winning 26-yd touchdown against the hated Steelers in November and an inspired effort on Sunday Night Football to honor his deceased brother helping defeat the Patriots 31-30 by snagging two touchdowns. In 2014 he finished with a career high 11 touchdowns and next season decided to test free agency. He signed with the 49ers and played there two season, then a year in Philadelphia and then Carolina. He is currently a free agent.
Game-Time Song of the Week
We on fire
Step up in the party, step up in the party
We on fire
Ride up to the party, ride up to the party”
Mindless chatter seems fitting for South Beach.
Cousin Justin’s Betting Parlor – Survivor Pool
So my big city cousin is once again running a Survivor pool and I will attempt to take the big prize. I did fairly well last season but I can’t get cocky. That was then and this is now. So who gets the nod from me to open the season in week one?
Seattle is matched up with new AFC North doormat Cincinnati Bungles this week. Russell Wilson’s squad is expected to compete while the Ginger Cannon’s is not. Some of you might want to pick the Iggles but I stay away from divisional match-ups like a fat lady from yoga class. The safe money says the Seahawks this week.
Game-Time Snack of the Week
This week is a video grab bag. I’ve recently found several great cooking channels on the You-Tube from things like First We Feast to Sam the Coking Guy. Another favorite is Binging with Babish whose gimmick is to make food from television and movies, so if you’ve ever wanted to make the Prison sauce from Goodfellas he’s got the recipe.
Here’s his take on game-day eats.
Happy Football everyone! Go Ravens!