The Daily Briefing Tuesday, October 9, 2018
AROUND THE NFL
If The Season Ended Today – in the NFC, the Buccaneers slipped back into the playoffs while sitting around on the bye week. Also on bye, the Bears fell behind New Orleans.
The NFC East is kind of a mess with no team over .500.
The Rams already have a 3-game lead in the NFC West.
NFC Div Conf
Los Angeles Rams West 5-0 2-0 3-0
New Orleans South 4-1 1-1 3-1
Chicago North 3-1 0-1 3-1
Washington East 2-2 0-0 2-1
Carolina WC 3-2 0-1 2-2
Tampa Bay WC 2-2 1-0 2-1
Green Bay 2-2-1 1-1-1 1-2-1
Minnesota 2-2-1 0-0-1 2-1-1
Seattle 2-3 1-1 2-2
Dallas 2-3 1-0 2-2
Detroit 2-3 1-0 1-2
Philadelphia 2-3 0-0 1-2
– – –
Despite the lure of the Rams, the NFL has flexed away from the 49ers for Sunday night in Week 7.
Instead they turn to CBS and take the Bengals at Chiefs game which would have been secondary behind New England at Chicago in the early window and put Cincinnati, yes Cincinnati, on primetime.
Rams at 49ers does not go to FOX, but instead will prop up Redskins at Cowboys in the late window on CBS. How times have changed. The four teams in the late window on CBS are all from the NFC.
Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com with some Bengals history on Sunday night:
This is the Bengals’ first Sunday night game since the 2015 season, and they are 3-15, including playoffs, in that slot since 1990. The Bengals originally had only one schedule primetime game this season — Thursday night in Week 2 against the Ravens. The Bengals last win on Sunday night was in 2004 against the Dolphins.
FOX has a pretty good schedule in Week 7 for its five games, including Carolina at Philadelphia in the early window and Drew Brees going for #500 at Baltimore in a late pop-up game. Plus the Cinderella Cleveland Browns at Tampa Bay early and Minnesota at Jets for the big New York market.
Smart scheduling and an abundance of interesting teams seems to have helped the NFL rebound this year. Here is some more positive TV news that indicates most of the country will still get the Cowboys late in Week 7. Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com:
Yes, they’re 2-3. Sure, their offense isn’t flashy or explosive or even consistent. Yep, they haven’t been to the NFC title game since 1995.
But the Dallas Cowboys still continue to drive ratings like no other NFL team.
Via SportsBusiness Journal, Sunday night’s game between the Cowboys and the Texans generated a 12.4 rating. That’s a 17-percent jump over last year’s Week Five Sunday night game. It also provided NBC with its best Week Five number since 2015, the year that generally represented the high-water mark for NFL ratings.
NFL ratings continue to be slightly up in 2018, as compared to 2017. While that’s still a far cry from 2015, it’s a reversal of a downward trend that first started in 2016. This year, compelling matchups, national brands, and ultimately exciting games are helping to fuel interest in the sport.
Everyone thinks that RB JORDAN HOWARD should be spouting off about his usage in Chicago, but he’s taken a mellow tack. Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times:
Bears running back Howard swears he wasn’t angry when he declined to answer questions and left the locker room after the Bears’ 48-10 victory Sept. 30 against the Buccaneers.
‘‘I wasn’t frustrated,’’ Howard said Monday in his first comments since the game. ‘‘I was happy. We won. You see how much we won by. So there’s not really nothing to complain about. . . .
‘‘With a game like that, you don’t have nothing to complain about. You’ve just gotta be happy about a win.’’
Was Howard happy? He ran 11 times for 25 yards, marking the third consecutive game he averaged 2.5 yards per carry or less. Tarik Cohen got more carries and was more successful with them, totaling 53 yards on 13 rushes. Cohen led the Bears with 121 receiving yards on seven catches, too.
Coach Matt Nagy said he has talked with Howard about his role in the offense.
‘‘Jordan understands what we’re trying to do as a team,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘And he also understands — and we’ve talked — that he is a major part of this offense. He has a big-time role. But if it’s an advantage to us to go a different direction for that game or for that play or that series, we’re going to do that. As long as our guys understand that, we’ll be in good shape.
‘‘And Jordan is good with that. He understands it. Again, it’s just one of those games where he wasn’t a featured guy. But collectively — forget the offense — the team played well. That’s what’s most important for all of us.’’
Nagy was willing to entertain the possibility that Howard’s emotions got the best of him after the game.
‘‘Anybody that’s in this room and has played in a sport . . . immediately after the game, your emotions are rolling,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘And that’s no excuse for any reason, but it’s a tough time.’’
Through games Sunday, Howard was tied for 12th in the NFL with 64 carries but tied for 28th with 203 rushing yards.
Howard said he was happy for Cohen’s success, but Cohen said he didn’t ‘‘feel like it’s my place’’ to talk with Howard about usage.
‘‘We just go how the game goes,’’ Cohen said. ‘‘The majority of the games, he gets more workload than I do. He understands some games are different.’’
Nagy said the Bears’ game-plan-specific approach doesn’t run counter to his claim that Howard can be a three-down back.
‘‘If we want to put [Howard] in the game and use him for a certain advantage, we’ll do that — and that could be first, second or third down,’’ he said. ‘‘There’s other times where it doesn’t fit that way. It just so happened this past game that, you know, Tarik got more plays in regards to getting the ball to him. And he was productive.
‘‘But that has nothing to do with what Jordan Howard is doing. Jordan Howard is a big part of this offense, and I think that for us to continue to keep trying to grow, everybody in this offense has a role. This is not going to be an offense where it’s just one person and it goes through one person. I don’t necessarily believe in that. It’s great when you have everybody fulfilling different roles, and it’s hard for the defense when you do that.’’
Howard agreed, listing the five players who scored touchdowns in the Bears’ blowout victory. He praised quarterback Mitch Trubisky’s performance, too, saying the offense was ‘‘getting better and better each week.’’
Does he think there will be a game when he’ll be the star?
‘‘It’s not my job to worry about that,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s just my job to go out there and play and do the best I can to help the team out.’’
Troy Aikman has some thoughts about the accuracy of QB DAK PRESCOTT. Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com”
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has no doubt Dak Prescott is the team’s quarterback of the present and the future.
“I’m firmly in the corner that we’ve got a quarterback that we can build with and have for years to come in Dak Prescott. Make no mistake about it,” Jones said Tuesday on his weekly radio show on 105.3 The Fan.
But Jones’ Hall of Fame quarterback, Troy Aikman, does have questions about Prescott, in particular Prescott’s accuracy. Prescott ranks 28th in the NFL in completion percentage at 61.8. The league average is 65.0, and three quarterbacks are over 70 percent, including Drew Brees with the league-leading 77.9 percent.
“He needs to be more accurate with the football,” Aikman said on KTCK 96.7FM/1310AM The Ticket, via Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News. “I’ve said for many, many years, as long as I can ever remember, when I’m asked, ‘Hey, what do you look for first in a quarterback?’ The first thing I look for is accuracy, because the rest of it doesn’t matter.
“It doesn’t matter how tough you are. It doesn’t matter how smart you are or what a great leader you are. None of that stuff matters if you can’t put the ball where you have to put it. I’ve seen too many errant throws in that regard, and then there needs to be a little more anticipation. When there’s two deep safeties, you’re looking for somebody to take the middle of the field, and that should be your first read if you have somebody who is taking the middle of the field versus those kinds of looks. I don’t see great anticipation on what a defense is doing and how might I be able to exploit that pre-snap or as the ball is snapped.”
The FOX analyst later was asked on Twitter whether a quarterback can improve his accuracy. He replied, “Improvement can be made, but I’ve always felt when it comes to accuracy you either have it or you don’t.”
Prescott completed 67.8 percent of his passes his rookie season when he won the league’s offensive rookie of the year award. He completed 62.9 percent last season.
He has played better at home than on the road this season, completing 33 of 52 passes for 415 yards with three touchdowns, no interceptions and a 107.4 passer rating in two wins at AT&T Stadium. He is 0-3 on the road, completing 56 of 92 passes for 546 yards with two touchdowns, four interceptions and a 66.7 passer rating.
NEW YORK GIANTS
The Giants have sent T ERECK FLOWERS packing. Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com:
The Ereck Flowers era is over for the Giants.
The Giants announced this morning that they have waived Flowers, ending the former No. 9 overall pick’s tenure with the team.
An offensive tackle who showed some promise earlier in his career, Flowers hasn’t developed the way the Giants were hoping he would. This year he was benched after Week Two and has barely played the last three weeks.
The Giants reportedly tried to trade Flowers but couldn’t find any takers. They still owe him his remaining $1.7 million guaranteed base salary for the rest of this season. He’ll be available on waivers to any team willing to pay that salary, but it’s extremely unlikely any team will claim him.
Tackle Brian Mihalik was signed off the practice squad to replace Flowers on the roster, and kicker Marshall Koehn was added to their practice squad.
Here’s how the next 10 players went after the Giants squandered their pick on Flowers:
9 New York Giants Ereck Flowers OT Miami (FL)
10 St. Louis Rams Todd Gurley † RB Georgia
11 Minnesota Vikings Trae Waynes CB Michigan State
12 Cleveland Browns Danny Shelton DT Washington
13 New Orleans Saints Andrus Peat OT Stanford
14 Miami Dolphins DeVante Parker WR Louisville
15 San Diego Chargers Melvin Gordon † RB Wisconsin
16 Houston Texans Kevin Johnson CB Wake Forest
17 San Francisco 49ers Arik Armstead DE Oregon
18 Kansas City Chiefs Marcus Peters † CB Washington
Kind of a mixed bag after Gurley. So the Giants could have had Gurley and SAM DARNOLD in theory.
The Eagles cleared up some cash, but are denying that it has anything to do with RB Le’VEON BELL, even with JAY AJAYI heading to IR. Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com:
The Philadelphia Eagles restructured the contract of Pro Bowl defensive tackle Fletcher Cox on Friday, but they will not use the added salary-cap space to trade for Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, according to league sources.
Cox’s new deal will create $6.5 million more cap space for the Eagles this season and $11.7 million more for next season.
However, even with the newfound cap room, the Eagles have not pursued a trade for Bell and do not have plans to do so at this time, the sources said.
“It’s 100 percent misleading to think Cox’s restructuring was done with Le’Veon Bell in mind,” said one league source with knowledge of the Eagles’ thinking.
The Eagles created this cap space to be better positioned to re-sign their own players in each of the next two seasons. But it also gives them added flexibility in the event they decide to pursue a trade for another player.
With his newly restructured deal, Cox now will make a veterans minimum base salary this and next season, but he has a better payout the next three seasons. He was scheduled to earn $11.5 million in base salary this season, and $15.6 million in base salary next season.
Cox still will get all his money, it just will be paid out differently, giving him more guarantees and the Eagles more flexibility.
While the Eagles may not be in on Bell, they could be thinking about a Shady reunion. This tweet from Josh Reed of WIVB-TV:
The #Eagles have reached out to the #Bills about a possible trade for LeSean McCoy, per source. Philly just lost RB Jay Ajayi for the season due to a torn ACL. McCoy spent the first 6 seasons of his career with the Eagles and is the franchise all-time leading rusher.
DREW BREES clocked in at a passer rating of 153.3 last night, just short of perfection. ProFootballReference tells us that is already the 6th game of 150+ this year. There was only one in all of 2017, and 2 in all of 2016. We think the seasonal record is 11 in 2015.
– – –
This from Greg Auman of The Athletic:
To put Saints QB Drew Brees’ 71,990 career passing yards in perspective: It’s more than the top five all-time passers in Bucs history combined.
When it comes time to reckon the time Jason Licht spent as GM of the Bucs, the drafting of Hobart College’s ALI MARPET will be a big plus. Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times:
The Bucs agreed to terms on a six-year contract with offensive guard Ali Marpet on Tuesday.
The extension runs through 2023.
Marpet’s extension is worth $55 million with $27.125 million in guarantees, Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network reported, citing a source.
The Bucs traded up to land Marpet in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft and he’s made that deal pay off, breaking into the starting lineup and anchoring Tampa Bay’s line at center and guard.
LOS ANGELES RAMS
Coach Sean McVay is hopeful that one or both of his concussed receiviers will be able to go Sunday in Denver. Myles Simms of TheRams.com:
Two of Los Angeles’ most important offensive weapons had to exit the game due to injury, but head coach Sean McVay said on Monday that there’s a chance both could be back on Sunday.
Wide receivers Brandin Cooks (concussion) and Cooper Kupp (concussion) will begin the week in the concussion protocol, but McVay noted both receivers felt better the day after the game.
“They felt good today. They didn’t have any symptoms or things like that,” McVay said. “We’ll go through the standard operating procedure, and if everything checks out — with our guys and with the doctors that are part of that process — then we’re hopeful to get those guys this week, get them back for this game this week.”
Cooks’ injury pretty clearly came on the first play of Los Angeles’ two-minute drive, when on 1st-and-15 from the visitors’ 12 quarterback Jared Goff completed a pass to Cooks, and the wideout received a helmet-to-helmet hit from Seattle safety Tedric Thompson.
McVay said he would address the helmet-to-helmet contact with the NFL’s senior VP of officiating Al Riveron.
“[U]ltimately I don’t think there was any malicious intent on it. But there are things that are always geared toward the safety of the players. And any of those head-to-head-contact collisions are things that we want to try to avoid,” McVay said. “And that’s something that they’ve made a big point of. But when we’ve talked to Al Riveron, he’s done an excellent job being able to communicate clearly to us as far as what are the expectations, how do we see this when we go back and get a chance to really look at it — a little bit more slowed down version. And we use those things to try to coach moving forward so that our players have that clarity. And those will be things that we address moving forward.”
Kupp’s injury was likely suffered on the same series, when he caught a pass over the middle but hit his head against the turf when he was tackled.
“To his credit, he was able to communicate to us that he wasn’t feeling quite normal,” McVay said of Kupp. “And then both of those guys, their symptoms — they didn’t really have any symptoms a couple hours after the game. Brandin actually did a great job responding immediately. But you can never be too safe and too cautious with those kinds of things.”
While cornerback Sam Shields suffered a shoulder injury, he was able to come back in. And other than that, McVay said the Rams came out clean in terms of injuries.
As for kicker Greg Zuerlein, McVay said the Rams’ All-Pro will be day-to-day as the week begins.
“As far as if he’s going to be able to go this week or not, probably will be able to have a little bit more clear answer for you probably on Wednesday or Thursday,” McVay said. “But he is making progress, hasn’t had any setbacks, and that’s where we’re at with Greg.”
Even as much of the country has been basking in summer temperatures and even as a tropical hurricane takes aim at the Gulf Coast – one NFL city is breaking out the snow plows. Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com:
Can snow slow down the Rams’ fast-paced offense? We might find out on Sunday.
Although football in the snow is most commonly seen in December, this season’s first snow game may come on October 14, when the Broncos host the Rams. The current forecast for Sunday in Denver calls for a high of 31, a low of 16 and snow showers in the morning.
That kind of weather may be good news for the Broncos, who would like all the help they can get to rein in the Rams’ offense, which has been flying high all season. With the Rams going from sunny Los Angeles to freezing Denver, the elements could be good news for the home team.
Denver weather is notoriously unpredictable, but there’s little doubt that Sunday’s game will be the coldest in the NFL this season so far — by far.
Jon Gruden sounds like a guy who is going to double down the next time he has first and goal at the 1. Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com:
Alternately playful and, as he put it, “depressed and tired,” Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden doubled down on his third-quarter decision Sunday to call a play-action pass rather than hand off to Marshawn Lynch on first-and-goal from the 1-yard line at the Los Angeles Chargers.
“It won’t be the last pass I call on first-and-goal, either,” Gruden said. “I think that’s the best time to throw down there. I regret that it was intercepted. Turns out to be a horrible call. But we were down 20-3, Melvin Ingram is their middle linebacker in a jammed front, I want to throw a play-action pass on the 1-foot line. My opinion is, it shouldn’t have been intercepted; we shouldn’t do that right down there, but we did.
“We were down 20-3, OK? We were down 20-3. It wasn’t the last play of the Super Bowl. We were down 20-3.”
Gruden, of course, was referencing the much-discussed play at the end of Super XLIX, when the Seattle Seahawks attempted to throw a game-winning TD pass on a slant from the 1-yard line against the New England Patriots instead of giving the ball to Lynch. That play ended with Russell Wilson being intercepted by Malcolm Butler.
Since the start of that game, teams have thrown four times at the 1-yard line with Lynch on the field, going 0-for-4 with two interceptions. One of those interceptions came Sunday, when Derek Carr was intercepted by Melvin Ingram.
“That’s cute,” Lynch told ESPN when informed of the stat after Sunday’s 26-10 loss to the Chargers. “That’s cute.”
Asked if he was frustrated by it all, Lynch shrugged.
“I done seen it happen to me on the game’s biggest stage,” Lynch said, referring to Super Bowl XLIX. “Now it’s happened in a regular-season game. It’s all right, though.”
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
The patriarch of the Chargers, Alex Spanos, has passed away.
The Los Angeles Chargers announced the death of team owner Alex Spanos on Tuesday. He was 95.
Spanos purchased 60 percent of the Chargers in August 1984 from majority owner Eugene Klein for $70 million, the culmination of a lifelong dream to own an NFL franchise. Over the next decade, Spanos bought out shares of several minority owners and now owns 97 percent of the team.
The pinnacle of Spanos’ ownership was the Chargers reaching the Super Bowl after the 1994 season.
While he remained active for many years in business matters related to the team, Spanos turned over the day-to-day management of the Chargers to his eldest son, Dean, before the start of the 1994 season. Dean Spanos currently serves as the Chargers’ controlling owner and team chairman.
The Chargers moved from San Diego to Los Angeles in early 2017.
Alex Spanos was born on Sept. 28, 1923, in Stockton, California. One of six children, Spanos built a billion-dollar fortune in real estate and construction. Alex and Faye Spanos married in 1948, raised four children — Dean, Dea, Alexis and Michael — and became prolific philanthropists, donating to causes related to schools, children, the arts and hospitals.
Faye Spanos died earlier this year, in August, at the age of 92.
Faye and Alex Spanos leave behind 15 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
RB JAMAAL CHARLES, a blast from the past, is signed by JAX. ESPN.com:
The Jacksonville Jaguars, plagued by injuries at the running back position, have signed free agent Jamaal Charles to a one-year deal, the team announced Tuesday.
The move comes after No. 3 running back Corey Grant was placed on injured reserve with a Lisfranc injury in his left foot. Grant had been pressed into playing time with regular starter Leonard Fournette out indefinitely with a right hamstring injury and No. 2 back T.J. Yeldon playing with a nagging ankle injury.
The 31-year-old Charles had been waiting for the right opportunity to sign with a contender, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
The 2017 season didn’t work out for Charles like he or the Denver Broncos had hoped. In May 2017, the Broncos signed Charles to a one-year deal after he was released by the Kansas City Chiefs because they believed his knees would hold up in a situational role in long-yardage situations.
By season’s end, Charles was an afterthought in the Broncos’ offense, with just four carries over the final four games. He was a healthy gameday inactive in the final two games of the season. Charles finished the season with 69 carries for 296 yards.
Charles publicly expressed his frustration late in the season when he said the Broncos should release him if he wasn’t going to play more. At the time, Broncos coach Vance Joseph said simply “that had not been a thought for us.”
In nine seasons with the Chiefs, in which he was selected for four Pro Bowls, Charles had scored 63 total touchdowns in 103 games. He had four 1,100-yard rushing seasons with the Chiefs as well as four seasons with at least 40 receptions.
The Bills have brought in a mentor for QB JOSH ALLEN in the form of QB DEREK ANDERSON. Darin Gantt of ProFootballTalk.com:
The Bills cranked up their former Charlottean carousel Tuesday, signing a former Panther and cutting one to make room for him.
The team announced the anticipated signing of quarterback Derek Anderson, and released safety Dean Marlowe to clear the roster spot.
Anderson was a trusted hand for the Panthers as Cam Newton‘s backup, but when they changed offenses this offseason he was deemed surplus to requirements.
But he was a valuable sounding board for Newton, and won a pair of starts in 2014 in his place.
Whether he supplants Nathan Peterman on the depth chart remains to be seen, but that’s probably inevitable.
In case you wondered (as did the DB who thought Anderson was still ensconced in Charlotte), CAM NEWTON is now backed up by the duo of GARRETT GILBERT and TAYLOR HEINICKE. Between them, they have thrown one NFL pass between them in their career (Heinicke). So, if something unfortunate were to happen to Newton, could that be the trigger for our national nightmare to end and COLIN KAEPERNCK gets a chance to just do it on a roster?
The Panthers have already taken in S ERIC REID and the world survived. And Newton and Kaep would seem to be a rough skill set match.
THIS AND THAT
AIKMAN RATINGS Thru Week 5
The Chicago Bears emerged from their bye week in first place in the Aikman Combined Ratings as compiled by SportsRadar through Week 5 of the NFL season. Chicago was 3rd after Week 4, but a loss to Cleveland dropped first place Baltimore to 2nd while the undefeated Rams also fell a spot after their close win over Seattle.
The NFL’s other undefeated team, the Chiefs, advanced from 8th to 4th thanks to a significant improvement on Defense with a strong performance in the Week 5 win over Jacksonville.
The Chiefs remain atop Aikman Offense, while the Bears are still first in Aikman Defense.
The most improved team in the NFL from 2017 has to be the Browns – and the Aikman Combined Ratings reflect that. Cleveland was 32nd in last year’s final ratings, but they have surged to 5th at the moment, just slightly ahead of the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles.
John Ourand of Sports Business Journal has this round table on rising NFL ratings:
NFL ratings were up 1% after the first four weeks of the season, paced by an 8% jump in CBS’ Sunday afternoon lineup. THE DAILY spoke to four top sports media execs about the gains this season, and all four said ratings most likely have been helped by exciting games filled with a lot of offense, with each exec specifically mentioning Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes. They also agreed that the storylines around the league’s young QBs are creating more interest. Below are their responses, edited for clarity and brevity.
Q: Why are NFL ratings up this year?
CBS Sports Chair Sean McManus: I sense more excitement about this season because of some of the storylines. Going into the season, the young quarterbacks were a very good storyline. It’s happening in Kansas City, where Patrick Mahomes is an attractive storyline. What’s happening with the Los Angeles Rams is an attractive storyline. I sense there’s a little more buzz about the overall league this year, which I think is being seen in the television ratings.
NBC Broadcasting & Sports Chair Mark Lazarus: It’s pent-up demand. Live television matters more than ever. Old stars are back and playing well. New stars are emerging like Mahomes and Giants RB Saquon Barkley. Games have been exciting and close. If you look at the standings, it’s competitive on every level. Whether it’s parity or mediocrity, it’s competitive and that’s really fun.
ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro: Look at the storylines. Most obvious is this crop of young talent, like Mahomes, Rams QB Jared Goff and Barkley. Eagles QB Carson Wentz came back. There are some really great stories in the NFL right now. The young quarterbacks is the most obvious storyline. But it’s not just the young quarterbacks. There’s a lot of good news coming out of the NFL right now. If you look at the booths across the various networks, we’ve all done a good job at celebrating this sport and focusing on the fun.
Fox Sports Exec VP/Research, League Operations & Strategy Mike Mulvihill: One of the hidden stats in the ratings so far this year is that average length of tune-in is up. The average viewer that shows up is staying tuned for a longer period of time. Maybe that’s driven by the fact that scoring is up, passing is up, penalties are down, replay reviews are down. All of that adds up to a more entertaining product.
Q: Are you surprised by the turnaround?
McManus: I don’t get too up when the ratings are up, and I don’t get too down when the ratings are down. It’s still early in the season. Nobody should jump to conclusions. The trend is positive.
Lazarus: It’s stronger than we thought. We thought we’d be a little bit behind where we are now at this point. We’re pleasantly surprised. But we’re not shocked. The NFL is the strongest product in the land.
Pitaro: No, I’m n
ot surprised. What’s fascinating, and I think of often when I’m watching as a spectator, is that we provide a platform for these iconic moments. Mahomes’ left-handed throw against the Broncos was quintessential “Monday Night Football.” As soon as it happened, you knew it was going to take on a life of its own. To see what happens post-game and how these amazing moments that so often take place on “Monday Night Football” enter the zeitgeist, it’s fun to see.
Mulvihill: Coming into the season, we were hoping and expecting that this would be a stabilization year. Whatever has happened to impact ratings over the last two seasons has been absorbed and processed by fans and that this would be a year of a new normal. Four weeks in, I feel like that’s where we are. You can say that across all the networks.
Q: What effects have protests during the anthem had on NFL viewership this year?
McManus: It hasn’t been a storyline for this season. It seems to have dissipated. One of the things that our research showed is that when people are watching football games, in a perfect world it would be an escape for them. They would get away from the politics and the other storylines that are dominating the media landscape. It hasn’t been a story. It hasn’t been something that we have to talk about on a regular basis. From a viewer interest standpoint and a ratings standpoint, it’s probably positive.
Lazarus: People who decided that they were going to leave left. But I also think that some of those people maybe felt like they made their point and now their love of football is overriding it and they are coming back.
Pitaro: I’m not going to speculate on the impact of any of that. It’s speculation. I don’t have any research or data to make a point in either direction.
Mulvihill: That collection of issues has been so extensively discussed and debated over the last two years, that everybody has had an opportunity to process it and come to their own opinion and conclusion. I don’t think that there are a lot of fans out there that are now considering it differently. It’s largely a resolved issue. That’s one of the reasons we are seeing stabilization in the numbers. There’s not a lot of new information there for fans to digest. Everyone has reached their own conclusion.