Much like love, remorse is a funny feeling. It’s something you can feel immediately, or it can gradually build until it sweeps over you like a tsunami—leaving you numb, dumb and completely disoriented. I’ve been in that dark place—murmuring under my breath and mumbling to myself—too many times to count, and Sunday’s games left plenty of opportunities for all of us to take that lonely walk of shame, defeated and full of regret.
Cleveland Browns (-5.5) vs. Tennessee Titans
Between Delanie Walker channeling his inner Dennis Green, Odell Beckham Jr. rocking a $350K Richard Mille watch, Jarvis Landry lashing out at a local reporter and offensive lineman Greg Robinson being ejected for kicking a Titans player, it’s hard to know where to start when it comes to the debacle that was Cleveland’s 43-13 season-opening loss to Tennessee.
After an offseason filled with splashy acquisitions and unending hype, the Browns took the field Sunday before a sold-out crowd and once again let down their diehard fans and trusting backers at the window. They completely self-destructed, with 18 penalties for 182 yards and three interceptions from Baker Mayfield, who ran for his life behind an offensive line that couldn’t stop my 90-year-old grandmother from crossing the street.
Titans score is deceptive.
Tennessee had 15 total points with 2 mins left in 3rd quarter…ran it up late.
Browns committed 18 penalties for 181 yards. Nearly an NFL record.
— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) September 8, 2019
Browns general manager John Dorsey deserves a ton of credit for assembling a roster filled with talent, but we were all reminded Sunday that football often comes down to controlling the line of scrimmage and playing with discipline and intelligence. Cleveland failed miserably on both fronts in Week 1, and Freddie Kitchens has little time to get it together, as the Browns face a difficult six-game stretch that features four road games, including trips to Foxborough, San Francisco, Baltimore and the Meadowlands, the home of my next source of remorse.
New York Jets (-2.5) vs. Buffalo Bills
It was looking all too easy as Josh Allen and company turned it over four times in the first half and New York jumped out to a 16-0 lead in the third quarter. Then the Jets turned into the Jets and completely fell apart after middle linebacker C.J. Mosley left with a groin injury. A missed extra point and missed field goal earlier in the game also came back to haunt a young team still learning how to win.
By betting the Jets we only have ourselves to blame, as we chose to trust a guy who gives crazy-eyed press conference performances and inhales smelling salts like he is Tony Montana in Scarface. When asked Monday why Ty Montgomery played only five snaps, the Jets’ fearless leader, Adam Gase, showed just how in over his head he is in New York.
“That’s the beauty part of being the head coach. I can basically do what I want,” the coach said.
*Adam Gase emerges from his secret office under MetLife. He hasn’t seen daylight since practice ended Friday, nor has he stopped watching film to eat or use the bathroom, only to pluck at a guitar. He’s chewing 2 smelling salt capsules as if they’re candy.*
“It’s time,” he says.
— Gary Phillips (@GaryHPhillips) September 8, 2019
With Sam Darnold continuing to mature, Le’Veon Bell still in his prime and young stars like Mosley, Jamal Adams and Quinnen Williams on defense, New York has a lot to look forward to, but is Gase really the guy who is going to get the Jets where they want to go? Time will tell, but I doubt it.
Detroit Lions (-2.5) at Arizona Cardinals
Speaking of inept head coaches, Matt Patricia reminded us Sunday just how bad he is. The Lions coughed up a 17-3 halftime lead and allowed Kyler Murray to find his rhythm in his first game as a pro. Murray went 15-of-19 for 154 yards and two touchdowns during the Cardinals’ fourth-quarter rally.
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) September 8, 2019
Ties often feel like losses for all those involved, but that’s particularly the case if you were one of the many who were left holding a worthless Lions ticket after another befuddling performance from a franchise that is among the league leaders in befuddlement. It’s losses like these that leave you questioning your existence, wondering what went wrong in your life that led you to wager your hard-earned cash on a guy more concerned with lecturing a reporter on his posture than winning football games.
Pittsburgh Steelers (+5.5) vs. New England Patriots
Staying with the theme of bad head coaches, Mike Tomlin once again showed us that he can’t spell Xs and Os, as Bill Belichick coached circles around the Steelers staff. I used to be a huge Tomlin fan, but after Pittsburgh’s 45-42 loss to Jacksonville in the playoffs two years ago, a game in which the Steelers quickly fell behind 14-0 and were completely unprepared, I realized that Tomlin’s “it is what it is” and “the standard is the standard” act was no longer resonating.
Bill Belichick: “Tom, how many times should we embarrass Mike Tomlin and the Steelers before we retire?”
Tom Brady: pic.twitter.com/qGHEX1MgLz
— SlipperySteve🏈🏀 (@SlipperySteve5) September 9, 2019
All we heard over the summer was how the Steelers were going to show us what kind of team they were now that the drama of Bell and Antonio Brown was over, but reality set in quickly Sunday evening. Pittsburgh no longer has two of the most talented dudes in the league. What it does have is an aging quarterback who is showing his age more and more these days and a head coach whose message is increasingly falling on deaf ears.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-1) vs. San Francisco 49ers
Count me as one of the many who drank the Kool-Aid and believed Jameis Winston was going to bounce back in this make-or-break season. But as he’s done routinely throughout his career, he let us down because of questionable decisions that led to three interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns.
“Bruce Arians will fix him”
Jameis Winston: pic.twitter.com/ocbWCvJJdZ
— Big Game Bengal (@BengalDesigns) September 8, 2019
I’m a believer in Bruce Arians and the power of his Kangol hats, but if Winston is going to continue to be plagued by his poor decisions, then the Bucs are going nowhere fast. Tampa Bay is a tempting 6.5-point underdog in a divisional matchup against the Panthers this weekend. I can feel the remorse setting in already…