Happy Wednesday morning, folks. You’re halfway done with your first week of the new year.
Let’s get right to it.
Good morning to everyone but especially to…
THE (SOON TO BE FORMER) WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM
The name “Washington Football Team” will soon be gone, and I won’t miss it one bit. On Tuesday, the franchise announced it will reveal its new name on Feb. 2.
Here are the potential options:
- Red Hogs
While there had been some thought that sticking with “Football Team” was an option, I’m really glad that doesn’t seem to be on the table.
“What team do you root for?”
“Oh, I root for THE team!”
Plus, it was tough to hear free agent acquisitions and draft picks awkwardly work around the issue, saying something like, “I’m so excited to be a… uh… Team member? I mean, I’m so excited to head to Washington!”
- Benjamin: “1. Red Hogs — Is it a coincidence Washington will be unveiling its new name on Groundhog Day? Hopefully not. ‘Hogs’ has long been a nickname in and around the franchise, so it’d only be fitting to see a promotion here. Cutting ‘Red’ from the name would actually make it better, but still, this is clearly the best way to pay tribute to team history while embarking with a new identity.”
Personally, I like the Admirals most out of the ones listed above. First off, it’s plural, just like… every other team in the NFL. I think there could be some cool logo possibilities, and “Washington Admirals” rolls off the tongue decently (and much better than “Football Team.”)
For what it’s worth, WashingtonAdmirals.com actually redirects to the team’s official website. Did the organization accidentally leak its choice? Maybe. Maybe not. For a team that has repeatedly embarrassed itself on and off the field for the past several decades, I wouldn’t rule it out. But if that is indeed the name, I wouldn’t be too upset, either.
Regardless of the choice, the point remains: It will be an improvement over “Football Team,” which was already a massive and necessary improvement over the previous name.
- Typically a torn Achilles is a season-ender. But after tearing his Achilles in July, Cam Akers is expected to play in Week 18 according to head coach Sean McVay.
- Speaking of incredible athletes doing incredible things, Derrick Henry is expected to return to practice today after breaking a bone in his foot on Halloween.
- Novak Djokovic received a medical exemption for not being vaccinated against COVID-19 and, as a result, will play in the Australian Open.
And not such a good morning for…
Last season, Baker Mayfield led the Browns to their first playoff win since January 1995 — three months before Mayfield himself was born. Fast forward a year and things couldn’t be more different with the Browns eliminated from postseason contention by Week 17.
After announcing Monday night he will undergo surgery to repair the torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder, Mayfield will not play in Cleveland’s regular-season finale. Now a long offseason of questions begins.
Mayfield never got the long-term contract extension that looked likely last offseason, which means he’s a prime candidate to start the 2022 season somewhere other than Cleveland. I’m not quite sure it’s the right decision to move on. Here are a few reasons why:
- Mayfield’s injury, suffered all the way back in Week 2, was significant and shouldn’t be minimized among the reasons his play dropped off.
- Cleveland’s wide receiver corps left a lot to be desired. Browns WRs are last in receptions, second-to-last in receiving yards and 25th in average yards after catch.
- Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt — the two best offensive skill position players on the roster — both missed significant time.
- The Browns weren’t as far away as people think this season. Only Minnesota has more one-possession losses than Cleveland’s six.
But my biggest issue with moving on from Mayfield would be this: Who is going to be better?
A list of veteran QBs potentially on the move this offseason shows few answers. Luring Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson seems unlikely, should either even be available. Matt Ryan or Jimmy Garoppolo? Meh. The draft class isn’t particularly strong, either.
Mayfield, at $18.9 million, is cheaper than almost any outside veteran option and better than any incoming rookie, at least for 2022. The Browns would be better off proceeding with Mayfield and improving other parts of the roster than looking for an expensive, aging option. Should Mayfield not be part of Cleveland’s plans next year, NFL scribe Cody Benjamin has a list of potential landing spots.
Not so honorable mention
- With the Hawks just 16-20 this season GM Travis Schlenk said, “maybe I need to lower my expectations” in a radio interview Tuesday. It’s never a good sign when the person in charge of personnel decisions is saying that.
Pete Prisco’s Power Rankings: Cowboys fall after latest head-scratching loss 📉
It’s been 17 weeks, and we still have no clue what to make of the Dallas Cowboys. On their best days, they’re championship contenders with a star-studded offense and ferocious defense. On their worst days, they’re a discombobulated group that can’t get out of its own way and can’t make the pieces fit on offense.
Pete Prisco saw all he needed to on Sunday when the Cowboys fell at home to a DeAndre Hopkins-less Cardinals team and lost Michael Gallup to a torn ACL. Prisco dropped Dallas from 3rd to 10th in his latest Power Rankings — the largest drop of any team:
- Prisco: “What has happened to the offense? Dak Prescott, aside from one game in the past month, just hasn’t looked right.”
The offensive questions are very fair. Since Week 9, the Cowboys have gone three-and-out and punted on 29% of their possessions, the worst rate in the entire NFL.
That has to get fixed, no matter how good the defense is.
Bruce Arians doesn’t regret signing Antonio Brown 🏈
Even after Antonio Brown‘s latest fiasco — one that cost him his job — Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians maintains he has “no regrets” about signing the troubled wide receiver and wishes him well
- Arians: “I wish him well. I hope if he needs help, [that he] gets some. It’s very hard because I do care about him.”
Meanwhile, though Brown’s quitting on his team over the weekend will certainly stop some teams from considering signing him, CBS Sports NFL Insider Josina Anderson reported that Brown could find yet another landing spot in the NFL… that is, once Tampa Bay officially parts ways with him.
Our NFL expert Jeff Kerr has potential 2022 landing spots for the seven-time Pro Bowler.
Examining Barry Bonds’ pre-steroids Hall of Fame case ⚾
Barry Bonds has seen his Hall of Fame vote share climb over the last handful of years, topping out at 61.8% last year. It’s still short of the 75% required to be inducted, but there is some momentum for MLB‘s home run king.
As the votes for the 2022 class come in, our MLB guru Matt Snyder took a look at Bonds’ candidacy if you only factor in the 13 years he played before he was linked to steroids. The numbers are eye-popping. Here’s my personal favorite:
- Snyder: “He had 411 homers and 445 steals. He was already the only player in baseball history to top both 400 homers and 400 steals. No one since has joined the 400-400 club. It’s just Bonds. If we went down to 350-350, it’s still just him. And here’s a fun fact, if we go down to the only players with 330 homers and 330 steals in their careers, we get Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonds and Willie Mays.”
Get Barry Bonds in the Hall of Fame, please.
What we’re watching Wednesday 📺
🏀 No. 15 Alabama at Florida, 7 p.m. on ESPN2
🏀 Warriors at Mavericks, 8 p.m. on ESPN
🏀 No. 25 Texas Tech at No. 11 Iowa State, 9 p.m. on ESPNU
🏀 Jazz at Nuggets, 10 p.m. on ESPN