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Hard Count Episode 18-11: Protests, trades and Kwon Alexander

One writer’s thoughts and reactions to Week 7 in the NFL

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won and the NFL is nearing mid-season. We’re about to find out who the contenders are and who the pretenders were.

One thing we know is for certain after seven week’s worth of NFL action; Jon Gruden likes draft picks more than he likes play-makers.

Make no mistake about it, if you aren’t doing things Chucky’s way, you aren’t doing them in a Raiders uniform for much longer.

On to the opinions!

OFFSIDES: Eric Reid doesn’t like the Jenkins approach.

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Philadelphia Eagles Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Funny thing about groups of people is you’ll never get them to agree on any one thing, right?

Prior to the contest between the Carolina Panthers and Philadelphia Eagles, safety Eric Reid stood near midfield essentially calling Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins out.

If it was the old west the two would have been staring each other down with fingers twitching around the grips of their pistols. But it’s not, it’s a football field.

So, as it usually happens, the two got close, said some words and were restrained by teammates and others.

Honestly, this routine is fairly comical to me anytime it happens. Rarely do we see the chain breaking fights which some hope to see when these things happen. They tend to have the same outcome with one player predictably getting even more irate just after the point they’ve been restrained by teammates.

I’m not suggesting they fight because they’d be taking a whole lot of food out of their families’ mouths by doing so. But that’s not what this is about anyway. It’s about the reason for this encounter.

Long story short, Reid doesn’t like the way Jenkins has progressed his efforts towards building some sort of resolution to racial tensions in our country today.

Check out this story from Robert Littal of Black Sports Online for more background if you need or want it.

For me, there’s only one issue with the confrontation and it’s the fact Reid has decided he doesn’t appreciate the way Jenkins is handling his role within the Players Coalition which Reid was involved in early-on.

Reid has had a problem with it for a while now and decided to leave the organization behind as a result. Which is fine.

What’s not fine is demanding someone use the same path you’re taking to try and create better crossroads for the future.

Jenkins is approaching the matter the way he sees fit, and the players still involved with the coalition seem to at least be satisfied with how things are being handled, or at minimum are willing to stick it out and see how things go moving forward.

I’m all for people speaking up about topics they care about. But feeling like one has the right to judge another’s efforts on similar or same topics is arrogant and counterproductive at best.

This isn’t a simple conversation Jenkins and Reid are both engaged in. It’s extremely complex with multiple layers and wrinkles to every part of it.

Combating each other for trying to find unique paths to the same resolution is only going to slow down any progress made by both efforts.

FALSE START: Dak needs a primary receiver

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

Near the end of May during this past off-season, and with Dez Bryant exiled from Jerry’s World, Dak Prescott said the following,

“I don’t know if any team in the league necessarily needs a No. 1 receiver...”

Yeah. About that.

Prescott is impressive. He’s talented and has done more than most thought he ever would when he was drafted in the fourth round out of Mississippi State. But on this, he was wrong.

Now, had he said he didn’t think EVERY team needed a No. 1 receiver, he’d have been correct.

The Patriots, Redskins and Rams all lead their divisions without top-shelf wide receivers. Although, keep an eye out for Robert Woods. He’s climbing a bit.

So they apparently don’t require a top receiver to be consistent winners this season. But the Dallas Cowboys do. And at 3-4 following a loss against the very same number-one-less Redskins, Jerry Jones took care of that little problem.

Just in case you don’t actually think the Cowboys had a receiver problem, let’s talk numbers. Through seven games this season, Prescott has three games with more than 200-yards passing. In 2017 he had two with fewer than 200-yards passing after seven games. In his rookie season (2016), he had at least 227-yards passing in his first ten games.

Touchdowns? He currently has eight scoring tosses and two multi-interception games. 2017 at this same point in the season Prescott had one multi-interception game and six more touchdown scores.

Some of this can potentially be blamed on playing different defenses this year:

Listen.

Scoring has gone up in the NFL in 2018. Passing yards have gone up in the NFL in 2018. Unless you’re in Dallas.

On Monday, the Cowboys traded for Amari Cooper hoping he can get back on the track he was on before Derek Carr’s injury and Jon Gruden’s hiring. If he does, he’ll become the Cowboys’ number one receiver. And boy do they need it.

FREE PLAY: Kwon’s Injury

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

There are two types of fans. Those who hate that injuries are a part of the game, and those who cheer when certain players (usually opposing players) get hurt.

Had I seen a Browns fan of the second-type when Kwon Alexander went down on Sunday, we may have rearranged the furniture of whatever establishment we were in.

Fans celebrated when Chris Conte got injured. Some even talked about Vernon Hargreaves’ injury like it was a plus.

Injuries are never positives. Period.

It’s easy to get lost behind the television screen or to forget the gladiators playing in the arena as we snack on our popcorn, nachos and sip (chug) our beer are not just characters for us to be amused by. They’re people.

I didn’t witness any celebrations on social media when Kwon went down. When the Fox broadcast replayed the lone bad angle they had on what happened, it looked like a non-contact injury. The worst kind.

When they showed him walking into the tunnel I thought maybe he’s alright. Ignoring the fact you can walk on a torn ACL. Hell, I’ve seen someone run two miles faster than most people can with months of training on one.

The disappointment I felt witnessing how many reacted to injuries to players like Conte, I didn’t feel when Alexander went down.

Alexander had been having a great game in a not-so-great season. I’m sure he’d been waiting for the opportunity to turn it all around the way he knew he could. And he would have. That sack of Baker Mayfield would have been a thing of beauty folks.

Responses to this injury have been quite different than what we’ve witnessed before. Fans have rallied to the digital-side of Alexander. Tweet after tweet has been sent wishing him well and a speedy recovery. The comeback doesn’t start when the workouts start, it starts as soon as the injury happens.

Rest up. Heal up. We all look forward to seeing you back on the field soon.