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NFL Hard Count Episode 18-2: Richard Sherman, Rojo, and Missing Jameis Winston

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The second installment of 2018 takes aim at one NFL player’s opinion of the helmet rule and concerns for two Buccaneers players.

NFL: San Franciso 49ers-Minicamp Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers took to the field for the second time this pre-season, and for the second time there were plenty of comments about almost every phase of the game an at every level of the roster.

On the second episode of the NFL Hard Count for this 2018 season, I’m going to weigh in with my thoughts on two such topics as well as respond to the words of one well known former Seahawks cornerback.

OFFSIDES: Richard Sherman Comments on NFL Helmet Rule

Name an industry, any industry, and I guarantee we can go back and pinpoint at least three changes in the last decade. Change is constant. In fact, it may be the only thing that is constant in this world.

As a whole, the NFL has gone through more changes than most, granted. Still, change is nothing new. So to see Richard Sherman take such a hardline stance on this most current change was a little surprising.

Not because it’s Sherman, but because this change is so obviously a good thing. Contrary to popular belief, this isn’t the next step towards flag football.

Instead, it’s the rule that any - ANY - contact to the quarterback’s head is a penalty. That’s a step towards flag football. This? This is common sense.

No, players are not taught to use their dome as a weapon. See what you hit. It’s so commonly echoed that it’s become a cliche. This isn’t about inadvertent helmet-to-helmet contact, it’s about seeing a target and thinking to yourself, ‘You know what sounds like a good idea? Lowering the top of my head so that all of the pressure this hit gives me goes straight into my vertebrae and running as hard as I can.’

That’s bad form, it’s bad tackling, it’s dangerous, and it protects the hitter just as much as it does the hit.

Furthermore, it’s not about whether or not the head contacts another player, it’s about whether or not the head is lowered and used to be the first part of the body which strikes the opponent. This is not an unusual request.

Now, the execution of the new penalty and the consistency is a whole other topic which I actually addressed in the last episode. This however, is about the spirit of the rule and how it impacts the game.

Bottom line is, you can hit each other as hard as you want - as long as it isn’t the quarterback - just don’t do it with the crown of your head.

It’s all good Mr. Sherman. Find something else to complain about.

FALSE START: Rojo Not Rolling Into Buccaneers Starting Job

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Tennessee Titans Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

During the television broadcast of the Tennessee Titans hosting Tampa Bay in Week 2 of the pre-season, the television team commented for a bit about how Bucs rookie Ronald Jones would be taking over primary back duties sooner rather than later.

Insert Lee Corso imitation here.

Somebody forgot to tell Peyton Barber he was going to be the backup, and apparently they also forgot to tell Rojo he was supposed to be the starter.

Barber is running like he likes playing with the ones and wants to keep doing so. And as long as he’s running the way he is, there’s no reason for me to come off the line that he’ll have more carries per game this year than he did at the end of last season.

In a previous posting about the Buccaneers’ running back situation I held off calling either Barber or Jones the primary back. I’m still holding to that as well.

However, if I have to predict who will have the larger share of carries, it’s easily Barber at this point.

There’s a small segment of Bucs fans who have already started sounding the bust horn. We need to slow down here as well.

Rojo is two pre-season games into his career as a second-round running back. Folks, he’s not Ezekiel Elliott or Saquon Barkley.

Which is fine right now. Believe it or not, he could end up being better than both of them. Either way, it’s not the time to automaticallya anoint him the starter over Barber who is running well and running hard. But it’s also not the time to call him a bust.

It’s time to look at him for what he is. A young running back with game breaking potential who will need some time to fully develop while playing a complimentary roll.

If he breaks out, then fantastic. But if not, then he’s already equipped to fill the role he should be expected to fill in 2018.

FREE PLAY: Finding Negatives in a Positive

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Tennessee Titans Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t get into beef all that much, but I just can’t keep a lid on this gripe.

Following the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ solid pre-season win over the Tennessee Titans I was feeling pretty good. The team looked good. No, not every unit or every player looked great, but the team as a whole looked good.

It’s Week 2 of the pre-season. Saying this team looks good doesn’t mean they’re going to the Super Bowl in early 2019.

Nor does Jameis Winston dropping two-bills and two touchdowns on the Titans mean that Ryan Fitzpatrick has no hope of leading the Bucs to victory during the three weeks the young quarterback will be away from One Buc.

But here we are. Instead of enjoying the moment of Winston looking like the franchise quarterback about half of us still think he can be, we have to turn it back around to the suspension.

This great performance, turned ugly.

Fitzpatrick didn’t do well in his quarter of action in Tennessee. Time to trade for Teddy Bridgewater, right? Wrong. Time to remember it’s the second game of the pre-season.

I don’t support what Winston is accused of doing, but I am on the side which hopes this is the final controversy we see from him and that he becomes the player we all thought he could.

Am I going to miss him? Of course. But it’s not because of one half of football in Week 2 of the pre-season. It’s his passion, his fire for the game, and his ability to do some amazing things on the football field...at times. It’s the possibility my favorite team might finally have a franchise quarterback.

I’m going to miss the anticipation of what might be. Is this the year Winston really kicks it into high gear? I want to know, and I want to know before Week 4.

But let the man have his good outing. As long as we pick at the scab it’ll never heal properly. Some fans don’t want it to heal. For those fans, nothing will ever be enough. And that’s fine, for them.

I hold no authority to claim who is and isn’t a real fan. We all fan the way we choose.

There are better things to write about though, than how a solid performance should be a reflection of just how bad a three-game suspension is going to be in 2018. We know. We already knew.

Move on already.