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Hard Count Episode 18-7: Bills, Penalties and Unicorns

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A weekly roundup of all the things around the NFL that we know about - for now

Buffalo Bills v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

I know the NFL is built for parity and is designed for every team to go 8-8, but this is ridiculous.

At this point, I’m scared to look at our weekly game picks update. The Browns finally won (I think I picked that one), the Bills - gasp - beat the Vikings (more on this in a minute), the Redskins nearly doubled-up the Packers, Dolphins beat the Raiders, Lions beat the Patriots, and I lost my first fantasy football game of the year.

If there’s anything I do know, it’s my opinions on these three topics.

FALSE START: The NFL has a rules problem - shocker

Remember the off-season and the pre-season? There was a rules controversy. It was going to doom football. Turn it into flag football basically. The leading with the helmet rule was going to ruin everything.

Alas, it hasn’t. No, that distinction goes to the new edition of the roughing the passer penalty. You know the one, it’s the one where someone hits a quarterback in the pocket....and that’s illegal now.

It’s basically the NFL’s version of home base in tag.

In episode 18-5 of this here column - Look! A link! - I addressed this very rule:

“...the biggest bad-rule change is the one which deserves the ire of football fans and players everywhere is the one where a defender attempting to sack a quarterback is not allowed to lay his body weight on said quarterback.”

When a rule is being bashed by the very player it was created for - Aaron Rodgers - you know it’s bad.

Three weeks into the 2017 season, there were 16 roughing the passer penalties. There are more than double that after three weeks this season. Roughly half of those have been levied on Clay Matthews it would seem (not really).

This penalty is bad. Like, change it in-season and don’t wait for the off-season, bad.

OFFSIDES: Josh Allen is better at his job than Sean McDermott is at his

Los Angeles Chargers v Buffalo Bills Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Anytime I openly bash a player or coach, I basically expect said player or coach to then make me eat my words that week.

Such was the case with Josh Allen. Except, I didn’t bash him. He just came to the aid of his head coach, Sean McDermott.

By defeating the Minnesota Vikings in rather impressive form, my previous comments about McDermott’s handling of the quarterback situation in Buffalo are in danger of ageing worse than Macaulay Culkin.

Now we wait for a Culkin blockbuster in the summer of 2019.

To make matters worse, Tyrod Taylor decided to take my support of him and get benched during primetime.

Maybe I was wrong. But, maybe I wasn’t. I don’t think it was McDermott’s coaching genius which led his rookie quarterback to hurdling Anthony Barr.

Still though, it’s enough to make me wonder if I jumped the gun - get it, offsides - on McDermott.

FREE PLAY: Bashing the Unicorn

Pittsburgh Steelers v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

If Chris Conte actually had a horn on his head Vance McDonald would have ripped it off and forged it into the finest sword in all of Westeros.

He doesn’t though, because ‘White Unicorn’ is a nickname, not a literal description of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety.

It was a rough play. Embarrassing. More so for him than anyone else. The still photos of Cameron Heyward’s reaction will likely haunt Conte for the rest of his days.

It was a solid football play by McDonald, and one which rightfully deserved the reaction it got in the immediate aftermath.

But that was all in the moment. Afterwards, some people felt it was ok to then make fun of Conte’s knee injury which subsequently landed him on injured reserve.

I don’t know guys, something about enjoying physical injury to another human being just doesn’t sit right with me.