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PURDY WAS AWESOME … BURROW BRUTAL … TUA SENSATIONAL … AND FIELDS YUCK
Let’s praise Kyle Shanahan for making all of Purdy, despite elbow surgery, on a day when Burrow shouldn’t have played, Tagovailoa was magnificent, and Fields reminded us Chicago again is zilchville
In the gawk of pro football, nothing differentiates teams more than the No. 1 overall draft choice and the least relevant selection. Kyle Shanahan, who will win the Super Bowl when karma and the moon wilds benefit him, always will be smart enough to find a quarterback with the worst pick, even if he also dumps a player he strangely unleashed at No. 3.
And just last year, the Cincinnati Bengals almost watched their top pick in 2020, Joe Burrow, lead them to a championship, handing him $275 million last week with $219 million guaranteed.
At this point, though, I must dangle this: Who do you like better to reach the next Super Bowl in Las Vegas? Brock Purdy, Mr. Irrelevant in 2022, who was so adept at overcoming right elbow surgery that Shanahan dumped Trey Lance to Dallas after dealing Jimmy Garoppolo to the Raiders? Didn’t you just adore Purdy on Sunday, throwing two touchdowns to Brandon Aiyuk on a 220-yard afternoon in a 30-7 rout of the Steelers?
Or Burrow, who went 14 of 31 for a career-low 82 yards in a dreadful outing in Cleveland, where Deshaun Watson finally proved he was more in life than a chaser of women masseuses? Right now, I’d take Purdy, who might have been one injury short last January in pushing the 49ers to the NFC title game. As for Burrow, he looked bothered by a July calf sprain that might not be better anytime soon. Why even play in a 24-3 loss? To justify the NFL’s all-time leading contract, per highest average annual value? Afterward, he pretty much said so.
“That’s what happens when your quarterback doesn’t perform in training camp,” Burrow said. “We had miscommunication here and there. It’s tough. It’s one week, not up to our standard, not up to my standard. We’ll keep trucking.”
And how silly was Ja’Marr Chase’s comment that Browns fans were “elves” days before? “I’m mad because I called their (butts) elves, and we just lost to some elves,” said the Bengals receiver, not getting it. “I’m pissed on my part. (Expletive), I’m holding it on me.”
Myles Garrett isn’t. “This is now the standard,” said the Browns defensive star, “and we have to continue to from here.”
Such was a debut day in the league, where the usual prattle — Chicago has no quarterback and zero reason to have a franchise — is so horrendous that Caleb Williams’ father might be right about burning the 2024 draft. With Justin Fields off to try an Olympics relay, who wants to play there if someone has an option? For now, the highest-rated rookie QB (Bryce Young) struggled with interceptions, the No. 2 (C.J. Stroud) will have a lengthy year with the Texans and No. 4 (Anthony Richardson) will have to deal with defensive arms trying to stagger his slides and injure him in Indianapolis.
All three lost when, if he can stay healthy, Tua Tagovailoa threw for 466 yards and three touchdowns and beat Justin Herbert as the Dolphins won in Los Angeles. Sean Payton revived Russell Wilson a bit but couldn’t beat Garoppolo … Jalen Hurts continued his winning norm in Philadelphia and hastened Bill Belichick’s demise in New England … Trevor Lawrence won as he often will in Jacksonville … Matthew Stafford showed his wife he still cares about younger teammates … Derek Carr won for the Saints … Desmond Ridder won for the Falcons … Sam Howell won for fresh owners Josh Harris and Magic Johnson in Washington … and Baker Mayfield won and isn’t giving up in Tampa Bay as Tom Brady’s heir.
Did I mention the Cowboys, with owner Jerry Jones emphasizing this is The Year after almost 30 bad ones? I’m not holding my breath this time, either.
As for Purdy, leave it to the league’s highest-paid defensive player to get it straight. “Purdy shut some haters up,” said Nick Bosa, noting how he beat Patrick Peterson in coverage twice after the veteran defensive back said he’d intercept a ball. When told he beat Peterson on one Aiyuk touchdown, Purdy yelped, “Was that on Patrick Peterson? That one, alright, that felt good.”
The drama is over in Santa Clara. Shanahan ended this saga long ago. “I thought Brock had a hell of a game,” he said. “He’s pretty steady each day. He’s taken this whole offseason about as well as you can. He’s done everything he can to come back. That’s why he’ll continue to get better.”
On Thursday night, the official opener, NBC’s Mike Tirico said the Detroit Lions deserved an “asterisk” for a win while the Chiefs were without injured Travis Kelce and holdout pass-rusher Chris Jones. No one made such errors Sunday.
Tua Tagovailoa was brilliant. Joe Burrow sucked. And Brock Purdy looked like the king of football. Sometime soon, we’re not calling him Mr. Irrelevant anymore.
Jay Mariotti, called “without question the most impacting Chicago sportswriter of the past quarter-century,’’ writes general sports columns for Substack while appearing on some of the 1,678,498 podcasts and shows in production today. He is an accomplished columnist, TV panelist and talk/podcast host. Living in Los Angeles, he gravitated by osmosis to film projects.