Storyline #4 – Any Running Back Pay Distraction
Running backs across the league, seemingly realizing their diminishing return in the NFL’s pay hierarchy have spent the better part of this season either venting over their lack of pay (Matt Forte) or taking more aggressive means to improve their compensation (Chris Johnson) there is no shortage of running backs walking around with their hands out. In some cases it seems to have been an unwelcome distraction, in others an unlikely motivator. In the case of Ray Rice it’s been a non-issue. Rice’s situation is nearly identical to Forte’s yet because he’s not talking about it, no one else seems to be either.
At approximately $550k this season Rice is arguably the NFL’s best bargain…period. What he hasn’t been is a distraction. Even the franchise tag represents a comparative bounty for Rice and we’ll see how well he takes it, if and when we get to that point. For now, the Ravens at least owe Rice a bit of deference for not making waves about it while his peers seem to be doing so at every opportunity.
Storyline #3 – Rex Ryan’s Roar
Clearly there’s a faction of Ravens fans that still pine for Rex. I’m not one of them. I’m proud of Rex and his ties to the Ravens, I’m impressed with what he’s accomplished up the road in New York in his first 2+ seasons, and I’m wildly entertained by his antics as are most. Still, it’s easy to imagine his act getting tiresome when it’s happening in your own back yard.
Storyline #2 – Jason Garrett
I’ll give credit where credit is due and acknowledge that Garrett was impressive in turning the Cowboys around, post-Wade Phillips last season, and it’s beginning to look more and more likely that he’ll deliver the Cowboys to the playoffs this season. That however doesn’t make watching inexplicable decision after inexplicable decision any more palatable. Garrett’s Cowboys, while loaded with offensive talent have been one dimensional in approach and readily thrown themselves into and back out of sizable leads all season long. Offensive genius is probably an unfair burden for anyone to carry and has certainly been the kiss of death for many a coach. Offensive adequacy has been sorely lacking though for Garrett and his Cowboys whenever wide-open passing tactics don’t fit the agenda.