A GRIP ON SPORTS • If we had told you before the NFL season began two of the four NFC West teams would be playing on the road this weekend, you would have assumed the Seahawks would be one of them, right? More than likely, the way things usually work out, you would have thought they would be in Green Bay tonight, trying to knock of the Packers while simultaneously trying to stay warm.
• After all, the Hawks always make the playoffs. And seem to play Green Bay in a key game every year. Why would the 2021 season be any different?
And yet it was. For a myriad of reasons.
The fact the 49ers and Rams are still playing this weekend is one of them.
Everyone knew Los Angeles would be good again. The Super Bowl is in L.A. this year and the Rams spent every dime they could find to ensure they would be part of it. Whether that strategy worked is still up for debate.
And Arizona, which lost last week to L.A., was also a team on the rise entering the season – as well as for the first seven weeks. After that they were the same old Cardinals. But the big surprise was San Francisco. If there was a NFC West team Seattle followers were sure their favorite team was better than, it was the Bay Area team. The 49ers didn’t have a good enough quarterback to make the playoffs. At least that was the popular narrative.
And it might have been right, if the 49er defense and running game wasn’t so good. It’s not that Jimmy Garoppolo led San Francisco to tonight’s showdown in Wisconsin as it is the 49ers have overcome his shortcomings to get there. That’s not a recipe for success in Green Bay – or anywhere else the rest of these playoffs.
But at least San Francisco is still playing. That’s not something Seattle can say.
• Speaking of teams still playing, the Tennessee Titans are one of them. Despite using more players this year than any NFL team ever in a non-strike season.
And they earned the bye in the AFC. Now that’s impressive.
If Tennessee gets by the Bengals today they will host next week with a chance to make another Super Bowl. And maybe win, especially if Derrick Henry returns from his long injury stint with a renewed vigor. Wouldn’t that be a story for the ages?
• Flexibility has had to be the watchword in all level of sports the past few months. The reason, of course, is COVID-19’s most recent variant. The sports world has been upended on a daily basis, from the professional ranks to the high schools.
Some entities are more flexible than others. Some teams too.
In some places, the postponements and rescheduled games are seen as a bump in the road, another obstacle to be overcome. In other spots, there is a woe-is-me attitude or outright denial that any of this is an issue. (We’re looking at you Aaron Rodgers.)
One thing is for sure. The impact will be felt for a while yet. It will fade only well after the number of cases fade. Some teams will have numerous games piled up, with the new schedule playing a role in who wins and loses. Just like the players who were not available played a role in games that were played.
Maybe, by the time spring arrives, the impact will be blunted. And sports, like everything else, can return to something near normal.
Gonzaga: The Zag men found out yesterday how their February schedule will change. And Jim Meehan passes the new dates for games along to us in this story. Think of the schedulers in the same way you remember your grandmother doing a jigsaw puzzle at the kitchen table last Christmas. Sooner or later the pieces will all fit. … The women are playing in Moraga today, matching up with an old rival that has been a puzzle recently. Jim Allen has a preview. … Around the WCC, Caleb Lohner has been slumping. But BYU continues to win. Just like it did 40 years ago.
WSU: The Cougar men will not be playing at all this weekend. Their game with Oregon State is off. Next week is still up in the air. Colton Clark has all that information and more in this story. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and college basketball, did Oregon State hit bottom with Thursday’s home loss to Washington? … Stanford is going to start letting fans watch its games at the end of the month. Arizona State is visiting before that happens, though. … Colorado needs to bounce back, but inconsistent UCLA could make that tough. … There seems to be some improvement happening for Utah. … Oumar Ballo had his best college game the other night. Not just for Arizona but ever. … In football news, you have questions? Jon Wilner has some answers in the Mercury News. … Washington’s new coaching staff should lead to some optimism. … Travis Dye left Oregon, ostensibly for the NFL draft. Nope, he’s headed to USC. Lincoln Riley has rebuilt the Trojan offense with high profile transfers. … The Bruins are rebuilding their coaching staff. … Arizona is tapping the world to improve its roster.
Whitworth: The Pirates have played often in a short period of time. They have also been successful in all of those games, including last night’s win over Lewis and Clark.
Preps: Dave Nichols ventured north for what was supposed to be a showdown 3A doubleheader. However, the Mt. Spokane girls couldn’t play, leaving the spotlight (and TV cameras) on the boys’ game. The Wildcats defeated visiting Ferris 71-64. … Dave also has a roundup of the rest of Friday’s action.
Chiefs: Wait until next year. Seemingly, that’s when Spokane will score a goal. The offense struggled again in a loss to Seattle.
Kraken: Two games isn’t really a winning streak. And that’s as long as Seattle’s lasted. The Kraken were routed 5-0 by St. Louis.
Mariners: Jarred Kelenic will be the M’s centerfielder if we have a season. He will have to be better defensively. Or hit so well no one cares. … The M’s haven’t let the lockdown stop everything. … Robot umpires are coming to Triple A, including Tacoma.
Seahawks: If you want the defense to be better, just play Carlos Dunlap more.
Storm: Seattle gambled recently, feeling it would be able to re-sign Breanna Stewart, our choice for the best female player in the world. But New York saw an opening and seems to be offering her the world to come play in her home state. We’ll see what happens.
Sounders: Fredy Montero is coming back for another season, so you might as well engrave Seattle on the Cascadia Cup.
• The fog is back this morning. Wonder if it is because it was extremely cold last night? We’re no weather expert but there seems to be some correlation. Or maybe fog is just the world’s way of telling us all to slow down. Until later …