If the Bengals & Jags fall in the forest, do they make a sound?


Ever watch two teams, at the same time, trapped in a simulation, a pantomime, merely a dramatization of a football game? Either with the full knowledge that they are trapped within the parameters of a social experiment that they cannot escape? Or unaware of the boundaries placed upon them?

As soon as Trevor Lawrence’s ankle became the subject of a geometry class to be named later, both the Bengals and the Jaguars seasons became pointless, or at least without meaning. Oh, Bengals fans will put a lot of stock in Jake Browning’s near flawless performance. Jaguars fans will cling to the hope that C.J. Beathard has experience and can pilot a Cessna to at least a point B. Deep down they’ll know they’re just trying to fool themselves. A delusion to make sitting down and watching the last few weeks, and even the one playoff game either might get, palatable and worth the time.

But this is the NFL and when a starting QB goes down for the season – as Joe Burrow is and Lawrence certainly look likely to be – that’s usually curtains. Especially for teams that are contenders, because they’re generally contenders due to who plays QB for them. The team is designed for them, around them. Backup QBs barely get practice time, especially as the season goes on.

That’s why the league has instituted all these rules that broadcasters and fans bemoan when a call goes against them. ‘It’s not football anymore!” Well, it’s not going to be football for the Bengals and Jags either for weeks on end. The league knows that teams will watch an entire year’s work go up in smoke with the wrong snap of a ligament or tendon. It can’t protect quarterbacks 100 percent of the time, but it’s going to get as close as it can.

So there was Cincinnati and Jacksonville, playing out the game, distracted by the pressure and intensity of being in-game. Handy blinders to the context of it. Professionalism they’ll call it soon or a desire to “shock the world,” or “prove the haters wrong,” the easiest reached cliches on the bottom shelf of motivation. But really, they were just out there because they had to be, because that game required 60 minutes. It won’t fit into a larger narrative of their season. That’s basically now just about and only about their QB’s injuries and the shot the rest of their teammates won’t get to take come January. Only so many.

That’s the NFL, though. For all the adjectives usually attached to it, how it’s usually defined, the biggest one is its fragility. No other sport can have an entire team’s fortunes zapped away as quickly as Walker Little stepped on Lawrence. It’s that fragile for any team with real hopes.

Hey uh, no matter what the injury is, when dealing with the franchise QB, couldn’t the Jags have dug up a cart instead of having him walk the plank for a quarter mile or whatever?

Or did Tony Khan commandeer the one cart for AEW’s next death match?

Toronto goes deep state with Ohtani

The Shohei Ohtani Derby has apparently entered a clandestine phase. The Athletic said he met with the Jays at their spring training site in Florida. The Jays shrouded everything they did in secrecy, with GM Ross Atkins changing a presser with the media to one via Zoom in front of a plain white wall. Manager John Schneider had his availability rescheduled until Tuesday.

This all seems a bit silly. If you and I know that the Jays are pursuing Ohtani, and we do, then the other clubs doing so probably do as well. If they don’t know what the Jays are offering, Ohtani’s agent Nez Baleo will certainly inform them right quick. If any Jays player is worried about losing ABs to Ohtani at DH, they can probably have it easily explained to them if they don’t already get it, which lord help them if they don’t.

But hey, it’s probably fun for these guys to play Bond for a little while.

Follow Sam on Twitter @Felsgate and on Bluesky @felsgate.bsky.social

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