NFL WEEK 5: Bills hit speed bump in Nashville; Jets release Bell; Falcons fire Quinn

photo: George Walker IV/The Tennesseean

By Nic Gelyon

The Buffalo Bills missed an opportunity on Tuesday night. 

It was difficult to watch a team like the Bills get bulldozed. They suffered a 42-16 loss to the Tennessee Titans.

The Bills seemed defeated as they trailed 28-16 in the third quarter, even with more than enough time to come back.  

However you want to spin it, the Bills, while missing Tre’Davious White, John Brown, Quinton Spain and others, were beat by a team that couldn’t even practice for the better part of two weeks. 

After the game, head coach Sean McDermott said that his team played unusually bad football, with “Uncharacteristically poor fundamentals, poor pre-snap discipline, turning the ball over.”

So, while doubt begins to seep into the mind of Bills fans, and the inferiority complex ignites, it’s fair to question who the Buffalo Bills really are, and who Josh Allen really is. 

I’m not sure the Bills know the answer yet. 

First of all: the Bills lost to a team that was simply healthier. I could rant for a long time on how much better it would’ve been for the Bills had this game been forfeited by the Titans. They lost one of their better linebackers and arguably the best cornerback in the league. So, as I digress, I give the Bills an automatic pass for a lot of what happened last night.  

Other than the injuries, there are a couple things the Bills and their coaching staff need to address to build their team identity: things that will be necessary to make a deep playoff run. 

First? The Buffalo defensive line is not physical enough. 

We know that the Bills’ front four doesn’t play with the physicality needed to contain a ground-and-pound running back. Darrell Henderson is an example. The Bills gave up 114 yards to Henderson against the Rams. 

And while the Bills were able to contain Derrick Henry yards-wise last night, he still managed to rush for two touchdowns. 

And although many of the breakdowns that happened last night can be attributed to misfortune rather than scheme – the Bills appeared to have solved something last week, holding Josh Jacobs to 48 yards. It’s still an issue that needs to improve if the Bills want to take themselves to the next level. 

Second? The Bills’ offense had issues last night that they don’t normally have. 

The Buffalo offense couldn’t take advantage of a Titans secondary that hadn’t had its share of luck against COVID-19 and the injury bug, missing LB Kamalei Correia and CB Kristian Fulton.  

And while Allen didn’t play a terrible game (263 yards, 2 TD’s and 2 unfortunate INT’s), his receivers didn’t help him in the first half. A significant number of Allen’s 16 incompletions were dropped passes.  

So, what does this loss ultimately come down to? The answer may fall on the back of McDermott and his staff.  

This is still a team in development. That includes each player and coach. Allen’s two interceptions, the dropped passes, the goal line defense that gave up six touchdowns … It comes down to not being prepared for the monster of the Titans. Not to mention, the Bills’ body language didn’t scream comeback, even when the game was still in reach. 

The Titans said they were angry at the world. They showed it last night, and the Bills didn’t. 

So, I think that everything that happened last night makes sense. I think it’s a loss the Bills probably needed early in the season, and it exposed some of the weaknesses Josh Allen has been able to mask the past few weeks.  

Last night was a missed opportunity to take advantage of a COVID-19 weakened team, but it may end up being a blessing in disguise. The Bills now have a better foundation to figure out who they truly are. 

I THINK WE ALL MISUNDERSTOOD – just a bit – exactly what Le’Veon Bell is capable of.  

Bell, known as the shifty running back who can do almost anything, was released by the Jets yesterday after they couldn’t find someone willing to trade for him.  

Bell can be mischievous in the middle of the field, juking defenders left and right. But that’s once he gets beyond the line of scrimmage. 

I can’t remember a time this season when I actually saw Bell beyond the line of scrimmage. 

That’s where the Jets’ coaching comes into play. Without a half-way decent offensive line, Bell is useless in any kind of play that requires him to run around the backfield and then turn up. 

He is a little bit more of a ground and pound back than we understand him to be. For that reason, I fully believe he will resurrect his career somewhere that knows how to use him. 

THE DALLAS COWBOYS RALLIED around Dak Prescott in their 37-34 comeback win against the New York Giants in Week Four. 

The Cowboys, now 1-4, lost starting QB Prescott to a gruesome ankle injury in the second quarter. As the game progressed from there, and Andy Dalton proceeded to rescue the Cowboys with a couple spectacular passes – and catches – you could see the anger and the hurt on the faces of the Cowboys.  

They weren’t about to get embarrassed by a winless Giants team.  

It speaks volumes to Prescott’s influence on a locker room that, without him, would be without a true and proven leader. It begs the question: Where do the Cowboys look to now for leadership? It might be time for Ezekiel Elliot to grow up. 

THE FALCONS FIRED Dan Quinn.

I never ‘root’, per se, for anybody to get fired. I think it’s wrong do to so. These coaches have families they have to support, families they have to uproot if they move to a different city.  

I also understand, from Quinn’s perspective, that the team’s lack of talent played a major role in the disappointment that has been the Falcons the last couple years. That’s why the Falcons also fired Thomas Dimitroff, their general manager. 

But Quinn’s teams recently have been unfocused, undetermined, and undisciplined. And while they’re young, it is no excuse for Quinn not to have made the best of what he was given to work with.  

A failure on multiple fronts, the Falcons are now forced to go back to the drawing board. 

NFL WEEK 5: Goss’ three good things, three bad things and one thing to watch

photo: Tim Heitman/USA Today Sports

By Anthony Goss

Life as an NFL fan can be very rewarding, and other times hurt like hell.

There are the surprise road victories, enjoyed by Dolphin fans and Raider fans nationwide on Sunday. Contrast to the jubilation, there are tragic injuries that have the power to take the life out of stadiums as big as AT&T Stadium.

This season, these feelings have been given an extra catalyst as COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on the league’s schedule. Fans now need to prepare for double-headers on Monday nights, or Tuesday night football (maybe not the worst thing in the world). 

Nevertheless, the games are still played, and fans see the success, the failure, and ride the rollercoaster of emotions all the way through Super Bowl Sunday.  

Three Good Things 

Raiders-Chiefs Thriller 

On a Sunday lacking any real heavyweight matchups, the Raiders and Chiefs provided an entertaining battle in Arrowhead Stadium. After the first few weeks of the season, the Chiefs had dismantled the Baltimore Ravens, but struggled a bit against some of their lesser competition. 

QB Patrick Mahomes II made some incredible plays, as per usual, but the Raiders went toe-to-toe with the defending champs, making a statement in a 40-32 victory. QB Derek Carr played one of his best games in the silver and black, throwing for 347 yards and 3 touchdowns, including a pair of lasers to WR Nelson Agholor and WR Henry Ruggs III. 

After an offensive flurry in the first half, the defense stepped up in the second half with crucial stops and an interception by DB Jeff Heath which helped seal the game. The Chiefs should win the AFC West, but with the new expanded playoffs, the Raiders are strong contenders for a playoff spot.  

Battle for the AFC North 

Besides the Cincinatti Bengals, the AFC North has been great through five weeks. In first place, the Pittsburgh Steelers are 4-0 and QB Ben Roethlisberger has found another weapon in a stellar offense with rookie WR Chase Claypool. The Steeler defense is a strong unit once again, although giving up 29 points to the Eagles is surprising.

The Baltimore Ravens, led by QB Lamar Jackson, have bounced back after the loss against the Chiefs with a 27-3 win over division rival Cincinatti. Cleveland is off to its best start since the Bill Belichick and Nick Saban days. Sunday against the Colts, the Browns offense had key contributions from several players and defensively, Myles Garrett is reminding everyone why he was taken first overall in 2017.

Each of these teams have an argument for the best in the division, but Cleveland’s matchup against the Steelers this week will be a chance for each team to make a big statement. 

Panthers Keep Pounding 

Going into the season, analysts and insiders raved about the battle for the division between Brady’s Bucs, Brees’ Saints, and Matt Ryan and the Falcons.

Forgotten were the Carolina Panthers, yet after Week 5 they are sitting at 3-2, tied with the Saints and Buccaneers atop the NFC South without their best player, RB Christian McCaffery. Head coach Matt Rhule deserves a lot of credit for the success in Carolina, but Teddy Bridgewater has been solid and built off his performance last week, throwing for 313 yards and 2 touchdowns.

RB Mike Davis has stepped in and become a fantasy football darling in place of McCafferey. With a game against the Saints looming ahead, as well as a rematch with the Falcons, the Panthers have an opportunity to assert themselves in the NFC South. 

Three Bad Things 

Dak Goes Down 

This was tough to watch.

QB Dak Prescott was off to a record start this season, until he suffered a gruesome injury on Sunday afternoon. Running for a first down, Prescott collided with Giants DB Logan Thomas, and his ankle buckled as he came to the ground. The image of Prescott sitting on the cart with tears cascading down his cheeks left fans of all teams stunned. 

Dallas lost the heart and soul of its franchise on Sunday, but hope is not lost (yet). QB Andy Dalton stepped in and marched the offense down the field, highlighted by two spectacular grabs by WR Michael Gallup, and K Greg Zuerlein buried a game-winning field goal.

Many issues remain with the Dallas Cowboys, but Dalton has proven to be a competent NFL quarterback, and the defense showed slight improvement, albeit against a lackluster Giants offense. In such a weak division, the Cowboys can still contend for a playoff spot, but one must wonder how feasible this is without Prescott.  

Falcons Take Fifth Loss 

After another disappointing loss, the Falcons have fired head coach Dan Quinn. After two consecutive blown leads, followed by losses to Green Bay and division rival Carolina, it was time for Quinn to go. The Falcons 0-5 start should not be all his fault since the defense has been poor, QB Matt Ryan has struggled, and WR Julio Jones has been dealing with a hamstring injury for several weeks. 

The onside hiccup in Dallas seems to have had a lasting impact on the Falcons, because they lack the confidence they should have with the talent on this roster. Defensive Coordinator Raheem Morris will take over as interim head coach, but with the way the season has gone already, there is not much left to salvage. 

Vikings Blow a Prime Opportunity 

Very few, including myself, gave the Vikings a chance on Sunday night. Some might have watched the Lose Angeles Lakers win their 17th NBA championship, or tuned in to Game 1 of the ALCS.

While these games were played, the Vikings claimed a 13-3 lead at halftime, and hung with the Seahawks in the fourth quarter. Up 26-21 late in the fourth, the Vikings decided to go for a fourth-and-1 from the Seattle 6-yard line, instead of kicking a field goal to go up by eight. Minnesota failed to convert, and QB Russell Wilson made Vikings Head Coach, Mike Zimmer, pay for the poor decision.

A win against Seattle would have given Minnesota a 2-3 record with a prime opportunity to get back to .500 with a win against Atlanta next week, but instead they sit at 1-4. 

Keep an eye on… 

Justin Herbert’s Development 

It is very frustrating to watch the Chargers try to finish games this season, but very little of the blame can be attributed to rookie QB Justin Herbert.

Despite the 30-27 OT loss to the Saints, Herbert has stormed out of the gates this season and confidently competed against three of the best quarterbacks in the league. Herbert threw for 264 yards and four touchdowns, and three of those came in the first half. It seems like ages ago that head coach Anthony Lynn said he would not be the starter, but now the Chargers have their guy and look ready to move past the Philip Rivers years.

The Chargers will not contend this year, but with Herbert, they are certainly a fun team to watch.  

XC FEATURE: Osswald ready for senior season after unique summer of training

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Jeff Uveino

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — When the COVID-19 pandemic spoiled the 2020 spring college sports season, Jacob Osswald was not deterred.

Osswald, a runner on the St. Bonaventure men’s cross country team, used the downtime as an opportunity to upgrade his training.

The Buffalo native moved to Flagstaff, Arizona over the summer to train for his senior season. And, now that he’s back, he’s ready to lead a deep Bona team when the time for competition comes.

“Over spring break I went to Flagstaff, and I know that people go there to train over the summer, so I wanted to see if I could make it work somehow,” Osswald said. “I started looking for apartments and planned it out, but then in April and May I didn’t think it was going to happen because of COVID-.”

By the time May ended, Osswald had made the decision that he was heading to Flagstaff matter what. A week later, he found an apartment and drove across the country to his temporary home.

Flagstaff, a city that sits at an elevation of nearly 7,000 feet, attracts runners from around the country to train in its high altitude.

“The altitude takes a bit to get used to,” Osswald said. “All of the runners are there to work, so the environment is really good. If you see a runner there, you know they mean business.”

Osswald trained on the campus of Northern Arizona University, where he met runners from San Diego State, Oklahoma State, Portland University and more.

“There were a bunch of good college teams there that were available to train with,” Osswald said. “Getting to see them every day you get to know them, so it was really nice.”

After spending two months in Arizona, Osswald returned home to Buffalo to complete his state-mandated, two-week quarantine before heading back to SBU for the fall semester.

He ran a triathlon in early September, then subsequently took two weeks off from training. The time off, he said, was the first he had taken since March.

Osswald is optimistic about SBU’s cross country team this year, saying that this roster could be “the best team we’ve ever had.”

“Our whole record board got erased (last year),” Osswald said. “Now, people are being more successful and we’re getting better recruits so it should be a little easier to move up in the A-10.”

Osswald ran a career-best 17:17.6 5K at the “Little Three Championship” last fall, as well as a career-best 27:23.4 8K at the “Louisville XC Classic.”

One of six seniors on SBU’s cross country roster, Osswald has taken on a leadership role within the team. He cites former teammate William Delaney, who graduated a year ago, as someone who prepared him to take on that role.

“(Delaney) taught me the most,” Osswald said. “He taught me the leadership role so I feel the same as him now, since he’s engrained it into my mind.”

Osswald hopes that he can lead by example for the younger runners on the team.

“A lot of the people on the team understand how much I do,” he said. “I have to work for what little I have, so I think that they respect that.”

Due to losing track season last spring, and an injury during his freshman cross country season, Osswald has a full year of eligibility left after his senior year. He plans on running while attending graduate school, and has Rutgers University on his mind as a potential target.

However, Osswald’s future plans don’t stop there. After grad school, he plans on moving to Spain to become a triathlete. The Cleveland Hill alumnus swam in high school, and said that triathlons came “pretty natural” to him because he enjoys endurance exercises.

“I won’t be able to do (triathlon) full time for three or four years because most triathletes are older and have a lot of experience under their belt,” Osswlald said. “But by the time I’m 25 or 26, I think I’ll be able to do it full time.”

NFL WEEK 4: Bills and Packers continue to roll; Herbert shows growth for Chargers; coaching dilemma in ATL

photo: Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports

By Nic Gelyon

The Buffalo Bills are setting themselves apart from the pack. 

The Bills are now one of only four teams in the NFL that remain undefeated through Week Four. Their style of play — a rare combination of physicality and finesse — is reminiscent of last year’s Super Bowl-winning Kansas City Chiefs. 

Sunday afternoon, in the Buffalo’s 30-23 win against the Las Vegas Raiders, Josh Allen threw for 288 yards, with leading receiver Stefon Diggs hauling in 115 of them. Running back Devin Singletary was also a force Sunday, touching the ball 23 times for 76 total yards from scrimmage and a touchdown. 

Both teams played well: There were only four punts combined all afternoon- meaning that this was a game that came down to pure skill. And in that department, the Bills delivered. 

That’s a tremendous sign if you’re a Bills fan, because this game officially told you that the Bills’ talent is a force to be reckoned with. You’re playing with fire when you play the Bills.  

The Raiders also have a solid, young-but-inexperienced core with players like Josh Jacobs and Darren Waller. They also have a veteran spine, in guys like Derek Carr and Jason Witten. But the Bills proved Sunday that as a team trying to win now, they simply have a better foundation.  

From the beginning, the game never really seemed in doubt. However, the game was a lot closer than it seemed, both statistically and in the score. The Bills only held a 17-13 lead going into halftime. 

But was the game ever in doubt? The answer is no. 

It comes down to the fact that this Bills team is maturing. It seems like an obvious statement to make- a Bills team that has been steadily improving for three-to-four years now is finally growing up. But maturation in football is an underrated concept, in ways you might not expect. 

Right out of the gate, the Bills went down and scored on a 26-yard pass from Allen to rookie receiver Gabriel Davis. Less than five minutes into the first quarter, on the first drive of the game, Josh Allen passed six times. He made sure he went to weapons he trusted: Diggs, Singletary, Davis. The Bills let the Raiders beat themselves, as a Las Vegas penalty turned a Bills third-and-11 in to a third-and-six just over a minute into the game. 

The Bills — Sean McDermott included — have learned how glorious it feels to make this kind of statement early in a game. 

That first drive showed growing maturity in not only the Buffalo players, but also in McDermott. He knows that he doesn’t have a team that can afford to wait-and-see early in a game. McDermott practices the mind-game that is football. He knows that the statement his team made left a lasting impression on the Raiders. 

McDermott made us all believe that the game was over before it had even started. All at once, Bills Mafia felt a collective trust in the Buffalo Bills. When’s the last time you’ve felt that? 

My hot take for the day: these Bills can do what the Chiefs did last year. They can win the Super Bowl. 

Two words: Justin Herbert. 

Herbert, fresh out of college at Oregon, went toe-to-toe with Tom Brady’s Buccaneers in the Chargers’ 38-31 loss Sunday afternoon. Without much of a rushing attack to speak of, (46 yards for the Chargers compared the Buccaneers’ 115) Herbert managed to go touchdown to touchdown with Brady late in the game as the Chargers blew a 24-7 lead in the second half.  

Herbert alone kept the Chargers in that football game. 

Now, I’ve admittedly calmed down since Sunday. I’ve come to the realization that Herbert probably looked amazing the way Daniel Jones looked amazing against the Buccaneers last year. Tampa Bay has one of the worst secondaries in football. But he still showed laser accuracy while standing in the pocket. He looked poised in what was only his third NFL start. He had a chance to break records Sunday. 

One thing, though, is for sure: Tyrod Taylor is starting QB for the Chargers no more. 

We must stop worrying about the Green Bay Packers. 

First: for Packers fans angry that they haven’t been to the Super Bowl since 2011- well, the Bills haven’t been to the Super Bowl since 1994. Argument over. 

Anyway, the team that went 13-3 and got to the NFC Conference Championship last year did what they were supposed to do against the Atlanta Falcons. They did what three other teams haven’t really been able to do this season. 

They took a sledgehammer to one of the worst teams in the NFL. They went into halftime with a 20-3 lead. They won the game 30-16, handing the 0-4 team their largest margin of loss yet Monday night. 

The Packers are a real football team. After all, they are 4-0. 

Oh, the Falcons. It seems I will never understand the Atlanta Falcons. 

Dan Quinn is confused. Dan Quinn is frustrated. These are actual quotes from – guess who – Dan Quinn. 

Jeff Schultz, Atlanta sportswriter for The Athletic, tweeted yesterday that “there’s no indication at this time that Falcons coach Dan Quinn is getting fired today”. 

Who did get fired yesterday? Bill O’Brien, who led the Texans to the playoffs four times in seven seasons as head coach, reaching the divisional round twice- including just last year, when they lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. 

Quinn has only made the playoffs twice since becoming Falcons head coach in 2015. His record is only 43-40 after 4 additional losses this season. 

Quinn is quite literally the last one standing. It’s time for the Falcons to give up on this game. 

SOCCER FEATURE: Currey enters senior season leading by example

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Anthony Goss

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — In the uncertain times of a global pandemic, the most important things to have on any athletic team are leadership and experience.  

As the St. Bonaventure men’s soccer team prepares for an unusual season, it turns to older players such as Shea Currey to set the tone for the program going forward. 

“He has a big part to play, on the field and off the field,” said Kwame Oduro, head coach of men’s soccer at SBU. “He has been an excellent role model for our young guys and the new guys coming in.” 

Oduro spoke very highly of the senior midfielder, who has developed his own methods of leadership on the team.  

“He’s kind of a guy who does it quietly, on the sideline or in the locker room individually,” Oduro said. 

Currey was named by the team as a captain for the season, which is scheduled to start during the spring semester. This is his fourth and final season as a Bonnie. 

Currey’s journey to St. Bonaventure has not been an ordinary one. He and his family moved from Liverpool, England to Orlando, Florida, where he attended Montverde High School. 

Leaving Orlando to come to SBU presented some challenges, but he wasn’t alone.  

“From the beginning I felt like I always I had friends, family, people I could rely on,” Currey said. 

The years at Bona’s have been very special for Currey. He has been on the soccer team for the past three years, and now in his last year, he is looking to give back.  

“Now as a senior, I am just trying to give back what I’ve been taught from the seniors, and just keep traditions going, and keeping that family feel,” he said. 

COVID-19 has posed many problems for student-athletes and coaches in all sports. Despite this, Currey looked toward the positives of the current situation and was thankful to be back out on the field.  

“We’ve got to make the most out of our time on the field and try and get better for when the games do come back,” he said.  

Improvement has been something Currey has focused on, and Oduro has seen the developments in his game. 

Oduro wanted the team to stay motivated in a strange offseason. Specifically, for Currey, he wanted him to clean up his first touch on the ball. He raved about the strides Currey has made in the offseason.  

“It’s been miles apart in [his] technique and work rate, and just the cleanliness of [his] touches and [his] passes,” Oduro said. 

Currey acknowledged the improvements he has made, but continued to keep a selfless approach to the season and staying ready for when the time comes. As a captain, he believes he will be prepared and knows his job in making sure his team is ready as well.  

Currey also described his experience with fellow senior and teammate Francesco Caorsi.

Caorsi and Currey each play midfield, and compete against each other often in practice.  

“For me, I just like going up against him because he is really good,” Currey said. “He definitely helps bring out the best in me for sure.” 

Whichever way the season turns out, Currey will be ready to lead by example and take the improvements he made in the offseason and translate them to game action on the field.  

“I’m just going to keep working hard, keep doing what I’m doing, and just try to perform my best when the time comes,” he said. 

NFL WEEK 4: Goss’ three good things, three bad things and one thing to watch

photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images

By Anthony Goss

Week 4 of the NFL season presented major headlines before any players stepped foot on the field for the games, with the COVID-19 outbreak among Tennessee Titans players and staff.

After Tennessee’s game vs. Pittsburgh was postponed, news broke out that Patriots quarterback Cam Newton had tested positive for the virus as well. Luckily, no other outbreaks occurred, and the NFL moved forward with most of its scheduled games.  

Three Good Things 

4-0 Records and Stellar QB play going hand in hand 

There are several undefeated teams left, but the Bills, Chiefs, Packers and Seahawks all sit at 4-0. 

The common denominator with all these teams? Excellent quarterback play.

Josh Allen has improved vastly this season and led a poised Bills team to a win in Vegas on Sunday afternoon. With the Patriots vs Chiefs game moved to Monday, the spotlight shifted to Allen and the Bills. Allen took care of the ball and threw for two touchdowns, adding one more on the ground as well. 

In a close defensive battle, the Chiefs outlasted the Patriots in a game where Patrick Mahomes was not his usual self. The reigning Super Bowl MVP performed under his standards, but has been great this season.

Aaron Rodgers has turned back the clock for the Packers through four games, after an offseason and draft highlighted by questions about his successor and ability to play at a high level. Rodgers continued to silence the doubters on Monday night, throwing for three touchdowns in the first half en route to a 30-16 win over the Falcons.

Finally, Russell Wilson continued his quest for his first MVP by leading the Seahawks to a 31-23 win against the Dolphins. Like Mahomes, this was not his best performance, but great players find ways to win football games, and that’s what these quarterbacks have done this season.  

Browns make a statement 

The defense in Dallas is atrocious, but Kevin Stefanski deserves credit for bringing change to a Cleveland Browns team with its first 3-1 record since 2001. 

Down early, losing running back Nick Chubb to a right MCL sprain, the Browns held their ground from a furious Dak Prescott comeback and made a statement in Jerry World on Sunday afternoon. 

The Cleveland defense, headlined by defensive end Myles Garrett, forced two crucial turnovers that led to great field position and touchdowns on both possessions. WR Odell Beckham Jr made plays all over the field, including a touchdown catch off a creative trick play thrown by his former LSU teammate and now fellow wideout, Jarvis Landry. 

QB Baker Mayfield was solid and did not try to force anything downfield or off his legs, something he was criticized for last season. When RB Nick Chubb went down with a knee injury, the rest of the running back committee stepped up and made solid runs to keep the Dallas defense on its heels throughout the game. In a loaded AFC North, the Browns sit at 3-1, but this team has found its identity on the ground and will be a formidable opponent going forward.  

Chargers have their guy 

Despite the loss to the Bucs on a gloomy Sunday afternoon in Tampa Bay, the Chargers have found a bright side in rookie QB Justin Herbert.

In what was supposed to be a learning year on the bench for Herbert, he has stepped in for injured QB Tyrod Taylor and shown some moxie in his game. Yes, there are some mistakes to be fixed, but Herbert provides the Chargers with their best shot at winning football games.

Herbert has shown confidence since stepping in, especially on Sunday as he went toe-to-toe with future hall of fame QB Tom Brady. On Sunday, Herbert went 20 for 25 with three touchdowns, and one interception but a passer rating of 137.9. 

The Chargers and Herbert will continue to grow, but if he continues to make plays like he made on the 53-yard bomb to Tyron Johnson, a promising future lies ahead for the Chargers. 

Three Bad Things 

Dallas Defense in Disarray 

Just as I mentioned before, the defense in Dallas is atrocious. Granted, there are some other issues on this team, but man…. this group has been pathetic.

The Cowboys have given up 36.5 points per game through the first quarter of the season, with a run defense that has given up a league-high 172.5 yards per game (last in the NFC) and a passing defense giving up 258.0 yards per game. 

Dallas refused to spend money on its secondary in the offseason, and now is paying a hefty price. 

The departure of cornerback Byron Jones in free agency has hurt more than expected, leaving a depleted secondary that seems to be a few steps behind receivers on almost every throw. 

In the second year of his big contract extension, LB Jaylon Smith has had little to no impact on the field, and DE Tank Lawrence and the “Hot Boys” have been ice cold in the pass rush, doing very little to generate turnovers and stop the run.

Hopefully, the Cowboys defense can find some success when the Giants come into town next week, but after giving up 49 points to the Browns, nothing is guaranteed.  

Houston, We Have a Problem 

Bill O’Brien is out as head coach, but things do not look good for this team.

The Texans sit at 0-4 after falling 31-23 to the Vikings in a battle of winless teams. After finishing first in the AFC South the last two seasons, Houston looks like a team far from contention this season. 

The Texans have an NFL-worst run defense, which Dalvin Cook exposed this week with 130 yards and two touchdowns. Left with little to work with on offense since the departure of WR DeAndre Hopkins, Deshaun Watson posted his worst quarterback rating of the season (37.8), and the run game failed to break 100 yards.

The Texans do not have either a first or second round pick this season, thanks to Bill O’Brien, so tanking is not an option either. They will look to turn the page next week against the Jaguars, but their next two opponents have a combined record of 7-0. The road ahead for Houston is daunting, but hey, at least they didn’t draft Mitchell Trubisky. 

Cardinals Grounded in Carolina 

After two games into the season, many were high on the Arizona Cardinals. Kyler Murray looked like a video game character as he led the Cardinals to two wins to start the season, but since then, they have struggled.

Last week against Detroit, Murray made some questionable throws that hurt the offense, and this week, the defense had issues as the Panthers pounced on a defense that had a hard time finding stops.

The Cardinals are a younger team, but in a season where they are competing with Seattle (4-0) and the Los Angeles Rams (3-1), they need to win games against the lesser teams of the NFC if they want to clinch their first playoff berth since 2015. 

Keep an eye on… 

Coronavirus measures moving forward 

The NFL was doomed for a COVID-19 outbreak from the start.

Just as the MLB demonstrated in its regular season, it is close to impossible to prevent the transmission of the virus without a bubble format.

Now that the Titans officially had an outbreak within the organization and the Patriots and Saints had outbreak scares, fans should prepare for the possibility of a pause in the season. The NFL was able to perform schedule gymnastics this past week and create byes for the teams affected, but this cannot become a continuous response to outbreaks if the league wants to carry out the rest of its season.

The NFL has already had issues coaches wearing their masks improperly on the sidelines, and going forward, they must find a way to keep all players, coaches, and staff safe and healthy.  

Bona’s suspends more “irresponsible” students after weekend parties

photo: Molly Williams/The Intrepid

By Dustyn Green

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — After an investigation that included viewing social media videos and gathering information from students, St. Bonaventure University suspended 21 students who took part in large, off-campus gatherings last weekend. 

This is the second round of suspensions issued by the university since Sept. 6, when 28 students were suspended for attending a party at the university’s Garden Apartments.

“I’m extremely disappointed,” said Dr. Dennis R. DePerro, university president, in a release from the university after the first round of suspensions. “I know, because I see it with my eyes as I walk around campus every day, that the vast majority of our students are complying with the safety standards we need to abide by to allow us to finish the in-person portion of the semester on Nov. 24.”

SBU officials have had a hard time wrapping their heads around why some students are continuing to jeopardize the health of the community, according to Tom Missel, the university’s chief communications officer. 

“Of course, we knew it might happen again, but for the life of me, why would anyone be this irresponsible,” Missel said. “Knowing what’s happening at other colleges that are experiencing outbreaks because of large parties, and knowing how we handled it the first time is beyond me.”

The university utilized its student affairs staff when trying to get their message across before school started. 

“We’re not naive,” Missel said. “We realize that parties are going to happen off-campus.” 

Missel said SBU does not want to put a halt on social gatherings altogether, but prefers that students hold smaller gatherings instead.

According to the university, the students have been suspended on an “interim basis” pending their judicial hearings, which will commence this week. 

Each student must submit a negative COVID-19 test before returning to campus. 

Missel reiterated that as part of the suspensions, students are able to stay enrolled in their classes and attend class via Zoom.  However, their professors “are not obligated to do that.” 

“Over these first six weeks of the semester, we have received advance information in large parties before the weekend and worked with the students to make sure they didn’t happen,” Missel said. “This time, we didn’t know these large parties were going on.” 

Despite the suspensions, there have been reports of additional students attending the parties.

“We continue to investigate and if we receive information that others were involved, we will have to deal with them,” Missel said. “We need everyone to be rowing in the same direction if we are going to make it.” 

Olean City School District reports two positive cases of COVID-19; begins week with remote learning

photo: Molly Williams/The Intrepid

By Nic Gelyon

OLEAN, NY — Saturday morning, the Olean City School District released a statement on its website announcing that a student had tested positive for Coronavirus at Olean High School.

The district also sent robocalls to parents, confirmed by multiple accounts on Facebook. 

In the district’s initial statement, OCSD told parents to “make preparations to move to remote learning should events require the district to close schools.” 

The district also canceled this past weekend’s after-school activities. 

Sunday afternoon, it was announced that the district had been notified of another positive COVID-19 case. This time, the person infected was a district faculty member. 

Both cases were confirmed positive, meaning that they had come back positive after going through CDC laboratories. 

The district then announced it would switch to full virtual learning for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.

According to Cattaraugus County public health director Dr. Kevin Watkins, this was to further accommodate the district’s cleaning process. 

“They have hired a cleaning crew that came out on Saturday and Sunday, and have been paying close attention to the rules in which the positives have been exhibited,” Watkins said, referring to the district. “We have also talked about them airing out the facility.”  

According to Watkins, the district has had a high level of communication with the county health department over the weekend. He said the district was especially helpful in having all information that the health department requested from them, which allowed contact tracing to happen in a timely matter.

However, Watkins does believe that there is a “high likelihood” of additional positive cases arising within the district. 

“You’ve had a case at two particular schools, there have been direct contact with individuals of those schools,” he said. 

The health department believes that its contact tracing process will be completed Monday night. Watkins did acknowledge that one case required more extensive contact tracing than the other.  

The county is still trying to get in touch with seven people to complete this process. If these individuals do not respond to the county’s requests, the health department may visit their homes. 

Should contact tracing be successful, and should no other issues arise, in-person activity should return to OCSD on Thursday.