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Random thoughts: NFL continues war on football, Andy Dalton steps up, Buckeyes prevail and more

October dawns with Ohio State in control of its destiny in the Big Ten and the Bengals still holding a share of first place in the AFC North. The Browns coughed up a chance to make it a perfect football weekend in Ohio, but what are ya gonna do? 

Here are some things about sports:

  • I’ve always been a fan of the NFL and college football, and I typically roll my eyes when fans of one (usually CFB in my sphere) take shots at the other. However, the rules-makers in the pros have given their detractors more ammo than they could ever need. 
  • Has anyone ever pointed out the major fallacy in the idea the NFL keeps passing rules to make defense nearly impossible to play because more offense will draw more fans? Fans tend to want their teams to win, and whatever high they might get from watching their guys throw the ball all over the yard is just a series away from turning into anger when they see their guys on defense playing with one hand tied behind their back. And flags seeming to decide games leaves a really bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths.  
  • Regarding the NFL roughing the passer rule, people play and watch football for the violence. Making it safer is a good idea, but at some point reducing the violence will start yielding diminishing returns by making the game less popular to watch or play. 

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  • Anyway, if the NFL is so worried about protecting quarterbacks, maybe they should ban scrambling. Isn’t that when quarterbacks are most likely to get hurt? At least that would be one rule change that helps the defense — as opposed to all of the others. 
  • Last week after the Bengals lost, Carlos Dunlap said: “We felt like we were close. I hope it looked that way too.” It did not. 
  • Nonetheless, the Bengals deserve kudos for outlasting the Falcons on Sunday. They’ve been big in he fourth quarter in all three wins this season, something that runs counter to their reputation as a team that shrinks from the moment. I’ve been hard on Andy Dalton for failing to rise to the occasion like a franchise QB should more often than not the last two years, but he was great in Atlanta and delivered a drive his team had to have. The difference between 3-1 and 1-3 is often razor-thin in the NFL, and gutting out that win keeps the team in good position for the future while it hopes to work out numerous defensive problems. 
  • Upon further review, this college rule allowing a team to call fair catch on any ball inside the 25 is a pretty good compromise. It keeps the onside kick in play, reduces the number of hits but also lets a team with a potential advantage in the return game to use it. 
  • Shawn Springs discovered Dwayne Haskins before anyone else. I must have been picking strawberries when this first came out in the spring, but Bleacher Report resurrected the story this week. >>>RELATED: Shawn Springs compares Dwayne Haskins to a couple of all-time greats 
  • One of the funny things about the Ohio State-Penn State series is how it is perceived as being close not because the Nittany Lions actually beat the Buckeyes very often but because they almost do with some regularity. Guess that tells you something about the programs relative to each other. 
  • My favorite part of the ridiculous response to Ohio State’s digital “game poster” exhorting the Buckeyes to silence the crowd at Penn State was not the Twitter outrage. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, be thankful.) Twitter outrage is so predictable at this point it’s become blasé. What struck me was the lengthy thinkpiece from USA Today’s “For The Win” vertical, which is otherwise pretty much a cat pics site for sports. Then I saw one of USA Today’s real columnists was moved to write something about it, too, rather than something that might actually matter. What a time to be alive.
  • Kelly Bryant leaving Clemson mid-season after losing his starting quarterback job is probably hurting the team more than he might be helping himself down the road. I know it’s in style to defer to the player’s wishes in all cases now even when they are being unreasonable, but the urgency to transfer is normally a lot higher because typically the guy leaving hasn’t had a chance to show NFL scouts what he can. That is not the case for Bryant, who started all last season and could still have played a large role on a team with national championship hopes this year but is instead trading that for a big ol’ batch of unknown. There’s certainly no guarantee he lands somewhere else where he will be better off. READ MORE: Clemson QB to transfer 
  • Can you believe how many people have terrible tattoos?
  • Barry Larkin removing himself from the running to be the next Reds manager tells me a lot about how he probably views the roster for next season. 
  • Calling 2018 a disaster for the Reds might be overstating it, but it’s awfully tempting. Having the the most disappointing season out of the last five was a big challenge, but they definitely managed that. The beginning and end of the season were both dreadful enough to maximize fan disinterest, leaving that six weeks or so they were actually good feeling like a mirage. There’s no excuse for the state of the pitching staff, and while they have found some hitters (some who are gone, some who can’t stay healthy, some who are aging), the defense and base-running continue to be a complete embarrassment. Cincinnati could make a big jump next year if the reconfigured front office hits on a couple of free agent starters and a couple young starters use this year’s hard lessons to make progress (how long have we been saying that?), but why after the last five years would anyone think that will actually happen? 

Have a great week, everyone! 

About the Author

Marcus Hartman has been a digital sports columnist and reporter at Cox Media Group Ohio since 2016. 

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