Politics and Optics

One play into Teddy Bridgewater’s first start for his hometown team and he had it all ripped away from him for a concussion that he never had. Was he hit hard? Surely. Teddy was probably sore all week! I am surprised and elated that he did not have any cracked or bruised ribs. However, we are still waiting for that video or camera angle that showed Teddy B exhibiting signs of Ataxia. Teddy Two Gloves passed all concussion protocol tests and was evaluated by multiple neurologists who cleared him because his hit to the head was sub-concussive, and he exhibited no concussion symptoms. Two thumbs ups from Teddy Two-Gloves tried to keep the vultures at bay as he could probably sense that with the current political climate, he might get pulled from the game for a concussion evaluation due to politics and optics. Just like we knew Tua would not play against the Jets and Vikings due to optics, we knew that Teddy B was not going back into that game because of politics.  Next man up Skylar Thompson!



Miami Northwestern’s favorite son left the field with a smile knowing that he was not concussed. He was sure that he would pass the tests without an issue. The doctors cleared Bridgewater, but that was not good enough. Per new league protocols the decision is now out of the hands of the doctors and players and now in the hands of the video spotters who no one seems to know what their credentials are. Are they experts in body language? Are they all required to have 20/20 vision? Are they former spies or experts of clandestine stakeouts and observational tradecraft? Are they required to pledge that “soccer is the only real form of football” to demonstrate that they have no allegiances to any NFL team? I mean really, what qualifications do you need to have to get that job and what requisites are vetted during the process of them being appointed to the position? Known credentials or not, if they think they saw you stumble over a patch of grass, your day is done and there is no mechanism to appeal. Thank God Skylar Thompson did not get a pebble in his shoe after one of his sacks or else the Dolphins would have been forced to play Cedric Wilson at quarterback. Maybe he would have had more success at the QB position than he has had at receiver.


What Good is Science?

Many will say that this overreaction by the NFL is acceptable to them because they rather have an abundance of caution and keep a healthy player out of a game rather than allowing a concussed player back into a game. That sounds noble in principle, but in practice what you are really saying is, we are okay with being inaccurate in our assessments. There is no scientist on the planet that would be able to keep their research grants if they were so willfully accepting of inaccuracies. A simple credo needs to be adopted: let the science drive the narrative, be fully transparent, and allow players as autonomous adults to make their own decisions in situations like these where the risks are not inherently or significantly greater than any other normal healthy player on any given play. In other words, if there is clear Ataxia witnessed by everyone, the player is out. If there is a dispute as to whether or not Ataxia was observed and no video evidence can be presented to the team by the spotter showing what he saw, the player should be allowed to sign a waiver and return to the game should they choose to do so after passing the concussion protocols.


Cause and Effect

The slippery slope of ruling out players who are completely healthy will inevitably cause a boiling point to be reached between the NFLPA and the players they are seeking to protect. It is all fun and games until you have a guy completely healthy ruled out of a big playoff game or a guy who is a few plays away from hitting the threshold metrics required to trigger contractual bonus incentives gets removed from a game and loses out on lots of money when he was actually completely healthy. It’s all fun and games until you cost a guy his one and only shot at taking over the starting job for an NFL franchise because he was a healthy scratch by some anonymous spotter somewhere up on the ridge. I am sure Drew Bledsoe would have loved this policy to be around when he was losing his job to Tom Brady. One moment of imbalance from Brady and Bledsoe could have been back in the game!


Double Standard?

It’s all fun and games until this happens to another team not named the Dolphins. For the past week and a half we saw and heard Twitter doctors and ESPN neurosurgeons bring out their pitchforks and persecute the Dolphins for what they were all sure in the absence of any medical evidence was a concussion. Where was the outrage this week for Teddy B? Not only have I not seen any outrage for this clear injustice, but some people are blaming the Dolphins for this infringement. There have been a number of people claiming that the Dolphins brought this injustice on themselves by not doing the right thing with Tua in the first place. So, the Dolphins do everything right once again and they still get to wear the black eye for it? It is starting to feel like some people just have it out for the Miami Dolphins and the NFLPA feels like opposition #1 because JC Tretter’s words about the Dolphins in his capacity as NFLPA player president were beyond scathing, even though their investigation cleared the Dolphins and admitted that all protocols were followed. This coming from the guy who didn’t come to Miami during free agency because it was “too hot.” What a guy that Tretter is.


Dolphins in Review

The Dolphins have now dropped two in a row in the absence of Tua. Falling to 3-2 and from first to third in the AFC East. Teddy Bridgewater was good but not great against the Bengals because he could not maintain his consistency when it came to holding great moments long enough to finish drives with the touchdowns necessary to put the Bengals under pressure. Skylar Thompson has been a remarkable story since OTAs and all throughout camp. He has by far outplayed his seventh-round grade and is showing a lot of the talent that he exhibited in college between his many injuries. Many do not know this, but Skylar is actually older than Tua, even though Tua is now in his 3rd season in the NFL and Skylar is a rookie. It has to be a tough deal for a 3rd string rookie QB to get thrown in the game immediately after one play because the trigger man who prepared to be the starter all week was disqualified for a concussion he never had. Skylar had some flashes of arm talent and mobility that could make him a real player in this league, but he has much work to do on his command of the huddle. The Dolphins had way too many pre-snap penalties including delay of games and illegal formations. It’s hard to dance when you keep shooting yourself in the foot.

The defense of the Jets led by Robert Saleh feasted on the quarterback pressures that they caused and forced turnovers that cracked the game open when it looked like the Dolphins were on the verge of taking the lead in the 4th quarter. Skylar took some big hits in the pocket that we don’t want to see any quarterbacks taking anymore. The kid needs to get rid of the ball and speed up his reading of defenses. I expect to see more improvement from him in his next game against the Vikings since Teddy Bridgewater has not been allowed to practice and Skylar has been preparing as the starter.

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