When the Bengals and Jags fall in the woods, do they make a sound? -LSB

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Ever watched two teams, at the same time, caught in a simulation, a pantomime, simply a dramatization of a football match? Or knowing full well that they are trapped within the parameters of a social experiment they cannot escape? Or unaware of the limits placed on them?

Once Trevor Lawrence’s ankle became the subject of a geometry class to be mentioned later, both the Bengals and Jaguars seasons became meaningless, or at least meaningless. Oh, Bengals fans will put a lot of stock in Jake Browning’s nearly flawless performance. Jaguars fans will hold onto hope that CJ Beathard has experience and can steer a Cessna to at least a point B. Deep down they will know that they are only trying to fool themselves. A delusion to sit and watch the last few weeks, and even the one playoff game either can be tasty 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 seems likely – it’s usually curtains. Especially for teams that are contenders because they are generally contenders because of who plays QB for them. The team is designed for them, around them. Backup QBs barely get practice time, especially as the season wears on.

That’s why the league instituted all these rules that broadcasters and fans complain about when a call goes against them. “It’s not football anymore!” Well, it’s not going to be football for the Bengals and Jags for weeks on end either. 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 come as close as it can.

So there was Cincinnati and Jacksonville, playing the game, distracted by the pressure and intensity of being in the game. Handy blinders for its context. Professionalism they will soon call it or a desire to “shock the world,” or “prove the haters wrong,” the easiest clichés 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 doesn’t fit into a larger story of their season. It’s really all about their QB’s injuries and the shot the rest of their teammates won’t get in January. Just that much.

However, this is the NFL. For all the adjectives usually attached to it, how it is usually defined, the biggest one is its fragility. No other sport could have dashed an entire team’s fortunes as quickly as Walker Little stomped on Lawrence. It’s so fragile for any team with real hope.

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

Or has Tony Khan commandeered the one wagon for AEW’s next death match?

Toronto is going deep 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’s availability has been rescheduled until Tuesday.

It all seems a bit silly. If you and I know that the Jays are pursuing Ohtani, and we do, then the other clubs that do probably do as well. If they don’t know what the Jays are offering, Ohtani’s agent Nez Baleo is sure to inform them quickly. If any Jays player is worried about losing ABs to Ohtani at DH, they could probably easily have it explained to them if they don’t get it already, what Lord help them if they don’t.

But hey, it sure is fun for these guys to play Bond for a while.

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

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