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#pounditFriday, September 30, 2022

Stories by Grey Papke:

Seahawks-Falcons game forced into bizarre drone delay

Sunday’s game between the Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks was delayed in the fourth quarter due to an unidentified drone flying over the stadium.

With just under seven minutes left in the fourth quarter of a four-point game, officials abruptly stopped the game and told both teams to move to the sidelines. Apparently, a drone was spotted flying over Lumen Field. NFL officials stopped the game as a safety precaution.

Amazingly, the same thing happened during Saturday’s game between Washington and Stanford. Given the proximity of the two stadiums, that may not have been a coincidence.

Sunday’s delay in Seattle was rather brief and lasted fewer than ten minutes before the game was allowed to resume.

In addition to the Pac-12 drone delay Saturday, other sports have dealt with this issue as well. Fortunately, this was handled quickly, annoying as it may have been.

Geoff Collins fired as Georgia Tech head coach

The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets are making an early-season change by firing head coach Geoff Collins.

Multiple reports Sunday indicated that Collins will officially be fired Monday, one week after the team’s 42-0 loss to Ole Miss. Athletic director Todd Stansbury is also likely to be fired, according to Ken Sugiura of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Collins was in his fourth year as head coach after moving from Temple, but results were never good. The Yellow Jackets failed to win more than three games in any of Collins’ first three seasons as coach, and started 1-3 in 2022. With little hope of a turnaround, the school has clearly decided to move on.

How bad had things become for Georgia Tech? An opposing coach recently admitted that he went a bit easy on Collins in a blowout win to avoid embarrassing the Yellow Jackets coach. Obviously, that act of mercy did not do anything to save Collins’ job.

Buccaneers have major bee issue during Sunday’s game

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had some unexpected guests for Sunday’s game in the form of a whole lot of bees.

One of the goalposts at Raymond James Stadium was apparently home to a beehive during Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers. Despite the rather unusual sight, nobody seemed to be in any rush to do anything about it, at least initially.

Video from a fan shows that the situation was eventually dealt with by a few staffers armed with a ladder, a bucket, and presumably some bug spray.

With sunny weather and temperatures approaching 90 degrees, it was certainly the sort of weather where you might see some active bugs. Still, you don’t really see this happen at NFL games. It’s a more common occurrence around Major League Baseball.

Even if the bees weren’t actually impacting play, you don’t want a swarm like that hanging around. Depending on how things go, they could pose a legitimate health hazard to some.

Mac Jones suffers potentially serious leg injury

New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones suffered a serious-looking leg injury late in Sunday’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

Jones and the Patriots were facing an 11-point deficit late against the Ravens, and were taking deep shots in a bad to try to get back in the game. On one attempt, Jones was hit as he threw by Calais Campbell, and his left leg twisted unnaturally underneath him.

Jones immediately ran off the field in obvious pain, unable to put any weight on his left leg. The second-year quarterback was visibly screaming in pain as he had to be helped to the locker room.

While it’s too soon to speculate on the exact nature of Jones’ injury, it certainly looks like it could be significant. Veteran Brian Hoyer is the team’s backup quarterback, and would likely have to step in if Jones misses any time.

Jones has been banged up through the start of the season, and battled through a back issue to play last week. He struggled with turnovers Sunday before the injury, throwing for 321 yards but with three interceptions.

Video: Patrick Mahomes angrily confronts Eric Bieniemy

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was visibly frustrated with offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy over how the team ran its final drive of the first half against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.

The Chiefs took a conservative approach to end the half after getting the ball at their own 46 with just over 30 seconds left and no timeouts. A holding call backed them up to their own 36. Bieniemy opted to run out the clock with a run up the middle on 2nd-and-20 with 20 seconds to go.

Mahomes clearly wanted to be more aggressive. CBS cameras caught him having an animated confrontation with Bieniemy, apparently over the team’s strategy. Head coach Andy Reid actually had to intervene and guide Mahomes to the locker room for halftime.

Bieniemy’s call is entirely defensible. As electric as the Chiefs’ offense can be, it was 2nd-and-20 with 20 seconds left. The Chiefs had no timeouts and were in their own territory. Sure, Mahomes could have made something happen in theory, but there are a lot of ways that could go wrong as well. Whatever the case, Mahomes’ reaction is likely to provide a lot of fodder for speculation about the relationship between him and his offensive coordinator.

Week 3 has seen at least one other angry confrontation between player and coach, so tensions are a bit high across the league.

Referees make incredible mistake in Oregon-Washington State game

The officiating crew in Saturday’s game between the Oregon Ducks and Washington State Cougars made quite the mess after an intentional grounding penalty.

The Cougars were called for intentional grounding on a first down play early in the second quarter, which should have come with a loss of down. Somehow, the officiating crew took away an extra down from Washington State, and the drive went directly to third down.

The play that resulted in intentional grounding was quite clearly first down.

Nobody seemed to question it though when Washington State came out after that penalty on 3rd-and-17. They ran a draw and then punted. Finally, the officiating crew seemed to realize their error and went back to third down to try to make it right.

In short, Washington State punted twice, but only one of them counted because they were robbed of a down on the actual drive by the officials. They got it right in the end — sort of — but made a real mess of it from start to finish.

Amazingly, this has happened before, though in another recent instance the error was never corrected. Perhaps the Cougars should consider themselves fortunate that someone was clued into the issue here.

Dabo Swinney has funny take on Clemson-Wake Forest thriller

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney after the 14-8 win over Georgia Tech in Clemson, S.C., September 18, 2021. Credit: Ken Ruinard / staff via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Saturday’s game between Clemson and Wake Forest was a wild overtime affair that saw the two teams put up a combined 96 points. In a game like that, no wonder it took a few years off Dabo Swinney’s life.

Swinney joked after the Tigers’ 51-45 overtime victory that he’d aged ten years during the game, going from 52 to 62.

Swinney probably is not alone in feeling that way. Clemson jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, only to surrender 28 points in the second and third quarters to trail 35-28. The Tigers needed a 52-yard field goal to tie the game at 38 with four minutes left, then won in the second overtime.

In other words, the game was stressful enough if you were at all invested in it. On top of that, Swinney had to navigate his ridiculously huge play sheet, so that probably didn’t help matters either.

Anthony Richardson attracting major interest from NFL executives

Florida Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson (15) during Gator Walk before the first game of the season outside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, in Gainesville, Fla. Sept. 4, 2021. Mandatory Credit: Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Preparations for the 2023 NFL Draft have already started among NFL teams, and one of the players already attracting attention is Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson.

Multiple NFL executives are in attendance for Florida’s game at Tennessee on Saturday, in part to scout Richardson, according to Pete Thamel of ESPN. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York Giants, and Washington Commanders sent scouts and executives, while general manager Dave Ziegler headed a Las Vegas Raiders contingent.

On paper, the Raiders don’t need a quarterback, but there does seem to be a lack of total faith in Derek Carr at the moment. The other three teams could certainly be in the market for a quarterback, with the Buccaneers facing a potential Tom Brady retirement and the Giants and Commanders facing questions about the long-term viability of Daniel Jones and Carson Wentz.

Richardson has certainly shown impressive skills for the Gators, and fits the profile of the dual-threat quarterbacks that have taken the league by storm in recent years. Of course, the jump from the SEC to the NFL is a big one, but he at least has NFL scouts intrigued.

Nathaniel Hackett makes move to address in-game issues

Jun 6, 2022; Englewood, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett speaks to the media following OTA workouts at the UC Health Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Nathaniel Hackett has dealt with a litany of game management issues in his first two weeks as the head coach of the Denver Broncos. Now he is taking steps to relieve some of that burden.

The Broncos have brought in veteran NFL coach Jerry Rosburg as a senior assistant, as first reported by Mike Klis of 9 News. The 66-year-old Rosburg had previously served as a special teams coordinator and associate head coach for the Baltimore Ravens from 2008 to 2018, where he was tasked with helping head coach John Harbaugh with gameday operations.

The hire is a direct response to the on-field issues that have plagued the Broncos through two weeks. Things came to a head in Week 2 against Houston, when multiple game management issues forced the Broncos to burn all three second half timeouts to avoid delay of game or too many men on the field penalties. At one point, things got so bad that the home crowd mockingly began counting down the play clock. The debacle attracted national attention, and at least one former coach questioned the relative youth and inexperience of Hackett and his assistants as a potential reason for the issues.

It looks bad that Hackett had to bring in an assistant for help on this less than three weeks into the regular season. That said, he deserves credit for seeking out help instead of doubling down on what has not worked so far, and it is likely going to wind up better for the team.

Luis Castillo agrees to huge contract extension with Mariners

Aug 21, 2022; Oakland, California, USA; Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Luis Castillo (21) smiles as a call is reviewed during the third inning against the Oakland Athletics at RingCentral Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Mariners made a big move to acquire pitcher Luis Castillo at the trade deadline. On Saturday, they agreed to an arguably bigger move to keep him long-term.

Castillo has agreed to a five-year, $108 million contract extension with the Mariners, as first reported by Jeff Passan of ESPN. The deal also includes a vesting option for a sixth year.

Castillo would have been eligible for his final year of arbitration this winter, and would have been able to become an unrestricted free agent following the 2023 season. Instead, he is committing to the Mariners through at least the 2027 season, setting up the 29-year-old as a mainstay in the Seattle rotation for years to come.

Though he has flown under the radar, Castillo has emerged as one of the better pitchers in the game. Since being traded to the Mariners, he has posted a 2.83 ERA in nine starts, striking out 64 batters in 54 innings of work. Some of the game’s most prominent franchises were interested in trading for him when the Cincinnati Reds made him available this year, so this certainly looks like a great move from Seattle’s perspective.