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NFL insider notes: Heat turned up on turf vs. grass debate, dissecting Josh Allen’s woes and more from Week 10

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The talk over playing surfaces is resurfacing within the NFL.

Last Wednesday, the NFL released a chart showing how the speed of lower-extremity injuries on natural grass versus synthetic turf fields has a “statistically insignificant” difference. Essentially, there are hardly more lower-extremity injuries on turf than grass.

On Saturday, the NFL Players Association went on the offensive. Union president JC Tretter called on the league to instantly remove and ban slit film turf within the six NFL stadiums which have it installed.

Wrote Tretter: “The slit film playing surface has statistically higher in-game injury rates in comparison with all other surfaces for every of the next: non-contact injuries, missed time injuries, lower extremity injuries and foot and ankle injuries.”

While the NFL admits that lower-extremity injuries are up on slit film surfaces, there’s more to it. There are two to 3 more lower-extremity injuries per 12 months per surface on slit film, which implies that across MetLife Stadium, Ford Field, Lucas Oil Stadium, Paycor Stadium, Caesars Superdome and U.S. Bank Stadium there are between 12 to 18 lower extremity injuries.

The information shows those are mostly lateral ankle sprains. Meanwhile, the ACL injuries are literally down on slit film turf versus other surfaces. That makes the information somewhat confounding.

“Because of this,” NFL EVP Jeff Miller said in an announcement, “the league and NFLPA’s joint experts didn’t recommend any changes to surfaces on the meeting but agreed more study is required.”

What number of ankle injuries equal one ACL tear? How can anyone answer that and who would wish to, anyway?

A joint committee of experts met with representatives from the NFL and NFLPA via Zoom on Nov. 1 and gave them this data. Though the committee didn’t give a suggestion on what to do with slit film turf, that did not mean the union couldn’t take its own stand.

Synthetic surfaces have a lifespan within the NFL between two to 3 years. These turf fields have grown more popular as NFL stadiums have transformed through the years from football-only (or football-mostly) event spaces to concert venues and uses for other sporting events. Essentially, it’s less expensive to put in an artificial field once every two to 3 years than maintaining and replacing natural grass while keeping the identical volume of events.

Ask nearly any NFL player past or present they usually’ll let you know they like to play on natural grass. For many years there was absolute confidence that natural grass was the safer playing surface. This past season the information showed almost no difference between grass versus turf, and I’m told those numbers remained regular during this 12 months’s preseason.

But there are several types of turf, and slit film is the one the NFLPA is taking aim at. The union had asked for — and the NFL is working with the union on — player surveys for more information on playing surfaces. The thought can be to merge what the players need to say about specific playing surfaces with the target data for a fuller picture.

The sort of cleats players wear depending upon the surface can also be vital, and cleat characteristics factor into lower extremity injuries as well.

“The players are frustrated,” Tretter wrote. “We simply need a safer workplace. The NFL has an obligation to offer the safest work environment possible. They usually are not living as much as that standard.”

It’s difficult to assume the owners of the six stadiums will rip out their slit film turf today and install a recent turf (or natural grass) immediately after. However the union is hoping to see some eventual change from the league on this debate that players have long wished for.

What is going on on with Josh Allen?

We want to speak about Josh Allen’s red-zone regression this season.

After probably the most thrilling games of the 12 months between the Bills and Vikings, I discovered myself wondering what is going on on with Allen once the Bills get into the red area.

To this point this 12 months at or contained in the 20, Allen has thrown 12 touchdowns and three interceptions. He’s heading in the right direction for his fewest passing touchdowns in that area since 2019. And prior to this season, Allen had thrown just two interceptions within the red zone his entire profession in 331 dropbacks. He’s thrown a pick within the red zone in each of the past three games.

Allen is completing just 51 percent of his red-zone throws, down from 53.7% last 12 months and 63.1% in his MVP runner-up season in 2020. His 75.4 passer rating within the red area is the bottom of his profession — by far.

The truth is, Allen has the fourth-lowest passer rating amongst all qualified quarterbacks this season. Only Trevor Lawrence (72.2), Joe Flacco (68.7) and Russell Wilson (58.9) have a lower passer rating in 2022.

His red-zone interception Sunday against the Vikings got here on fourth down when he wanted to present a pass-catcher a likelihood, but it surely continues a pattern of leaving points on the sector.

“It comes right down to the blokes on the sector making the appropriate plays,” Allen said Sunday after the sport. “We were horrendous within the red zone and that is again on my shoulders. We have to scrub it up of course.”

A sleeper team in OBJ sweepstakes

I wrote Sunday morning concerning the likely sleeper team or teams that might be lurking for Odell Beckham Jr.’s services. Talking with folks across the league on Sunday afternoon, the ultimate undefeated team within the NFL got here to my head.

I’m not sourcing anything here, to be clear. But would not OBJ to the Philadelphia Eagles make a ton of sense?

You will have a team in a significant market like Philly. You will have a young, ascending quarterback in Jalen Hurts who nearly anyone within the league would wish to play with. The 8-0 Eagles are obviously contending now and really likely will in the approaching years. And much like the “get in where you slot in” scheme he enjoyed with the Rams last 12 months, the Eagles would offer something similar with A.J. Brown because the established No. 1, an important tight end in Dallas Goedert and a improbable second-year player in DeVonta Smith.

Most significantly, a team goes to need to work out a contract for Beckham. Eagles GM Howie Roseman absolutely crushed the offseason by getting James Bradberry and C.J. Gardner-Johnson, and he continued last month with acquiring Robert Quinn and having the Bears pay the vast majority of his remaining salary for 2022.

The Eagles will at all times compete for top free agents. They check all of the boxes OBJ would seemingly want. And getting him to Philly would also keep him away from the Cowboys or the Giants.

Commanders growing hardened to controversy

The Commanders have a likelihood to get back to .500 tonight with a win against the aforementioned Eagles. In the event that they do it, it’ll be because they didn’t let the surface noise distract them this past week.

After a bizarre statement Wednesday night from the team that has been ascribed to anonymous lawyers, Commanders head coach Ron Rivera spoke to the team Thursday morning where he told them they need to deal with what they’ll control. He stressed to maintain the deal with themselves.

Rookie running back Brian Robinson seemed unbothered by being unnecessarily included within the statement when he met with the media last week. The Commanders spoke with Robinson in an effort to smooth things over and he appeared to respond well to it.

I do not get the sense right away that players are growing some hardened resentment to the controversies. The strongest word I heard used this past week related to player feelings was “irked.”

And speaking of irked, those that wish for Dan Snyder to sell the team can have reason to be miffed on the D.C. attorney general following his civil lawsuit filed last week. One source I spoke with made the purpose that the lawsuit — which has Snyder, the Commanders, the NFL and Roger Goodell as defendants — realigns the NFL with Snyder, once more making the league defend the Washington owner whether it desires to or not.

Snyder has seemingly been on an island the previous couple of months. In defending itself on this form of lawsuit, the NFL may also need to defend the Commanders and Snyder to a level. 

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