The Zone Read: Vibe sandwich

Have you ever heard of a compliment sandwich? It’s a way to give constructive feedback while reinforcing some of the positive elements of whatever you may be assessing. I want to take a similar approach to assess the NFL this week, with something I call the “vibe sandwich” (it’s a working title). There’s some good and some bad to work through this week, so my aim is to tackle it in the most constructive way I see fit.

Good vibes: NFC playoff parity

Get the popcorn. The 49ers, Packers, Saints, Cowboys, Seahawks, Vikings, Eagles, Rams … the list goes on. The NFC playoff seedings are going to be one of the best league-wide storylines to watch in the coming weeks, and it should lead to some truly intense games. 

The 49ers have dates with the Packers and Saints coming up, and one of these three teams is guaranteed to miss out on a first round bye. The Cowboys have won some convincing games but also have a loss to the Jets, and with the Eagles creeping up on them, this should lead to some drama-filled football in the big D. The Vikings are out to prove Kirk Cousins isn’t an $84 million mistake. The storylines are endless, and a single win could change the course of a season, or even a franchise.

Bad vibes: Myles Garrett’s terrible, horrible, no good very bad decision making

Wow. Last Thursday night’s game left me in awe. Talk to my suitemates, I refused to shut up about it. Garrett committed a heinous and violent act when he removed Mason Rudolph’s helmet and bludgeoned him over the head with it, an act that is unprecedented and intolerable in the NFL. Remember, this is the same NFL that let violent linebacker Vontaze Burfict play for so long. Garrett’s actions summed up the Browns season — one overshadowed by a lack of discipline and wasted talent. To the Browns, I simply say this: pick up the pieces for this awful season and get it together. Have some discipline in your locker room. This team has too many talents and a city too desperate for a competitive team to go to waste.

Good vibes: Colin Kaepernick, back in the media spotlight

Colin Kaepernick was famously blackballed by the league back in 2016 when he protested police violence against people of color by kneeling for the national anthem. He popped up on the NFL radar once more last week, setting up a workout to showcase his readiness to play in the NFL. The entire thing was a media circus, with the workout getting moved last-minute.