It’s easy to take things for granted, especially when watching football.

Every play features something that can go wrong, from breaking the huddle until the whistle sounds. If you remember all the way back to Week 1, the Bengals lost their long-snapper and chaos ensued. What was a well-oiled machine turned into an awkward dance that led to missed field goals and an eventual overtime loss.

Which brings us to now former Packers wide receiver Amari Rodgers, a second-round pick in 2021. Green Bay traded up to get him in the third round and the young man won the punt returner job. Again, it’s a duty that a lot of people at home take for granted. Of course he’s going to routinely catch a kicked ball that everyone who has handled a football knows, has a mind of its own. After all, he’s a professional getting paid a handsome salary to do just that.

Try catching a punt sometime. Judge where the ball is going, position yourself underneath its trajectory and look the ball, that’s often spinning, into your hands. Got that part down? OK, great! Now do it with defenders closing in on you at a terrifying speed in a stadium with tens of thousands of screaming fans. With millions more watching you on television.

Not so easy anymore, right?

Unfortunately for Rodgers, he made the job look very difficult. He fumbled twice as a rookie, but regressed in his second year. He bobbled a punt in the first half on Sunday against the Cowboys, which he recovered. But the final straw came after halftime when he lost the ball yet again around midfield, his fifth fumble of the season. Dallas recovered and a few plays later scored a touchdown to take the lead.

The Packers did pull it together, battled back and won in overtime. But for Rodgers, that was all she wrote. The team released him on Tuesday. And while there are probably a bunch of Green Bay fans who applaud the decision – and I can’t blame them – there’s a part of me that feels bad. I never like seeing anyone lose their job.

I’ve managed to kick around this business for several years now and I can think back to my younger days and the mistakes I made. A lot of them make me shudder with embarrassment. But it was a growing process and I luckily had solid bosses who were patient with me and allowed me to learn from my mistakes. I was afforded the opportunity to grow.

The NFL isn’t that world. You either produce or you get out and make way for someone who will. And if you’re making mistakes on the types of plays that people take for granted, you’re in serious trouble. Rodgers paid the price.

Hopefully, he can catch on somewhere else and move forward. I’m rooting for him. Maybe don’t throw him back there on punt returns though.

NFL’S TOP 10

1. Eagles – I was really excited to promote Philly to the top spot in these rankings. They were unbeaten and the Bills had just barfed up a home loss. The table was set. And then the Eagles went out and lost to the Commanders at their own building. What the heck, guys?! Did they get hosed on a missed call late in the game? Sure, but the fact remains that the Eagles fell behind big in the first half and quite frankly, were outplayed. But that’s fine. It’s not like they were going to go 17-0. Everyone has an off week.

2. Vikings – The Sid Saraf apology tour is continuing. I’ll never overlook Minnesota in the preseason again. I don’t know how they’re having this much success and it doesn’t really matter anymore. I was very arrogant when the Vikings were down by 17 points in the second half in Buffalo on Sunday. What happened after was like being in a car accident. It was a blur of turnovers, amazing feats of athleticism, heroics by Justin Jefferson and an overtime win for Minnesota. Wow. You can pick apart this roster if you want. Do they really have top tier talent? Does it matter? They’re 8-1. That’s good enough.

3. Chiefs – They turned the ball over three times against the Jaguars. I’m not a fan of that. They also piled up almost 500 yards of offense and Patrick Mahomes threw touchdown passes to four different receivers. Oh, and Kadarius Toney? The wide receiver they acquired at the trade deadline who couldn’t get right with the Giants? He was forced into action when JuJu Smith-Schuster left with an injury and gained 90 total yards and caught his first NFL touchdown. I’m a big fan of that.

4. Bills – Most mothers have a version of this saying: You’re doing too much. And when it comes to Josh Allen, he’s doing way too much. You can blame the Vikings loss on Buffalo’s defense, which came apart at the seams in the second half. But Allen has to take better care of the football. He turned it over three times in the fourth quarter and overtime, which isn’t a fair burden to put on the defense. And it’s easy to see why it’s happening. He’s out there playing hero ball, trying to win the MVP on every play. It’s not necessary. Sometimes, winning means living to fight on another down. So, turn off the Enrique Iglesias and take it easy.

5. Dolphins – Will there be a Mike McDaniel coaching tree? After what he’s done in his first year in Miami, there just might be one growing. As someone who lived in South Florida for a few years and has some very good friends who are Fins Up 24/7, it’s hard not to feel good for them. They’ve watched a lot of bad football over the past two decades. And now they’ve got an enjoyable product. I can’t wait to see how the franchise grows, despite all the nonsense going on with upper management.

6. Ravens – They’re going to be a top five team shortly. They’re playing too well and their schedule is too easy for that not to happen. Frank Schwab, my colleague over at Yahoo, says he wouldn’t be surprised if Baltimore steals the No. 1 seed in the AFC. I agree with him. Imagine that!

7. 49ers – They’re playing exactly like a Kyle Shanahan team. Multiple options running the ball and an attacking defense. And Jimmy Garoppolo isn’t a top tier guy, but it’s plain to see that he’s running the offense in a proficient manner. I love how this squad is developing. If they can avoid injury – especially to Christian McCaffrey – they will be a frightening playoff matchup. They’re a Super Bowl contender.

8. Dallas – it’s not that I’m down on them after a loss in Green Bay. And it’s not that I have a huge problem with Mike McCarthy going for it on a crucial fourth down and falling short. They’re 6-3 and barring a disaster, will be a playoff team. But matched up against the rest of the conference’s elite, I don’t feel they quite match up. Maybe I’m wrong. I don’t think I am though.

9. Titans – Mike Vrabel is the coach most dudes want to play for. I remember watching him on “Hard Knocks” when he was an assistant coach with the Texans. He was on the sideline during a preseason game, telling his players something to the effect of, “Now’s not the time to get tired! Don’t get tired!” For whatever reason, that stuck in my head. He was a hard-nosed linebacker in the NFL for years. And he’s taken that same attitude as a head coach. He doesn’t get tired and neither do his players. It rarely looks pretty, but who cares?

10. Jets – They’re coming off a bye week, but I’m still giving them credit for beating the Bills the last time they played. That has to count for something. Robert Saleh is up there in my coach of the year rankings.

WHAT’S THE CHATTER?

He’s the guy: Commanders coach Ron Rivera has a conundrum on his hands. Or at least he thinks he does. The team went out and traded for Carson Wentz this past offseason and went 2-4 through six games of the regular season before Wentz broke his finger and went on injured reserve. Washington turned to backup Taylor Heinecke and have gone 3-1 since to even out at 5-5. Heinecke’s numbers won’t turn heads and he does make mistakes, but the team has a different energy when he’s out there. I don’t think I’m imagining that. The guy is a baller. Wentz could be activated off IR as soon as this week, but we’ve all seen what he’s capable of. I say you ride the hot hand for the rest of the way.

This is much better: If NFL teams get a bye week, why can’t I? I had to take one last week as my day job required me to be on super special duty for the midterm elections. At least when I covered sports on a full-time basis, nobody really got ALL that fired up. Sure if the Rams lost, I’d have to hear smack talk from my friends, especially the ones from Northern California. But nobody’s feelings got hurt. That’s not the case with politics, lemme tell you. Yeesh. Anyway, it’s good to be back.

What day is it? In Indianapolis, it’s Saturday every day. Hey-yooo. I tend to stay out of arguments over who gets which coaching job. The way I see it, you can’t force someone to hire a person. It never works. However, even my eyebrows raised when the Colts fired Frank Reich and brought in … Jeff Saturday? Uhhh, what? In case you haven’t been following along, the longtime center had been working a gig as a talking head at ESPN for the past few years. It was really confusing and bizarre to see him take over the interim gig with literally no coaching experience at all. But wouldn’t you know it, he went out and won his first game as a head coach. Granted, it was against the Raiders, but credit where it’s due. There’s plenty of time for everything to go south, but we’ll worry about that later.

The sky is falling! Maybe Americans won’t just watch anything the NFL serves them. Last Thursday night’s game between the Falcons and Panthers scored a season low in TV ratings, according to SportsMediaWatch.com. Maybe the fact it’s on Amazon Prime factored into the low ratings. Or maybe it was just a crappy NFC South matchup. I lean toward the latter.

APPOINTMENT VIEWING FOR WEEK 11

Titans at Packers: This is the exact opposite of Falcons-Panthers. Green Bay and its hopefully revamped punt return game will be desperate for a win here at home. Meanwhile, the Titans are sitting pretty in first place in the AFC South and like their head coach, aren’t looking to get tired now. Despite the short week. What a fun game.

Bears at Falcons: Hey, Justin Fields is good now? When did that happen? Jokes aside, one of my favorite things about football is seeing a young quarterback take a leap forward. It probably won’t mean much as far as win/loss record now, but at least the franchise can plan to build around Fields for the next couple years.

Browns at Bills: This is the last game before Cleveland gets Deshaun Watson back from suspension. Meanwhile, if the Bills drop this game, they’re officially on a losing streak. I can’t imagine that’s going to happen.

Eagles at Colts: Speaking of rebounding from a loss, expect Philly to do the same. The Jeff Saturday feel-good story probably ends now.

Jets at Patriots: Ahhh, what a one-sided rivalry this used to be. Now it’s the Jets with the better record. And watch them still lose.

Panthers at Ravens: Baltimore is must-see TV the rest of the season. This could be the top seed in the conference, after all.

Cowboys at Vikings: Did you know that Minnesota is an underdog at home for this one? Such blatant disrespect!

Bengals at Steelers: Pittsburgh has never had a losing season under Mike Tomlin. If the Steelers lose this one, they’ll fall to 3-7. Hoo boy.

Chiefs at Chargers: Give me Kansas City all day in this one. Until the Chargers prove they can be consistent, they’ll always be an also-ran.

49ers at Cardinals: It’s Monday night, what else are you gonna watch?

Enjoy the games!

Sid Saraf
Sid Saraf

NFL Analyst

Currently a Mobile Editor at Yahoo, Saraf spent 5.5 years (Oct. 2010 – Feb. 2016) working for FOX Sports as an NFL Editor and Writer. Prior to that, Saraf worked for CBS Interactive for 4.5 years (May 2006 – Oct. 2010) as a Staff Editor.

X