October 19, 2019

That Innovative Air Raid Offense? Maybe Not So Innovative

That Innovative Air Raid Offense? Maybe Not So Innovative

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There are those who will tell you that the Arizona Cardinals are going to revolutionize the N.F.L. this year. Kliff Kingsbury is planning to go full-bore with his version of the Air Raid offense in his first season as coach, and the pass-heavy scheme is likely to be the talk of the league.

But Benjamin Hoffman wondered how revolutionary it was for an N.F.L. team to use the Air Raid. Mike Leach, the Washington State coach who was one of its inventors, said: “The last several Super Bowls, those were Air Raid teams. They didn’t necessarily call themselves that, but they ran a ton of Air Raid concepts.”

Coach Doug Pederson of the Philadelphia Eagles has incorporated the Air Raid into his offense. The Patriots’ current offense looks more like the Air Raid than the scheme it used when Tom Brady was getting started.

But the system is still divisive. For every pass-happy quarterback who succeeds, such as Patrick Mahomes or Jared Goff, there is a bust whom detractors love to point to, such as Tim Couch or Johnny Manziel.

The Cardinals weren’t very good last year. If Kingsbury and quarterback Kyler Murray, the No. 1 overall draft pick, can make them contenders, or even respectable, it will be another big vote for the Air Raid system.

What do you get when you add the N.F.L. and Jay-Z? We’ll find out now that the league has signed a deal with the rap star and impresario to gain a foothold in the music business and a seal of approval from one of the country’s biggest African-American celebrities for its social justice efforts, Ken Belson and Ben Sisario write.

Roc Nation, the rapper’s entertainment and sports company, will consult on entertainment, including the Super Bowl halftime show, and contribute to the league’s activism campaign, Inspire Change.

But quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s absence on the field was a presence in Wednesday’s news conference to announce the partnership, Belson writes.

The pressure on N.F.L. kickers is intense, Bill Pennington writes. Chandler Catanzaro missed two extra points for the Jets in a preseason game and announced his retirement the next day at 28.

Last season, the kickers for Minnesota and Cleveland combined to miss five field-goal attempts and two extra-point attempts on the same Sunday and were released the next day.

“There’s always that human factor,” Giants kicker Aldrick Rosas said. “You get yourself ready in every way, but you never really know what is going to happen, that’s the thing. That’s the reality.”

First it was Antonio Brown’s feet that made news. Now it’s his head. Brown, the star receiver who joined the Oakland Raiders this year, appeared to have lost a dispute about his helmet. In short, Brown prefers to wear the make of helmet he has been wearing for years, but the N.F.L. says that type is no longer approved. On Monday an arbitrator ruled against Brown.

But later in the week, reports began to circulate that Brown had found some of his preferred helmets that were made in 2010, which would be just barely under the N.F.L.’s 10-year limit. He might be good for at least one more year.

Brown is still not working out with his team because of badly blistered feet, apparently caused by a cryogenic therapy chamber.

See if you know the answer to this question.

While you’re waiting for the N.F.L., you may not have noticed that professional football is well underway in Canada, where the season started in June and teams have played seven or eight games already.

An oddity of the Canadian Football League is that it once had two teams with (almost) the same nickname: the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Ottawa Rough Riders. They even met in the final four times.

After more than a century, the Ottawa Rough Riders shut up shop in 1996. But a new team came to Ottawa in 2014. What is its nickname?

Last week’s answer: The Baltimore Ravens were the only team that was undefeated in the preseason last year. A bravo to Chas Glazer of Toluca Lake, Calif.

Email your answer to sportsnewsletter@nytimes.com. First person to send in the correct answer gets a shout-out next week.

The Guardian is of course all-in on the big cricket series underway in Britain, the Ashes, which pits England against Australia every two years. That means daily live-blogs covering every development on the pitch.

But what happens when it rains all day? Cancel the live coverage? Absolutely not. On Wednesday, Guardian journalists spent more than six hours providing commentary on a match that never started.

That meant a review of what was available in the stadium gift shop, reminiscences of rain delays past and innumerable weather reports. “It is … wet. Not Noah wet, but maybe a half-Noah.” “The umpires will inspect against at 2.30 p.m. They are worried about a few damp patches on the outfield.” “It’s now pouring down at Lord’s. Plot spoiler: Ain’t gonna be no cricket today.”

Capturing the excitement of a great game is one thing. Keeping readers interested in a match that doesn’t even happen is something else. Guardian writers, we salute you.

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