Coming off a Bengals-Dolphins squash match that everyone knew was going to stink, Thursday Night Football this week features the Cardinals and 49ers, which could have been a compelling game when the league was drawing up the schedules but as of now has no juice.
The NFC West opponents are both 1-3. Carson Palmer is in concussion protocol. Bruce Arians has rightfully said he’ll be cautious with his starting quarterback, which means that in all likelihood Drew Stanton will be Arizona’s starting quarterback. Drew Stanton vs. Blaine Gabbert does not have a ring to it that will help the NFL escape its ongoing primetime ratings woes.
But, if the game had Colin Kaepernick in it, casual viewers would tune in — either in admiration of his National Anthem protest or out of disgust. While Kaepernick still has not regained the weight he lost recovering from offseason surgery, there are arguable football reasons for Chip Kelly to make the move. Gabbert has completed 56% of his passes the last three weeks — all losses — and averaged under 200 passing yards per game in that time while throwing more interceptions than touchdowns. Could even a diminished Kaepernick be much worse than that?
Obviously, the headline is tongue-in-cheek. The league office, despite whatever conspiracy powers we ascribe it, cannot just dictate the lineup for its individual franchises (though Patriots fans probably disagree). But, you cannot deny that you’re much more likely to engage with the game on Thursday night if it features Colin Kaepernick. Won’t somebody please think of the bloggers?