Nat Coombs heads the BBC’s live coverage of the NFL International Series, and The Sports Gazette’s Ben Morse caught up with him to get his views ahead of Sunday’s game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Los Angeles Rams. He also offered his thoughts about the season thus far and predictions for the rest of the season.
Coombs has been a sports presenter for over ten years, having originally begun his career as a comedian.
He has been reporting on the NFL since 2007 when he hosted Channel 5’s live coverage alongside his current partner in crime at the BBC, Mike Carlson.
Coombs got into the NFL in the 80’s when it was broadcast on First Down on Channel 4. He said that he used to “listen to American Forces Radio for the Super Bowl under my covers when I wasn’t allowed to stay up! Things have changed!”
As a keen fan of the NFL, Coombs has been keeping a close eye on the current events in the league.
When asked how he thinks the Green Bay Packers will get on without Aaron Rodgers who broke his collarbone last weekend, he said: “That’s the 64-thousand-dollar question. Obviously not as well, but how much of a drop off. I don’t think it means they crash and burn – they can still make the playoffs – but I do think it means their Super Bowl chances are shot.
“That said, people who follow Green Bay closely say that Hundley is one of the better back-ups in the NFL, and he knows the offence well having sat there for a while.”
On a similar topic, a pressing area of discussion in the NFL has been a possible decrease in the popularity of the game because of the number of injuries to the superstars of the league. Despite the season being fairly young, players such as Aaron Rodgers, JJ Watt, Odell Beckham Jr, Dalvin Cook and David Johnson have been lost to injuries.
Coombs is not worried about the popularity of the league as he said: “Yes there’s been a remarkable run of three or four of the best players in the league going down in quick succession, but I don’t think many people tune in to watch an individual player. Sure, those guys enhance the experience so it’s a lesser product, but not terminally so.”
There have been a few standout performers this season, and even Coombs himself cannot decide who he would pick for his early season MVP. He said: “I love the Jags defence – Jalen Ramsay can really play – but it’s Leonard Fournette who is carrying that team on his shoulders and is the real deal.
“Alex Smith has mostly been flawless, I love the exciting new players that have burst onto the scene like Tarik Cohen. Not one clear leader at the moment.”
Coombs is looking forward to the upcoming NFL International Series Game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Los Angeles Rams which will be played at Twickenham on 22nd October.
Despite the poor performances of the Cardinals up until this point of the season, Coombs believes that the recent addition of Adrian Peterson has given the Cardinals a more diverse offence.
He said: “Adrian Peterson certainly adds a lot more edge to this one. I still think he has plenty left in the tank (easy to say after last week’s performance) and suddenly the Cards are very much alive and kicking this season!”
The rejuvenated Los Angeles Rams are the other opponents and come into this game off an 22-17 win over another improved team, the Jacksonville Jaguars. Coombs is buying into the hype as he said: “The Rams have some swagger too – young coach, a QB that possibly can play after a nightmare rookie season, mean D.”
We’ve been ‘treated’ to some pretty turgid games at Wembley this year (in both the NFL and in England football performances) but this looks like a much better matchup. Coombs echoes this, saying: “Should be a good game – better than the last two we’ve had!”
Nat hosts The NFL Show on TalkSport2 every Tuesday night 22.00 and NFL Matchday Live, TalkSport2, every Sunday from 17.00
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