It’s already Thursday and I don’t have enough time to go over every team, so I’ll just fire out some hot takes about some of the more notable developments in the NFL this past week.
- I’m trying to remember if I was a Tua believer over the past couple years. I think I did defend him a bit but I’m not sure I’ve ever really had that strong of an opinion on him one way or another. I felt like he was never given a fair shake by the previous coaching staff, but then again typically if a coach doesn’t believe in his quarterback that means that quarterback probably isn’t very good. I can’t think of many examples of situations where a coach didn’t trust a QB, but then a new coach comes in and trusts the QB and he becomes a star.
- Well, Tua is an example of what happens when you have a coach and an organization that believes in the QB, and builds around him, and does everything in their power to help him succeed. They have him an offensive head coach. They built up the offensive line. They gave him two of the best receivers in the league. And now it’s paying dividends. The Dolphins look like one of the best offenses on the league. They erased a 21 point 4th quarter deficit on the road in Baltimore.
- Now, in fairness to Baltimore, they were short-staffed in the secondary and I think they were playing at least two rookies out there, although I could be wrong on the official numbers. But still, Baltimore was good enough to build a 35-14 lead. They just choked it away, pure and simple. Credit to Miami for having the ability to score all those points in such a short amount of time, but Baltimore choked.
- So is Tua an elite QB? Is Mike McDaniel, the Dolphins’ 16 year old head coach, a genius? Are the Dolphins an unstoppable offense? I’m not ready to say all that yet. But the Ravens are a real team and the Dolphins just beat them. They have pieces down there. I don’t know much about their defense, but they can put up points like nobody’s business.
- I want to see a little more out of Tua, but he actually wins games. The dude is 9-1 in his last 10 games dating back to last season. You don’t just trip and fall into a 9-1 record as an NFL QB. Maybe we should put some respect on Tua’s name here finally.
- I am PUMPED for Bills-Dolphins this weekend. That is going to be a fun-ass game.
- Last thing: someone on Twitter mirrored Tua’s highlights from the Ravens game so that it looks like Tua is right-handed, under the theory that people think Tua sucks only because he’s a lefty. And honestly, I gotta tell ya, that theory might be correct, because Tua as a righty looks so much better than Tua as a lefty:
Eagles look like a wagon
- As unstoppable as Jalen Hurts looked last night, I really came away from that game thinking the Eagles defense is ferocious. They held Dalvin Cook to 6 carries for 17 yards–that’s elite run defense right there. And then they picked off Kirk Cousins 3 times on the back-end, and it could’ve been even more than that.
- Philly just has so many dudes in the secondary: Darius Slay, James Bradberry, CJ Gardner-Johnson, Avonte Maddox. In a passing-oriented league, I think this is the way to build a defense. Just an abundance of DBs to cover all these weapons the other teams have. There have never been more WEAPONS in the NFL, and having WEAPONS on offense is a must these days. So what the Eagles have done is gone out and acquired as many high quality DBs as possible. It’s smart.
- I don’t know what happened in week 1 that allowed Justin Jefferson to consistently be so wide open against Green Bay, but whatever Green Bay did, the Eagles looked at that and said, we’re going to do the exact opposite of that. Jefferson finished with a pedestrian 6 catches for 48 yards and 0 TDs. Compare that to last week when he had 9 catches for 184 yards and 2 TDs. He was even targeted more this week (12) than he was last week (11), but Philly just did such a great job of locking him up. Slay had an interception in the end zone where Cousins was targeting Jefferson and just undercut the route. Troy Aikman was breaking it down and showing how Jefferson absolutely could not let Slay undercut the route at all costs, and you could tell the Eagles were just giving the Vikings offense fits.
- I think the Vikings need to figure out how to re-establish the run. Dalvin Cook has had a miserable start to the season (I would know because I have him in fantasy). The Vikings are not good enough as a passing team to just not have a run element on offense. They’re not good enough at passing to be a pass-first team, in other words. If defenses are playing Justin Jefferson the way they should (i.e. the way Philly did, not the way Green Bay did) then Minnesota is going to have problems on offense. I don’t think at this point in his career Adam Thielen commands enough respect from defenses where they are unable to double or at least key on Jefferson. So defenses will start to look at Minnesota and think, “If we take away Jefferson, they have nothing. They don’t run the ball well, and we’re not really afraid of Thielen or Osborn or Irv Smith.” Minnesota needs to figure out how to re-establish their run game and get Dalvin Cook going again, or else they’re in trouble.
- Finally, Jalen Hurts continues to impress as a passer. Last night he was 26/31 for 333 yards and TD. He looks so much more accurate, his decision-making has improved dramatically, he’s consistently finding the open guy, and he’s accurate on the run. I no longer hold my breath every time he rolls out of the pocket and throws it downfield. Like I was saying before the season, Jalen Hurts has improved as a passer every year since he transferred to Oklahoma, and this year he’s better than he was last year. When he was at Alabama from 2016-2018, he could barely throw the ball at all. He was a run-first QB. Now he’s developed into a highly-competent passer and I couldn’t be more impressed with him.
Bills keep rolling
- Buffalo dismantled the Titans 41-7 last night. I have my concerns about Buffalo’s run game, but it does not seem to matter. They just thrash whoever they play. Their defense is ferocious, their offense is explosive–they’re just the complete package.
- People are already talking about the prospect of a Bills vs. Eagles Super Bowl. I mean, they do look like the best teams in their respective conferences. Could you imagine? Those two fanbases colliding in the Super Bowl?
- When Buffalo’s offense is on the field, it just feels like they’re always going to score. It’s like the defense just has no chance unless Josh Allen throws a boneheaded pick, which he does from time to time. You just know Josh Allen is launching a bomb to Diggs, or picking up first downs with his legs–it just feels like the Bills offense is completely unstoppable. I’ve really never seen an offense that works the ways theirs does. I mean, there have been some great offenses in the league in recent years–the 2007 Patriots, the 2013 Broncos, the Chiefs with Tyreek Hill–but none of them have the feel of this Bills offense. They’re playing backyard football out there. It’s like they’re just screwing around. Like, how are you able to get away with that in an NFL game? They make defenses look foolish. Josh Allen is never in any danger; if the pocket collapses he just rolls out and buys some more time, then finds the open man. They chuck it deep all the time. They barely even care about running the ball with their running backs. It really is backyard ball out there.
Nathanial Hackett is in over his head
- So Denver was a trendy Super Bowl pick after adding Russell Wilson to that already loaded roster, but they lost their first game to Seattle, and then were struggling with Houston for most of the day in week 2.
- Russell Wilson, I’ve been trying to tell you, he ain’t all that. He blamed his offensive line in Seattle yet many of the sacks he took were his fault for holding on to the ball too long. He used to be way more effective when he could run better, but he’s added some pounds to his frame and is no longer the runner he once was. His arm is good and he throws a beautiful deep ball, but he doesn’t have the elite arm talent of a guy like Mahomes, Allen or Herbert. I do not consider Russ an elite quarterback; I consider him a good quarterback. He got carried to a Super Bowl in his second year by the Legion of Boom, threw a pick on the goal line when they had a chance to win a second straight Super Bowl in 2014, and since 2014, it’s been a whole lot of meh for him in the playoffs.
- But the Broncos should still be better than this. They have two good running backs, weapons on the outside, a bunch of talent on defense–Denver is a good roster. And they’ve had arguably the easiest schedule in the league through two weeks, yet they have struggled in both games.
- Russell Wilson was 14/31 passing for 219 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. And he was sacked three times. That is an abysmal statline. Elite QBs don’t put up numbers like that.
- However, people are starting to notice that the Broncos’ new head coach, Nathaniel Hackett, is way out of his league here. He probably should not be a head coach. Fans in Denver were counting down the play clock for him:
- The way they settled for that 64 yard field goal at the end of the Seattle game was embarrassing. The Broncos are pitiful in the redzone. It’s just been too much mismanagement and incompetence by the Broncos, and it’s attributable to the head coach.
- Being an NFL head coach is not a job to learn on the fly. Hackett may be a one-and-done coach if things don’t turn around quickly here.
- Let’s be real here: could you ever picture a guy named Nathaniel Hackett being a Super Bowl winning head coach? I can’t. I’m a big believer in the power of names. You gotta have the name to be successful. Nathaniel Hackett is just not it, man. Maybe if it was the 1920s.
49ers Already Back to Garoppolo
- I have been very vocal over the past few years saying I don’t trust Trey Lance, I don’t think the 49ers should’ve drafted him, I don’t think he should’ve gone anywhere near the 3rd overall pick in the draft, and I just think it this whole situation is a giant screw-up.
- So let’s get this straight: in 2019, the 49ers go to the Super Bowl and lose to the Chiefs. In 2020, the 49ers have a down year mostly due to injuries. So in 2021, they have the 12 pick in the draft. They decide to trade that pick along with several future draft picks, to move up to #3 in the draft to take—and I am not exaggerating here—THE biggest “project” QB in recent draft history. There has NEVER been a QB drafted to the NFL with less prior experience than Lance. And let’s not forget: he played at North Dakota State in college, an FCS school. I am not just saying this now because of hindsight, I said it at the time: the 49ers drafting Lance was one of the most idiotic things I’ve ever seen. They were and are in the middle of a Super Bowl window, and they decide to trade up to take a QB who is nowhere close to ready to play? Utterly insane. Just ludicrous.
- It gets even worse. Look at the picks in the 2021 draft:
- San Fran originally had pick 12. They could’ve just stayed out and taken Mac Jones. He’s way more pro-ready than Lance was. Everyone knew it at the time. They could’ve taken Justin Fields, who has a similar skill set to Lance but much more reps and experience under his belt.
- Or, the 49ers could’ve just drafted a player that would’ve made them even more dangerous, like Micah Parsons, who was taken with the 12th pick.
- Imagine if the 49ers suddenly had a change of heart right before the draft. They trade up, then think to themselves, “What are we doing here? We don’t need to draft Lance. This is insane.” Instead they use the third pick on JaMarr Chase. Imagine that. Or Jaylen Waddle.
- Would they have won the Super Bowl last year if they did that? I can’t say for certain but I can say their chances would’ve been a lot higher than they were after using the pick on Trey Lance. Trey Lance didn’t play a snap in the playoffs. The 49ers made it to the NFC Championship game despite getting no contribution from their #3 overall draft pick rookie. If they had Chase or Waddle they’d be ridiculously talented.
- Trading up to draft Trey Lance while you’re in the middle of a Super Bowl window is like… I don’t even have an analogy to compare it to. It’s just one of the most boneheaded decisions I’ve ever seen an NFL team make. You are in Super Bowl contention, and you decide to trade your whole future to move up for a QB who is completely unproven and who will likely take several years to develop BEST CASE SCENARIO.
- I would say the Niners gave themselves an insurance policy by keeping Jimmy G around, but this doesn’t change the fact that they gave up a ton to move up for Lance. They will never recoup the opportunity cost of those draft picks. It was a first and a third rounder in this year’s (2022) draft, plus a first rounder in next year’s draft (and of course San Fran’s #12 pick in 2021). The first rounder this year ended up being pick #29 which wound up with the Patriots. They used it to draft a guard named Cole Strange.
- Look, I understand Garoppolo is injury prone. He missed 23 games in 3 seasons from 2018-2020. And I get that he overthrew Emmanuel Sanders at the end of the Super Bowl in 2019. I understand why the Niners thought they couldn’t win with him and that they need to upgrade. But it’s not like the guy is Rex Grossman or something. Teams have won Super Bowls with worse quarterbacks before. It’s not like it’s impossible to win with Jimmy G. I feel like the Niners made an incredibly impulsive decision based solely on the idea that a rookie draft pick quarterback is a complete unknown and could turn into something great. It was just a total roll of the dice. They figured they have Garoppolo under contract still, let’s just roll the dice and see if this Lance kid turns out to be a superstar.
- I understand all that, but the reason I think it was the dumbest move ever is because, again, I never thought Lance would work out in the NFL. Again, fewest snaps of any college QB drafted; played at an FCS program. The Niners knew all this and said screw it we’re doing it anyway because of his potential. They were enamored by the talent and started daydreaming and what-if’ing.
- Okay, I’m going to stop beating this dead horse now. I think I’ve made my point. I wish the Niners had come to their senses at the last minute on draft night and just taken JaMarr Chase, but they didn’t. They wasted a golden opportunity to bolster their Super Bowl roster with a high draft pick in a loaded draft class. It’s not every year you get a top-12 draft pick—much less top-3!—while you’re in the middle of a Super Bowl window being open.
- The Colts Suck: That’s it. That’s the take. I didn’t really watch the game other than what I saw on RedZone, but the Colts are atrocious. They lost 24-0 to the Jaguars, man. Maybe they’re just cursed anytime they go down to Jacksonville. But Matt Ryan has been brutal so far, and now people are talking about Reich being on the hot seat.
- The Giants are 2-0: Are they actually good? I’m not buying it yet. They’ve beaten the Titans and the Panthers, both look like bad teams. But the Giants are way better than they have been for the past like 6 years. So that’s a positive. They’re going in the right direction.
- The Lions Got a Win: I’m a sucker for Hard Knocks teams in general, but the Lions are especially likable with Dan Campbell and all their young players. I’m pulling for them. And Amon-Ra St. Brown–nicknamed “Sungod,” because that’s who Amon-Ra was in Ancient Egypt, the Sun god–is an absolute beast. I knew he was going to be good in the NFL because a lot of the podcasts and NFL youtube channels I follow were raving about him in the lead up to last year’s draft, but it was still no sure thing. He was drafted in the 4th round, after all. I don’t understand how that happened. The dude is a baller.
- The Cardinals Somehow Won: They were down 20-0 at one point in that game and it was all, “Fire Kliff Kingsbury, Kyler Murray likes Call of Duty more than football, this team sucks, etc.” And they somehow won the game. Little Kyler just running around back there in the pocket for like 15 seconds before finding open receivers, it feels unfair honestly. He’s just so shifty and elusive. It’s like he has all day to throw.
- I feel horrible for Hunter Renfrow fumbling that game away in OT. But hey, you have to protect the football. The Raiders should’ve won that game, but this is how the NFL works these days. Teams are generally so much more competent offensively, and the rules are slanted in favor of the offense, that teams down 20-0 more often than not will come back and make things interesting. The Browns were up 30-17 on the Jets with under 2 minutes to play and still lost. Three-score leads are not safe anymore in today’s NFL. The NFL wants close games. I think they want every game to go to OT. Do the refs throw some questionable flags to bail out trailing teams that are unsuccessful on third or fourth down? I think so. But the Raiders had every opportunity to close that game out and they couldn’t do it.