NFL Week 8 Reactions, Hot Takes and Tiers

The newly updated tiers:

There’s just a ton of mediocrity in the league right now.

I bumped the 49ers up to the second tier because of how good McCaffrey looked. I know they always beat the Rams, so I don’t know how impressive a win that was, but I think I was a little too low on San Fran last week after they got beaten pretty soundly at home by the Chiefs. The 49ers will be there in January as long as they stay healthy, I’m not worried about them.

And then the Titans, who are flying under the radar at 5-2. Tennessee hasn’t beaten any truly good teams this year since starting 0-2 (the Raiders, the Colts twice, the Commanders and the Texans) and they got steamrolled by the Bills, but the Titans are probably going to be a playoff team. They take care of business when they’re supposed to.

I’m about one win away from bumping the Seahawks up to the second tier, too. They’re a flawed team, for sure, and they are probably overachieving right now, but they’re fun, and it’s hilarious to see them thriving without Russell Wilson when everyone predicted them to be the worst team in the league. Bonus points for being better than the Broncos, which is just great.

Also, I’ve given up on the Raiders. I had them in the middle tier last week, but then they lost 24-0 to the Saints. Blanked. The Raiders are not a very good team. I still think they can turn it around because they have a lot of talent, but here’s the thing: most of it is on offense, and their offense just got shutout. Can’t have that. Offensive Genius™ Josh McDaniels better get it figured out soon here, because a lot of the Raiders’ losses up to the point, I could excuse, but not this one.

So things have gone from mediocre to bad to worse for the Indianapolis Colts.

After losing to the Titans last week, they benched Matt Ryan. Ryan got hurt, but the Colts went out of their way to let everyone know that they would’ve benched him regardless.

They went out of their way to disrespect a former league MVP and throw him under the bus. Didn’t need to at all, they could’ve just said it was because he’s hurt.

They wanted to.

This week, after losing to the Commanders at home, they fired their offensive coordinator Marcus Brady. Frank Reich will now assume playcalling duties.

My question is, what happens after next week?

Last week the problem was Matt Ryan, this week the problem Marcus Brady is the problem.

Who will be thrown under the bus next?

Frank Reich?

I feel like he’s *this* close to being fired.

This is an interesting observation:

So the trade deadline came and went, and a lot of teams made moves.

In fact, according to Ari Meirov of PFF, there were a total of 20 trades made during this season:

And in what has become an annual tradition, the Green Bay Packers decline to make a move at the deadline.

They have nobody at wide receiver.

They don’t care. They’re not making a trade. They’re not bringing in some help for Aaron Rodgers.

Even the Chicago Bears made a trade for a wide receiver. The Bears are one of the biggest “Eat Your Damn Vegetables!” franchises in the NFL. They’re stuck 40 years in the past, they don’t believe in offense, they don’t believe in all these new fangled positions like wide receivers and quarterbacks and the forward pass–and even they made a move to bring in a weapon for Fields.

(As an aside, people are saying the Bears flipped Roquan Smith for Chase Claypool. That is not true. The second round pick the Bears traded to the Steelers was their own, not the pick they got from the Ravens in exchange for Smith. So the Bears could have made this move without trading Roquan. I approve of the Claypool trade for sure, but not the Roquan trade. I think it would be awesome to have both of them going forward, and they could’ve.)

In the NFL right now, it is as clear as day: you need to get your young quarterback an elite pass-catcher. The Bills got Stefon Diggs and watched Josh Allen become a top-2 QB in the league. The Eagles got AJ Brown and now Jalen Hurts is a star. The Dolphins drafted Jaylen Waddle really high, and then went out and got Tyreek Hill for Tua. Tua looks better than ever.

The Bengals had Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd, added Ja’Marr Chase anyway, and they went from 4 wins in 2020 to the Super Bowl in 2021. Chase took Joe Burrow to the next level. You just saw the Bengals without Chase on Monday Night Football get curb-stomped by the Browns.

Even the Bears now understand that you need WEAPONS in this league.

It is no longer enough to have a franchise quarterback. Just look at the Packers.

You need elite weapons.

There’s this idea out there that great quarterbacks can turn anyone into a stud receiver.

And yes, we have examples like Peyton Manning lighting it up with Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie. But the Colts back then still had Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark. Those guys were elite pass-catchers independent of Peyton. Peyton took them to another level, but they great with or without him.

But we are now seeing in the NFL today that great receivers actually make their quarterbacks look better. Great receivers take quarterbacks to another level.

And yet the Packers, who had Davante Adams and let him go, are now stubbornly clinging to the idea that wide receivers are unimportant; Aaron Rodgers can put up those numbers with anybody at wide receiver, they think.

It’s obviously not true. We can all see it.

The Packers are now the league’s biggest “Eat Your Damn Vegetables!” franchise in the league. They would never DREAM of trading for a wide receiver, because they’re stuck in the past and believe receivers are superfluous; all sizzle, no steak.

They would never DREAM of spending a first round pick on a wide receiver; they’d rather draft defense and offensive line in the first round.

Don’t get me wrong, you need a defense and you need an offensive line, but the idea that wide receivers are not a very high priority is simply outdated. And I don’t think it’s ever been true, honestly. The 49ers dynasty had Jerry Rice, the Cowboys dynasty had Michael Irvin, the Patriots had some really good receivers through the years during their run.

Look at the teams that have won the Super Bowl recently and the pass-catching weapons they had:

  • 2021 Rams: Cooper Kupp (Super Bowl MVP), Odell Beckham
  • 2020 Bucs: Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Gronk, Antonio Brown
  • 2019 Chiefs: Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce
  • 2018 Patriots: Julian Edelman (Super Bowl MVP), Gronk
  • 2017 Eagles: Alshon Jeffrey, Zach Ertz, Nelson Agholor (maybe not elite weapons here, but definitely capable pass-catchers)

The NFL of 2022 is a weapons league.

The Packers are Exhibit A of why that’s true. And it’s not a coincidence that they are one of the few teams that doesn’t understand this yet. They are still in the mindset of “Eat Your Damn Vegetables,” they would rather draft safeties and guards over receivers, and it has probably over the past few years and including this year cost them a chance at another Super Bowl.

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