NFL Week 10 Tiers, Hot Takes and Reactions 

Okay, Monday Night Football has just concluded and the Eagles are undefeated no longer.

And I’m kicking them out of the top-tier club.

Philly did not look good tonight. Their inability to stop the run for most of that game enabled Washington to hold a 40 to 20 minute advantage in time of possession.

I know Jordan Davis is out for Philly, and that has really kneecapped their interior run defense, but it’s a little concerning that their run defense hinges on a rookie. And it wasn’t just their run defense, either. Somehow, their pass defense played horrible and made Taylor Heinicke looked like Patrick Mahomes out there. Philly got a strip sack fumble early in the game, and turned it into a touchdown, but other than that, very little pressure on the passer in that game.

Not a great pass rush, incapable of stopping the run until the end–I’m worried about the Eagles defense. Yes, they tightened up late and admittedly Philly was in that game til the very end. They had opportunities to win, but their offense just kept turning the ball over. Dallas Goedert had a pretty unforgivable fumble, and then Quez Watkins had a completely unforgivable fumble in the fourth quarter after catching a deep bomb that would have put the Eagles in the red zone down just 26-21. Jalen Hurts had a pick in the first half on a deep ball to AJ Brown in double coverage. It was ill-advised.

It was their first loss of the season. I don’t want to overreact. And AJ Brown definitely got hurt very early in the game, and was never the same. I think he was a decoy for most of the game. Jalen Hurts was mostly bottled up as far as running the ball goes.

Look, I can understand the offense having an off night. But what I can’t forgive here is a defense completely incapable of getting a stop and allowing the Commanders to absolutely dominate time of possession. Look at this:

Philly’s drives: 51 seconds, 3 minutes 30 seconds, 1 minute 17 seconds, 33 seconds. That’s barely over 6 minutes of possession time in the first half for the Eagles. Washington by definition had about 24.

Philly ran 19 plays in the first half, Washington ran–wait for it–53 plays.

This is why the Eagles offense was so lackluster: they were only able to run 47 plays in the game to Washington’s 81. That’s an insane discrepancy. Philly averaged 5.6 yards per play to Washington’s 4.1. You should win the game when you are ahead by 1.5 yards in YPP.

The only way you lose is if the other team runs 34 more plays than you do. Which only happens when you cannot stop the run.

At one point Washington was like 12-15 on third downs. They finished 12-21, but there was a long stretch where they were just automatic on third down. And I just don’t know if I can trust Philly after that. I need to see their defense step up here and and play better. Maybe I’m overreacting. They’ve only lost once all season and they had plenty of chance to win that game in spite of how poorly their defense played. And they still only let up 26 points on defense (the 32 points for Washington came from a fumble recovery touchdown on the last play of the game after a botched desperation lateral).

One thing I do want to say in the Eagles defense, that roughing the passer flag the refs threw to basically end the game, that was a load of horseshit. You cannot end a game on a ticky-tack, chickenshit call like this:

Especially when Heinicke flopped and sold it.

Heinicke immediately gets up and starts celebrating like crazy, because he knew exactly what he did.

You cannot end a game like that. That is horrible.

I know the 49ers beat the Chargers, and I know they’re a good team, but at this point the 49ers taking Trey Lance over Justin Fields might go down as the biggest bag fumble in NFL history. Just think of how good the 49ers currently are, and then think about the fact that they traded up from 12 to 3 in the 2021 draft first round, also giving up a 2022 first rounder, a 2023 first rounder, and a 2022 third rounder, for a guy who has basically not helped them out at all. They are just right back to the same QB they had prior to making that trade.

I’m not just saying this now that Justin Fields is proving to be a phenom and Trey Lance is out for the season. I was saying this prior to the 2021 draft. I have always thought Fields was the better QB prospect, and not only that, I went into great detail about why I thought it was a very risky move for any team to draft Trey Lance last year. Dating back to at least 2003, there has been no quarterback to be drafted to the NFL with less college experience than Trey Lance. He was and remains an extremely raw and unproven player, and was always a terrible fit for the 49ers, a team trying to win now.

There has never been a time in their lives where Trey Lance was a better quarterback than Justin Fields. For one, Fields is a year older than Lance and thus has more experience. Trey Lance was 20 years old when he was drafted.

But in high school, Justin Fields was a 5-star prospect. Some publications, like ESPN, had him as the #1 recruit in the nation in the class of 2018, while others, like Rivals and 247, had Trevor Lawrence #1 and Fields #2. No matter how you slice it, though, he was an elite QB prospect dating all the way back to high school. Trey Lance, on the other hand, could not get an offer to play quarterback at a Power Five school. He dreamed of playing QB at the University of Minnesota, but they wanted him to play wide receiver or defensive back. He eventually wound up at FCS North Dakota State.

Now, I’m not trying to be an elitist here or anything. I am not trying to say your high school recruiting star rating determines your destiny. I’m just pointing out that at every step of the way, Fields was considered the much, much better talent. It’s possible Trey Lance could turn out to have the better NFL career–guys can improve and prove the doubters wrong. But from youth all throughout college, Fields was the far superior QB prospect.

Until the 2021 NFL Draft, for some reason. Once draft season heated up in the spring of 2021, for whatever reason, Trey Lance skyrocketed up draft boards, while Fields kind of fell out of popularity.

And the problem is that Trey Lance really did nothing to prove he was better than Fields. Trey Lance sat out all but one game of the 2020 Covid season, while Fields was basically the guy who lead the charge in the Big Ten to un-cancel the football season. He led Ohio State to the National Championship game that year while Trey Lance was doing nothing.

Trey Lance only had 318 collegiate pass attempts at North Dakota State, and somehow people thought that was enough to vault him over Justin Fields. Fields, meanwhile, not only played in 34 collegiate games to Lance’s 19, Fields also played in the Big Ten, played in the college football playoff twice, and generally played against significantly tougher competition.

I thought the whole football world was taking crazy pills seeing all these people suddenly and spontaneously come to the conclusion that Lance was a better pro prospect than Fields. Were these people all on drugs or something? Fields was the better QB prospect since middle school, Fields had a much better college career, but suddenly Lance is the better pro prospect?

It’s not a size thing, either. Fields is listed at 6’3″ 227lbs. Lance is listed at 6’4″ and 224lbs. They’re basically the same size.

Fields has always been faster, always been a better runner, and in my opinion always been a better passer.

This has all been evident since college. What did Trey Lance have that Justin Fields didn’t have? I genuinely want to know how on earth someone could look at those two players and say Trey Lance is the better pro prospect.

Yes, it has taken Fields some time to really blossom into a star player in the NFL. He was not good as a rookie. But the whole football community was in agreement about Trey Lance that he was extremely raw and would require a lot of coaching and developing. So even as raw as Fields was, he was still the more pro-ready prospect of the two.

The 49ers fumbled the bag epically, massively, catastrophically in taking Trey Lance over Justin Fields.

Could you imagine the 49ers with Justin Fields right now–how dangerous they would be? Could you imagine Fields being developed by Kyle Shanahan?

The 49ers would be the best team in the league by a mile. They would be unstoppable. They would be the most explosive and entertaining team in the league.

And they didn’t even need to trade up to #3 to draft Fields, either. They only would’ve had to trade up to 10 to get him, which is what the Bears did.

The 49ers taking Lance instead of Fields will go down as a massive blunder. Similar to the Bears trading up in 2017 to draft Mitch Trubisky while Patrick Mahomes went at #10. Now, it’s way too early to compare Fields to Mahomes, but the 49ers don’t need Mahomes. They already have a great roster as it is. Fields would’ve put them over the top.

How many Super Bowls did the 49ers miss out on by choosing Lance over Fields?

The Vikings Beat the Bills in the Game of the Year

The Justin Jefferson catch was the greatest I’ve ever seen outside of the helmet catch. It was better than the Odell catch. 

The Odell catch happened in the second quarter on first down and the score was 7-3. Giants were 2-7 in that game. The Jefferson catch was on 4th and 18 on the road down 27-23 at the end of the game. This was as clutch as it possibly gets. Justin Jefferson just took over the game. 

I’ve kind of been a little skeptical on JJ throughout his career. I’ve thought he was good, but a bit overrated. I thought he was overrated because of the griddy and little kids love him because of that. Yeah, he’s a really good receiver, but I always thought guys like Diggs, Tyreek, Chase, Kupp, and Davante were all better than him. I thought he was not a top-5 receiver, he was just really popular because of his signature dance. 

But I’m a believer now. Justin Jefferson is HIM. Dude is absolutely a superstar. He just took over that game. Anything thrown in his direction was being caught. And he actually had another catch after The Catch that was ridiculous, to get Minnesota all the way down to the goal line. I think he’s the best receiver in the league honestly. He can do everything. He’s a deep threat, he makes incredible catches, he can get open, he’s an elite route runner, he has body control. He’s HIM. 

As for the game itself, look, I said if the Bill lost this game I would kick them out of the top tier, and I did. The Bills choked this one away in a major way. Buffalo was up 27-10 in this game at the end of the third quarter, and they blew it.

The turnovers are just killer. Maybe it’s Josh Allen’s elbow that caused him to throw those picks; I know he’s not 100%.

Buffalo had this game won. It was over. They even tweeted it out and had to delete it after they got that stop on the goal line at the end. But then that botched snap became a Vikings touchdown, and the Bills had to rush down the field in the final minute to kick the field goal and force overtime. I don’t know if it was Josh Allen’s fault or the center’s fault, but the fact is that this was a collective effort by the Bills to choke this game away. You can’t blame any one player on their team or even any one unit of their team, it was a team effort to choke that game away.

Credit the Vikings for having the ability to take it away from the Bills, Minnesota made play after play after play after play in that game. And Minnesota deserves to be moved up to the top tier.

But as for the Bills, I just don’t have faith in them anymore. Yes, Josh Allen is banged up. But Buffalo is flawed. They have some very real concerns.

I want receipts for all the people who were absolutely livid over the Colts hiring Jeff Saturday. I was surprised at just how ANGRY it made people. People freaked the hell out:

People were LIVID.

But now Jeff Saturday is 1-0 as interim head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, proving not that he’s going to be a great coach or anything–it’ll take a lot more than one game to prove that–but that he can do this job.

The way people were talking about Jeff Saturday, you’d think the Colts had just hired Miley Cyrus to be their head coach or something–a person with zero connection to football whatsoever.

Let’s stop acting like it’s impossible to be an NFL head coach without taking “the traditional path”–i.e. analyst > quality control > position coach > coordinator > head coach.

Honestly a lot of the head coaches in the league that were thought to be terrible hires are doing great. Sean McVay was 30 when he was hired to be the Rams head coach. 30! People thought there was no way he would work out. He worked out. Nick Sirianni had a terrible press conference to open up his tenure with the Eagles. He’s been a great coach through his first two seasons.

You know John Harbaugh, Super Bowl winning head coach for the Ravens, been a head coach for for like 15 years now?

He was a special teams coordinator before getting the Ravens job. A special teams coordinator!

I know he didn’t work out as a head coach, but in 2017, the Chargers hired Anthony Lynn as head coach. The year before that, he was a running backs coach. He completely skipped over the offensive coordinator role, and nobody was pissed off about it. There was no righteous indignation about how he was defiling the integrity of the league.

I get that none of these guys had ZERO NFL coaching experience, but the point is there have been plenty of “outside the box” or unconventional hires.

And Jeff Saturday isn’t even the full-time head coach. He’s an interim head coach. He was brought in to coach out the last half of the season and people are acting like he got a 10 year contract (which is what the Raiders gave Jon Gruden in 2018 after Gruden had spent the previous DECADE as a color commentator on Monday Night Football).

Jeff Saturday is smart, he’s humble, he’s a guy who knows there are things he doesn’t know—in other words he doesn’t think he has it all figured out. He knows he has blind spots, he knows he has to delegate. All he really needs to do is be a strong presence, hold guys accountable, motivate his players and lean on his experience as a player to make decisions in key moments.

People don’t understand how much brainpower is required to play center. It’s just about on par with being a quarterback. Jeff Saturday played with Peyton manning for a decade. That’s probably the most high football IQ combo between a QB and center the league has ever seen.

Jeff Saturday knows football, he’s a big personality, he’s a leader of men, he’s a great communicator. Why can’t he be a good head coach? Because he’s not an Xs and Os wizard? Do you think Mike McCarthy is an offensive genius? You don’t need to be some sort of film room junkie to be a good head coach. In fact a lot of the time those guys fail as head coaches because they aren’t alphas. They don’t command respect from grown men.

Leadership, personality and strength of Will are more important traits in a head coach than being a film room junkie. It’s not complicated. Working his way through the ranks for 10 years as an analyst and an assistant was not necessary for Jeff Saturday because he already possesses the personality traits, leadership credibility and emotional intelligence to be a leader of men. He’s cut out to be a head coach whether you like it or not. 

You can delegate a lot of the Xs and Os and playcalling duties to your coordinators. Obviously you have to know a lot about football, but Jeff Saturday does. No one denies that. 

People are just mad because he’s perceived to have cut in line. He didn’t go the route he was “supposed” to go. Well, maybe we ought to re think the whole idea of the “traditional path.” Maybe it’s not necessary to start at the bottom and make your way all the way up to head coaching over years and years. Maybe that whole rigid hierarchy ladder is a dumb idea. 

I think Jeff Saturday is actually doing something incredible that will benefit untold numbers of people in the future: he’s proving that an outside the box head coaching candidate is viable. The available talent pool for head coaches just got much larger. The NBA already does this. Guys go straight from playing to head coaching. Jason Kidd did it. Derek Fisher did it.

Saturday is proving you don’t have to come from within the coaching ranks. If you’ve got juice, if you’re a leader of men, if you have high football IQ, you can be an effective NFL head coach. Who cares if someone hasn’t paid his dues?

I think Jeff is opening up a pathway to coaching that didn’t even exist until this past week. How many former players out there that would like to get into coaching but haven’t because they didn’t want to start out on the ground floor are now thinking to themselves, “Hey, maybe I could do this as well. Maybe I could go that route.”

This breaks down barriers for so many capable but perhaps “unqualified” guys to enter the coaching ranks.

I hope Jeff Saturday keeps winning and keeps proving the doubters wrong.

I’ll stop talking now. Pat McAfee does a much better job than me at breaking this all down and calling out the hypocrisy of all the people who were ripping Saturday and the Colts to shreds:

Various takes:

  • McVay is an overrated head coach. He’s not a bad coach, but he’s not an elite coach like everyone thinks. He’s a good-not-great head coach. I’m convinced. How is he an offensive genius, exactly? Other than the 2018 season, when have they ever been this elite offense?
  • The Rams are good because they have an elite defense. They were a super team. That’s why they won the Super Bowl. Not because of McVay’s genius.
  • He’s a good coach, but he’s not as brilliant or clever as everyone thinks.
  • I’m not buying into this Packers win. The Cowboys always choke to the Packers. For whatever reason, no matter how bad the packers may be, they always seem to be able to beat the Cowboys and the Bears.

And finally, there is a movement growing in the NFL to get rid of the artificial turf fields because of all the non-contact injuries.

I think it’s a long-overdue move, and the players are right to put their collective foot down:

Aaron Rodgers has voiced his support.

So has David Bakhtiari:

Cooper Kupp:

De’Vondre Campbell:

Calais Campbell:

Nick Bosa:

JC Tretter, the head of the player’s union, has made a formal demand which can be found here:

The official demand is not that all games must be played on grass, but just that those 6 stadiums with the slit film turf playing surfaces make a switch.

But ultimately all NFL games should be played on a real grass field.

This person on Twitter brought up a good point on the matter:

The NFL doesn’t give a shit about player safety.

They care about propagating the APPEARANCE that they care about player safety.

People SEE refs throwing flags for scary looking hits, and it LOOKS like the NFL is taking a firm stance in favor of player safety.

It’s all about optics for the NFL. They just want to make it look like they care.

But now you have the players themselves making it clear that they don’t want to play on artificial turf anymore because it causes way too many injuries, and what does the NFL have to say about it? Nothing.

If they cared about Player Safety™ they would be conducting studies into how safe or dangerous the various playing surfaces are. And then they would take the results of those studies, put them into action, and make the game of football safer.

We’ll see if this actually results in a change. I think it eventually will if enough players get on board.

The matter of how dangerous artificial turf is cannot be ignored any longer. The players seem to be saying “no more.”

I mean, did you see the Rashan Gary injury? He was completely untouched, and it resulted in a torn ACL which will sideline him for a YEAR:

He was just running and moving like normal, and one wrong plant on that artificial Detroit turf–boom. Torn ACL.

Sterling Shepard, earlier this year: completely untouched, he was simply jogging, and just like that, done for the season.

That’s the MetLife turf monster, which is arguably the worst playing surface of them all.

I don’t think you can completely eliminate freak occurrences like this from the game.

The issue is that stuff like this happens way too often to be called “freak occurrences.” And it generally doesn’t happen on natural grass fields as much.

Because real grass has dirt underneath it, not concrete. Real grass has give to it.

No more artificial turf. It’s time for the NFL to go to all grass.

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