Reflections on Watching the Other Teams Play Football

| November 24th, 2020

(1) Colts came into the week as the league’s top-ranked defense. Chiefs came into the week as the favorite to win the Super Bowl. Both teams allowed 31 points. Both teams won. The above Tweet from Mike Francesa mirrors something Gil Brandt Tweeted not so long ago and something I’ve been harping on this season. The days of building a team around the defense are over. You have to build a team that can score seven points with a minute remaining. Explosive players. Speed. Oh and someone who can accurately throw the football to explosive players with speed.

Monday Night Football’s game between two top 5 defenses should have cemented this idea.

(2) Just marvel at what the Steelers have done. This was a team defined by running the ball and playing defense for fifty years. They still do the latter well, drafting consistently good players on that side of the ball. But they saw how the league was changing and completely shifted their offensive philosophy. And year-after-year they’ve added more weapons, and more speed on the outside. Smith-Schuster. Washington. Diontae. Ray-Ray. Claypool. They’ve adapted to the modern game. And they have the quarterback.

(3) Carson Wentz is broken. His mechanics have gotten shaky. His internal clock is way off. Sometimes he rushes throws because of phantom pressure. Sometimes he holds onto the ball for an eternity. Is it fixable? Probably. But one has to believe Doug Pederson is considering more than just a Jalen Hurts package. Can Hurts possibly be worse than this?

(4) Everyone needs to stop with their anti-NFC East nonsense. We have divisions. You win the division, you get into the tournament. That’s the sport. And for those who don’t know, the NFC East carried the league’s ratings water for about twenty years. This was the best division in the sport for a long, long time. They’re having a down year. But I’m going to seriously enjoy watching this play out. (And I think it may be decided on the field, Week 17, when the Giants and Cowboys meet.)

(5) Joe Burrow is good for the NFL. Here’s hoping he’s back on the field in September. But I loved that he was the first to announce his injury as season-ending.

(6) There was no other possible reaction to Detroit’s performance against Carolina than this headline in the Free Press: “Sheila Ford Hamp’s promise to Detroit Lions fans is a farce with Matt Patricia as coach.” Detroit can’t fire Patricia with a game on Thursday. But if they lose to the Texans, it’s unlikely he still has a job this weekend.

Also, Matthew Stafford is 32 years old. Matthew Stafford is never going to win in Detroit. It just isn’t going to happen. Sportrac says the Lions have a “Potential Out” this off-season. Will they take it?

(7) The Chargers almost blew an 18-point lead to the Jets. Anthony Lynn is the sneakiest worst coach in the league. This team is routinely dominated in the second half. Don’t wait too long to make this change, Chargers. Justin Herbert is too good. (If Herbert were on the Bears he’d be leading the NFL in jersey sales.)

(8) It’s probably too simplistic but if you prevent Lamar Jackson from running down your throat and defend the middle of the field, he has zero answers. His last four games statistically: 201.7 yards per game, 5 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, a passer rating of roughly 85. And the Ravens are 1-3 over that stretch. He’s become an average quarterback because defenses are taking away his primary strengths.

General Note:

The league is wide open. The Chiefs should still be the favorite to win the title but there are about eight teams that could end up Super Bowl champion and it wouldn’t surprise me. It’s just a strange, strange season.

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