Week 16 Thoughts from Around the NFL

| December 28th, 2021

All that remains for the 2021 Chicago Bears are the decision on Ryan Pace and the firing of Matt Nagy. Dissecting these individual games just seems like a pointless enterprise. So, after a few days of watching the rest of the league, here are some thoughts on those games, and perhaps some lessons the Bears can learn (but not really).

  • Justin Herbert’s numbers don’t reflect how bad he was Sunday in Houston. And that’s not an uncommon occurrence this season. He’s had 5-6 flat out poor performances and it’s a reminder that becoming a great QB in this league takes time and even immense talents like this face road blocks.
    • Side note: Lovie Smith coached a brilliant game against the Chargers.
  • Josh Allen was as good against New England as a QB can be and if his receivers caught the football consistently the Bills would have won by 30. Buffalo is going win their final two games and be a team to reckon with in the tournament.
  • Nobody compiles more hollow statistics than Kirk Cousins. And Justin Jefferson has had enough, questioning just about every aspect of the organization postgame. The Vikings should listen to him because he’s one of the best players in the league and his statements are the statements of leaders.
  • How are the Rams not worried about the Matthew Stafford Experiment? Stafford’s season-long numbers are solid but he’s now prone to these blowup games where he looks like a third stringer. Does anybody trust him to win multiple playoff games?
  • The Giants are under the spell of Joe Judge and, while I understand their reluctance to fire another coach, they are making a mistake by not doing it. His postgame press conferences have been the most embarrassing I can remember, continually claiming progress that no one on earth by he can see. Judge was handpicked for this gig by Bill Belichick, but Belichick has proven an inability to produce the kind of coaching tree that many legendary coaches produce. The Giants are lucky Mike Francesa no longer has the country’s most prominent sports radio platform.
  • The initial three frontrunners for the Jags head coaching gig – Doug Pederson, Jim Caldwell, Byron Leftwich – are the right guys. And while it might not be conventional, the team should have each meet with Trevor Lawrence before making the decision. That relationship could define the franchise for the next decade and Lawrence knows more about offensive football than the team’s owners.
  • I am not a Bill Simmons guy (generally) but his Monday “Guess the Lines” podcasts with Cousin Sal have been excellent this year. Kyle Shanahan’s record, Michele Tafoya’s sabbatical, Kyle Murray as the new Mr. October, the Vegas Raiders as Michael Myers, etc. It’s also a nice way to recap an NFL Sunday if you’re not interested in the excruciating (and frankly, boring) detail of Robert Mays and The Athletic pod.
    • On the latter podcast, I just don’t understand the approach. It is Monday morning. At that stage, most of us have watched MAYBE three games. When Mays and Nate Tice are breaking down specific plays in Bengals/Ravens, I have no frame of reference. Thus, the discussion isn’t interesting. People want the specific details when it comes to the teams they follow. Do they want that across the league? I sure don’t.

  • The Browns can’t pay Baker Mayfield top quarterback money. But they also have to solve their quarterback position because that roster – with one more weapon outside and a QB – is a Super Bowl contender. (The coach might be an issue, but the players can overcome that.)
  • Turns out Joe Brady wasn’t the problem in Carolina. No, the problem might be the head coach deciding to go all-in on Sam Darnold for 2021/2022. But who the hell platoons their quarterbacks in the NFL? Can someone please explain to Matt Rhule that this isn’t Temple?
  • It is often hard to answer a question like “who is your least favorite person” in a particular sport. But with Antonio Brown in the NFL, it is significantly easier.
  • Think about how many weapons the Dallas Cowboys have. Now compare that to the Chicago Bears. If the Bears want to compete with the league’s top teams, they need playmakers.
    • No jokes aside, Jets vs. Jags was one of the silliest games ever played. It featured Zach Wilson scrambling for a 52-yard touchdown, wherein about six Jaguar defenders just assumed he’d run out of bounds and so they just let him keep going. It featured an offensive lineman recovering a Lawrence fumble in the end zone for a touchdown. It featured a touchdown pass to a tackle and a 102-yard kick return TD. It was silly, but it was also supremely fun to watch.
  • A few weeks back it seemed Vic Fangio was going to keep his job in Denver. But now that’s seeming unlikely, with Peter King suggesting a combination of Nathaniel Hackett and Aaron Rodgers in Denver next season.

Two weeks remain in this NFL regular season. And two weeks until the Bears begin their search for Justin Fields’ head coach.

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