Week 17 Thoughts from Around the NFL

| January 4th, 2022

The Bears may not be playing meaningful games down the stretch, but it seems that just about every other game has some relevance.

  • Another big Colts game, another big Colts loss. And once again, it rests squarely on the shoulders of Carson Wentz, an awful player who cost the team, and their much-ballyhooed GM, a first-round pick. But if you’re hoping to find a national journalist critical of Chris Ballard, good luck. It won’t happen. Ballard is a good talent evaluator and he’s built a good roster. But he’s saddled that roster with a total liability at the most important position in sports and that gives the club a definitive ceiling.
  • Giving interim coaches the full-time gig rarely works but Rich Bisaccia is making a good case in Vegas. That team has been laden with adversity, and they just keep winning. Ed Graney’s lede in the Las Vegas Review-Journal: “The man has gone from not understanding how to operate a headset to making the most important decision of a Raiders season. Rich Bisaccia sure is taking this whole interim head coach label to another level. Someone alert Hollywood. The Raiders are one win from needing a screenplay.” 
    • The job Bisaccia is doing has some Bruce Arians in Indy vibes. The Jags, Bears, etc. should all add him to their interview list.
  • A famous coach maxim was always “you can’t coach accuracy at quarterback”. Well, the Eagles should spend the off-season trying to do it. Because Jalen Hurts has every intangible you’d want at the position. But man, he couldn’t hit a strip club in Tampa.
  • Joe Judge gave a nearly 12-minute answer at his postgame presser, attempting to defend his record with the Giants. Something happens to these New England assistants. They seem to think they have something to do with the program’s success. They don’t. (Except one. See two points below.)
  • People who care about Antonio Brown need to get him help. This kind of behavior is headed towards a tragic end. He’s not well and he needs treatment.
  • The difference between Mac Jones and the other rookies (Wilson, Lawrence, Fields) is coaching. The latter three have been out there fending for themselves. Jones is executing a meticulously detailed game plan that fits his game to perfection. Josh McDaniels has been the assistant coach of the year in the NFL.

  • Tennessee’s offensive line manhandled the Dolphins Sunday. Both of their running backs averaged north of five yards per carry, and they are getting healthier every week. (The Dolphins might have the hollowest 8 wins in recent memory.)
  • Joe Burrow to Ja’Marr Chase is going to give the league problems for the next decade. Chase, as a rookie, is first in averages yards per catch, second in touchdowns and fourth in yards. He might not be the imposing figure Justin Jefferson is, but he’s got a reliable quarterback that loves him. That’s the pathway to the Hall of Fame at wideout.
  • Seattle Times is treating Russell Wilson’s performance Sunday as his swan song.
  • Kiszla: “Rise up, Broncos Country, and refuse to attend final home game of this no-account, lousy NFL team. We all know the biggest barrier between this team and victory. It’s coaching.”
  • Trey Lance had an up-and-down first start but it’s very clear Kyle Shanahan will return to Jimmy G. as soon as the veteran is healthy.
  • Mike Preston of the Baltimore Sun is critical of the Ravens’ offensive approach, which he deems the football equivalent of small ball. He’s right. The game is won with explosive plays now, not 15-play drives which leave you a limited margin for error. Even with a healthy Lamar Jackson, the Ravens are built offensively to play one way and can’t really adapt to the situation. Is that sustainable long-term?

If the playoffs started today.

  • AFC
    • Titans bye.
    • Chargers at Chiefs, Colts at Bengals, Pats at Bills.
    • Chargers and Raiders have a play-in game on Sunday night.
  • NFC
    • Packers bye.
    • Eagles at Rams, Niners at Bucs, Cardinals at Cowboys.
    • Saints can still sneak in by beating the Falcons if the Niners lose to the Rams.

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