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.

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Around the League Tweets (Non-Twitter Version)

| December 7th, 2021

The league is bananas. And there’s a lot to digest every week. Here are some general thoughts.

  • Texted a friend of mine about this year’s quarterback class in the draft. Got a succinct response: “No starters”. So, if you are the Giants or Eagles, and you’re loaded with early picks, you’ll have to determine whether to wait a year before pulling the plug on your current starter. Daniel Jones and Jalen Hurts may not be “the guy” but replacing them with a high-profile veteran like Watson, Rodgers, Wilson may prove too costly.
  • Lamar Jackson is always going to have physical limitations with his arm. But his decision making is what’s proving costly for the Ravens. He’s playing recklessly and that team isn’t good enough to survive reckless quarterback play.
  • Not sure I’ve ever seen a tight end cost his team 14 points, but Gerald Everett did Sunday. He bobbled a touchdown pass into an INT and fumbled at the goal line. Without those two errors, Seattle blows out San Francisco.
  • Nine of Minnesota’s games this season have been decided on the final play. They are 3-6 in those games. That team is inexcusably out of the postseason right now and it looks like it will cost Mike Zimmer his job at season’s end.
  • It was not unexpected to see the Jaguars struggle this season. But I never expected an Urban Meyer team to be consistently blown out. (And Trevor Lawrence has not improved as the season has progressed. If anything, he looks burnt out.)
  • Joe Brady is to blame in Carolina, huh? Was it Brady who made a ridiculous trade for Sam Darnold? Did Brady try to rescue the season on the arm of a washed-up Cam Newton? Did Brady build an offense entirely around a running back that can’t stay on the field?

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Random Thoughts from Around the NFL (Mostly About Quarterbacks)

| November 30th, 2021

Feels like the big-ticket Bears items have been thoroughly discussed. So today, DBB takes a look around the NFL. (I’ll be writing more about my idol, the legendary Stephen Sondheim, in this week’s game preview.)

  • What are the Vikings going to do? Kirk Cousins is just good enough to keep you “in the hunt” and not good enough to win a big game/title. How much more evidence do they need? That organization needs to detonate this current program and build everything around Justin Jefferson.
  • Can Jalen Hurts become a professional passer? Because right now, he’s not close. That’s not to say the Eagles can’t win with him playing quarterback but they’re going to need a diet version of what Baltimore is doing. He’s physical. He’s got the leadership qualities you want. But that arm is backup level stuff.
  • Denver shouldn’t fire Vic Fangio. They should get him a quarterback.
  • Buffalo vs. New England on Monday Night Football is the game of the year, and it’s the most important regular season game for the Bills since the 1990s. They need to win. They need to kill the demon that has haunted them for two decades. And they need their quarterback to rise to the moment.
  • Justin Herbert is quietly not having a particularly good second season. He was bad Sunday in Denver and bad in three of his previous five games. He’s a special talent and the stats will always be there, but there are some red flags popping up.
  • Shad Khan has a lot invested in Urban Meyer but what the hell is going on in Jacksonville? There’s not one positive thing in that program, including Trevor Lawrence looking beyond ordinary. Meyer has always had the best players on the field because he’s a shady recruiter. That will never be the case in Jax.
  • Carson Wentz is capable of being a great quarterback for about two and a half quarters.

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My Six Favorite Players in the 2020 NFL Draft

| April 23rd, 2020

Each year I write this column. Usually, the players turn out to be pretty good because I pay zero attention to anything other than their football games, with this year’s exception of a punter doing bench press reps. I don’t care about their forty times. I don’t care about their three-cone. I just know what happened when they played football games against other football players.

Editor’s Note I: These are not the players I think are the five best in the draft. These are the five I like best.

Editor’s Note II: I loved Mitch Trubisky. I was wrong.

#6. Michael Turk, P, Arizona State

Why is a punter benching this much? Why is a punter benching at all?

He’s a good punter. He’s a legacy player. And he’s got toughness to him. Don’t be surprised if he’s still punting in the league a decade from now.

#5. K.J. Hamler, WR, Penn State

Here are the names usually associated with Hamler:

Ted Ginn Jr.

Tyreek Hill.

Tavon Austin.

Speed. Speed. Speed for days and night and long weekends and bank holidays. The Bears desperately need speed. Hamler has enough to fire up the grill and cook the hot dogs.

But here’s what stood out to me, watching Hamler’s tape. When he was lined up against the top corner in this draft, Ohio State’s Jeffrey Okudah, he shook him in press coverage. (Thanks to Lance Zierlein of NFL.com for pointing that out.) Hamler isn’t going to fit every offense. But there’s an offense in the midwest that he fits perfectly.

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ATM: QB Market Begins to Take Shape

| November 19th, 2019

As the Chicago Bears once again prepare to dive into the market for a quarterback, the list of players who are going to be available is becoming clear. Which direction the Bears go depends on what, exactly, they are looking to find.

If the Bears are looking for a clear-cut new starter, there should be several options.

If they’re merely looking for competition, there are some good options there too.

If they’re looking for a new franchise-type quarterback, that’s unlikely. But last week may have opened an option there too.

Here is a quick look:

Trade Targets

When Ian Rapoport goes on TV and specifically mentions the Bears as a team Cam Newton would be interested in, there’s a reason for it.


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