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.

Read More …

Tagged: , , , , , ,


The Justin Paradigm: When Thinking About the 2021 Bears, Consider the 2020 Chargers.

| May 20th, 2021

In 2020, they went 7-9, with some inexplicable losses.

They finished third in their division.

At the end of the season, they fired their head coach.

Their campaign, in terms of results, in terms of the scores of the contests, was a failure.

But a cursory glance at the Los Angeles Chargers blogosphere, followed by a survey of national media types (especially Mays and Tice at The Athletic), would lead one to a very different conclusion. Optimism abounds. Hope reigns. Everything’s coming up roses.  (Or pick another showtune, if ya like.)

The reason is simple. In the 2020 NFL Draft, they drafted a kid called Justin to play quarterback. And in the aforementioned season, Herbert proved he’s their long-term answer at the position. When you get that question right, the others seem far less important.

This is the objective for the 2021 Chicago Bears. Sure, we will all want them to win as many games as possible. (Without a first round pick, losing has 0% value.) Sure, we’d like them to be as entertaining as humanly possible; a seemingly difficult ask for this offense over the last few seasons, as they staged one colossal bore after another on the back of an incompetent quarterback.  And sure, we’d love to see some of these high-priced defenders (Mack, Quinn, Jackson…etc.) play up to their contracts.

But none of that matters when it comes to long-term projections for this organization. What matters is the kid called Justin they drafted to play quarterback. What matters is sitting here on May 20th of NEXT year, knowing the Bears have their man at the most important position in team sports.

If they do, their championship “window” opens in 2022. And it doesn’t close for a decade.

Tagged: ,