The 2020 Draft Class

As we reach the halfway point of the season, I believe it’s a good point to look back at the 2020 draft class. A class brimming with talent. They have had to deal with a lot (as we all have) and whilst that seems to have effected some – others have thrived. With that in mind, these are the 10 players that I believe have made the largest impact for their draft position this season – or players that will make an impact in the coming weeks. Some (one in particular) have proven me wrong whilst others have lived up to my expectations. This could be an all-time great class.

Joe Burrow QB (Pick 1 – CIN):

It makes sense to start with the first overall pick. The former LSU Tiger jumped up draft boards and into the lap of the Bengals over the 19/20 season due to his record setting year. Burrow is playing behind a bad O-Line – it is awful – it’s currently ranked 31st in pass protection (per Football Outsiders) and 25th in run power rankings.  The main issue is seen at the tackle spots, currently maned by Jonah Williams and Bobby Hart, whilst there is promise with Williams (former 11th overall selection – 2019), Hart is top priority to replace. However, Burrow has carried this team around these issues. He was sacked 8 times against the Eagles and 7 times against the Ravens, but he gets up and he throws and throws and carries this team. Using fellow rookie Tee Higgins and running back Joe Mixon (when healthy) to his advantage – Burrow has thrown for 2272yds through 8 games (282yds/game) behind one of the worst O-Lines in the league. He has led the team to 2 wins and a draw with the latest win beating a surprise beat down of the highly talented Tennessee Titans. He is living up to his NO.1 billing, but everyone needs to hope the Bengals don’t ruin him, we don’t want another David Carr or Andrew Luck.

Tua Tagovailoa QB (Pick 5 – MIA):

Tua made his first starting, replacing the magical Fitzpatrick, against the Rams. He passed for only 93yds and 1TD but that was enough to leave with a win. Tua looked shaky and not confident out of the field but he took care of the ball and let the Brian Flores masterclass on defence (he likes playing Sean McVay clearly – see Superbowl 53) takeover. Tua has promise, may worry for him on draft day was how injury prone he was in college but he didn’t take any unnecessary large hits and protected the football. He is a prospect to wait on right now.

Justin Herbert QB (Pick 6 – LAC):

I apologise to Herbert, I believe I gave him my lowest grade of 1st round picks. I did not like him at all and all he has done is balled out. Gone is his lack of anticipation, gone are his hospital passes, gone are his constant 50/50 balls down the sideline. Instead, most of the time, we are seeing a calm, consistent QB. Through 6 games he’s thrown 15TDs to only 5INTs – not bad for a rookie. He went toe to toe with Superbowl MVP Patrick Mahomes and then the GOAT himself Tom Brady, losing each by a single score. He has shown he belongs in this league but there is one issue. The Chargers are blowing leads, Herbert has played well but as the QB he needs to lead this team and come through in the clutch when necessary, this hasn’t happened so far, the losses haven’t been his fault but it’s still his responsibility to win. Having said that he is better already than I imagined he would ever be, and I hope he continues to prove me wrong.

Jedrick Wills T (Pick 10 – CLE):

Wills has slotted in nicely to this much improved Browns team. He has held his own against top pass rushers. He has made some mistakes but for a rookie to have faced the Ravens, Steelers and Washington’s D-Lines and only concede 3 sacks, best for 9th in the league (per Pro Football Focus), that’s not bad – in fact that’s pretty great. He does have an issue with false starts, conceded 5 already but that is a matter of experience, something he will gain. He is well on his way to becoming one of the top tackles in the game, his pass blocking and run blocking for the fearsome due of Hunt and Chubb (when healthy) is far in excess of the usual rookie.

Justin Jefferson WR (Pick 22 – MIN):

There are only two bright spots in all of Minnesota right now – Dalvin Cook and this rookie WR, Justin Jefferson. He exploded onto the scene against the Titans in week 3, securing 7rec for 175yds and a TD. He was drafted to replace Stephon Diggs, all he’s done is excelled beyond in just his rookie season. He has since backed this up with 2 further 100yd games against the Texans and then the Falcons (103yds and 166yds 2TDs respectively). Out of all the rookie WRs, it is Jefferson who has made the largest impact so far on any team. Sadly, the Vikings are struggling with a below par Kirk Cousins and an abnormally leaky Mike Zimmer defence, but if they draft as well on defence as they did with this selection, the Vikings will soon become a contender, Jefferson isn’t a rookie – he plays like a seasoned pro.

Patrick Queen LB (Pick 28 – BAL):

Queen is leading all rookie line backers in tackles right now with 48, 2nd in the entire rookie class (Jeremy Chinn S for the Panthers leads with 67 per ESPN). Queen took a while to warm up, and the week 3 matchup against Andy Reid’s Chiefs did expose him. But since then he has only improved. First against the Bengals when causing Joe Burrow to fumble before his game against the Steelers. Here he penetrated the line to make tackles for loss or at least within a yard or two of the line of scrimmage against the undefeated Steelers. He then made the critical stop on 3rd down to get the ball back to his offense one last time, he came flying round the right tackle to stuff the run before the 1st down marker. Queen is only improving and is the only rookie LB that looks pro ready – Isaiah Simmons has made the odd, nice play but is too inconsistent and that is shown by his lack of snaps.

Antoine Winfield Jr S (Pick 45 – TB):

Winfield has been maybe the most impressive rookie so far. He has had 2 sacks, recorded an INT and a forced fumble. That’s great pace for a rookie safety. He has played lights out so far, always being in the right place at the right time, whether to make a tackle of a pass deflection. This was displayed in last weeks matchup with the giants, disrupting the 2pt conversion which would had tied the game with 28 seconds left – effectively winning the game for the team (no, it was not pass interference – it was just perfect timing to a badly thrown ball). This guy is good, there must be something in that blood with his Father being Antoine Winfield Sr.

Josh Uche LB (Pick 60 – NE):

He may have only played one game but Uche was my draft steal and that one game showed why. During his 12 snaps he played both OLB and MLB (MLB once Bentley was injured) and registered a QB hit and tackled Josh Allen on a 3rd down attempt – pretty damn hard to do that. He also played on special teams so he’s clearly in Belichick’s good books. He is player to watch the rest of the season and indeed the next few.

Antonio Gibson RB (Pick 66 – Was):

Gibson was an intriguing player having played WR at Memphis before transitioning to RB just before the NFL draft. Whilst Gibson may have only topped 50 rushing yards twice and reach 100yds only once, he has still been impressive. Not only because he is behind a sometimes-makeshift Washington O-Line and part of an offense with no passing threat but because he consistently collects 3-4 receptions every game – more often than not for first downs. He has shown the ability to make defenders miss and also find the endzone – 4 times. He will only improve as the team around him does, and now Washington is lead by Riverboat Ron and has a top 5 defence (and maybe the best D-Line, fight it out with Pittsburgh), this teams on the up and Gibson is certainly a big part of it.

Michael Onwenu OL (Pick 163 – NE):

There’s something about the Patriots being able to draft O-Lineman. I thought for many years it may be Dante Scarnecchia but now he is retired, and the Pats keep doing it, that may not be the case. I label Onwenu as “OL” instead of any particular line position because at some point throughout the season so far he has played in 4 out of the 5 positions. He is a mauler, big and powerful at 370 pounds! His quality of play has been high to, he didn’t give up a single QB pressure against the Bills despite playing all 65 offensive snaps. He’s also a regular on special teams. Onwenu was a jewel of a 6th round pick – the Pats also seem to be good at drafting in the sixth round (a guy called Brady rings a bell) – maybe they should trade all draft picks and just buy out the sixth round every year?

Where I was Wrong on the 2020 NFL Season

Naturally before every season, I feel set up to try and predict what will happen during the year coming. However, after we have reached about a third of the way through the season, enough games have been played for everyone to have a vague idea of where this season is heading. At this stage, it is not clear which of my predictions are particularly right (they may look promising but not certain) but what I have got wrong seems more certain. This piece looks as what prediction I have got wrong, some happily, some disappointingly.

One quick note, I really hope that the Dolphins win over the lowly Jets isn’t the last time we see the great Ryan Fitzpatrick as a starter. The Dolphins (or rather Adam Schefter) announced that the rookie Tua Tagovailoa is starting. Fitzpatrick is endless fun to watch and had lead a below average Dolphins team to a 3-3 record. I hope he gets a starting job soon.

The Rams are “Good”

Whilst the loss to the division rival 49ers (still injury affected as well) did not look good. To add to this their loss against the Bills was going to be a blowout till an awful referee decision changed the momentum (Tyler Kroft catch that was ruled an interception). BUT they are 4-2 and Sean McVay has shown ways to enhance his offensive playbook, rushing around the rush now teams are using 6-man fronts to slow down the running game. Goff has returned to his 2018 form, even if that isn’t spectacular, it was enough to get him to the Superbowl that year. Donald isn’t alone on defence either, Johnson III has already amassed 46 tackles and fellow safety Taylor Rapp is making an impact everyday with big tackles. However, Donald is looking like defensive player of the year with 7.5 sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss. The Rams aren’t Superbowl challengers, but they ARE a Playoff team, certainly not the bottom dweller I predicted.

Poor Minnesota

I predicted a 10-6 season; they’ll be lucky to reverse that. Zimmer’s defence is a likely they worse he’s ever had. Dantzler has been picked upon and Gladney is only just starting to pick the game up at the NFL level. Ngakoue is the only consistent rusher on the team and Kendricks is having to tackle everyone because no one else seems to want to. Cousins looks more like a backup than a starter and the injury to Dalvin Cook has showed how valuable he really is. Justin Jefferson is the single light in this dark sky and 1-5, every game from here on out is must win. Expect a loss next game against the Packers as well.

The Arizona Defence Isn’t Working for Isaiah Simmons

Bubba Baker is doing his best, proving his 4-year $59 million deal to be the right choice but the Cardinals seem lacklustre – especially in the front 7. Simmons is not an NFL starting LB yet, he won’t win defensive player of the year. It seems the lack of training has hit him hard. That means the defence has had to rely on Haason Reddick, who is good but not great. However, he did record 2 sacks most recently so there is promise. A game against the Seahawks this Sunday will prove whether this unit is truly up to the challenge, they are 4-2 so there is promise, but those 4 wins don’t look so impressive right now.

The Steelers and Titans are the Teams to Challenge the Chiefs in the AFC

I would have picked the Ravens and Broncos (due to what looked like a fearsome offense, expected them to do what the Raiders did) as the teams to take up that mantle. The Steelers defence has continued to improve with JJ Watt becoming a true defensive player of the year candidate and Bud Dupree running everywhere at 100mph and hitting the ball carrier at every opportunity. Cam Heyward is moving O-Lineman every which way he wants, and Fitzpatrick reverted to his intercepting ways last match against the Browns. On the offensive side, Big Ben has returned in almost full form and Chase Claypool is a mismatch nightmare, very few corners are large enough and quick enough to cover him. The receiving core is deadly and whilst James Conner may not be super-fast, he is elusive. This is a very good team and Pittsburgh may well find themselves the only 7-time Superbowl champion come the end of the year.

Then there’s the Titans. They are led by a head coach in Vrabel, Brian Flores (Miami) and Vrabel himself seem the only Belichick disciples to be great coaches and coaches that could have a hall of fame career. Vrabel knows the team he has, power. Opening up holes for the big bulldozer of Derrick Henry to run through and stiff-arm opponents out of the stadium. He ran for 212yds and 2 TDs against the Texans, effectively single-handedly winning the game in OT. Then there’s Tannehill. Since escaping the clutches of Adam Gase, he has thrived. He is opening his play, utilizing the bigbodied of Corey Davis, breakout tight end Jonnu Smith and the most undervalued receiver in the league of AJ Brown. This offense is going to eat up time, entice the LBs and Safeties forward before hitting seam routes and streaks to Smith or Brown, using Davis in the red zone. However, the defence also must stop the random 90+ yard runs by Derrick Henry – good luck. I had the team at 8-8. They should end around 12-4. Tannehill hasn’t regressed and Henry looks as good as ever, this offense isn’t slowing down, they might well go one further than last year.

The NFL Coaching Carousel Predictions 2020-21

Before we dive into the coaching. It’s certainly worth admiring Alex Smith. Smith is 2 year removed from the gruesome injury sustained whilst playing against the Texans and he finally made it back onto the field. It looked like he would never walk again and may even have his leg amputated, never mind be able to play, but instead with help of family, friends, and the NFL world he made it back onto the pitch.

I’d also like to hope for a swift recovery for Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, who suffered a devastating injury Sunday night playing the Giants. It looks like a broken ankle and he has undergone surgery. Prescott will almost certainly miss the rest of the year. Let us hope he follows the path of Teddy Bridgewater and indeed, Alex Smith, in making a full recovery back to the football field.

Now for the coaches. These are the 5 openings that are/will/should be open at the end of the season. Then there are the 5 coaches who should/will/ take up those openings in an ideal world. Therefore, the coaches picked are realistic replacements to take up the spaces that are/will/should be available (apart from the Jets because realistically, what coach would want to go there right now?).

Houston Texans: OUT – Bill O’Brien        IN – Eric Bieniemy

Bieniemy (Chiefs OC) moves from Patrick Mahomes to Deshaun Watson – what a lucky guy. Watson will finally have a versatile, creative offensive mind to guide his talent that does not seem to have been fully utilized. Watson has started to miss some passes, throw some into the dirt instead of for the first down and is getting sacked … a lot. Watson has been sacked 17 times, that’s only behind Wentz (who has the most beat-up O-Line in the league) and Burrow (who is protected by Bobby Hart). Watson has the mobility of Wilson or Mahomes and has the same play-making ability. Bieniemy will utilize that. There are issues with the Texans, first the extreme lack of draft picks and young talent on the team. This is not a team that is built for the future. The defence is leaky, especially the run game but with a good GM (position is also open for hiring), these holes can be filled and Eric Bieniemy has the support of Watson and a good coach – QB duo leads to Superbowls.

Atlanta Falcons: OUT – Dan Quinn           IN – Josh McDaniels

McDaniels (Patriots OC) is often considered as the man in waiting to Bill Belichick. However, Belichick keeps coaching and now his son, Steve Belichick is effectively joint DC with Jerod Mayo. Therefore, McDaniels should be looking for a way out. He has had experience of an immobile QB for many years (some guy called Brady) and was with the Patriots when they had receiving superstars such as Moss or Gronkowski. He will have a lot of fun drawing up plays for Jones and Ridley. Add to this that McDaniels has experience of being a head coach after his short tenure in Denver and can build on it. If you don’t think having an opportunity to learn from your first stint as a head coach – just look at Bill Belichick or Pete Carroll and what they are doing now. What makes the Falcons intriguing is that the talent is there, they just seem unconfident and therefore are losing games they shouldn’t, maybe some New England culture would help re-right the ship? Also, they also have a GM opening and McDaniels would likely relish the opportunity of being able to pick his GM (even though the GM should pick the coach but that doesn’t always happen).

The Teams That Still Haven’t Fired Their Coach

Jacksonville Jaguars: OUT – Doug Marrone            IN – Dan Quinn

Quinn should be the only fired coach to land in the same rank at his new job and I will be banging the drum for it to be Jacksonville. I’ve always been more of a fan of defensive minded head coaches (and then get a young, creative OC) and Quinn is just that. Quinn was heralded as a genius leading up to Superbowl 51 before the 28-3 collapse. He helped (and may have been a lead part) in the creation of the Legion of Boom in Seattle. He revolutionized the game, opting for deadly zone coverage (mainly cover 3 or 2) with small/fast defenders with a few big-hitters (Kam Chancellor) sprinkled in the mix. Now look at the Jags defense. Fast players with a mobile LB corpse in Myles Jack and Joe Schobert with a young, talented D-Line which includes Josh Allen and rookie K’Lavon Chaisson. This defencse needs to be led by a veteran who has a proven scheme – that is what Quinn is. With a good OC in Jay Gruden, don’t expect the offense to decrease in output either – the move just makes sense.

Detroit Lions: OUT – Matt Patricia            IN – Don Martindale

Martindale (Ravens DC) has revitalised the Ravens defence in his two-year stint. He has finished top 3 in point allowed in both seasons there, including one year allowing Za’Darius Smith to accumulate 8.5 sacks which led to the large free agency contract with the Green Bay Packers. If the Lions hold Jamie Collins and Jeff Okudah in front of Martindale, he may very well come running, especially if the Ravens make the Superbowl this year. After a heavy investment in their O-Line, the Lions are ready for a ground and pound game along with the explosiveness of Swift. Martindale is used to a run-first offense in Baltimore as well. The Lions have been perennially awful, but Martindale is the man who can turn this team around and potentially give Stafford one last go at getting the big prize – a Superbowl.

New York Jets: OUT – Adam Gase (ASAP)               IN: Brian Daboll (sacrificial – hopefully he will survive)

Daboll (Bills OC) could take up the worst position in football, but that was said when Brian Flores took over AFC East rival Miami Dophins, and he is turning it around and looking like a top quality coach in the process. Daboll, like Flores, was once a Belichick disciple before moving onto Cleveland, Miami and Kansas City. Luck was not great through this period but two of those stints were in Cleveland and Miami – so is unsurprising. After spending time with Belichick (and wining Superbowl LI), Daboll coach at Alabama under Nick Saban. Therefore, Daboll is from the Belichick tree and Saban tree of coaching. This experience has paid off over the past 2 and a bit seasons. With some extra help from underrated coach Sean McDermott, Daboll has turned the highly talented, yet erratic, QB Josh Allen into a Superstar and the Bills into a legitimate Superbowl contender. If ever there was a young QB (even from the same draft class as Allen) who was erratic and needed a new coach and lease of life? Darnold would love Daboll – or Trevor Lawrence if they draft him. If they trade out of the NO.1 pick (they will have it, I guarantee) then Daboll will use the excess picks to build a defence around CJ Mosely, remember, Daboll was originally a defensive assistant. He coached with New England in that role between 2000 and 2002 (the great Bruschi and Milloy days). He would be a perfect fit, especially as he has coached at all 3 division rivals. Daboll would be one of the very few coaches that would be capable of powering up the Jets into a force to be reckoned with.

Run Out of Jet Fuel

There are many great franchises throughout the NFL. There are many perennial Superbowl contenders – Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers. All teams (even those just listed) do have their droughts, Patriots pre 2001 and the Steelers’ adventures between 1933 and 1969. However, there are some teams that make up the other end of the league. These include the Detroit Lions, the current Cleveland Browns and the Arizona Cardinals. These teams (as well as the Bengals, Chargers, Falcons, Jaguars, Panthers, Texans, Titans and Vikings) have never won a Superbowl. A few of them, Browns, Jaguars, Lions and Texans have never even reached the Superbowl. However. These teams are either recent expansion teams – Browns, Jaguars, Panthers and Texans – or are loveable underdogs – Cardinals and Lions. Indeed, the Cardinals are 1 of only 2 currently active charter franchises (the other being the Chicago Bears). There is one team which is neither, one team that has in fact won a Superbowl, yet is in the endless pit of misery at the bottom end of the NFL. Through the years, they have, overpromised and underdelivered, and quite frankly been embarrassed. This was the team that saved the NFL, now it is the worst team in football – that franchise is of course, the New York Jets.

Originally founded in 1959 as the Titans of New York, the Jets competed in the AFL (the NFL’s little brother). The first player they would sign would be an “NFL reject” named Don Maynard (WR). Maynard was originally drafted 109th overall in 1957 by the New York Giants (the Jets’ big brother) but was cut after two seasons. After a year in the Canadian Football league he returned to America with the Titans. Their inaugural season was a success at 7-7 and second in division. However, they suffered from financial issues and were bought for $1 million in 1962 and promptly renamed the Jets – it reflected the modern approach the team was going to take (oh, where has that approach gone now), as well as their home ground being next to LaGuardia airport (Shea Stadium). However, over the next few years they never reached a winning season.

In 1964, a young QB named Joe Namath was turning heads at Alabama, leading the Crimson Tide to an undefeated season. Jets ownership and head coach Weeb Ewbank saw a franchise star and so drafted Namath 1st overall in the 1965 AFL draft. Just one issue … Namath had been drafted 12th overall by the St Louis Cardinals in the 1965 NFL draft. The NFL being far more prestigious then the AFL, it was almost certain Namath would take his talents to St Louis. Despite Namath’s demands of $200,000 per year (and a new Lincoln Continental), the Cardinals were happy to have him on board but they wanted him signed before the Orange Bowl (the big game of the season for Alabama) which would make Namath ineligible for it. This demand is possibly the reason the NFL is what it is in this very day. Wanting to play in the Orange bowl, Namath declined the Cardinals and instead joined the Jets (the day after losing the Orange bowl but winning MVP). With a salary of $427,000 per year far larger than any other football player, he was not just the face of the franchise, but the face of the league. After appearing on the front of sports illustrated, left tackle Sherman Plunkett named him “Broadway Joe”, a name sticking to this day.

In 1965 it seemed the Jets had made the right decision, Namath winning OROY and Don Maynard catching 68 passes for 1218yds  and 14TDs (per Pro Football Reference) leading him to his first pro bowl. In 1966 the AFL and NFL agreed to a championship game, which became known as the Superbowl. The winners of each league would battle it out to be truly known as the best team in football. For Superbowl I and Superbowl II, this was the Green Bay Packers led by QB Bart Starr and the infamous coach Vince Lombardi. These first two Superbowls were a demolition job of the Kansas City Chiefs and then the Oakland Raiders. There were talks that an AFL team could never beat the best of the NFL – if this was the case, there would be no AFL-NFL merger and pro football would have never been what it is today. Then Superbowl III.

Namath and Maynard led the Jets to an AFL Championship – the true first success for the Jets. In doing so, Maynard was selected for his 3rd Pro Bowl and Joe Namath received his first league MVP. However, they still had to play the Baltimore Colts in the Superbowl. The Colts had shut out the Cleveland Browns in the NFL Championship and were under guidance of the great Don Shula (now the winningest coach of all-time at 347 wins including playoffs), and a young Chuck Noll (defensive backs coach). At QB they were led by Earl Morrall who had taken over from the great Johnny Unitas. The Colts were touted as “the greatest football team in history” and were favoured to win by 17-21 points. If the Jets didn’t win, it’s doubtful there would ever be a merger. Tired of being an underdog, Namath told reporters “We’re going to win the game, I guarantee it”. The lacklustre Colts offense conceded 4 interceptions, leading to Johnny Unitas coming in for Earl Morrall, whilst Namath was able to throw for 206yds without a turnover. This led to the biggest upset in Superbowl history as the Jets won 16-7. Two years later (after another Namath MVP season, though not a Superbowl), the two leagues merged to create the modern-day NFL.

Over the next few years, the Jets declined to mediocrity, after saving the league from non-existence, the Jets were just another team stuck far from success. Both Namath and Maynard left the Jets (and later retired) in early and mid-1970s, both later being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Indeed, it wasn’t until the strike-riddled season of 1982 that the Jets won their next playoff game since Superbowl III. They lost the 82-83 AFC Championship to the Miami Dolphins (this was the year of the Snowplow game in a regular season matchup with the New England Patriots). The 80s saw the Jets reach the playoffs 4 times (81, 82, 85 and 86). This was largely due to the New York Sack Exchange, the D-Line of the Jets led by Marty Lyons. However, the late 80s and early 90s saw mediocrity and just plain failure for the once great Jets. This was the point that coaches came thick and fast. They hired the successful former Bengals OC Bruce Coslet in 1990 but after only one playoff appearance (and loss), they turned to a guy named Pete Carroll. The former DC under Coslet, Carroll’s energy sparked the lowly Jets to a 6-5 start, then Dan Marino beat them with a fake spike and the Jets finished the season 6-10 and Carroll was fired (what could have been – see Seahawks from 2010). After 2 years of Rich Kotite (4-28 record), the Jets picked up Bill Parcels, a 2-time Superbowl winner with the Jets’ big brother – the New York Giants. This wasn’t as easy as it seems however (is anything for the Jets?).

Parcels was still under contract with the New England Patriots who he had just led to the Superbowl (lost to Green Bay Packers). New owner Robert Kraft wasn’t allowing him the control Parcells wanted so he wanted out of there – fast. So, the Jets signed former Browns coach and Parcell’s NO.1 assistant (and best DC of all-time, see Superbowl XXV against Bills) Bill Belichick to the role for the interim HC while they discussed compensation with the Patriots for taking Parcells (4 draft picks, a 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th spread over the next 3 years).In the second year, the Parcells and Belichick led Jets reached the AFC Championship but lost to the Elway led Broncos (Elway and the Broncos won the next two Superbowls). After injuries derailed the Jets 1999 season, Parcells retired from coaching and the Jets needed a new head coach. Who better than Parcells’ NO.1 assistant and defensive supremo, Mr Bill Belichick?

Naturally, the Jets offered Belichick the job and he accepted … for 1 day. Due to the changes to ownership happening to the Jets at that time, Belichick was not comfortable with the job. As a result, he created the most famous beer mat in sports history. On it he wrote “I resign as HC from the NYJ”. Belichick resigned after 1 day (see press conference here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AkcKAPdNbto&t=418s) making him the only coach to coach twice for a team and never coach a game. Belichick instead took the job vacated by Pete Carroll at the New England Patriots – move that the Patriots were told was a mistake at the time. In return the Patriots gave the Jets a 2000 1st round pick. This time Kraft learned from his mistake with Parcells and gave Belichick full control of personnel for the Patriots. This left the Jets without a head coach, but an extra first round pick. The Jets signed Al Groh as head coach for the 2000 season. This season Dan Marino retired and so the AFC East wasn’t a Dolphin (or Bills) dominant division anymore, it was time for the Jets to fly.

In 2000 the Jets record was 9-7, not bad for a new head coach and much better than the disloyal failure of Belichick who could only reach 5-11 with the Patriots, after all, the Patriots spent a 6th round-pick on the immobile, weak QB named Tom Brady – no chance of him being good, right? Groh pursued a job at his alma mater University of Virginia and the Jets hired Herman Edwards. The Jets reached the playoffs, losing in the divisional playoffs to the Raiders (the Jets probably want to overlook Belichick creating a defensive powerhouse in New England and winning the 2001-02 Superbowl – the largest upset since … the Jets winning Superbowl III. Oh, the Patriots also won the 03-04 and 04-05 Superbowls). After more playoff appearances (and losses) the Jets were likely regretting not keeping that pesky Belichick guy around. They had gone from being beaten up on by the Bills in the early 90s to the Dolphins in the late 90s and now the Patriots in the early 2000s.

In 2007, the Jets traded up to select Darrelle Revis (“Revis Island”) in the 1st round of the draft. This left the Jets with one of the best corners the league had ever seen. In 2009 the Jets traded up, yet again, this time to land QB Mark Sanchez, giving him the largest contact in Jets history (at the time), 5 years $50 million. With strong coach Rex Ryan at the helm, was this the next Maynard, Namath and Ewbank? No, sadly no.

Despite reaching two straight AFC Championship games (09-10 and 10-11), the Jets lost both and to date have not returned to the playoffs. Despite promise in 2012, the Jets were destroyed by what may be the worst play in NFL history (only other contender is the Colts weird punt attempt vs Patriots: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6i7VKQwDS2s). This play is the Buttfumble. Sanchez runs into the butt of O-Lineman Brandon Moore, fumbles the ball which is then scooped up by Patriots’ safety Steve Gregory who ran it back for a TD (see play: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82RIfy-gRa4). From there it really has been all downhill. Sanchez left the team after injuries and Revis (after a year in Tampa Bay) returned to the AFC East with the Patriots, where he won a Superbowl along with Bill Belichick (now up to 6 Superbowls for Belichick plus the two he won as DC of the Giants).

In 2018, after two 5-11 seasons, the New York Jets drafted USC QB Sam Darnold 3rd overall. Darnold was to be the face of the franchise to come. Darnold had interception issues in college but with the right coaches, he could become a star. I personally had him ranked as a late 1st round pick (despite being my second ranked QB behind Josh Allen – the less we talk about my ranking of Lamar Jackson out of college the better) but the Jets believed he was their future. Darnold became the leagues youngest opening day starter since the AFL-NFL merger, beating the Lions 48-17 despite his first career pass being intercepted for a TD. This along with the signing of top RB Le’Veon Bell and deep threat WR Robby Anderson, the Jets looked ready on offense. On defense they had top draft pick Quinnen Williams and MLB CJ Mosely, the 2019 Jets looked strong with Darnold entering his second year. New head coach Adam Gase joined the team desperate to prove doubters wrong after a disappointing spell in Miami.

However, it was leaked that Gase didn’t think Bell was worth the massive contract, causing team friction. Mosely played injured and wound up on injured reserve, Darnold contracted mono, Anderson left for the Panthers after the year and Williams was seriously disappointing in his rookie season. Going into the mad year of 2020, Gase was on the hot seat, Mosely opted out and the controversial Gregg Williams was the DC for the second straight year. After 4 games, the Jets are 0-4. They are the worst team in football, matched only by their New York brothers, the Giants. The difference, the Giants have 3 more Superbowls and some hope for the future. In the most recent game (01/10/20) against the Broncos on Thursday night football, the Jets faced an injury riddled team starting their 3rd QB of the year. Whilst the Jets had injuries, they were not comparable to the Broncos. To add to this, Gase was coaching for his job, especially after multiple rumours of players’ unrest. It was pretty much a demolition, the defense committed multiple personnel foul penalties (just like a normal Gregg Williams defense) and gave up 37 points to a 3rd string QB. Despite an incredible 45 yard run by Darnold, the Jets could only post 28 points in return. Gase will likely get fired in the coming days or weeks and it’s possible the Jets will start over again by drafting Trevor Lawrence in the upcoming draft. Back in the late 60s, it could be said that this franchise saved the NFL, now it is them that need saving from themselves.

Week 3 Roundup

Superbowl Team’s Achilles Heel

Currently, I am quite happy with my Superbowl picks (Chiefs and Seahawks). Both are sitting at 3-0, led by superstar QBs and top tier coaches. Both seem to be the class of their divisions and one (Seahawks) is home to the current MVP (Russell Wilson – also my MVP prediction). However, now I’ve stopped complementing myself, just 3 weeks into the season, both teams have got issues.

The Chiefs don’t have a dominant O-Line. This is in part down to the opt-out of Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (who is currently one of the many doctors fighting Covid 19). Their O-Line has had some issues in the run game, sitting in the middle of the pack (16th) as per Football Outsiders. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, however, is a beast and well worth the 32nd overall pick in the draft and is able to rise above any subpar blocks with his natural shiftiness and elusiveness. His small frame 5ft 7In (yet 208lbs) allows him to duck through holes, but have the power to break multiple tackles, hence why he has been able to rush for 240yds at over 4yds/carry (4.4). Any other issues are dealt with by Mahomes or the Andy Reid play-designs. The only way to keep the Chiefs low on scoring is going to be pass rush to take advantage of the O-Line to force Mahomes to get rid of the ball. Jackson Kreuger Sports has also pointed out that a pass rush coupled with cover 3 can cause some issues for the Chiefs. It isn’t much but it is a single crack, teams need to find a way to make it fully break if they don’t want to see the first back to back Superbowl Champions since the Patriots in 04 and 05.

The Seahawks (whilst I believe are the slightly better team) have a much larger gaping whole. This is that they don’t really have a secondary. By the end of the Cowboys game, the Seahawks had only 5 players available to play in the secondary positions due to injuries. The largest of that was Jamal Adams. While he has accumulated 2 sacks through 3 games (for a safety!), his main ability is his versatility. He can play basically every position on defence barring DT and therefore the QB is uncertain what he is doing on each play. Uncertainty is the natural enemy of a QB; for those unconvinced, see the 2018 Chiefs@Patriots week 6 matchup. There, Belichick repeatedly used hybrid defensive fronts, on one play, Hightower originally rushed before dropping into coverage. Mahomes was uncertain of what was happening, and Hightower got an INT. This is what Adams can create for the formally lacklustre secondary. Luckily his injury should only keep him out of the week 4 match in Miami (very winnable).

However, the secondary difficulties don’t stop there. Marquise Blair unfortunately became caught up in the ACL and hamstring apocalypse in week 2. Blair was a converted safety to nickel back and therefore had rare size for the position. Now, 5ft 8in Ugo Amadi is tasked with shutting down the tight ends. Whilst he was able to lock up Dalton Schultz against the Cowboys, Mike Gesicki, this week against the Dolphins is a large rise in level … good luck.

The last parts to mention with this Seahawks defence is that Shaq Griffen needs to play tighter on 3rd down. It was much but twice on a single drive, Griffen seemed to lose his awareness as to where the first down market was allowing conversions by a single yard, if he pushes up; it’s 4th down, not 1st. The other is that the pass rush needs to improve which is difficult without Bruce Irvin. However, Pete Carroll has repeatedly shown an ability to get a defence in good-enough order for the playoffs and this year, “good-enough” is all the defence needs to be with the QB being Russell Wilson.

Bears @ Falcons – What Happened?

So, the Falcons have lost two games in a row that they had a 99% chance of winning. Losing from 39-24 in week 2 (@ Cowboys) and now losing from 26-10 in week 3 (vs Bears). The probability of losing a 99.9%-win percentage game, then a 99.1% game is 990,000/1. That is how ridiculous the Falcons are. People hear of a Superbowl hangover – well the Falcons are well beyond that right now. Ever since Hightower forced that fumble in Superbowl 51, something has gone wrong in Atlanta. Their defence is lethargic in pressure situations, Grady Jarrett is doing everything by himself – and, sadly, it’s not possible. Dan Quinn is a very smart coach, he’s probably the only coach that I want to get fired for his own good. Quinn is head coach material and has proved that as a top DC in Seattle throughout the Legion of Boom years. Then leading the Falcons to Superbowl 51 and keeping an injury riddled team afloat thereafter. However, now, he needs a new start. Looking at the defensive talent in Jacksonville, it would be a perfect fit for Quinn for if/when Doug Marrone is fired.

Chicago is the worst 3-0 team in a long time. They scraped past the Lions, before almost tripping on the dreadful Giants. Then this game happened. I hope for Bears fans that they have finally given up on the Trubisky experiment. Overthrowing targets and a seemingly lack of ability to through back shoulder fades without Allen Robinson bailing him out. As a result, halfway through the match, Mr Foles entered and summoned all of his backup QB magic to take the Bears to 3-0 and look almost as good as he did on his Superbowl run. However, Foles’ magic is only good for a few games before he returns to a slightly below average QB. But, while his is at his peak, the Bears need to go BIG on the deep ball. Foles throws a beautiful and accurate deep ball (unlike the former starter) and that is the way forward. To add to this, it will move the LBs back and create room for Montgomery to start running hard again.

Rodgers is Back

Aaron Rodgers has returned to MVP contender. On the Pat McAfee he expressed that he has fallen back in love with life. That is showing on the field, even without the monster that is Davante Adams, Rodgers was dropping dimes everywhere. Without Adams this week, Rodgers registered 283yds and 3 TDs against a decent Saints secondary. There was a time that the Green Bay Packers were guaranteed Superbowl contenders but over the 2017-28 seasons they went a combined 13-18-1 due to injuries (notably to Rodgers) and inner team conflict. However, they crawled to a surprising 13-3 last year to win the division, but this year their aim should be Superbowl. They can take it to the Seahawks, Chiefs, Ravens and Bills (it’s very weird putting the Bills in that class) and I look forward to seeing it play out over the season; welcome back Aaron Rodgers.

What We’ve Learned From Week 1 & 2

The first two weeks are essentially acting as preseason. Teams are trying to integrate all their new, shiny pieces into their team whilst trying to retain an identity. This year we have seen rookies make unexpected, impressive starts as well as unfortunate injuries, a LOT of unfortunate injuries. With that, lets dive into what we have learned from week 1 and 2.

Everyone Owes Russell Wilson an Apology

I am not a Seahawks fan, yet I have been behind Wilson as the best QB in the league, and indeed the best player, for the last few years now. Ever since Brady started to regress, the crown has always belonged to Wilson. This is no way an indictment of Mahomes or Jackson but rather simply realising that sometimes the new, shiny toy of the NFL isn’t the best, whilst the experience veteran … is. So far, in only 2 games, the Wilson is undoubtedly MVP: 610yds, 9TDs:1INT and most importantly, 2 wins. It’s worth noting that the INT was first deflected by Greg Olsen (the intended target) and that the second of the two wins came against the Patriots. That is the Patriots with the best secondary (and best coach) in the NFL. On Sunday, 3 of his TD passes where nothing less than perfect. He fit it into pockets that very few QBs can, but Wilson completed the task on 3 separate occasions. This included a perfect throw on the seam-fly to Metcalf, lofted over the shoulder perfectly of no-one else but DPOY Stephon Gilmore. Brian Shottenheimer is finally allowing Wilson to show the world he is the true QB, a second Superbowl is not far away.

There Needed to be a Preseason

Yes, many of the injuries so far are likely down to the turf of Metlife stadium but there have still been too many. The Injured Reserve list is currently filled of 237 players. Whilst not all of these are players injured on the field and out for the year, this is a ridiculous increase over last years total at this time. Current stars that are already out for the year include: Nick Bosa (SF-DE), Solomon Thomas (SF-DE), Saquon Barkly (NYG-RB), Courtland Sutton (DEN-WR) and Malik Hooker (IND-FS). This is in addition to those who’s season ended before they began (basically the entire Eagles O-Line). To add to this, players such as McCafferey, Drew Lock and Raheem Mostert are likely to miss the next few weeks. The common injury currently is soft tissue – these would be hamstrings, ACLs and MCLs. All injuries that would have been helped by having a preseason – a warm up. I, as I would assume everyone else, hope to see an end to this increase in injuries but I do doubt it. Certainly, over the next two weeks I expect to see more before it then starts to level off.

Rookie RBs

So much for the predictions that JK Dobbins (BAL), Cam Akers (LAR) and Antonio Gibson (WAS) would only be making an impact in the second half of the season. Dobbins has already run in 2 TDs, Gibson accumulating 96 all-purpose yds and Akers carrying the ball 17 times for the Rams. This has the potential to be one of the best RB classes in history, just as the value of RB has been dipping. However, the most impressive so far has been Jonathan Taylor (IND). When facing the Vikings he amassed 101yds and 1 TD. Taylor is punishing. A north-south runner with a kick for good measure. He fits perfectly in the Colts system. Rivers is still a quality passer (till the 4th quarter when he throws more INTs than can be imagined). Using Rivers and the speed of Marlon Mack (achilleas injury and out for the year) and Nyheim Hynes earl in the game. Screens and mid-range passes to TY Hilton to build a lead, allowing a new and improved defense with Deforest Buckner to hold the defense. Then bring in the punishing Taylor to overpower what’s left of the opposition front 7. The Colts could be going places, I feel they are only going to get better. The Colts get an effective bye week against the Jets next, with their next true test against the Ravens on the 8th November.

Minshew Mania

So much for tanking. Someone needs to tell Mr Minshew that his front office wants to lose, not win. After playing the Colts and the Titans, Minshew has thrown for 512yds with a 75% completion rate. Remember that he is currently throwing to DJ Chark, Keelan Cole and rookie Laviska Shenault Jr. All are good NO2-3 receivers but none are a true NO.1. Minshew still does make mistakes but his big play ability supersedes it. His improvement has been helped by the most surprising rookie in the league at the moment, James Robinson. Robinson became the first undrafted free agent RB to start week 1 (and amass over 50yds) for over 10 years. Last week he carried 16 times for 102yds. That’s 6.4yds/carry which if he continues would gain him many awards (OROY and OPOY at the very least). He currently sits 8th in rushing yards alongside the likes of Ezekiel Elliot (DAL), Josh Jacobs (LVR) and fellow rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire (KC). The difference between him and the Kansas City rusher? 223 picks and $2 million a year. It finally looks like the Jags have got the ball rolling on their rebuild.

The Jets are Getting Trevor Lawrence Adam Gase will be fired by December (right now would be smart) and Sam Darnold will have to be seeing ghosts in another part of America. Darnold simply throws too many interceptions. I loved the Jets draft, I really like their free agency class, but Darnold and Gase, I do not. I was much more behind Josh Allen in the class then Darnold (I admit that I whiffed on Jackson) and now that class difference is for all to see. Darnold has no confidence and he knows it. As a result, he tells himself “screw it, I need to make a play” and throws into triple coverage or while a 300lbs D-lineman is using him as some tackling pads. As a result of his poor play and the lack of drive for the players to play for a coach as disliked as Adam Gase, the Jets are bad, really bad. They are the worst team in football. Gardner Minshew’s moustache is playing better by itself then the New York Jets football team. They were easily beaten by the Bills, even after Allen fumbled twice, and then were thrashed by the San Francisco hospital that is the 49ers. Only scoring 30 points in two games is not good. 24PPG is around average, the Jets are at 15. They don’t have the excuse of losing Le’Veon Bell because he never made a difference even when he was actually on the pitch. The Jets are a mess and the future isn’t looking bright. Lets put it this way; right now their New York Cousins (Giants) are thinking “at least we aren’t the Jets”.

Award Predictions

Offensive Rookie of the Year

Joe Burrow QB-Bengals

QBs have a stranglehold on almost all awards and this is no different. He is the only rookie QB that will see enough playing time. He has enough pieces around him to make an instant impact.

Runner Up: Antonio Gibson RB-Football Team.

Defensive Rookie of the Year

Isaiah Simmons LB-Cardinals

An absolute beast. Will not have to deal with double teams on pass rushes due to Chandler Jones. Will be the centre of the defence and will see a boost in play from Haason Reddick moving outside.

Runner Up: Josh Uche LB-Patriots.

Offensive Player of the Year

Christian McCaffery RB-Panthers

Will be carrying this team to every win it gets. Will see even more work in the pass game with Bridgewater at QB. This is the easiest pick of the lot.

Runner Up: De’Andre Hopkins WR-Cardinals

Defensive Player of the Year

Chandler Jones OLB-Cardinals

One of the best pass rushers in the game, he now has a defence around him that can support him. He will be able to rush the passer more this year, on a defence that is more suited to Vance Joseph’s scheme than last years.

Runner Up: TJ Watt OLB-Steelers

Coach of the Year

Kliff Kingsbury-Cardinals

He turns the team into playoff contention and Superbowl threat after 3-13 (2018) and 5-10-1 (2019) seasons. Kyler Murray is the best second year QB.

Runner Up: Bill Belichick-Patriots

MVP

Russell Wilson QB-Seahawks

The best QB in the game wins MVP and a Superbowl, just beating Mahomes in each of those accomplishments. He is helped by his RBs staying healthy and a slowly improving O-Line. Also, DK Metcalf becomes a legitimate NO.1 WR.

Playoff Predictions

AFC Wild Card

Bills (7) @ Ravens (2)Ravens

Broncos (6) @ Patriots (3)Patriots

Steelers (5) @ Texans (4)Steelers

NFC Wild Card

49ers (7) @ Buccaneers (2)Buccaneers

Cardinals (6) @ Cowboys (3)Cardinals

Saints (5) @ Vikings (4)Saints

AFC Divisional

Patriots (3) @ Ravens (2)Ravens

Steelers (5) @ Chiefs (1)Chiefs

NFC Divisional

Saints (5) @ Buccaneers (2)Saints

Cardinals (6) @ Seahawks (1)Seahawks

AFC Championship

Ravens (2) @ Chiefs (1)Chiefs

NFC Championship

Saints (5) @ Seahawks (1)Seahawks

Superbowl

Chiefs 27 vs Seahawks 31

Final Record Predictions For All 32 Teams

These are my final record predictions for the NFL. To do this, I went through and predicted every regular season game. If I were to predict the record through how good I think each team is, then 28/32 teams would finish with a record of between 6-10 and 10-6, however, the NFL doesn’t finish like that. Therefore, the records may seem more extreme than other predictions. Playoff predictions will follow tomorrow and award predictions the day after. Enjoy.

AFC EAST

Bills: 10-6 (7 Seed)

Yet again they fall just short of dislodging the Patriots who look like division winners with Cam Newton at the helm. They scrape into the playoffs via the brand new 7 seed.

Dolphins: 5-11

Fitzmagic provides some wins after a slow start and hands over to Tua to gain experience ready for next year – the real target.

Jets: 2-14

Darnold continues to see ghosts and the Jets head directly towards a top 4 pick and into the QB-needy team group. Gase joins Doug Marrone as the two coaches fired by week 8. Their talented draft class takes until next year to make a splash.

Patriots: 11-5 (3 Seed)

Belichick creates an offense that works for Newton and the defence, after struggling early, will come together for a late run with rookies Uche and Dugger stealing the show (Uche will be ridiculously good).

AFC West

Broncos: 12-4 (6 Seed)

They are a team to watch. They steel a win from the Chiefs at Mile High and Miller and Chubb become more consistent and more dangerous. (Miller is now out for the season).

Chargers: 2-14

Not a great division to be in and they have a massive whole at safety with Derwin James’ injury (can’t that guy get a break?). They bench Tyrod, though it won’t be his fault, and Herbert disappoints.

Chiefs: 14-2 (1 Seed)

After losing to the Ravens and at a visit to Mile High Stadium (what it will always be called in my mind) they sprint towards the one seed without breaking a sweat. Clyde Edwards-Helaire looks like a top5 pick instead of NO 32, where he actually went.

Raiders: 5-11

Inconsistent team that will lose many close games, they are on the up even if the win column doesn’t show this.

AFC South

Colts: 10-6

Only miss the playoffs through strength of schedule and division record. Rivers signs on for one final year after showing enough talent to keep the Colts interested.

Jags: 1-15

Not even Minshew can save them, the last winless team surprise the Browns in week 12 to gain their only victory.

Texans: 10-6 (4 Seed)

Essentially only reach the playoffs due to getting the better of the Titans. Watson deserves his extension, but he isn’t enough to overcome GM Bill O’Brian.

Titans: 8-8

Tannehill regresses slightly and whilst Henry has a good year, it doesn’t reach the hights of last. A slight regression means 1 more loss in the column from last year.

AFC North

Bengals: 3-13

A week 1 win over the Chargers gives promise, but this team just isn’t ready to compete at a high level, also has a tough division that essentially takes out 6 games of the season. Burrow still looks good for the future, however.

Browns: 10-6

One win from the playoffs, improvement along the O-Line and GM Andrew Berry in hailed as a genius for making the Browns truly competitive, one year away?

Ravens: 13-3 (2 Seed)

Beat the Chiefs early season but can’t hold onto the 1 seed throughout the season. JK Dobbins explodes in time for the playoffs.

Steelers: 12-4 (5 Seed)

The defence powers them to the playoffs, they grab a win against the Ravens. Big Ben is good but not great. Minkah Fitzpatrick enters DPOY conversation.

NFC East

Cowboys: 11-5 (3 Seed)

The Cowboys are very, very good but not a Superbowl team. However, weak division means they coast into the playoffs.

Eagles: 9-7

Wentz can only lift the injury-riddles (ALREADY!) Eagles so high. Brandon Brooks and Andre Dillard out for the year, he’ll be running for his life!

Giants: 1-15

I’m sorry but I have no faith in the Giants this year. I’m still not sold on Daniel Jones and I believe that Saquon will be hounded by all 11 defensive players.

Team: 3-13

The defence is ridiculously good, but the offense is still a year away from being good. Gibson is a breakout candidate at RB. Watch for an upset win over the Ravens after the Ravens dispatch the Chiefs a week prior.

AFC North

Bears: 4-12

Maybe the most lacklustre offense of the entire NFL. This won’t be a good year and Foles doesn’t improve the offense that much when he replaces Trubisky.

Lions: 3-13

No amount of former Patriots will save this team, it’s not that they’re awful, I just don’t trust them in each game. There isn’t two many easy games on the schedule to gain wins, a difficult year for the Lions.

Packers: 10-6

Losses to the Vikings and Bears keep them out the playoffs, maybe if they had a first round pick which helps immediately, they could make the playoffs.

Vikings: 10-6 (4 Seed)

This team gets over the line due to help from newly acquired Ngakoue and the young rookies, Jefferson, Gladney and Dantzler. Helps they only have one Monday Night game this year.

NFC South

Buccaneers: 13-3 (2 Seed)

Old man Brady guides his “Super team” to the playoffs, but once they enter the elimination games, they can’t find the top gear to progress far.

Falcons: 6-10

Defence lets them down again and the lack of a consistently good run game. I apologise to Julio Jones that he is yet again being wasted. They’re still not over 28-3.

Panthers: 5-11

The defence is young, really young. All their rookies are on defence (except for one special teamer). Bridgewater can’t keep up with the other team. At least they’ll be the reason you win a fantasy league with McCaffery.

Saints: 12-4 (5 Seed)

The last unbeaten team, their first loss in week 9 against the Bucs. This is based on them keeping Kamara however.

NFC West

49ers: 11-5 (7 Seed)

They lose early due to injuries they are currently enduring. Once they are healthy they rack up wins, George Kittle continues to be a beast.

Cardinals: 12-4 (6 Seed)

The new team to enter battle with the top teams. Hopkins doesn’t skip a beat and Murray significantly improves. However, it will be their defence that makes this possible, climbing from last to a top 10 result this year.

Rams: 4-12

Goff has been exposed; the defence will be good but nothing special. The Rams are a team of great players, not a great overall team. Too many weak spots, especially at QB. Akers is the glimmer of hope for the future.

Seahawks: 14-2 (1 Seed) The running backs finally stay healthy for a season, the best QB in football proves that fact as well. Adams adds a monster onto that defense, exactly what it needed.

All Things RB

One position which has decreased in value over the length of the NFL is that of running back. Whilst teams have proven that a heavy rushing attack can still work in the NFL (49ers, Patriots, Ravens and Saints) but for all 3 of those teams, the individual running back is replaceable after a few seasons, or they use a committee throughout the season. Therefore, the value of each running back has decreased as we move towards an ever more pass heavy league.

Joe Mixon, gets paid:

The general rule with running backs is its fine to draft them high, just don’t give them a second contract. However, in some cases this is not the right choice and I am relieved that the Bengals have given Mixon this contract, especially as it’s a 4-year $48 million contract. This puts Mixon only 6th on the list of highest paid RBs which for one of the best RBs in the game is ridiculous. Mixon is being held back by the rest of the Bengals team, but with rookie NO.1 overall pick Joe Burrow occupying the QB spot, this team is only on the up. With Burrow’s 4-year rookie contract, this signing for Mixon won’t impact Burrow resigning. Mixon already has over 2 seasons with over 1100yds and has receiving potential, something which is essential for a modern-day RB (unless you’re Derrick Henry). The only RBs that I would sign for a second contract would be McCaffery, Barkley, Ekeler and Mixon. I’d add in Derrick Henry because the deal is essentially two years. This is because all of these (excluding Henry) are as good receivers as they are at rushing. Players like Dalvin Cook have the talent but I wouldn’t trust him to stay healthy; I also believe that Elliot’s trade value would exceed hi production on the field. Therefore, Mixon is part of an elite group on a bottom-feeder team, but they are only on the up. One name I left out that I would pay is Alvin Kamara.

Alvin Kamara, cap issues:

The main issue for the Saints with Kamara is that pesky lack of cap space. They are expected to be over $30 million over the cap (before cap cuts/restructuring). Kamara splashed onto the scene his rookie year, the 3rd round rookie took off totalling over 1500 all-purpose yards. He was lethal on the field, but he would be at least $12 million a year and that’s something the Saints surely can’t afford. This is made even worse by the priority of resigning right tackle Ryan Ramczyk who is completely irreplaceable. I would resign Kamara, and I believe the Saints would and will (and reports sound like they are) try everything to do so, I just don’t think they can without hurting the team more in the future.

Leonard Fournette, another piece for the Bucs:

BLOW IT UP! That seems to be the motto of the 2020 Jags. After getting rid of Tom Coughlin and his ridiculous use of fines to just annoy and irritate the Jags players, the Jags had to also offload players who didn’t trust the organisation anymore. With that, Ngakoue is now in Minnesota and the Jags netted two draft picks for it (2nd and 5th). After also offloading team leader Calais Campbell it was clear that this team is going for the NO.1 pick in the next draft. They have just 3 players remaining from the 2017 AFC Championship team. They tried to offload Fournette for something, even just a 5th or a 6th, but no one would bite so they had to cut him. Now, Fournette has ended up on a roster that is the opposite of the Jags, a BUILD IT UP! Roster of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs are building a super team for the two years they have Brady and the former 4th overall pick is another brick in the wall. He is a power runner that can complement the speed of Jones. I don’t think he will make an impact in the fist 4 weeks but come the end of the season and the playoffs, the Bucs will use his punishing play to take advantage of the fatigue-filled defences late in the season.

Adrian Peterson, the veteran:

The possible end or one of the greatest careers? I doubt it. Peterson will carve out a Frank Gore like role for the next 2 or 3 seasons. What this shows is confidence in rookie Antoine Gibson. The rookie out of Memphis will have to fill the void left by Peterson because Peyton Barber won’t and if Bryce Love could, I doubt the coaches would have faith injury-wise. Washington now have Haskins, Gibson, McLaurin and Sims. This is going to be a young and exciting team under Riverboat Ron, also don’t forget that defence with Chase Young.

Cam Akers, the young gun:

Akers is very underrated. He was the top high school running back but made what can be considered a mistake by committing to Florida State. He was consistently hit behind the line of scrimmage and had to carry a dyer passing attack. He will be the top running back on the roster, he’ll beat out Henderson is he hasn’t already. Akers is a special running back, the issue is he is on a team with a subpar QB and an average at best O-Line. But with McVay at that helm of play calling, he will find a way to get the ball to Akers, he will have a breakout rookie year and be great running back for the next few years.