Just my thoughts. They might not align with others, but I need to de-clutter to move on with the weekend.
In Green Bay, QB Aaron Rodgers is now talking about the last dance, the victory tour, and all of the things you get as a senior in high school when you are dressing for your last game and the head coach says, “it’s the last time this team will ever be together”. He also continues to bring up the narrative of “a player with my status” should have input into personnel decisions. My thoughts are two-fold. The Packers let a Hall of Fame coach, Mike Holmgren, walk out the door to Seattle after the 1998 season because he wanted more say in personnel. He was Seattle’s gain. It took the Packers some time to recover from that but they did. Every time Rodgers brings this stuff up, it just cements the fact that they will be fine moving on without him at seasons end. The only unknown is where he will end up.
PFF- (tongue in cheek):
A note to Pro Football Focus- let’s use your state of the art analytics to track “NFL analysts” and keep track of the things that are said by the influencers on our big media platforms. I love the accountability of the NFL being kept in wins and losses. Now, let’s find a way to hold others accountable as well. Maybe there’s a B.S. button at home that fans can push every time they feel the wool being pulled over their eyes? This would then be recorded at PFF headquarters in Cincinnati. I have much respect for the hosts of shows, but many times the lines get blurred between the host and the analyst, resulting in some scary takes for the public.
The true referendum on the confidence of a fan is reflective when they put their money where their mouth is. I found this week’s announcement that Buffalo QB Josh Allen topped all jersey sales since Aug 1 interesting. My take is that once he signed his newly minted multi-million-dollar contract, the numbers skyrocketed. No pun intended. The contract was not only a referendum on Allen’s play, but also gave validation to the fans who were willing to plunk out $100-plus to sport his jersey. You’re always going to have your collectors still buying Tim Tebow Jags jerseys or now Aaron Rodgers Packers jerseys, but for the most part, fans want stability before committing to a jersey purchase. There is nothing worse than taking the dive on a player who suddenly ends up on the street or with another team the next year. Their hope is that it won’t be outdated in the next couple of years. Fans are no different than NFL team decision makers. They all want the same thing.
The exception to the rule:
Los Angeles Chargers QB Justin Herbert might set back QB development for years to come. He is where everyone turns to in making their case for starting a rookie QB. I believe he’s still the exception to the rule. It’s been said that QB’s entering the NFL from college now are more ready to play at the next level. History suggests otherwise. Call me old school, but I do not subscribe to this theory and believe you can ruin a rookie QB easier now than ever before. The instant gratification and hot take crowd all want results and actions right now. Seasoned evaluators had the current crop of rookie QBs pegged coming out. Trevor Lawrence and Zack Wilson are ready to play right now, Justin Fields needs some time and Trey Lance is a bit of a project who has a very high ceiling. Mac Jones processes at the NFL level, but has some physical concerns. I’m not ready to anoint him as the savior of a franchise until I see him do things against real NFL defenses. So far, I think we have learned, exactly what we already knew.
This week’s Tua take:
Miami Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa not being named as a team captain was more blood in the water for the critics around the dial to pounce on. I’ve been skeptical of Tua as well however, in this case I think if long time Dolphins beat writer Armando Salguero is correct, and I have zero reason to think he is not, this exercise needs further examination. According to Salguero, the process involved players standing up in a meeting and campaigning on their own platform. Said another way, campaigning for votes. If I was the captain of any team, I never once would I have felt the need to stand up and advocate for myself. I can’t imagine Tua would either. I know he’s fairly quiet and somewhat passive by personality, but if this was the process, it should be questioned, not Tua. The other note per Salguero is that not a single Dolphins captain this year was drafted by the team, another indictment of their process that might need some examination.
Tis the season for renegotiation:
Of all the renegotiations teams did to come in under the cap this week, the most interesting one for me came out of Las Vegas where the Raiders, in typical Raiders fashion, had me shaking my head. They chose to restructure a player’s contract who had never played a down for them and had signed a one year deal this past offseason. Huh? They added dummy years (3) that void to reduce a cap count this year for DE Yannick Ngakoue and it saved them $8M in salary cap room. The Raiders clearly determined that, without playing a down of real football for them, the 26-year-old Ngakoue, who is playing for his fourth team in 12 months, was worth the risk of pushing out cap dollars to future years. They have now seen something in shorts and helmets (which has nothing to do with real football) that the three prior teams did not see in him. It was obviously a desperate move and one done by the seat of somebody’s pants without much regard for future cap implications. Voidable years are playing with fire IMO.
No one player has more at stake right now than New York Giants QB Daniel Jones. As the National Scout for the Los Angeles Chargers for 10 years, I visited 50 colleges every fall. I would see all the best players around the country and report on them. While making my rounds, one young player at Duke caught my eye as a guy to circle back on later in his career. I returned two years later not to look at him specifically but to see a group of seniors at Duke and another ACC school. I remember watching him live in a game and talking to a couple of the beat writers who were friends of mine in the press box at halftime. Naturally they asked what I thought and I remember telling them that he has a calmness, his arm is solid and he seems to run the offense with efficiency. All code words for “He’s OK”. There really wasn’t one thing that jumped out at me about his skill set or his game. A year later, he was picked by the Giants in the first round and even though I didn’t go to Duke that year, I thought, he had probably improved under the David Cutcliffe (coached by the same guy Eli and Payton Manning were coached by). It has now been three years since and when I watched film of him the other day my thought was that Jones was still the same guy I saw as an underclassman at Duke. Nothing has changed. His game is just the same. I honestly just don’t see anything different. I know people are waiting for him to take the next step but I’m not sure he ever will. Giants fans are frustrated but my take now but six years should be a large enough body of work for an evaluation. I just don’t see any advancement or improvement in Jones which is probably not what Giants fans want to hear. I hope I’m wrong but…...
A LEAN HERE OR THERE:
Early in the season the odds makers will have their work cut out for them. I think its easier to find the errors of their ways in college point spreads as opposed to the pros, but if you just can’t help yourself, here are my thoughts on a couple games
*Game picks- I think it’s important to note that a feeling about a game comes with a certain amount of conviction. On a scale of 1-10, I’d give both of these a 7.
NE +3 over Miami
I think Bill Belichick will confuse Tua, bait him into an interception or two, and complicate his life in the pocket. This game started out at 1 point and grew to the current +3 which tells me others have thought the same as me and the early money was bet to give the points. I could see this number even going up further by kickoff. BElechick is known for showing nothing in preseason at all and coming out of the gates with a totally different scheme (he learned this from him mentor Bill Parcells).
Minn +3 over Cincy
I expect the Vikings defense to rebound from a morbid 2020. A renewed pass rush vs Bengals QB Joe Burrow who returns from an ACL that knocked him out of last year, seems very problematic to me. Without over thinking this one, I just think Minnesota is a better team on both sides of the ball. I’m surprised the number isn’t higher.