The Devil and Mac Jones

New England Patriots QB Mac Jones
New England Patriots QB Mac Jones
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Week 11 - Mac Jones reminds me a tiny bit of Tom Brady, a little bit of Mark Sanchez, and a little too much of Caillou.

You probably don't need the Brady comparison over-explained. I remember 2001 Brady, the young underdog game manager who found ways to win. Patriots fans of a certain age remember that Brady too, and it seems like they're trying (understandably) to will him back into existence.

The Sanchez comparison, while uncharitable, offsets the Brady comparison like sriracha in the honey sauce. Sanchez spent two-and-a-half seasons as the "poised" quarterback who "wins" for a Jets team that had a great defense and offensive line (D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Nick Mangold). I had forgotten just how sparkly Sanchez's reputation was before I began researching TebowMania: 10 Years After. The television and talk-radio tastemakers of 2009-2011, predecessors of today's NFL social media influencers, never tired of finding fresh explanations for Sanchez's success to satisfy a New York audience. Those explanations never started with "the Jets defense held their opponent to 163 total yards."

As for Caillou, you probably encountered that little starter sociopath on children's television if you are a Late Millennial/Early Zoomer or the parent of one. Caillou is supposed to be a lovable four-year-old, but he's actually a terrifying little tantrum factory who is never, EVER corrected by his parents or faces any real consequences for his ceaseless brattiness. Caillou is one of the most universally loathed children's programs and characters of our era: every other program on PBS or Nick Jr. preaches cooperation, prosocial behavior, or math facts, and then this coddled Canadian degenerate-in-training shows up for a half-hour to tell your kids that selfishness is cool.

Jones never faces consequences, even when he tries to yank a defender's leg off. He never faces any criticism; his bad early-season games have already been forgotten. We're supposed to love Jones. Heck, we're downright obligated to love him. Only a snark-hearted hater would suggest that the precious tot was anything short of wonderful in every way. There's something unnecessarily pugnacious (and often a teensy bit overcompensatory) about the pro-Jones conversation which bubbled over after the Patriots routed the Browns in Week 10. How dare you question his success, fools! Surrender to his excellence!

The tone of the Jones conversation got so shrill this week that sober analysts such as Chris Trapasso of CBS Sports felt the need to couch his Twitter Jones criticism in the form of a near-apology. Seriously, my Twitter timeline sounds like a bunch of overbearing parents bullying the teacher into giving their kid an A on a project for which they obviously did most of the work. And the Thursday night takes as the Patriots cause fresh trauma for the Falcons are sure to be extra pungent, on both sides.

There's admittedly a twisted part of my psyche that wants to see the Patriots fail because there are grown adults in New England who have no idea what football fandom is like for the other 95%. Punishment is healthy! Caillou would have been a better show (and less reprehensible little gremlin of a character) if he got his toys taken away, or at least some Ward Cleaver speeches. And both the Patriots and their quarterback would be more likeable if they endured some genuine suffering in this generation. Some of my colleagues nearer the top of the food chain might benefit from catering to a less over-stimulated national fanbase as well.

The Jones story is likely to take a turn, perhaps soon. History tells us that young game managers rarely turn into Brady. They're more likely to turn into Sanchez, who (lest it's forgotten) started in a pair of AFC Championship Games. Or they become one of 100 other quarterbacks all over the spectrum from Teddy Bridgewater to Trevor Siemian, Chad Pennington to Chad Henne, Jared Goff to Baker Mayfield. Even if Jones is on a rocket to superstardom, the setbacks will inevitably come. How the quarterback and his team responds when they arrive is what matters, not who pounded the table the hardest during a winning streak.

So for now, my plan is to tune out the noise and both honestly evaluate and genuinely enjoy Jones, because rookie Coming of Age tales are supposed to be fun, in part because they tell us something about ourselves.

As for Caillou, I have no doubt that he grew up to be more of an Aaron Rodgers type.

Coming Off the Bye: Coaches on the Hot Seat

As a Coming Off the Bye special report, Walkthrough examines coaches whose tenures may be rapidly drawing to a close.

Things have gotten so bad for Matt Nagy in Chicago that even stuff that isn't his fault is now his fault.

Chicago Sun-Times columnist Rick Morrissey called for Nagy's head after last week's Monday night loss to the Steelers, citing the Bears' 115 penalty yards as the latest in a long list of grievances. As you may recall, that game was partially decided by a silly taunting penalty and a phantom low block that negated a touchdown. There was also a vintage off-target defensive pass interference penalty which netted 30 yards for the Steelers. None of those fouls can really be laid at Nagy's feet.

Having made some late-night, tight-deadline column sausage over the last decade, I can guess that "Nagy Must Go" was a pre-approved topic in the event of a Bears loss, that many of the column's beats were pre-written, and penalties were inserted as a surrogate reason for the rancor because Justin Fields and the offense played acceptably. That's not a knock on Morrissey, it's an indication of what deep trouble Nagy is in. Major newspapers rarely shift into "Coach Must Go" mode unless they know the end is indeed nigh.

The McCaskey family is old-school about not firing coaches mid-season. They're also likely to sweep Ryan Pace out along with Nagy, and gutting the whole football operation in November can create logistical headaches. So Nagy escaped the bye-week axe. But can he salvage his job? Right now, he's stuck with a "Fields is developing DESPITE Nagy" storyline, which he brought upon himself. It didn't help that Fields' first encouraging game came when Nagy was absent due to COVID. Nagy needs both wins and some full-fledged Player of the Week-type efforts from Fields to justify his future employment.

Walkthrough gives Nagy less than a 5% chance of salvaging his job. Oddschecker gave him a +200 moneyline to be the first NFL coach officially fired this season. Wagering on someone losing his job is a little bit ghoulish (nattering about it four times per week, on the other hand, is simply charming), so Walkthrough isn't recommending any action.

Let's look at some other coaches who may be in trouble, in alphabetical order.

David Culley, Houston Texans
Culley ranks 30th in the EdjSports decision rankings, but that does not matter. He's a factotum who won't be fired until Jack Easterby needs a scapegoat, and Easterby has so thoroughly insulated himself from accountability that he won't need a scapegoat for a while.

Walkthrough predicts about a 75% chance that Culley will be retained so the Texans can lay low on the offseason news front while trying to engineer another Deshaun Watson trade.

Vic Fangio, Denver Broncos
Fangio probably needs a playoff appearance to prevent George Paton from tossing him in a cardboard box labeled "Elway's Stuff" and sending him off to a storage shed. Sunday's loss made a playoff run look doubtful. There's about an 80% chance that Fangio is gone in early January.

Brian Flores, Miami Dolphins
It's hard to make heads-or-tails of the underlying politics of the Dolphins org chart. Walkthrough's guess is that Flores and Chris Grier will paint this lost season as the no-fault failure of Tua Tagovailoa to develop (He was an injury case! We lost his rookie year to COVID!) then fire some coordinators (all 16 of them) as a peace offering.

It generally takes NFL owners a year to realize that their leadership group is too busy insulating itself from failure to actually strive for success, because coaches and general managers are brilliant at CYA tactics. Let's give Flores 50-50 odds of navigating his way to safe professional harbor after the Dolphins' two-game winning streak.

Joe Judge, New York Giants
Judge ranks second-to-last in the EdjSports coaching decision rankings: he loves him some short field goals and fourth-and-short punts. Giants training camp and the start of the season were unmitigated disasters. He doesn't know how headsets work. Judge doesn't appear to bring anything to the table except low-key antagonism and "I Know Bill Belichick" tee-shirts. His saving graces may be occasional upsets like the Week 9 victory over the Raiders, another "if not for injuries" narrative, and the Giants' reluctance to reboot for the fourth time in six years.

Judge and Dave Gettleman could save their jobs with a few wins in late December and early January. Don't shoot the messenger. Still, we'll place Judge's probability of getting canned at around 66% and Gettleman's (he's Giants Family and a savvy survivor) closer to 60%. Oddschecker cites a +900 moneyline on Judge being the first coach fired; the house knows how the Giants prefer to operate.

Urban Meyer, Jacksonville Jaguars
Meyer may have figured out what mediocre NFL coaches have known for years: the trick to surviving a terrible season is to mumble boilerplate nonsense after losses, avoid focusing the spotlight on your failures, luck into the occasional upset, and wait for the "let's be patient" narrative to coalesce around you. Meyer might still flee back to the NCAA at a moment's notice, but Walkthrough gives him 50-50 odds of keeping his job if he wants it and 50-50 odds of wanting it. In other words, there's a 75% chance that he's gone next year.

Kyle Shanahan, San Francisco 49ers
The media has soured on Shanahan, and fans wanted to see him dragged along behind a streetcar before Monday night's upset, but there's no evidence that Jed York is itching to make a move. The fact that Shanahan and John Lynch are a matched set complicates matters: firing the entire football operations department isn't as appealing a decision as it sounds on sports-talk radio the morning after a 49ers loss.

If anyone can name a coaching candidate on the market who is better qualified than Shanahan, both Walkthrough and York are open to suggestions. And Shanahan would be coaching the Raiders or Bears 30 seconds after the 49ers let him go. After the Rams upset, Walkthrough is taking Shanahan off the board.

Nick Sirianni, Philadelphia Eagles
My gut tells me that this is Sirianni's "starter marriage" coaching job. The Eagles will fire him, next year if not this year, and he will re-emerge as an older and wiser candidate after disappearing into the branches of the Andy Reid coaching tree for a few years. Sirianni and his staff were more unready than clueless early in the season, and while they appear to be learning on the fly, they remain one loopy game plan or gardening metaphor away from sitting right back on the hot seat.

Whether Howie Roseman and/or Jeffrey Lurie lose patience in Sirianni this season or give him a second chance depends both on the next seven games and how much control they themselves exert over everyday operations. Philly sports talk would have you believe that Lurie personally calls the offensive plays and Roseman is some sort of creepy puppet master. That's silly, but Roseman does indeed exert firm roster control and may want to keep it that way. Let's give Sirianni about a 60% chance of surviving as a sort of dormitory RA, especially if the Eagles keep playing like they did against the Broncos.

Zac Taylor, Cincinnati Bengals
As the Bengals come off their bye, Taylor's job appears almost 100% safe due to Joe Burrow's development and Ja'Marr Chase's arrival. But if the Bengals defense keeps playing the way it did against the Jets and Browns, the Bengals will miss the playoffs, and Taylor will sacrifice coordinator Lou Aramaro.

Mike Zimmer, Minnesota Vikings
Oddschecker was giving Zimmer a +160 moneyline to be the first coach fired before Sunday's win over the Chargers. That was a goofy line: long-tenured coaches typically get to finish the season unless their team is humiliating itself, and the Vikings aren't doing that.

Zimmer isn't the problem in Minnesota: his defense is playing well despite injuries, and his win-probability decision-making is middle-of-the-pack. The Vikings' problem is their entire team-building philosophy, but general manager Rick Spielman is also still merrily extending veteran contracts past the heat death of the universe, so there's no sense that the Vikings are eager to make changes at the organizational level. (More on that elsewhere in Walkthrough). Let's give Zimmer at least a 50-50 shot at keeping his job, though he will probably be forced to take on a hotshot offensive coordinator from outside the Kubiak family if the Vikings fail to reach the playoffs.

Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks
Not in danger. Simmer down.

Leaderboard of the Week: 2022 Cap Space

Every Thursday, Walkthrough examines a random (and usually obscure) leaderboard from Football Outsiders, Sports Info Solutions, or elsewhere on the analytics Interwebs in search of deep truths and wisdom.

Cap space is not inherently a good thing.

In a majority of cases, it's better to have a lot of cap space than a little or none. But while a clean payroll is often a sign of frugality or good economic health, it can also mean:

  • A team has no one worth paying; and/or:
  • A team has lots of pending free agents that they should have already extended.

These are important points to emphasize here in the analytics realm, where some folks seem to think the goal of football is to always have a stockpile of future money and draft capital. No, the goal of football is to win Super Bowls, which requires the wise allocation of money and draft capital. Actual success in the short term is exponentially more valuable than theoretical success in the long term, though it's fun to sound erudite when writing rebuilding-team fanfic about the latter.

With all of that in mind, let's look at the leaders in 2022 cap space, per Over The Cap. Numbers are rounded to the nearest million bucks:

Team 2022 Cap Space
Miami Dolphins $77 million
Los Angeles Chargers $75 million
Denver Broncos $72 million
Jacksonville Jaguars $67 million
Cincinnati Bengals $63 million

If Tua Tagovailoa was enjoying a breakout season and the Dolphins were 6-4 instead of 3-7, that $77 million could be used to launch them into the upper echelon of AFC contenders (assuming such a thing as "upper-echelon AFC contender" really exists). Instead, that pile of cap space looks more like ransom for some huge, desperate quarterback move: We can afford you, Russell Wilson/Aaron Rodgers/Deshaun Watson! The Dolphins need a young nucleus, not money, and money cannot really buy a young nucleus.

Tight end Mike Gesicki is the Dolphins' highest-priority in-house free agent. In fact, they probably should have taken care of him already. We're going to assume that the Dolphins aren't going to sit on that nest egg while one of their few reliable offensive weapons tests free agency. But then, we also assumed that the Dolphins wouldn't draft a quarterback fifth overall and then spend two years shaming him.

Contrast the Dolphins with the Chargers, who are still one year away from having to worry about what a Justin Herbert extension will look like. Mike Williams, their top in-house free agent, will probably fetch Tyler Lockett money ($17 million per year) going forward, and the Chargers could cram a big chunk of that into 2022 so they don't have to work around it at Herbert time. They will probably let veteran free agents Chris Harris, Linval Joseph and Jared Cook test free agency, then sign back whichever 30-something doesn't find suitors banging down his door (possibly all of them). No matter how we slice the pie, the Chargers will have money to pursue a "Missing Piece" type such as Haason Reddick or Allen Robinson in 2022.

The Broncos may be the ultimate example of a team for whom cap space is a mixed blessing. Teddy Bridgewater and Courtland Sutton are 2022 free agents, as are defensive backs Kyle Fuller, Bryce Callahan, and Kareem Jackson. Look past their current record and you'll see that the Broncos are a rebuilding team without an appealing long-term option at quarterback. That $72 million will best be spent extending Sutton; preparing for extensions for players such as Bradley Chubb, Noah Fant, and Dalton Risner for 2023; and battening down the hatches for a rebuild.

Jaguars offensive linemen Andrew Norwell, A.J. Cann, and Cam Robinson are all about to become free agents, as is injured star wide receiver DJ Chark. It's not clear whether anyone in Jacksonville understands the ramifications of this, or if the person likely to understand (Trent Baalke) is empowered to do something about it. Urban Meyer may not fully comprehend that veterans are allowed to leave, and that he can't simply replace Trevor Lawrence's entire relatively-functional offensive line with a bunch of redshirts. The Jaguars should at least be extending Brandon Linder and Chark. They'll probably spend their money on nonsense instead.

Have you spotted a trend among all the teams with lots of cap space? None of them have to worry about paying their quarterback just yet! (Except the Broncos, who never think too hard about their long-term future at quarterback). Safety Jessie Bates is by far the Bengals' top in-house priority, and they should have no trouble taking care of him: for all their front-office sloth, the Bengals of the early 2010s knew how to extend contracts (and Bates may be more amenable to sticking around now that the Bengals are competitive). Like the Chargers, the Bengals could go for a splash in 2022 free agency. It's not as clear yet whether or not that will be a justifiable move.

A reminder before we continue: 2022 cap figures are suppressed because 2020 COVID-related revenue losses are still being amortized through next season's cap calculations. Next year is going to be rough for 30-plus-year-old free agents of the Chris Harris variety: contenders are likely to only offer them one-year prove-it deals, which is why teams such as the Chargers may just let them shop in free agency and return.

Most of the NFL is huddled in the $20 million-to-$40 million fiscal range of "yeah, we can re-sign our top-priority in-house veterans, lock in all of our draft picks, and maybe add one guy." When everyone has about the same amount of money to spend, no one will really be in position to win a bidding war. That said, the teams at the bottom of the cap space leaderboard risk falling behind while other teams paddle to stay afloat:

Team 2022 Cap Space
New Orleans Saints -$57 million
Green Bay Packers -$38 million
Dallas Cowboys -$12 million
Minnesota Vikings -$6 million
New York Giants $3 million

Those who claim that the salary cap is a myth—those who believe that the mathematics they don't understand isn't real, in other words—like to hold the late 2010s Saints up as a success story. Mickey Loomis indeed did an outstanding job leveraging resources and stretching the limits of capenomics to keep the Drew Brees Saints on the Super Bowl shortlist. But this is the end of the end of the end of the line, folks. Jameis Winston, Taysom Hill, Terron Armstead, and Marcus Williams headline a group of free agents likely to leave town en masse. Finding a way to escape Michael Thomas' $24.7-million 2022 cap figure will "help," but the Saints are going to have to either cut productive starters or (worse) further extend aging veterans just to be able to field a team next year. And Ian Book may be that team's quarterback.

(Before you ask, the Saints only have $50 million on the books in 2023 cap space. So while they could theoretically backload a Winston contract if they are bent on keeping him, it would eat up so much of their 2023 budget that it would simply prolong the agony).

Despite the fact that some people think the Packers are a cheap organization that refuses to surround Aaron Rodgers with talent (and by "some people," we mean "Aaron Rodgers"), they have actually spent lavishly on top-tier talent such as Za'Darius Smith, David Bakhtiari, and His Martyred Majesty himself. Assuming they don't detonate the Rodgers era, the Packers will get compliant by cutting some Preston Smith types in the offseason. They can also extend Jaire Alexander's rookie contract to push most of his compensation into the post-2022 salad days. Randall Cobb has a $9-million cap figure in 2022, which should make for some fun conversations.

Davante Adams is an unrestricted free agent next year. It's gonna be an interesting offseason in Green Bay.

The Cowboys cap deficit is a nothingburger; Jerry Jones will just convert some salaries into bonuses and prorate things until the bull market comes. Again, while a lack of cap space is rarely a good sign, it's not a calamity for a Super Bowl-viable team with a youngish overall roster and an under-contract franchise quarterback.

The Vikings, on the other hand, are an aging wild-card contender. Walkthrough clowns on their cap management so often that it feels mean to do so again here. They'll make themselves cap-compliant by adding a year onto the back of Kirk Cousins' contract. Enjoy!

Let's clown on the Giants instead. Remember when the Giants signed Logan Ryan, Blake Martinez, and James Bradberry to make their defense somewhat above average in 2020? Well, those contracts are now ballast on the 2022 ledger, as are the wages of sin of this offseason's overspending. Dave Gettleman's replacement will likely cut a bunch of Martinez, Kyle Rudolph, and Evan Engram types while figuring out the best way to proceed with Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones (i.e., cutting them in 2023). If Gettleman Jedi mind tricks the Giants into retaining him for another year, entire bank vaults full of money will burst into flames.

Let's wrap with the Rams, who have about $6 million in cap space on the 2022 books. Other than recent rentals Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr., their in-house to-do list is rather light: guard Austin Corbett and young edge rusher Ogbonnia Okoronkwo are their top 2022 unrestricted free agents. With a little light housekeeping, the Rams can easily clear room to, say, extend Okoronkwo while keeping not only all of their big names but most of their key role players. There are some other factors in play—Andrew Whitworth can't keep doing this forever—but the Rams are in position to remain serious contenders in 2022, despite their "all in" tactics (and back-to-back upsets) of the last few weeks.

Again, cap space is not the goal in and of itself, nor is having lots of future draft picks. The Rams get to roll serious Super Bowl dice for two years, having already done so for a few past years. That's what NFL resource management is all about.

Thursday Night Sportsbook: New England Patriots (-7) at Atlanta Falcons

Never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever bet on the Falcons.

Ideally, you should never even bet on a Falcons game, because they schedule their backdoor covers when you least expect them. You expected one against the Cowboys, right? Some sort of shootout, because the Falcons have been competitive in most weeks and the Cowboys were coming off a loss? Nope. And you probably aren't expecting a backdoor cover this week, when Cordarrelle Patterson (ankle) probably should not play but might play because the Falcons will only have 10 guys if he's unavailable. But that's how the Falcons get you: by "exorcising the 28-3 demons" by scoring a touchdown with 17 seconds left to only lose by six points.

Scanning the props, Hunter Henry as an Anytime Touchdown Scorer at +120 is appealing, but the Patriots defense as an Anytime Touchdown Scorer at +450 is much tastier. Henry has caught three touchdown passes in two weeks and will likely be the focus of the Falcons defense's attention (for whatever that's worth) in the red zone. It makes more sense to wager on the Patriots defense doing something superlative and the Falcons offense doing something hilarious, especially at that Moneyline.

As for the game itself, FO+ is rather confident about the Patriots and the points. Walkthrough is going to hedge by taking the Patriots straight-up in a same-game parlay with the Under of 47.5 at +165: if the Patriots take a lead after a short week of rest, they're likely to just try to squat on it. We're also grabbing the Patriots defense Anytime Scorer prop as buyer's insurance in case the Patriots end up going over because of a pick-six or three.


92 comments, Last at 22 Nov 2021, 3:08pm

#1 by NYChem // Nov 18, 2021 - 10:51am

Surprised you didn't list Mike McCarthy, not that he should be on the hotseat, but there are rumors that kind of make sense of him getting lifted to retain Kellen Moore before he yields to temptation and takes a HC job. If you're right about NYG and/or Philly, I think either one would make a King's Ransom offer to Moore, to both land a hot coaching prospect while wounding their rivals at the same time.

Curious as to the odds of McCarthy getting pushed out at this point.

Points: 0

#9 by Mike Tanier // Nov 18, 2021 - 12:19pm

Rather low. It would be an odd Jerrah move. 

Points: 0

#16 by Romodini // Nov 18, 2021 - 3:02pm

A lot of the speculation about dumping McCarthy comes because Jason Garrett was in a similar position to Kellen Moore when he was first hired. Hot shot offensive coordinator working under an older coach in Wade Philips who appears destined to inherit the Cowboys coaching throne when the time is right. Jerrah had no trouble ousting Wade when the time came to crown the heir apparent. Also, due to Sean Payton and Matt Eberflus once serving under the Cowboys and finding success elsewhere, many think that Jerrah won't want to give up Moore and end up with another "one who got away". It would also satisfy Jerry's ego at having discovered and groomed the coach to lead them to a new dynasty, as Jerry's main concern appears to be winning his way and getting the credit, as opposed to just winning. 

Points: 0

#2 by Scott P. // Nov 18, 2021 - 11:22am

Let's not forget Sanchez was drafted 5th overall. He had an AV of 28 over his first four seasons. The average for the 15th pick is 6.2 AV per season over the first four seasons. Mark Sanchez at 15 would be just fine!

All of the folks criticizing Jones are essentially making the argument for him. Yesterday I heard a commentator say "He's not as good as Lawrence, he's not as good as Burrow, Mahomes, Herbert, Jackson or Murray."

Let's see -- those players were drafted 1st, 1st, 10th, 6th, 32nd, and 1st. He's not supposed to be as good as most of those players! Being behind them is okay!

The Patriots made a good choice and had a good draft, they're in playoff contention, and that seems to be driving a certain section of the NFL public out of their minds.

Points: 0

#5 by Pat // Nov 18, 2021 - 12:03pm

Wait. How could someone make an argument that he's not playing as well as Lawrence?

He's got like, 300 more yards, 400 more DYAR, more TDs, fewer picks, higher QBR, higher ANY/A, higher passer rating. God knows what else.

Now, I mean, you could say "I don't think he'll play as well as Lawrence eventually will," sure. Fine. You think Jones is limited? Fine, sure! Cool! That's just draftniking. Whatever. Maybe he won't be as good a choice as Lawrence, or Fields, or Wilson, or whoever.

But I seriously don't get it. Even if Jones's performance is entirely due to the Patriots, if you put Lawrence on that team, at best, he'd look exactly like Jones. There's no way in hell Belichick would let him push tight windows, or chuck deep, or have the freedom any of the top QBs have.

Rookies suck! Most of the best rookie performances in history (Brady, Roethlisberger) probably involved a head coach sitting them down and saying "do exactly what I tell you to do, and nothing more." The only thing that we can glean about Mac Jones from this year is that he's not a total headcase, and can follow instructions. That's it.

Points: 0

#19 by RickD // Nov 18, 2021 - 3:15pm

Brady didn't emerge until his second season.  His rookie season was spent carrying Bledsoe's clipboard.

I would add that it's far from clear that Jones isn't better than Herbert and/or Burrow.  Certainly he's playing better right now, even though he's just a rookie.

As the QBs move deeper into their careers, it's important to move past the traits that are important to scouts (height, arm strength, etc.) and look instead at what's happening on the field.  Mac just clearly outplayed recent #1 Baker Mayfield.  Seems that a lot of the criticism of his play stems from

  • general anti-Pats animus
  • ridiculous comparisons to Tom Brady, based on 2007 Brady, not 2001 Brady.

Mac Jones is light years beyond any Patriots rookie QB, and matches up pretty well vs. most rookie QBs in NFL history.  


Points: 0

#24 by Pat // Nov 18, 2021 - 4:36pm

In reply to by RickD

Oh, duh, forgot that was Brady's second season.

I would add that it's far from clear that Jones isn't better than Herbert and/or Burrow.  Certainly he's playing better right now, even though he's just a rookie.

Burrow, yes (although it's the Bengals), Herbert, no. You'd have to have ridiculously rose-colored glasses to think Jones is playing better than Herbert. 

But I really think the only thing that a rookie season tells you is a "pass/fail" kinda thing. Looking like a total disaster's an extremely bad sign, but other than that, not much. Safe to say that Jones isn't going to be a disaster.

Points: 0

#30 by NYChem // Nov 18, 2021 - 8:49pm

In '04, roethlisberger had the kind of games that Jones just had against Cleveland. Against both the eagles and pats midseason. Games that were supposed to be close contests, but because of defense, running game, him making timely throws and no mistakes, they blew them out. But the telling game was against the bill parcells coached cowboys. Steelers fell behind in the 4th Q, and the defensive guru parcells knew how to beat rookie QBs in that case. Ben showed savvy and toughness and avoided sacks and made the throws and brought them back on the road. That is the rookie game you could point to to define his ceiling for the future. Mac hasn't had that kind of statement game yet, and as a Steelers fan I am not rooting for him to do so, but it would probably be good for their team if he has his chance later this season and comes through. Pats fans have to be optimistic though. 

The Gold standard, though, isn't Ben or Russell or Herbert. It's Marino. After that Dallas comeback, that's the comparison Parcells made for Ben. No better praise for a rook.

Points: 0

#32 by Bob Smith // Nov 18, 2021 - 10:50pm

NYChem-what do you think Parcells was telling Ben by comparing him to a guy (Marino) that could only play good enough to help his team win 1 Conference Championship game in 17 seasons??

Points: 0

#34 by NYChem // Nov 18, 2021 - 11:17pm

Marino's peak in the mid 80's, era adjusted or not, was as good as anyone has ever played QB ever. His rookie year was unworldly. But yeah, no conference or SB championships. If that's your measure of good football and good players, well check back here in February for the only games that matter.

Points: 0

#35 by Bob Smith // Nov 18, 2021 - 11:29pm

That is not my opinion, it was Marino's opinion. Here is his quote:"I'd trade every Record we broke to be Super Bowl Champs".                                                                                                                                                                                                           If that is how a record-setting QB looks at it, then that is good enough for me. All he wanted to do was win a Super Bowl, which we know is every franchise QB's goal. Most even tell us that is why they play the game.

Points: 0

#36 by Bob Smith // Nov 18, 2021 - 11:34pm

But the Gold Standard for Rookie QB's is Joe Flacco and Mark Sanchez. They are still the only 2 rookie QB's ever to play good enough to help their teams win 2 playoff games in their rookie year.                                                                                                                                                                                                                     And Sanchez had a Passer Rating of 134 in his very 1st playoff game no less. No rookie will ever top that IMO.

Points: 0

#39 by dbostedo // Nov 19, 2021 - 7:55am

"I'd trade every Record we broke to be Super Bowl Champs"

That is not AT ALL the same as saying "the best QBs are the ones that win super bowls". Rating/evaluating the best players purely by particular wins in a large team game is not really logical. Explaining why playoff and super bowl wins are terrible measures of who the best players are, is one of the main things this site does. 

Points: 0

#43 by Bob Smith // Nov 19, 2021 - 9:37am

            It is not about winning championships in the playoffs for me as much as it is HOW a QB PLAYS IN THOSE CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES.                                                                 Does a team win because of his good play or in spite of his mediocre to bad play?                                                                                                                               Does a team lose in spite of his good play or because of his mediocre to bad play?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I am looking for those QB's that PLAYED GOOD ENOUGH to help their team win championships.  After all, that is their main goal for playing the game.                                                                                                                                                   My MISSION STATEMENT for my franchise QB is this: PLAY GOOD ENOUGH to help our team win multiple championships.                                                   It sounds like yours would be: Play your best in the Regular Season because that is how I will judge you overall and don't worry about helping our team achieve our main goal in the playoffs.                                                                                                                                                                                                          It sounds like you are ignoring the main goal of every player, coach, and owner in the NFL-win championships.

Points: 0

#45 by Bob Smith // Nov 19, 2021 - 10:03am

There is a statement that goes along with winning the S.B. that is applicable for QB's in the NFL--------"HE REACHED THE PINNACLE OF HIS PROFESSION".                                                                                                                                                                 That statement was never applied to anything that a QB did IN THE REGULAR SEASON.

Points: 0

#40 by Pat // Nov 19, 2021 - 9:08am

Um. I think you're forcing reality into a storyline a little bit, there. I mean, I get the whole "legendary coach anoints rookie," but coaches spin hyperbole too.

The Steelers won that game after the defense forced a Testaverde fumble that they returned to the Dallas 24 yard line with under 3 minutes to go. The Steelers had a good drive to begin the game, then did nothing most of the game on offense and fell behind in the third quarter. Roethlisberger had a good drive around the turn of the 4th, but it wasn't some grand comeback or anything - they were down by 10 points. And the offense had a chance to score right before that, and... they didn't.

Then Roethlisberger was flat out handed a tie by his defense, completed two passes, and ran the ball to get the touchdown. That... certainly sounds like a game won by the defense.

If you're honestly saying that Roethlisberger's single good drive in a game that they won versus a 6-10 team due to a recovered fumble is more of a statement than Jones has made this year... I don't know how to respond to that. I'm not saying Jones has been better than Roethlisberger's rookie year - far, far from it - but that game is not the one I'd pick. If you want to go with the whole "gritty, comeback win from the rookie"- the Giants game is a far better example.

Points: 0

#41 by SandyRiver // Nov 19, 2021 - 9:20am

in 2004 Cory Dillon produced 1,635 rushing yards for the Pats in 15 games.  That other game was the Steelers' stomping of  NE - might've made a difference.  (Though the Pats always - 2007 excepted - managed to pack a stinker or 2 within their 14-2/13-3 seasons.  I think it was '04 when their 2nd loss was to the then 1-12 'Phins.)
I sort of wished that in the 3rd down run in the PS that put the Pats up 41-20 the carrier had run past the marker and taken a knee.  Then Brady would've done the same 3 times and the final score of 34-20 would've mirror-imaged the regular season loss.  (Would've eliminated about 10 defensive plays, too, as Ben ran a nice 2-minute drill for a garbage TD.)

Points: 0

#3 by serutan // Nov 18, 2021 - 11:44am would eat up so much of {the Saints'} 2023 budget that it would simply prolong the agony

Which fits their M.O. until proven otherwise.

Zimmer isn't the problem in Minnesota

It seems to me that going through offensive coordinators like a kid goes through candy has a problem-like aura to it.

Points: 0

#4 by Pat // Nov 18, 2021 - 11:52am

The Jones story is likely to take a turn, perhaps soon. History tells us that young game managers rarely turn into Brady.

Wait, wait, wait.

Jones is a rookie. Rookies are almost universally bad. Even Justin Herbert's much-ballyhooed rookie season only put him at the bottom of the top-10 in DYAR, and just out of it in DVOA. Which is good, mind you, but it's right alongside Kirk Cousins and Derek Carr. It was fantastic for a rookie.

You can't brand rookies as "game managers." The Sanchez love in 2009 was bizarre because he was bad. Flat out cost them games. -382 DYAR. Around -25% DVOA. He wasn't out there minimizing mistakes, limiting the team by not taking risks (or, if he was, God help us if he actually had taken those risks). He was a bad QB on a team that bizarrely made it to the conference championship. That team was winning in spite of him. So, so in spite of him.

Jones has around a ~0% DVOA and over 200 DYAR already.  He actually is adding significant value to the team. Not a ton, obviously, but, again, rookie! Sure, maybe this is his high point, and he tops out at around Mark Sanchez and the team needs to move on from him. Then people start branding him "game manager" and the man-love becomes irrational. 

But right now, the only phrase you can use for Jones is "a rookie who doesn't suck."

Points: 0

#11 by Hoodie_Sleeves // Nov 18, 2021 - 1:10pm

Expecting Tanier to be objective about anything surrounding the Patriots is unwise. 


Every article is his is this same sort of nonsense. 

Points: 0

#14 by Raiderfan // Nov 18, 2021 - 1:58pm

Very true, but the angst is almost as funny as reading Scott Kaczmar write about Brady.

Points: 0

#15 by nat // Nov 18, 2021 - 2:05pm

In reply to by Raiderfan

Maybe. But FO could really do without a “designated irrational Patriot-hating toddler-tantrum thrower” slot on their staff. It hurts the FO brand.

Tanier is capable of of some very good writing. FO should just take him off the Patriots beat. He’s not up to the task. Unless toddler-tantrums is what they’re aiming for.

Points: 0

#18 by Romodini // Nov 18, 2021 - 3:11pm

I'm not sure that hating the Patriots is particularly irrational if you're one of the other 31 fan bases. Maybe the hate can fuel an irrational analysis, but I think the hate has been very well earned. However, Eagles fans tend to hate other teams (Dallas) winning more than they love their own team winning, so the real question becomes whether Tanier is one of these Eagles fans, and has displaced his inborn Dallas ire onto the Patriots. His Dallas takes are impressively level headed and hate-free for an Eagles fan, or for any non-Cowboys fan really, since Dallas is typically the most despised team outside of the Patriots despite not winning anything for over 25 years.

Points: 0

#22 by nat // Nov 18, 2021 - 4:04pm

You raise a good point. Good natured “Hate!!!” is not in and of itself a bad thing in lighthearted sports commentary. It’s when it gets in the way of sane analysis that it becomes a problem, both for the FO brand, and for us as readers.

If we were to read a balanced, nuanced analysis of someone like Mac Jones as rookie ten games into his career, and it were to be followed by “AND I HATE THAT HE IS DOING THIS WELL BECUZ PATZ SUCK!!!” It would be amusingly childish without otherwise doing any harm.

Sadly, that is not what we get to read.

BTW, I grew up a ‘Skins fan way, way back, and still hate the Cowboys with a passion. Their f*cking punter was a good QB, dammit! That’s just wrong. (Although our punt returner was a good QB, too. Which is only according to natural law, y’know)

Points: 0

#27 by Romodini // Nov 18, 2021 - 6:16pm

Haha I understand why Giants, 'Skins, and Eagles fans loathe the Cowboys, and older fans who were around for the Cowboys dynasty days of the 70s and  90s (I was born too late to enjoy them), but don't get the hate from younger fans from outside the division who haven't had to deal with consistent Cowboys success. It seems like the Packers, Saints, and Seahawks would earn more contempt since they're consistently in the playoffs every year, but nonetheless America's Team is still among the most reviled franchises. Come to think of it, maybe it's the nickname that rubs people the wrong way...

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#70 by LionInAZ // Nov 19, 2021 - 9:00pm

Man, Patriots fans are sure thin-skinned and defensive...

The Patriots have been feasting on second-rate opposition and losing to the leaders. Call us when Mac Jones heads a victory over a serious opponent.

Points: 0

#72 by jheidelberg // Nov 20, 2021 - 12:14am

The Patriots beat the Browns who were a good team by DVOA until the Patriots destroyed them. They lost to Dallas in OT and barely lost to Tampa. There are no corresponding losses of 25-0, 45-7, 54-13, by statistical measures DVOA and point differential this is a very good team.

Sincerely yours,

Ravens fan a.k.a Patriots hater

Points: 0

#91 by Alternator // Nov 22, 2021 - 2:36pm

"The Patriots haven't beaten a good team, so the Chargers are going to wreck them!"

Patriots: beat the Chargers in a dogfight.


"The Chargers suck, the Patriots haven't beaten a good team, the Browns (who just wrecked the Bengals) are going to destroy them!"


Patriots: route the Browns.


"The Browns suck..."

Points: 0

#26 by Hoodie_Sleeves // Nov 18, 2021 - 4:46pm

The problem isn't that he hates the Patriots - it's that this is a site that prides itself on being about intelligent analytics that go past the talking head storylines. 



And Tanier has basically become that - he's a great writer, but he's a sloppy, lazy analyst who isn't willing to actually do the work anymore. 


He used to be fantastic, but now pretty much everything needs to be fact checked.And that's a big mismatch for this site. 

Points: 0

#31 by Lost Ti-Cats Fan // Nov 18, 2021 - 10:05pm

He's writing a lot of articles.  Too many, in my opinion.  It's an impressive work load he's chosen to take on for this year, but hopefully it gets reviewed for next year.

One less article per week so he has more time to spend on the others would be better, I think.

Then again, look at the number of comments on this article and maybe quantity is the way to go after all. 

Points: 0

#20 by RickD // Nov 18, 2021 - 3:18pm

In reply to by Raiderfan

I mean, sure he thinks Belichick is a Sith Lord, but he's not willing to beat the crap out of mathematics to try to prove it, the way Kacsmar does.

Points: 0

#47 by Pat // Nov 19, 2021 - 11:07am

Expecting Tanier to be objective about anything surrounding the Patriots is unwise. 

Jeez, I comment about rushing to any judgement on rookies and suddenly it becomes a "TANIER HATEZ TE PATS"-fest or something.

I totally agree with Mike's take that some sportswriters/Patriots fans are crowning Jones just a bit early. On the broadcast last night, the announcers said "why would Belichick retire when he's got his quarterback for the next 10-15 years" which is insane. The main issue I have is trying to shoehorn Jones into anything other than "OK this guy isn't a total bust." 

Plenty of QBs have come in and had reasonable rookie years and turned out to be nothing special. Matt Leinart, Jameis Winston, Andy Dalton, Joe Flacco. There's no reason to believe that Mac Jones is going to be a 10+ year starter in the NFL. We have no idea about how he'll handle injuries or how his body will hold up. But if you look at that list, you'll note that what you don't see are guys who washed out of the league and never got a second contract at all. Whereas with some of the other rookies, the historical comps aren't so good.

Mainly it's the whole "they're more likely to turn into Sanchez" part. And I get why Mike's going there, but Sanchez was a QB who was hyped because his team won and he was bad.

This is a totally different situation. Flacco, for instance, is a much, much better comp.

(and as I've said elsewhere in the end I don't actually think Ravens fans should be upset about the Flacco era anyway)

Points: 0

#48 by Bob Smith // Nov 19, 2021 - 11:19am

Pat---you name  Leinart, Winston, Dalton, and Flacco and claim that they "turned out to be nothing special". What would they have to accomplish in your mind to be "something special' instead of "nothing special".                                                                            I am curious to hear your response.

Points: 0

#49 by Pat // Nov 19, 2021 - 11:31am

Let's set the bar real low and go with "somebody who gets resigned by their draft team and doesn't get released or traded for peanuts from their second contract." Something like that. It's awkward to come up with a cut in the NFL because of all of the weird things that can happen. In the "vague general statement" kinda sense it's more like "someone a team doesn't want to move on from in their early 30s."

For me as a fan, I'd be totally fine with Jones turning out to be any of those 4. Those would all make Jones a solid pick in my mind. Leinart might seem curious there but I don't expect front offices to be able to predict injury issues (unless they're real obvious).

As an Eagles fan, for instance, Hurts is growing on me in the sense that while I still highly doubt he'll ever be an asset, he's definitely worth playing through his rookie contract.

Points: 0

#50 by Bob Smith // Nov 19, 2021 - 11:47am

Thanks for the response. I was just curious why you include a guy (Flacco) that played good enough to lead his team to a S.B. win along with those other 3 and claim that they all did "nothing special".                                                                                                                                                                                                                             You do realize (or maybe you don't) that Flacco's winning S.B. team was the 2nd worst team ever (statistically speaking) to win the S.B. Only 1 of Eli's teams was worse statistically speaking-using Official Rankings by the NFL.

Points: 0

#51 by Pat // Nov 19, 2021 - 11:59am

 why you include a guy (Flacco) that played good enough to lead his team to a S.B. win

I don't see the careers of Flacco, Dalton, Leinart, or Winston as being significantly different, except for the fact that Flacco was lucky to play for one of the best-run franchises in the NFL and the other 3 played for some of the worst (plus Leinart's bad injury luck).

edit: to be clear, Tampa's improved pretty dramatically in the past few years, but QBs like the above are really only solidly valuable during their rookie contract.

Points: 0

#52 by Bob Smith // Nov 19, 2021 - 12:13pm

I hope you didn't miss the most important part of my post-Flacco played good enough to lead the 2nd WORST TEAM TO EVER WIN a S.B. statistically speaking.                                                                                                                                          He wasn't just leading a team, he was leading the 2nd worst team ever that won a S.B. What he accomplished was definitely "something special" given how his team Ranked--statistically speaking using Official NFL Rankings.                           I can't stress that enough.This was a bad team statistically speaking.

Points: 0

#53 by Pat // Nov 19, 2021 - 12:21pm

What he accomplished was definitely "something special"

Accomplishing something special and being something special are two very different things.

edit: You're also weirdly giving credit for Flacco being bad in the first place. It's not like they traded for Flacco just prior to the postseason and he leads this terrible team to the playoffs. He was a good part of the reason they weren't that great in the regular season to begin with!

Points: 0

#61 by Bob Smith // Nov 19, 2021 - 4:38pm

I have no idea where or how you are drawing some of your conclusions.                           Flacco was anything but "bad in the first place". There is only 1 QB in history (that I am aware of) that played good enough to help their team win at least 1 playoff game in each of their 1st five years in the league. That alone is accomplishing something special AND being something special. The only QB IN HISTORY.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Joe was definitely being something special when he threw 11 TD passes and 0 INT's, and an avg. Passer Rating of 118 in his S.B. run, and he accomplished something special by playing good enough to help his team win a Conf. Champ. game ON THE ROAD.

Points: 0

#63 by Bob Smith // Nov 19, 2021 - 5:00pm

Now go back and check to see if any QB in your Top 10 of All-Time can match what Flacco did-throw 11 TD's and 0 INT's with an avg. Passer Rating of 118 in 1 playoff run and also having to win the Conf. Champ. game on the road.                                                                                                                                                              I already know they could not have matched Joe's other accomplishment of winning at least 1 playoff game in their 1st five years in the league.                                                                                                                                                                      I also know that nobody on your Top 10 list had a S. B. winning team that was as bad as Flacco's team  statistically speaking unless you have Eli Manning in your Top 10. Again that is using Official NFL Rankings.

Points: 0

#64 by Bob Smith // Nov 19, 2021 - 5:19pm

Sorry, I forgot about Russell Wilson winning at least 1 playoff game in his 1st five years in the league. But Flacco gets Wilson because he (Flacco) won at least 1 playoff game in 6 out of his 1st seven years in the league but Wilson cannot match that.

Points: 0

#68 by jheidelberg // Nov 19, 2021 - 7:51pm

In reply to by Bob Smith

However, to Pat’s point, if he is drafted by a mediocre/poor team, he never even plays in a playoff game during his first five years.   The Ravens carried him to the playoffs, I would need to check, but I believe 2014 was his only good regular season.

Undeniably his 2012 playoff run was fantastic as were many of his other playoff games.  

There are some that believe in “clutch.”   I do not.  If Flacco were clutch he would not be on the Jets as some other team would want him for a playoff game if their starter were hurt, and would have offered the Eagles more than a 6th round pick.

Points: 0

#69 by Bob Smith // Nov 19, 2021 - 8:12pm

Yes but if.......he was drafted by the best team ever he might have had even more success early on. That's enough pretending for me.                                                                                                                                                                                         Here's 1 to ponder-Brady got off to the best start ever by playing good enough to help his team win 9 playoff games in his 1st five years in the league. Well, Flacco matched that. He also played good enough to help his team win 9 playoff games in his 1st five years in the league.                                                                                                                                                                                                           Wilson is right behind with 8 wins. The big difference-Brady won 6 championship games, Wilson won 3, and Flacco only 2 championship games in their 1st 5 years in the league.                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Who was using the word clutch ??

Points: 0

#71 by Bob Smith // Nov 19, 2021 - 11:29pm

Here is 1 more name I should have included above. The only rookie QB ever to inherit a S.B. team in his rookie season-Dan Marino. No other rookie inherited a team that just played in the S.B., a number 1 Defense, and the best coach in the league all in his rookie year except for Marino.                                                                                                                                                                                                      So how did Dan do in the playoffs for his 1st five years in the league-he played good enough to help his team win only 3 games ,which did include 1 Conf. Champ. -but only 3 wins total in his 1st five years in the league.

Points: 0

#73 by jheidelberg // Nov 20, 2021 - 12:27am

In reply to by Bob Smith

You can spend time looking at Marino’s accomplishments at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

When they open up the Mediocre Pro Football Hall of Fame you will be able to see Joe Flacco’s accomplishments.

As a Raven’s fan I am biased, I ‘ll go to the Flacco exhibit first, but I will be sure to not miss the Teddy Bridgewater exhibit either when the Mediocre Pro Football Hall of Fame is opened.  

I’ll be sure to bring one of my favorite cousins, Kirk. 

Points: 0

#74 by Bob Smith // Nov 20, 2021 - 7:39am

OK, here is my last question for you-if you had a S.B. game coming up would you want Flacco or Marino as your QB based on their Resume only. Don't try to re-write history-base your answer on how each guy played in his 1 and only S.B. game.                                                                                                                                           Marino had 4 BIG GAMES and he was very good in 1 of them but in the other 3 he was mediocre to bad so it led to 1 Conf. Championship Ring as a result.                                                                                                                                        Flacco had 4 BIG GAMES also (so far) and he was very good in 3 of the  4 and it resulted in 1 Conf. Champ. AND 1 S.B. win.                                                                So which guy was better when their teammates were counting on them more than ever to be better-Joe Flacco was a majority of the time.

Points: 0

#75 by jheidelberg // Nov 20, 2021 - 10:41am

You ask a question, then specify that you want the answer based upon one game.  This is throwing out hundreds of data points, or as the saying goes, throw out all of the data that does not fit your hypothesis and keep only the data that does.

Otherwise known as how to commit fraud on your PhD thesis.

How silly!!

You are diminishing the Ravens great accomplishments with Flacco.  There are few teams in recent memory that could have won a playoff game with Flacco at QB for each of 5 straight seasons, let alone go to 3 AFC Championship games and win a Super Bowl.

Here is Flacco’s rookie playoff run.

4 Ravens INT’s, one a pick 6 to beat Miami

A 13-10 win over TN

A 23-14 loss to PIT as the Ravens score on two 1 yard TD runs after two PI’s. 

If you want Flacco in the Hall of Fame instead of Marino please make sure that you have a picture of a PI with the flag falling from the refs hand.

If Flacco were that must have guy, his signing after the Super Bowl would have been brilliant.  As it turns out, Baltimore made the playoffs in 1 of the next 5 years.

In 2017 with the Ravens season on the line, Andy Dalton threw a TD pass on 4th and 12 in the final seconds of the game to defeat the Ravens with Flacco.

Based on this one game, should the Ravens have traded for Dalton or drafted Lamar Jackson?

Points: 0

#78 by Bob Smith // Nov 21, 2021 - 8:00am

Sorry,but I spent all day in Clemson following my Clemson Tigers. Boy, if you ever need proof how much a QB means to his team look no further than Clemson.                But to answer you, I used the S.B. because that is the biggest game of the year. That is where every owner, coach, fan, and teammate really need help from their QB, That is where a QB can REACH THE PINNACLE OF HIS PROFESSION.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    But I'll go 1 further-I would take Flacco over Marino for the playoffs in general. P-F-R did a study that showed just how bad Marino was A MAJORITY OF THE TIME.                                                                                                                                           I mwill tell you more about that study if you want.

Points: 0

#79 by Pat // Nov 21, 2021 - 8:42am

No, it really isn't being something special. How could it be?

Flacco was not a high end QB week-in, week-out. He had great performances when it mattered. That's entirely what I mean: someone who might end up in the Hall of Fame for something he did, but absolutely not as a player.

Nick Foles, for instance. He's in the Hall for multiple things, believe it or not.

"Joe was definitely being something special [...] in his S.B. run,"

That's an *accomplishment*. He did it once. It wasn't who he *was*.

Points: 0

#81 by Bob Smith // Nov 21, 2021 - 11:07am

That's an *accomplishment*--what an understatement. He REACHED THE PINNACLE OF HIS PROFESSION. He played very good and reached that goal that every QB wants to play good enough to achieve.                                                             He reached that goal that every QB dreams about but only xx amount have been able to achieve. And Flacco was 1 that played almost as good as the very best in his biggest game in his career.                                                                                                                                                                                                        One record-setting (in the Reg. Season) QB  (Marino) stated that he would trade every Record he broke  (in the Reg. Season) to be a S.B. champ.  Easy to see what his main goal was. But he never played good enough to achieve that goal. Well Flacco did-only once-but that is 1 more time than Marino, and Marino had 3 good shots at it.                                                                                                                                                                             

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#83 by Pat // Nov 21, 2021 - 5:58pm

It's not an understatement! It's an awesome accomplishment. Cool that he did it. Nick Foles did it, too, but I don't consider him anything special.

You keep thinking I'm diminishing Flacco's playoff run. Of course not! That part was great, just like Nick Foles's demolition of the Vikings and his insane Super Bowl.

But in order to *be* something special you need to do that all the time.

I seriously don't get the confusion here. Do you think Flacco deserves to be in the Hall as a player? If you do, we should just stop here. All I'm saying is that Flacco's very, very far from the Hall as a player. His Super Bowl run deserves to be there. He does not.

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#87 by Bob Smith // Nov 22, 2021 - 10:28am

      I really disagree with your statement "But in order to be something special you need to do  that all the time".         Marino, according to his quote just wanted to be something special once and be a S.B. champ.                                                               And that is the best something special that a QB can be in the NFL So special it is known as REACHING THE PINNACLE OF THEIR PROFESSION.                                                                                                                                                  I could argue that Flacco's Reg. Season stats compare quite favorably to at least 1 HOFer-Dan Fouts. Dan has more TD's and more total yds. but Joe has way less INT's, more wins, a better winning %, and a better Passer Rating.                                         When you get to the Post-season Flacco blows Fouts away-not even close in any caption.  But Joe may have started his career 20 years too late for HOF voters.

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#88 by Pat // Nov 22, 2021 - 10:43am

 Marino, according to his quote just wanted to be something special once and be a S.B. champ.

He might've used "be" but that was the wrong word. He wanted to do something special once. It's a team game. Super Bowls aren't individual accomplishments.

I could argue that Flacco's Reg. Season stats compare quite favorably to at least 1 HOFer-Dan Fouts.

Stats don't era-adjust - Fouts was thirty years ago. Fouts has 2 All-Pro seasons and 6 Pro Bowls. Flacco has zero of both. Outside of a few months in one year, no one ever thought Flacco was a top QB in the NFL.

Flacco's not some throwback out-of-time QB unappreciated by voters. He's just a mediocre QB who had one fantastic postseason. It happens. Again. Nick Foles. Just like there are elite QBs who have terrible postseasons. The idea of putting Flacco in the Hall is just laughable. His postseason run to the Super Bowl belongs in the Hall (and it is, I believe). He doesn't.

There's a reason why the Hall has "single accomplishments" displays, like Mike White's historic first game, or Nick Foles's 7 TD game, or any number of the others.

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#89 by Bob Smith // Nov 22, 2021 - 11:32am

     It's a team game-what an understatement. It's the ULTIMATE team game and it's the only team game I can think of that really relies on 1 player to be successful a majority of the time in order for the team to be successful a majority of the time.                                                                                                                                                    Many studies have been done to prove that point. And when that player is successful he is said to have REACHED THE PINNACLE OF HIS PROFESSION. He reached his main goal for playing the game in the first place.                                                                                                                                                         Hardly ever does Fran Tarkenton's name come up in these discussions in spite of holding how many Passer Records (back in the day)  including TD passes and Yards. He will come more often as the QB that played good enough to help his team get to 3 S.B.'s but not win any. 

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#90 by Bob Smith // Nov 22, 2021 - 12:09pm

  I don't know if you heard Jimmy Johnson's comment yesterday when he was asked who his most important player was when he was coaching and he answered "my QB". And then he said and I was asked who my 2nd most important player was and I answered "my backup QB".                                                                                                                                                                                                                     That pretty much sums it up. Thanks for a spirited discussion.

Points: 0

#57 by jheidelberg // Nov 19, 2021 - 2:03pm

I believe that I speak for many Ravens fans when I say that I am not only not upset with the Flacco era, but it was a great era and in 2018 it was time to move on.

Rookie Flacco:

1.  Check Baltimore 2008 DVOA on defense, this was a great team

2.  The Ravens in 2008 were the best team in the NFL on 1st and goal offense  They did this by running 90% of the time, an absurd figure.

Flacco was consistently mediocre during the entirety of his rookie deal, 2008-2012, leading to a championship and a huge contract.  3AFC Championship games, a playoff win in each of the 5 seasons, with a mediocre QB that somehow got better in the postseason.

The Ravens could not walk from this and got a decline from mediocre QB from 2013-2018, yet posted mediocre records by continuing to have a good team around him.

Now about the huge contract, Cleveland has done nothing yet, what do they do with Mayfield? 

Credit NE with having an excellent team for Jones to manage.  They are so similar to the 2008 Ravens, so that an AFC Championship Game or Super Bowl appearance or victory is hardly an absurdity.  It is just very difficult in the playoffs when the other team always has a better QB. Somehow, 2012 Flacco and team beat Luck, Brady, Manning and Kaepernick.   

According to FO figures, Lamar Jackson is mediocre.  That I do not understand.  He is getting renewed big time.  I must buy that the Ravens and others are correct and that he is way above mediocre.


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#59 by Pat // Nov 19, 2021 - 2:42pm

According to FO figures, Lamar Jackson is mediocre.  That I do not understand.  I must buy that the Ravens and others are correct and that he is way above mediocre.

He's the 16th rated passer and if he was properly classified as a running back when running, he'd likely be the 2nd or 3rd rated rusher. That doesn't average to "mediocre."

The problem is only that Jackson doesn't play the same position as Kirk Cousins, and FO doesn't have a way to rate hybrid QB/RBs, just like it doesn't have a way to rate hybrid RB/WRs or WR/TEs.

Edit: to paraphrase an old Aaron Schatz comment regarding Dallas Clark, "If is [Lamar Jackson] is [a quarterback when running], I'm a professional chef. I mean, sometimes I line up in the kitchen and cook dinner, but that's not generally where I do my work."

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#62 by jheidelberg // Nov 19, 2021 - 4:47pm

I never get an FO writer to explain:

Jackson is 8th in DYAR rushing which is a cumulative stat, how are 7 ahead?

Go back to 2018, please explain how he is the worst and leads team to a 6-1 record.  I know that there are a lot of fumbles.

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#80 by Pat // Nov 21, 2021 - 8:49am

He's 8th in DYAR *as a quarterback*. He's not a quarterback when rushing.

This isn't a problem you can fix easily. FO lists players by what they're listed as, not what they really are. Otherwise you have to go through player by player and make decisions that won't always work anyway. Happened with WR/TE and Dallas Clark, happening with QB/RB with Jackson.

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#82 by jheidelberg // Nov 21, 2021 - 11:14am

I'll agree that he should be compared with Derrick Henry, McCaffrey, and the rest of the good, mediocre and poor RB's when he is running.  He really should be viewed as Raven's RB1.

Now if you want a challenge, please try the difficult part of my post up above, please explain 2018 Jackson's FO figures, remembering that Flacco was 4-5 with this team, Jackson takes over, a switch is flipped and the Raven's go 6-1.  Paraphrasing what you said previously, rookie QB's suck in general, Jackson was an exception, or maybe he wasn't if you check the numbers.  The intangible that can not be measured easily is how much better Jackson makes the other RB's on the team.  The 2018 Ravens had a crap running game until Jackson took over.

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#84 by Vincent Verhei // Nov 22, 2021 - 1:01am

We addressed that at the end of Jackson's rookie season—why his rushing DYAR that year was so low, and why DYAR was failing to capture the true value of his talents as a runner. Click this link and search for "The Curious Case of Lamar Jackson."

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#85 by jheidelberg // Nov 22, 2021 - 1:18am

I have been looking for awhile for this explanation.  Now it makes sense.

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#86 by Pat // Nov 22, 2021 - 10:04am

In reply to by jheidelberg

I should point out that the whole "Lamar makes other RBs better" isn't some magic property of Lamar. It's exactly what an option play does. It couples one player's performance to another player.

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#92 by Vincent Verhei // Nov 22, 2021 - 3:08pm

In reply to by jheidelberg

Glad it helped!

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#55 by Anon Ymous // Nov 19, 2021 - 1:50pm

I'm glad someone pointed out how terrible a comp Sanchez is.  I thought I was in Fantasy Land for a minute there.  Or maybe I was when I was watching the guy in 2009 and 2010.

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#58 by Pat // Nov 19, 2021 - 2:27pm

He's a comp in the "a rookie who was overhyped because he was on a winning team" but the degree's just totally different. Sanchez was actively hurting the team. Jones isn't really helping if you compare him to an average NFL starting QB, but he's not hurting. Basically Sanchez hadn't even proven he wasn't a total bust, so the hype made zero sense. Jones at least isn't going to be a total disaster, but he hasn't proven he'll be a long-term solution yet.

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#6 by dharrell // Nov 18, 2021 - 12:09pm

Simmons isn't a 2022 FA, he got a new contract this offseason. It was literally one of the biggest offseason roster moves the Broncos made...

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#10 by Mike Tanier // Nov 18, 2021 - 12:21pm

Thanks! Not sure how I messed that up. 

Points: 0

#7 by Pat // Nov 18, 2021 - 12:13pm

With all of that in mind, let's look at the leaders in 2022 cap space, per Over The Cap. Numbers are rounded to the nearest million bucks:

The issue with just listing cap space blindly is that you leave off how many players are (actually) on the team: that's why OTC has "Effective Cap Space" there as well, although that's still a little misleading, because he includes players whose salary voids. And he also just fills it with min salary players, which is unrealistic.

The Chiefs, for instance, look middle-of-the-pack ish, in cap space, with $30M: but they've only got 27 (real) players under contract next year. They're either going to be pushing bunches of money forward (almost certainly) or we'll find out if "Mahomes and a bunch of guys" really are a playoff team.

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#8 by IlluminatusUIUC // Nov 18, 2021 - 12:13pm

If you're gonna bet NE defense anytime scorer, just parlay it with the moneyline to get +600 rather than +450. The chance that the New England D scores but the team still loses is painfully small. 

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#12 by asleep06 // Nov 18, 2021 - 1:38pm

Some of my colleagues nearer the top of the food chain might benefit from catering to a less over-stimulated national fanbase as well.

Oh snap! 

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#13 by MikeTolbertHOF // Nov 18, 2021 - 1:44pm

Evaluating coaches based on 4th-down decision making is like evaluating a blueberry muffin based on how many berries you can see on the top. It's not NOT important, but what's inside the stump? How's the texture? Moisture content? Size? Cost? Made this morning in a bakery or lingering in vacuum-sealed plastic since the beginning of time?

Reminds me uncomfortably of evaluating baseball managers based on how they handle their bullpens. It's easy, but it's woefully incomplete. It's the one very visible thing we see, so we can make judgements about it. Meanwhile we neglect game planning, player development, play calling, adjustments, and generally being the team's administrative public face.

Need some better metrics here, is what I'm sayin'.

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#17 by Pat // Nov 18, 2021 - 3:07pm

This is totally true. The Risky Business articles have tried to say that the 4th down decisions are among the most impactful a coach can make, because they result in like, 5-10% game winning chance differences.

That's nothing. The play calls a coach chooses to make are way bigger than that. The game plans that coaches choose are similarly way bigger.

That being said, if we're specifically talking about Joe Judge here, uh, those other things ain't so good either.

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#21 by ImNewAroundThe… // Nov 18, 2021 - 3:37pm

Regarding Joe Judge (where this is coming from, from what I can tell), someone said not too long ago comparing them to the Cardinals, another team picking a QB in 2019 in the top 7, pointing out how vastly different those franchises are. The Cardinals are contending for a SB (in a tough division at that) while the Giants are the complete opposite, still floundering. 

I dont think anyone would say Bill B or McVay are bad but what coach is good at 4ths but bad overall? Most of that stuff is taken in account before hand usually

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#23 by Joseph // Nov 18, 2021 - 4:08pm

I would guess that Tanier is using this metric because it is easy to compare all coaches, it is readily available to all, and it is highly visible. Plus, it's easy for a coach to look at, and hopefully learn from and improve upon. Let's face it, lots of coaches are starting to go for it on their side of the field before it's do-or-die time, and in that grey area where a long FG or a punt are not great options. There are some coaches who can get away with suboptimal 4th down decisions more than others, but anyone listed in his "hot-seat" list shouldn't be failing in that area. Even rebuilding coaches/teams/players want to win the current game, even if some talent evaluation/development/future plans are the main focus for the season.

The other things listed like player development are very important too, don't get me wrong; they're just less obvious. Anecdote--now that I have owned my home for 7 years, I notice things that need to be repaired/cleaned that I didn't pay attention to before when I only rented. For example, if someone's yard isn't kept up, their gutters probably are clogged too; so is any garage/basement/shed, etc.  In other words, as humans, we tend to take care of the most visible and immediate-need things first. If a coach won't go for it on 4th and 2 at the opponents 38, down 7 in the 3rd Q, how good is he doing at everything else? If you aren't playing today's game to get the win, why is the coach there in the first place?

Points: 0

#25 by Tutenkharnage // Nov 18, 2021 - 4:41pm

New England has been good this year; I've been riding their hype train ever since Week 5 or so. That said, I fully expect Sean McDermott, Leslie Frazier, and the Bills' defense to do what they always do to rookie quarterbacks: throw him into a wood chippper. IMO, it's going to be on Belichick and New England's D to win that first Buffalo game on MNF, because there is no reason in H-E-double-hockey-sticks to think that Mac Freaking Jones is going to waltz into Buffalo on prime time and win the game for them.

Points: 0

#38 by BJR // Nov 19, 2021 - 5:49am

In reply to by Tutenkharnage

It's hard to get too excited about the Patriots' prospects this year as winning the division is still a big uphill task. They are still a game behind the Bills, and that week 1 loss to the Dolphins looms large for tie-breaker purposes. You would have to think they will need to sweep the Bills, which is indeed unlikely. 

Quite likely they'll end up as 5th/6th seed. Obviously the AFC looks quite wide open this year, but being a wildcard team still offers little more than a punchers chance.

Points: 0

#42 by Tutenkharnage // Nov 19, 2021 - 9:28am

I’m of two minds on this. The first is that no one outside New England thought this Patriots team was going to be very good this year, yet they seem like a pretty good bet to go 11-6 and make the playoffs as one of the top wild cards in the AFC, if not AFC East champs. That’s a huge mark in Belichick’s favor. On the other hand, he got seven starters back on defense this year, IIRC, and for all the hype about “Poised Mac Jones,” Jones was universally acknowledged as the most pro-ready quarterback, so his basic competence should not be surprising. Those two factors were always more likely to make Belichick look good than to make him look bad, but on balance, I think I’d vote for him if I had the chance. That opening loss was a bad one, but he kept the team focused and got them all playing well enough, like those workmanlike Pats teams of old. 

Points: 0

#46 by jheidelberg // Nov 19, 2021 - 10:25am

The AFC is certainly wide open.  At this point two teams have distinguished themselves as front runner, Buffalo and NE.  This is both by DVOA and massive plus minus figures.  Clearly they can not both be division winners.  Last year Tampa won as the wild card.  

I have been waiting for an appropriate time to bring up this point.  There is no home field advantage this year, and if we package 2019-2021 we have a substantial sample size of no home field advantage.

Logically this makes no sense as we have decades of data, however 2 1/2 years make up what must be a statistically significant but likely false proof of the theory that there is not a home field advantage.

I am not a bettor, but those of you who are must have made a fortune/lost a fortune over the past 2 1/2 years by including/excluding home field in your game analysis.

I am wondering what FO data would suggest.  If there is minimal or no home field advantage, seed 2-7 are quite equal except for the NFC 6 and 7 teams, as they are simply a cut below, and would bode well for the second place finisher in the AFC East and NFC West.

Points: 0

#65 by Tutenkharnage // Nov 19, 2021 - 6:37pm

Maybe it’s just my memory playing tricks on me, but road teams won a LOT of prime-time games last year, and this year, a lot of good teams have lost on the road in prime time. (Again, might be my selective memory playing tricks on me.)

Points: 0

#67 by jheidelberg // Nov 19, 2021 - 6:58pm

I ll have to check again but I believe that home teams are exactly .500 this year, were slightly below last year and slightly above in 2019.  Thus, I believe that your statement is true, that this year with no home field advantage it is better than last year which was negative.  I ll check the figures tomorrow and edit this post.

EDIT: Over under .500

2019 Home teams 9 over, 2020 3 under, 2020, 2 under this is over 600 games of no home field advantage.

Points: 0

#29 by almon // Nov 18, 2021 - 8:48pm

@miketanier - haven’t read your article nor the comments yet…but love that movie!!! 

Points: 0

#33 by Lost Ti-Cats Fan // Nov 18, 2021 - 11:12pm

"It makes more sense to wager on the Patriots defense doing something superlative and the Falcons offense doing something hilarious"

Does a Rosen garbage-time toss directly to Van Noy count as hilarious?  It seemed more like cringe-worthy.

Although Rosen getting pulled after the pick in favour of Franks who then throws his own INT which was almost another pick six on his first pass... that was almost hilarious.

Points: 0

#37 by Banus // Nov 19, 2021 - 3:47am

I agree that he isn't going anywhere. The Seahawks only do that to coaches with losing records or that have been sliding for multiple years. Carroll checks neither of those boxes.

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#54 by longtail // Nov 19, 2021 - 1:41pm

That twisted ankle story was the most ridiculous nothingburger since deflategate. Obviously people are beginning to fear the Patriots again so they're going to have to point out how nasty and dishonest the Pats  were when they beat your team.

Points: 0

#60 by ImNewAroundThe… // Nov 19, 2021 - 4:13pm

He deliberately twisted someone's ankle like Vontaze

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#66 by Tutenkharnage // Nov 19, 2021 - 6:38pm

But New England fans have enjoyed so much success for so long that they have been professional victims for at least a decade now. 

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#77 by ImNewAroundThe… // Nov 20, 2021 - 6:50pm

Or rather a tame call out of a player literally hurting another player

lol well you wonder why the patriots and their fans are some of least liked

Jones didn't get suspended, fined or even called for a hold on the play. Dude literally got away with 0 punishment.

Points: 0

#56 by Anon Ymous // Nov 19, 2021 - 1:54pm

Or they become one of 100 other quarterbacks all over the spectrum from Teddy Bridgewater to Trevor Siemian, Chad Pennington to Chad Henne, Jared Goff to Baker Mayfield.

If Jones becomes Chad Pennington without the shoulder surgeries, I'll be thrilled.  That's probably a HOF quarterback.

his bad early-season games have already been forgotten.

Out of curiosity, when did these happen?  There's only one early season game that qualifies as "bad" and even that has necessary context.  The worst play - a pick 6 - hit his TE in the numbers and bounced right off his hands.  The same TE dropped two earlier throws that could have changed the complexion of the game.  And the second pick was after things were all but over and required taking chances.  To top it off, that was when the OL was allowing pressures and hits on a staggering number of plays and the D was still finding its way.  

I'm happy to concede that Cleveland is a sparkling anomaly, and the mid-game struggles against Carolina and SD were only two and three weeks ago.  But it seems pure fiction that September and October were littered with bad games.  And it is especially disingenuous to contextualize the good moments without doing the same for the middling ones.  

Points: 0

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