Sunday Wild-Card Open Discussion

Philadelphia Eagles RB Miles Sanders
Philadelphia Eagles RB Miles Sanders
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

The playoffs continue as Philadelphia (9-8) visits Tampa Bay (13-4), San Francisco (10-7) visits Dallas (12-5) and Pittsburgh (9-7-1) visits Kansas City (12-5). Use this thread to discuss them all.

Comments

215 comments, Last at 17 Jan 2022, 3:11pm

134 If Pittsburgh could do…

If Pittsburgh could do anything at all on offense this could be a multi-score lead.

One way or another Titans and Bills fans have to be feeling better about their chances of winning the AFC. The Chiefs offense is back to struggling.

137 Yes and I am assuming that…

Yes and I am assuming that if PIT wins that BUF will be the biggest favorite in DVOA history to go to the Super Bowl at the point of the division round.

EDIT:  KC offense awakens and I doubt Steelers offense answers in 2nd half.

144 This isn't over. The…

This isn't over. The Steelers offense can still come back and... outscore their defense. Only down 7-0. It will be tough but they have a shot at squeezing it out.

145 Almost like...

Almost like that fumble 6 woke up KC's offense.  Good for them. I do like how J McKinnon is fitting into the offense. 

147 Giving up a 50 yard TD on…

Giving up a 50 yard TD on 3rd and 20 with less than 30 seconds left to play in the half is just brutal.  If PIT goes to halftime down only one TD, the upset's still in play.  Down by two scores it's still possible but materially less likely.  KC gets the ball to start H2 with the opportunity to put this out of reach early.

148 Pittsburgh looked like they…

Pittsburgh looked like they might make it competitive…but not gonna happen. 
Bills/Chiefs could/should be a real fun ride.   

151 The AFC

The AFC ran out of good teams today.

157 Thought Line Might Creep toward 2

But I think it will settle at 3   As great as Bills were the Chiefs explosiveness makes Mac Jones look like what he is-- an ordinary QB---  that is gonna be a real shootout next week  Winner becomes instant favorite to win whole thing whether they have to go to TENN or not...

158 Patriots Doomed

Can you imagine having a QB as limited as Jones is-- for all his positives-- in a conference with Mahomes, Allen, Burrow, Jackson and Herbert?  May be the best collection of still young QBs in one conference in the history of the game... Though I guess Manning and Brady alone are pretty damn high...

160 I mean, you can doubt the…

In reply to by oaktoon

I mean, you can doubt the numbers but Jones had a better DVOA this season than all of those guys except Mahomes and Herbert. That's not a bad first season. He's certainly ahead of the Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilsons of the world...

170 Yes. It's like his success…

Yes. It's like his success made everyone start treating him like a veteran, while the terrible seasons from Lawrence and Zach Wilson are apparently no cause for alarm.

If you want a guy who we should be writing off, it should be the guy who was last in DVOA, not the one who was above average. Zach Wilson played 13 games for the Jets and had fewer TD passes than the combined total of the three Jets backups who made it into games. Joe Flacco, Josh Johnson, and Mike White all had positive passing DVOA for the Jets. The passing offense kept on going over 400 yards with those guys, with Wilson it was a struggle to get to 200. When you are getting drastically outperformed by a troika like that, you might not have much of a future.

195 As a Jets fan, I'm very…

As a Jets fan, I'm very worried that this is true.  They didn't keep going over 400 yards in passing, only with White once, but the troika definitely outperformed Wilson, and White was the best of them.  Given what the Bills did to Wilson and Mac Jones, the Jets should try to keep White around, or at least make someone give them a 2nd round pick for him.

You have to admit Jones has his limitations, but those limitations are similar to Pennington's, not Brady's (granted Brady's limitations barely register).

196 I should also mention that…

I should also mention that if Jones' receiving corp was substandard, the Jets receivers were absolutely putrid.  Zach Wilson suffered a 12.7% drop rate, which was the highest in the NFL among 35 qualified quarterbacks according to PFF.  Jacoby Brissett was second with a rate of 9.6%.  A lot of this was the fault of the running backs; Ty Johnson can't catch, and Michael Carter had issues with this as well.

206 Two things stand out about…

Two things stand out about the Bills compared to the rest of the AFC East:  the quality of their receiving corps and the effectiveness of their QB.

These two things may be related.  But I think they're also independent factors that work together.  Getting Diggs and Beasley put BUF head-and-shoulders above the rest of their division in terms of what they can do in their passing attack.  And then Allen's improvement last year was partly a result of this, but also reflected actual improvements in his accuracy and his decision-making.

When you look at the OL, the pass rush, the quality of the secondary, and special teams, BUF is good in all of these areas, but not necessarily dominant over the rest of their division.  It's the passing attack where they have all the parts and everyone else is missing at least one or two components.  Which is a huge deal in what has become a passing league.

 

202 In the Colts game where…

In the Colts game where White went out injured he and Johnson still combined together to just get over 400 yards.

White still turned the ball over a lot, but the difference between how prolific the same offense was with him and the other backups versus Wilson is rather remarkable. At the time I heard the explanation that the play calling had improved when White started playing, but once Wilson returned the low output offense returned. That nixed that explanation.

208 There seems to be a…

There seems to be a perception that Mac Jones is a "finished product" because he's a senior draftee from a big program, while the others were all juniors (and Wilson and Lance are from mid-major and non-FBS schools, of course). And he went to a solid team with the best coach of the modern era, while the others (besides Lance) went to bad teams with questionable (Shanahan), unknown (Saleh), consistently mediocre (Nagy) or comically inept (Meyer) coaching, so they get mulligans he doesn't.

And I think there's at least a kernel of truth to the mitigating circumstances of the other four, and I wouldn't write off any of the 2021 First-Round Five yet.

But regarding Jones: 1) a rookie is still a rookie, 2) being 23 vs. ~22* isn't a world of difference (* Lance, to be fair, is 7 months younger than the next-youngest, Lawrence), and 3) he actually had the fewest collegiate starts of any of them (tied with Lance). So it's certainly not clear at all that he can't or won't improve. There is ample precedent for even supposed "high-floor/low-ceiling" senior draftees to make humongous strides in the pros (e.g., Drew Brees). Not saying he will, but it's entirely realistic to think he can potentially improve considerably from an already solid rookie season.

The sort of funny thing to me is, a lot of those "mitigating circumstances" are reasons to be more optimistic about Jones than the others. Objectively, who is more likely to improve, a QB coached by Belichick for two years, or one coached by a combination of Urban Meyer, Darrell and "Unknown" for the same span? Who is more likely to improve, a QB who got consistent starts from the jump, or one who sat behind Jimmy Garoppolo after already barely playing the year before?

And, objectively, Jones performed better than Brady did his rookie year. So there's that.

166 I doubt the numbers

Allen compared to him the last two games?  Out of sight... Jackson had a bad year-- still an MVP talent... Burrow is way way ahead of Jones... And he might not be ahead of Lawrence or Wilson for long.... mac Jones=Kirk Cousins.   He'll be fine-- and never win a thing

171 All your comparisons are of…

All your comparisons are of QB’s with more than one year of playing time. I’m just saying not bad for his first year. Sure, lots of room for improvement. I’m old enough to remember all the negative criticisms of Brady’s first few years. (not that I’m comparing the two)

207 Wow-- where do I begin?

"the guy before him was good"   Yep-- like the best player in the history of the league. See "Outliers", by Malcolm Gladwell-- and then recognize that only once (Young was signed by the 49ers from the USFL) has a franchise drafted a HOF QB to replace a HOF QB (Favre, Rodgers-- and of course GB did NOT draft Favre). I don't need to be somehow in synch with an analytics site to know Mac Jones will not be to Brady as Rodgers was to Favre. 

I am objecting to the "Jones numbers are as good as Brady's rookie numbers were" line of thinking. As if somehow the Brady career is in play. Give Jones credit-- he landed with a good organization, his rookie year outpaced the 4 QBs drafted ahead of him. BUT-- when he and his team got up against good teams, as opposed to pushovers, they generally fell short. That doesn't mean he won't be a good QB. it does mean the odds are pretty remote that he'll be anything like Brady-- and pretty long that he'll be great. Average seems about right. Maybe somewhat above average. Kirk Cousins is making very good money. And probably at least 5th or 6th-- and possibly lower-- in the AFC pecking order going forward the next 10-12 years. 

As to all the O'Brien Kosar comparisons to the likes of Burrow, herbert, Allen, Lamar jackson-- let's wait a few years. i think in the end Marino Kelly Elway stand the test of time-- and along with Mahomes, Josh Allen and one or two of the others will be much closer to that class of player than O'Brien or Kosar were... 

211 Also, I need to get this off…

Also, I need to get this off my chest: stringing together excellent QB performance from different players over many years isn't that rare.

The Niners actually went Montana-Young-Jeff Garcia, who was top-5 in DYAR/DVOA for awhile there (and after a brief interregnum, Smith, Kaepernick, and Garoppolo were/are all quite solid, if not Hall-of-Famers, so that's almost forty straight years of above-average-ness from the position).

The Chargers went Brees-Rivers-Herbert, which is three Pro Bowlers and, possibly, three Hall-of-Famers drafted in a row (gleefully getting ahead of ourselves).

The Packers of course went Favre-Rodgers.

The Colts went Manning-Luck.

The Cowboys went Romo-Dak. And Bledsoe and Testaverde weren't terrible; it was only that dalliance with Quincy Carter that really stank between Aikman and today. So almost thirty straight years of above-average-to-Hall-of-Fame-ness.

The Chiefs got top-5-ish performance from Elvis Grbac before Trent Green (and they had Rich Gannon kicking around in that span, too).

The Vikings got good-to-elite production for more than a decade from a whole string of: Warren Moon, Brad Johnson, Randall Cunningham, Jeff George, and Daunte Culpepper.

The Seahawks only had the one Tarvaris Jackson year between Hasselbeck and Wilson (admittedly, Hasselbeck was never really good after his injury, but he was top-5 at his peak before it).

The Eagles went McNabb-Vick ("excellent" is debatable, but both were above average for years).

The Falcons went Jeff George-Chris Chandler-Vick-Matt Ryan. Laugh at the first two names all you want, they were top-10 (and for Chandler, top-5) by DVOA in their Atlanta stints. And say what one will about pre-prison Vick's on-field performance, he was the franchise guy, not a stopgap or a prospect they were hoping might improve.

I could go on (Brunell-Leftwich-Garrard: underrated!). The point is that, while uncommon, a franchise having consecutive or near-consecutive good-to-elite QBs occurs regularly. Institutional knowledge is a real thing, and sometimes good luck does in fact happen. Some people talk like not-sucking at QB for years on end is some kind of miracle, and it's really, really not.

213 Not Going to Quibble

About where Brees became great (not SD), Vick's jail time Ior that he was drafted by a different team), Or the linkage of Jeff George to anyone in this discussion. And on and on....

There is a simple bottom line here.

One time in recent memory-- or ever, actually-- a NFL franchise replaced a No Doubt HOF QB -- Top 10 ever by most judgements--with another as good (or better, by most metrics) that they drafted. The Niners come closest to what GB achieved-- but they acquired Young-- it was a different situation that can no longer be replicated.

Brady-Jones is not totally clean--because there was a year in-between-- but the notion that Jones being good somehow affirms this claim is wrong. He HAS TO BE GREAT...  The odds of that happening are remote-- and even more remote if you say Top Ten all-time great.

169 The AFC in the 80s had…

In reply to by oaktoon

The AFC in the 80s had Marino, Elway, Kelly and Kosar, as well as O'Brien (great when he was on, but not so much in the playoffs... like Herbert) and Eason (who went to a Super Bowl before any of them, go figure).  You can take Mahommes over Elway or Marino, but the rest of them don't match up.

174 Well Bills fans might disagree

Allen showing every chance to think he could be better than Kelly.  I would agree that foursome (Herbert way too early to be consigned to Ken O'Brien-Ville) is impressive...  But these five-- and given his age (just turned 25) Jackson deserves to be in this list-- are way, way up there... 

189 Allen could be as good as…

Allen could be as good as Kelly, but someone has to beat Marino and Elway.  Mahommes is up to it, but I don't think the others are.  And then you have Kosar, and then you have O'Brien, who was as good as Herbert has been in 1985 and the first part of 86.  Jackson is a good QB but only has the one MVP season...like O'Brien's 1985.   I agree you can't consign Herbert to O'Brien-ville, but O'Brienville is basically what happened to O'Brien the rest of his career.  If you just look at traits, he's basically a better version of Phil Simms, but Simms had Parcells and O'Brien had Walton.  Herbert is on the Chargers.  In other words, Herbert is a great talent that is going to be wasted.

191 Yeah, I misspoke, I should…

In reply to by muscle417

Yeah, I misspoke, I should never have allowed Tony Eason into this, instead I should have included Esiason as someone else pointed out.

161 Isn’t it great for the…

Isn’t it great for the integrity of the game that the Chargers and Raiders didn’t settle for a tie in overtime last week! I mean who would want to watch the Chargers and Herbert instead of this magnificent game between the Chiefs and Steelers??

165 The Raiders had strong…

The Raiders had strong incentive to not settle for a tie. Playing a mediocre Bengals team they did in fact come close to beating was a much better option than a Chiefs team that has already annihilated them twice this year. Integrity aside, it was wise of them to go for the win.

167 Good for you

As many "integrity hounds" missed that fundamental point as failed to acknowledge Burrow's pass was so close to the receiver when the whistle blew no other outcome was possible...

168 Or, inevitably

In reply to by oaktoon

that it was on Kellen Moore and Dak Prescott to get the ball to the umpire quickly enough to allow a final play

177 AFC Young Qbs

Mahomes

Allen

Herbert

jackson

Burrow

(Watson-- my god, he's only 26 still though Lord knows if/or who he's playing for next year)

Jones/Lawrence/Wilson

Mayfield (still a middle of the pack player who could get better)

not even putting Tua on here

178 NFC Young QBs

In reply to by oaktoon

Danny Dimes

Lance

Fields

ummm.... (Hurts) (Darnold-- this whole exercise, as a NFC fan, hurts)

Well Kyler of course.. And I guess Dak at 28 is borderline young....  But seriously, the gap between the two is stunning....

186 The question is, does it…

In reply to by oaktoon

The question is, does it matter that much given how QB aging has been trending?

Big assumption here, Rodgers stays with Green Bay (so stays in the NFC). He's aging similar to Brady He's 38 I'm still confident that he has 5 years still.  Stafford is 33 so 9 years still. He's not a superstar but he's finally on a well run team and we'll see what happens in the next couple years. Prescott at 28 could have 14 years still. I don't know if Wilson is cooked or if he just needs to get away from Pete Carrol but even if he is declining and aging more like QBs used to, you still probably have 3-5 years of him being good enough.  

While Brady might be unique, he might not be as big an outlier as he currently is 5-10 years from now when we see 3-5 more QBs join him. I expect the best of the best to make it into their 40's fairly regularly going forward instead of being huge outliers. Brees and Favre both had very good year 40 seasons. 41 didn't work so well for them but they played a lot their careers without some of the advantages all QBs have now. Sure Brady is trailblazing, but the rules, healthcare, understanding of the human body, etc are all getting better. It's reasonable to think Brady is an outlier, but there is no reason to think he will remain as big an outlier as he is.

That basically means the NFC still has at least 3 years to find replacements for the QBs that dominate it.

There is no doubt the AFC has better young QBs right now. But is that really going to translate into a real advantage? It might, it's not nothing but even while looking at the data I had to make myself stop judging it like it's the 90's or 00's because I really don't think QB aging works that way anymore.

204 Yeah I'm not saying Wilson…

Yeah I'm not saying Wilson is cooked yet. But it's possible that he might age more like we are used to seeing out of QBs. I believe Pat on these boards has pointed out his decline from beginning to end of the year over the last few seasons, and that makes me wonder if that is a sign that his age will catch him sooner. I suspect that running QBs might all still face that, not because they necessarily take more hits, but they take different hits and will have physical wear hit them differently. They need to keep more skills at high levels to keep playing the way they are used to, or they have to transition to a less mobile style. Both are disadvantages over a player who has been playing the game the same way at a high level their whole career. So it might impact how long they stay at the top level. I'm more willing to believe Wilson will age more like Favre/Brees than like Brady/Rodgers. So he might not have as much time in front of him as Stafford does.

As mentioned I've been very impressed by the young QB talent in the AFC and we could have TWENTY years of the best of them going forward.

Mostly the whole "10-15 year" career for great QB's is already done. 20-25 is likely the new norm. So being great at 25, 2-4 years into your career isn't nearly as valuable as it used to be because you aren't ending your career in the 33-38 year range anymore.

As for Brees, yeah he didn't fall off as much as I thought. I was looking at ANY/A (since the QB age is right there on those pages and he was 3rd his age 40 season, and I just missed his name at 7th in his age 41 season. So it was not the cliff the Favre fell off at all.

It is just another data point that even if a QB hangs it up before the cliff gets them great 40 and 41 year seasons are already showing up. I fully expect Rodgers (Packers or not) to be perfectly fine in his age 40 and 41 seasons too.

209 Brees was "fortunate" (for…

Brees was "fortunate" (for statistical purposes) that his fall off a cliff came in the middle of a season rather than at the end, and thus he did not accrue that stinker season that Favre and Manning did.

Remember, but the playoffs, Brees was so non-functional that the Saints were calling trick plays for Hill or Winston in order to throw middle or deeper routes, because Brees couldn't get a ball that far without kicking it. What happened to him was what happened to Manning and Roethlisberger -- his arm failed.

181 He's 26

Is he too good to be considered young anymore?

 

The disparity is amazing

Wilson-Rodgers-Brady-Brees (already gone) Eli (same) Ryan-Cousins-Stafford..  they are all either retired, soon to be, or past their primes  Cam too; Jameis???    AFC gonna become the dominant conference very soon...

210  AFC gonna become the…

In reply to by oaktoon

 AFC gonna become the dominant conference very soon...

Maybe. It's interesting that we compare to the 1980s AFC. From 1980 to 1996, the only AFC QB to win a title was a 30-something Jim Plunkett (x2).

 

Marino, Elway, Kelly, Kosar, Eason, O'Brien combined to go 0-9 in Super Bowls from 80-96. Denver's D and TD then dragged him to two late-career caretaker wins.

214 you are right

And it's a cautionary tile if SB titles are our only measure...  But Mahomes has won title already-- he or Allen could easily add another this season.

And looking at the NFC-- where is the great franchise 2-3 yrs from now?  TB with Brady at 47?  GB possibly without Rodgers?  SF with Lance? Rams with (yet to win a playoff game) Stafford?  How 'bout them Cowboys?  Arizona with Kyler and Kliff who seem to bottle the second half of the season?

I find them all wanting compared to KC, BUFF, CIN and very possibly the Chargers or Ravens.  And who knows, maybe MIA, DEN or JACK if they get the QB position working correctly.

197 Jared Goff Jameis Winston…

In reply to by oaktoon

Jared Goff

Jameis Winston

Carson Wentz

Blake Bortles

Sam Bradford

Cam Newton

RG3

Colin Kaepernick 

 

This is the “will be” team of the last decade. Just like your list of “will be” great quarterbacks from this year. Other than Mahomes, there are a lot of guys who haven’t proven anything. Probably just like this group of players, they will mostly fail to ever live up to the hype. I’m unconfident in any of them outside of Mahomes becoming great. And I would bet that more of them flame out than end up successful. 

P.S. I am a little sad that the last decade didn’t capture Mark Sanchez and some of the other hilarious future greats. 

184 Where did the 2 seconds come from

When the 4th q measurement was reset and SFG were short. They ran the clock down to 38 seconds and called a time out before punting. Then when the ball was snapped, there were 40 seconds on the clock. How did that happen? Take those 2 seconds off and Dak wasn't even close. 

188 "Do you want to be running a…

"Do you want to be running a Hail Mary play from the 50 yard line or do you want to run five verticals form the 25 yard line?" 

-- Mike McCarthy (the man who chose neither)

192 Shouldn't the Cowboys have…

Shouldn't the Cowboys have tried for 2 after scoring the TD to make it 23-16? That seemed like another brain fart by McCarthy. If you get the 2 points, then a FG by SF keeps it a one score game. Instead by kicking all SF needed was a FG to make it a 2 score game and essentially end it. Obviously it turned out not to matter, but given that you could still tie the game with a TD and XP if you fail on the 2 pt conversion and are down 23-16, it seems like it would be well worth it to go for 2 and make SF score a TD to grab a 2 score lead. 

205 The 49ers didn't even play a…

The 49ers didn't even play a complete game and they beat down Dallas. The east is just a crap division. 49ers had a TO and 2 important players got injured. Honestly we should see these crap fests coming with poor divisions. East is gone now. It is West and leaders. Dallas built that DVOA rating on a bunch of garbage teams, just like the Patriots. There are a ton of HC that do not run up the score in the NFL. you have to take this into account now