NFC East Over/Unders: Meeting the Washington Commanders

Washington Commanders QB Carson Wentz
Washington Commanders QB Carson Wentz
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Preseason Week 1 - Bryan: Welcome back to our preseason run through the league's over/unders! We schedule these to coincide with nationally televised preseason games, as a convenient hook for fans. But there are no nationally televised games this week, so we shall instead turn to a division that is regularly starved for any sort of national attention, that being the NFC East.

Cale: While it still dominates our national media schedules, it feels like it has been quite some time since the days where the NFC East was the division to beat in all of football. Now, every team in the division has some major question marks, none of them really flirting with the national NFC conversation dominated by the Packers, Buccaneers, and most of the NFC West.

Bryan: At the same time, I think the ceiling is higher for the teams in this division than the public generally accepts. For all of the Cowboys' postseason failures, they are still a regular fixture at the top of our tables and were last year's DVOA champs. Our projections love the Eagles, perhaps unreasonably so. Washington just got a shiny new quarterback and is poised to put up the best season ever in Commanders history.

And then the Giants, too, will be playing some football. At least, that's what I am told.

Dallas Cowboys (10)

Bryan: Is it premature to jump the gun and just ask which round of the playoffs the Cowboys will be eliminated in this year? Because they have most of the pieces you would expect from a contending team, but I find I have absolutely no faith in those pieces working together come January.

Cale: Honestly, my lack of faith in this Cowboys team begins with last January. The loss to the 49ers was rough, mainly because they couldn't get things rolling offensively. Tony Pollard got no traction on the ground, nor did Ezekiel Elliott. CeeDee Lamb got just one catch on five targets as Dak Prescott was pummeled by the San Francisco pass rush.

Now? That offense might be in a worse spot than they were last year. Zeke and Pollard both have another year of tread on them, and while I expect Prescott to return to form, he'll have his work cut out for him. Between offseason departures and preseason injuries, Lamb is basically the last high-quality receiver left on the offense.

Bryan: And let's pause for a moment to laugh at the Cowboys giving up Amari Cooper for a fifth-round pick just before the biggest offseason bonanza for wide receivers in NFL history. Misreading the market is one thing, but paying Cooper $20 million a year looks a little more reasonable now than it did last offseason. Whoops!

Cale: Just a little more than the Patriots got back for N'Keal Harry. Yikes.

Bryan: Between that and losing Randy Gregory over weird contract language, the Cowboys didn't exactly cover themselves with glory this offseason. It was kind of the contractual equivalent of, say, running a draw play with no timeouts remaining in the final seconds of a playoff game, just to pick an example of a poor decision entirely at random.

Cale: And the defense they're left with, while sprinkled with big-name starters, is going to be seriously impacted by missing guys such as Gregory. Adding Anthony Barr certainly helps with some of that, but I have a little bit of concern about just how much Dallas will rely on Micah Parsons to carry the load. An elite talent? Obviously. I think Parsons has already solidified himself as one of the best young linebackers in football, well on his way to dropping that "young" tag as a qualifier. But he has gotten reps as the Mike, an off-ball linebacker, and now Dan Quinn has talked about working him in more as an edge rusher. Positional versatility is one thing, but how many hats is Parsons going to have to wear this year just to keep this front seven afloat?

Bryan: Fortunately, most of the hats fit Parsons, even though I think he looks most dapper as an edge rusher. I suppose the question is whether it's an issue of Parsons trying to fill multiple holes or Quinn acknowledging that he has a unicorn of a talent here; a chess piece he can move almost anywhere in the front seven and get a positive matchup. And they still have Demarcus Lawrence, too, so Parsons isn't a solo act. I don't think the Cowboys will be as good defensively as they were last year, but I have no problems calling them a top-10 unit.

I'm a little more skeptical on offense, just because of the receiver situation. Cooper's gone and both Michael Gallup and James Washington are hurt and will miss time into the regular season. I like Dak Prescott a lot, but I'm not sure the Cowboys' weapons are up to par with what we consider a contending team, at least not as the year begins.

Cale: With all that said, this is an easy schedule—third easiest in the league, per our projections. Playing in this division will help that, but getting the NFC North and AFC South makes this a cake walk. I have my concerns about this team, but I think just having CeeDee alone would be enough to run over the likes of the Bears and Texans. Over 10 feels like a really safe number for me, given this schedule. I just don't see this team going 9-8 or worse, even with the question marks.

Bryan: I hate the whole-number lines, as 10-7 seems like an entirely reasonable result for the 2022 Cowboys. But yeah, I'm with you on the over. Most of my questions about the Cowboys are more about how they're going to match up with the cream of the cream of the conference, where coaching errors and specific positional weaknesses can be the difference between winning a title or not. That will not be an issue against the Little Sisters of the Poor on Dallas' schedule, so 9-8 would be a frankly shocking result, and would presumably lead to Mike McCarthy's dismissal. More time to study analytics in the offseason, I guess!

New York Giants (7)

Cale: I think the John Mara press conference toward the end of the 2021 regular season really set the tone for this 2022 Giants team. It got its own section in the 2022 edition of Year in Quotes. Mara practically issued a public apology for how his last few coaching hires had gone, claiming the 2021 season was the most embarrassed he has ever been as Giants owner and officially putting the nail in the coffin of the Dave Gettleman era. When someone brings up your fourth-year, former No. 6 overall quarterback and you respond by saying "We have done everything possible to screw this kid up since he has been here," you know your team's due for a reset.

Bryan: There was a lot of detritus to clean up, and the Giants really didn't have the resources to do much about it this offseason. I don't think they'll be the worst team in football. I don't think they're the worst run team in football. But if I had to pick one team to miss the postseason this year, the team with the lowest chance of actually playing football past Week 18, I would pick the Giants. I just see almost no reason for optimism, even crazy optimism, for the squad this season.

If the draft class had been any deeper, I don't think we would be seeing Daniel Jones as starting quarterback; the Giants seemed ready to move on, but there was no one really worth moving on to. The rest of the roster wasn't good enough to really justify giving things up for a Baker Mayfield or a Jimmy Garoppolo; they would raise the potential floor for this team, but without a significant boost to their postseason odds. So they're just kind of sitting and waiting, hoping that Brian Daboll can work some magic and make Jones, or Saquon Barkley, or really any of the recent high-profile disappointments work out. Color me skeptical.

Cale: I mean, if there's one guy who can turn this around, it's Daboll. Look at the Year 3 magic he was able to work with Josh Allen. There are absolutely shortcomings in Jones' game that Allen doesn't have, but I feel like it's not a crazy distant comparison. And Daboll feels like the first real offensive coach Jones has had. He wouldn't even need the historic top-10 turnaround. I think people would be planning 2023 parade routs if Daboll got Jones to, like, 15th in DVOA among starting quarterbacks.

Bryan: Or look at the magic Daboll worked with, uh, Matt Cassel as coordinator in Kansas City. Or Matt Moore in Miami. Or Colt McCoy in Cleveland! Wait…

Alright, I'm being too hard on Daboll there. Those were over a decade ago and are not exactly a murderer's row of talented prospects. Jones would theoretically be better than that, even if I felt he was a significant reach when the Giants took him at No. 6 (never mind that I was instead pulling for them to draft Dwayne Haskins; drafting is hard). And Daboll crafted an offense to work around Allen's skills, and worked with the quarterback to help him fundamentally change his mechanics to help produce that unprecedented jump. So, no, I don't think Daboll is the worst choice at all to work with Jones. I'm just struggling to picture what an offense designed around Jones' strengths would look like, as he hasn't really shown anything that I would feel comfortable building upon yet.

Cale: I also think Daboll is under the least pressure of any new coach—maybe Mike McDaniel as a close second—to succeed in 2022. They both have the quarterback as their scapegoat. Daboll has the added benefit of being perfectly aligned with his buddy from Buffalo, Joe Schoen.

We haven't even brought up that we project the Giants to boast the worst defense in football. You can talk about the struggles this offense will face, but at least there's something to work with there with Kenny Golladay, Darius Slayton, Kadarius Toney, et cetera. This defense is barren, especially in the secondary with James Bradberry and Logan Ryan skipping town.

The question is: is this team bad enough to fall below the dregs of the competition they'll be facing on their schedule? I'm taking the under, but honestly I think they'll cut it closer than we think.

Bryan: It's worth noting that the Giants have the hardest schedule in the division according to our projections. That is mostly because they do not get the benefit of playing the New York Giants. I'm with you on the under, but it's a more confident under from me. I think the Giants are more likely to be battling for the first pick in the draft than they are to be trying to avoid double-digit losses.

Philadelphia Eagles (9.5)

Bryan: I'm not sure there's a team where our numbers diverge from conventional wisdom as much as with the Eagles. Our projections have Philadelphia as the third-most likely team to make the postseason; betting odds have them 10th. We have them as the fifth-most likely team to win the Super Bowl; at +2500, the markets have them 14th. Mike Tanier has been messing with our projection computer again, hasn't he?

Cale: Hold on, maybe Mike's on to something here. I mean, I'm higher on Jalen Hurts than most, and this is inarguably the best situation he has been in offensively. The stable of running backs helped propel Philadelphia to the third-best offensive rushing DVOA last year. Now, not only does Hurts have the dynamic Devonta Smith and Dallas Goedert to throw to, but he has A.J. Freakin' Brown on the outside. It's a miracle that the Titans were the only team willing to give up their piece of the 2019 wide receiver class, but the Eagles are much better for it.

Also doesn't hurt that the Eagles were able to bring back Jason Kelce, with his hand-picked replacement Cam Jurgens waiting in the wings. The rest of the line is solid, but having Kelce back in the fold saved this team from a lot of unneeded headaches.

Bryan: I think the Eagles have improved a lot from last season, and they had already improved last season from where they were the year before. I like the direction the team is trending in, and while I'm not 100% sold on Hurts, I'm at least intrigued. The duo of Brown and Smith is a tremendous pair, and yes, the Eagles really lucked out that the Titans panicked at the market and dumped Brown for pennies on the dollar. I love the offensive line, with Kelce, Lane Johnson, and Jordan Mailata anchoring it.

And the defense is improved, too—James Bradberry is a significant add, and Jaquiski Tartt, despite possessing hands of stone, is an upgrade as well. They added Haason Reddick to the pass rush, they drafted well by adding Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean—I absolutely see what our projections are latching on to.

I still think the Cowboys are better, but I suppose that's not the question we're being asked to answer today.

Cale: Yeah, and even still I think the Eagles have an outside shot at overtaking Dallas for the NFC East. I'm really excited for what this team has to offer in 2022, and even though there may not be the most security around Hurts' quarterback position, I don't think this is the year they move on from him.

With the talent on this roster, coupled with the easiest projected schedule in football, I like Philly enough to take the over. At worst, I see them as a 10-plus-win wild-card team, but again, I honestly don't hate them as a team to contend for the NFC East. That offense is just that exciting to me.

Bryan: To match our projections, Hurts has to take another step forward this year; I would argue that he's the weakest link on the team as things currently stand. And I'm always concerned when a weak link is the quarterback, as that has the potential to bring an otherwise well-constructed team to the ground. But Hurts is still young and growing, and it's entirely conceivable he makes that next step. I'd go under based on our projections, but I'm happy with the over at 9.5.

Washington Commanders (8)

Bryan: Freaking Madden auto-generated franchise, the Commanders. Terrible, disastrous uniforms. A name that is simultaneously generic and too reminiscent of "Washington Generals" for my liking; they have queued themselves up for endless jokes there. Two years of suffering through "Football Team," and this is the best rebrand Washington could come up with? What, does Dan Snyder have something more pressing on his time than this?

… oh. Well, fair enough.

Cale: I'll keep myself brief, but what a disaster the uniform/mascot rollout was for Washington. Every name on the list was better than "Commanders," there's no cohesion to the uniform set, the whole thing's a mess.

And yet, it almost feels fitting to unveil those uniforms and mascot the same year they trade for Carson Wentz to be their new quarterback. Showing up in a hot dog suit straight out of an I Think You Should Leave sketch is comedy in itself, but it fits the tone of what this team is. Madden auto-generated franchise couldn't be a better description. A few players here and there who would be household names if they played for any other team, but for the most part this is just a nothing-burger of a roster. Wentz fits in great as the face of a team like this.

Bryan: I understand that, as a 49ers supporter, I'm probably higher on Jimmy Garoppolo than the average NFL fan. And that I'm probably even a little higher on Baker Mayfield than the general populace as well. But how you pick Carson Wentz over either one of those guys as your big offseason acquisition is beyond me. It's not like this is the Steelers or Falcons, both of whom would have an upgrade with Garoppolo or Mayfield but instead are giving rookies chances behind moderately-paid veterans. The Commanders presumably grabbed Wentz because they thought he would give them the best chance to win, and that just seems wrong on its face.

Cale: I bought a Baker Mayfield riding the (inebriated) hype of his Monday Night Football win over the Jets his rookie year, so I feel like I have signed a blood oath to back Baker, but even without that, Wentz loses the kill-buff-marry of that trio of available offseason quarterbacks.

That being said … is this the best offense Wentz has had around him since, what, the Super Bowl season? I'd certainly take Terry McLaurin over Alshon Jeffery or Nelson Agholor. This is a very solid trio of receivers in McLaurin, Curtis Samuel, and Jahan Dotson, and I'm especially high on Brian Robinson playing alongside Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic. The offensive line leaves a lot to be desired, but the weapons here are good.

Bryan: Oh, I'd argue last year's Colts offense was better than this year's Commanders, with Jonathan Taylor and Michael Pittman and the offensive line and whathaveyou.

Cale: Don't know how I forgot Taylor existed. Best receiver corps, maybe? Is there a way to save this take?

Bryan: Lean in hard to running backs don't matter? I will spot you the receiver corps being strong, but can any of them catch left-handed passes? Because that's always a possibility when Wentz is forced to improvise.

Cale: True, and if I learned anything from last year's Any Given Sunday about the Colts' loss to the Raiders, it's that Wentz will miss wide-open receivers by 5 yards if he's in anything but a perfectly clean pocket.

Bryan: There's a little more room for optimism on the defensive side of the ball, where our projections have Washington rebounding from last year's 27th-place finish. But Chase Young is going to miss time at the beginning of the season, which will dampen the strength of that on-paper ferocious line a bit. I'm not a fan of their cornerbacks outside Kendall Fuller, and the less said about the linebacker corps, the better.

It feels a bit like Ron Rivera's last stand. Washington hasn't had a winning season since 2016—one coach, four quarterbacks, and two name changes ago. If that doesn't change this year, it's hard to imagine Washington not blowing everything up and starting again in 2023. And despite the second-easiest schedule in our projections, I just don't see the Commanders being able to compete. I'm going under—they may still end up better than the Giants, just on talent outside of quarterback, but at least it feels like the Giants have a plan going forward. The Commanders are floundering.

Cale: Wouldn't it be so Washington for this team to overachieve just enough for Snyder to justify running this whole thing back for another year, Wentz, Rivera, and all? I'd take the over almost off the comedy that would ensue from that, but eight wins is too steep. Under feels right. Another situation where the line feels sharp enough where the push almost feels like the most likely outcome, but I don't like this team enough to predict a winning record.

Bryan: Four agreements in a row. Yup, we're in classic form here! Maybe we'll find something more to disagree on later this week when we tackle the AFC East.

Comments

81 comments, Last at 14 Aug 2022, 6:26am

1 I also think Daboll is under…

I also think Daboll is under the least pressure of any new coach—maybe Mike McDaniel as a close second—to succeed in 2022.

I think McDaniel has some sneaky pressure. If he totally bombs, his boss might go to jail, as it back door proves the lawsuit. Hell, winning might be a bad look, too. I’m not sure Ross will put pressure on him, but a lot of people are rooting against him.

The offensive line leaves a lot to be desired, but the weapons here are good. 

This is Wentz’s kryptonite. He got Carred in those last Philly years.

73 Cale is seriously misreading…

Cale is seriously misreading the Dolphins situation. Obviously there's a lot of pressure from within the organization for the reasons you mention, but also from the fans. The team is coming off two straight winning seasons. The defense, which has been the strong suit, was brought back down to the last backup (seriously). The offense had a big influx of talent, a new system, and a developing young QB who is finally 100% healthy. McDaniel has literally nowhere to hide. Right now it's all smiles in Miami because Tua is lighting it up in camp, but if things start to go badly, McDaniel will not be in the hot seat, he'll be in the oven.

2 I ask this not to be snarky:…

I ask this not to be snarky: but are we sure Jalen Hurts is any good, and even the best quarterback on his own team? Could Minshew's accuracy lead the Eagles to 11 wins in an easier way than Hurts' playmaking ability? The Eagles schedule should allow them to start hot, but if theyre somehow 2-4 at the bye, doesnt Siriani have to pull the trigger? 

6 Everyone thought the Eagles…

Everyone thought the Eagles would be terrible last year. And while Hurts was just OK(17th in DVOA), I think all things considered, he did exceeded expectations.

I think this could be a big prove it year for him. He doesnt need to be elite( he's only a third year QB), but a near top 10 DVOA finish should provide enough evidence on whether they should be set at QB. I am pretty optimistic about the eagles myself.

8 but are we sure Jalen Hurts…

but are we sure Jalen Hurts is any good, and even the best quarterback on his own team?

Any good? No. Best quarterback on his own team? Yes.

I mean, look, I think Minshew's absolutely solid value as a backup quarterback (although I wouldn't like, re-sign him or anything, just enjoy the comp pick to replace the one they spent). But Hurts's floor is pretty much an average NFL passer, and he's obviously a way better rusher. Minshew's a replacement-level passer. He's not better than Hurts in any way, shape, or form. Yes, yes, technically he did better last year but that's a DVOA quirk in some sense, since it's entirely the Jets game: over sixty percent of the Eagles receiving yardage that game was YAC. Sixty. Percent. That wasn't any grand skill from Minshew, it was "yeah, the Jets can't tackle."

12 Minshew’s performance is…

Minshew’s performance is better than that. He’s basically a median starter in the context of a dumpster fire and a 10% guy on a better team. Teams don’t trust him basically because he doesn’t look like a traditional QB, but he’s overqualified as a backup. He’s stuck in a 1B role.

15 Teams don’t trust him…

Teams don’t trust him basically because he doesn’t look like a traditional QB, but he’s overqualified as a backup.

Uh... I completely disagree.

He's a completely bog-standard backup QB. There's absolutely value in that because he's on a rookie contract and even backups aren't easy to find. But no way in hell is he a 10% guy on a better team. If you're basing that on his Eagles full-season performance last year, please see note above re: Jets performance. Fluky crap happens in 2 games. Where in the world are you getting the "10% on a better team" from?

19 I'm so, so confused. That…

I'm so, so confused. That comment just sounds like a clue given out in a bad mystery movie. Or some zen response from a Greek oracle. Now I feel compelled to try to figure it out.

Minshew’s performance is better than that.

Can't be that.

He’s basically a median starter in the context of a dumpster fire and a 10% guy on a better team.

The second part of this I already quoted, and the first part isn't even correct: Minshew was 22/34 in '19 and 27/36 in '20, which is well below median. Unless a 1-15 team isn't a dumpster fire. With the Eagles he was only close to 10% because of the Jets game where the vast majority of the passing came from YAC. Quick Reads that week noted that while he was great outside the red zone (again... YAC), he was awful inside the 20-yard line. Again stressing just how much that success came from others. Not him.

And then we're left with:

He’s stuck in a 1B role.

Yeah. I got nothin'.

42 Aaron's right, Pat's trollin'

It's clear to everyone but Pat that Aaron's calling Minshew a borderline starter. Which is exactly what 22/34 and 27/36 indicate. A QB whom if absolutely everything else goes right you can even win a Super Bowl with, and also a position you're really looking to improve even that very next year.

Pat, you're playing silly word games in order to win am FO comment thread argument.

45 Assuming this is who Minshew…

Assuming this is who Minshew is; then I don't think Minshew is overqualified as a backup. I think the bar for, "can with the SB if everything goes right" is exceedingly low, especially since some bad qbs have won the sb and never seen the light of day again. Reading the tea leaves and assuming we aren't talking about rookies; the cut off for median starter seems to Wentz level quality. Clearly, with the Browns moving away from Baker, he is below that bar. 

Maybe you could argue since Mariotta and Winston are penciled in as starters, Minshew ought to be as well. But Mariotta is starting on a trash fire because they have no one else and Winston is a long odds play that was the best available option to a team stuck in cap hell trying to find an heir to the throne on the fly. 

To me, the only compelling discussion to be had is IF Minshew is something better than what he has shown given the only real on field samples we've seen have been on horrible/cover your eyes and look away teams. Maybe there's a good quarterback somewhere in there. 

52 and Winston is a long odds…

and Winston is a long odds play that was the best available option to a team stuck in cap hell trying to find an heir to the throne on the fly. 

Dude, Winston was practically a top-10 QB before he was hurt last year. The weird long-odds play would've been Taysom Hill. Winston just makes sense.

55 He appeared in 7 games…

He appeared in 7 games during the year for NO. Here were his quick reads rankings

2nd, 32nd, 20th, 9th, 21st, 13th, 12th(in a game he threw 10 passes in).

Its worth noting - While 7 games appears to be a decent sample size, if you look at his attempts per game, its actually one of the absolute lowest figures in the league - we are talking lower than all the rookies and the lowest for any qb who started that many games.

As a result, an already small sample gets further biased by the fact that the Saints acted as if they were trying to hide Jameis. As such, I am suspicious of his dvoa figure and file it under a) small sample and b) biased upward based on the fact that I am guessing when he was asked to pass, it was deliberately done to avoid unfavorable circumstances. 

56 OK, "practically top 10" may…

OK, "practically top 10" may have been stretching it, fair. Still wouldn't exactly call going with Winston for another year a long-odds play. And definitely would say that Winston would deserve another year after that performance more than Minshew does.

57 I would agree, except I have…

I would agree, except I have to remember that a) Winston by virtue if being the number 1 overall pick was afforded a longer period of time to prove himself and thus we have more evidence on him than Minshew and b) Both NO and TB are miles better than the Jacksonville was at any during Minshew's career. 

Look, I'll amend the fact that Winston is a long odds play. Minshew, by virtue of many factors, has never shown the upside that Jameis has teased so in that sense, it's probably smarter to try your luck with Winston. I still think Winston likely to end up at one of two extremes - either he becomes really good or his style of play backslides into a guy you just can't count on to win games because of turnovers. With Sean Payton leaving + a big talent exodus, I am firmly on the pessimistic side unfortunately. 

51 It's clear to everyone but…

It's clear to everyone but Pat that Aaron's calling Minshew a borderline starter. Which is exactly what 22/34 and 27/36 indicate.

If you'd like to call 22/34 and 27/36 "borderline starters" we can just agree to disagree there. Somewhere between 16-20 is borderline. At best. Anything below that and you've gotta improve or you're gone. Baker Mayfield is a borderline starter (25/34, 16/36, 23/34).

A QB whom if absolutely everything else goes right you can even win a Super Bowl with,

I completely agree that a team can win a Super Bowl with Gardner Minshew. Provided they've got one of the best defenses of all time, sure, it's possible.

That is not my definition of borderline.

63 I think this reflects the…

I think this reflects the reality of the NFL. Tier 3 serves as that middle class, but they are only viable as long as the team is good. As the team deteriorates, suddenly, that middle class tier is no longer acceptable.

There are more than few people here who think Cousins should not a starting QB in this league - that effectively he means you are going nowhere. I think this is a mistake, but the GM of the Vikings clearly is conflicted about him. I think one more mediocre year and he may end up getting cut. 

I think Alex Smith serves as a useful test case. He has value as a starter so long as your options are limited. The day they aren't, he quickly becomes expendable at a moment's notice. 

64 Smith was expendable on…

Smith was expendable on about a year’s notice for a guy who will be a 1st-ballot HoFer.

Most guys are in that context. Recall Walsh spent about five years trying to get of Montana for Young.

70 Im really summarizing the…

Im really summarizing the prevailing zeitgeist about him. I think Cousins is pretty good. 

His issue seems to be he's not good enough to carry a limited offense every week.

68 Of course there is. Wentz,…

Of course there is. Wentz, Goff, Mayfield, Bridgewater are definitely there. Maybe Tagovailoa, Hurts: will probably know this season.

Back in the day, Fitz, obviously. Orton, Campbell, etc. There are also plenty of short term middle class QBs, too.

Minshew's not middle class. And yes, I would agree there's no *lower* class, because those guys get churned through.

75 Minshew just isn't middle…

Minshew just isn't middle class. And he's looked terrible in camp this year. Can he be a bottom 25% NFL starter? Sure. He's got a bad arm but also makes slow decisions [as does Hurts]. Is he a great backup? Sure.

20 Did you not watch him in…

Did you not watch him in college or his two years in jacksonville? He is what he is, a high volume, low yardage passer that doesnt throw interceptions.  He does not have Hurts' playmaking ability nor ceiling but Hurts definitely has a lower floor which could derail this talented roster.  

Minshew not being a starter has nothing to do with his talent, but everything to do with his look and pedigree.  GM's can always justify giving a starting job to a former top pick, especially one who looks like an NFL qb.  But investing heavily in a former late rounder gets GM's fired.  

22 a high volume, low yardage…

a high volume, low yardage passer that doesnt throw interceptions

That is the very definition of a good backup. He can't lead you to wins but he (mostly) won't doom you to losses. He was so uninspiring in Jax that they gave a fat contract to Nick Foles. I love Foles, he'll never buy another drink in Philadelphia, but there's a reason a former Super Bowl MVP is currently playing for his seventh team. Moreover, the most valuable thing in football is a starting QB on a rookie contract. Even the Jags, dumb as they are, would have been thrilled if he became a franchise QB.

23 I've watched Minshew a lot…

I've watched Minshew a lot now. He's not far off from Nick Foles. He'll sit there, do exactly what you tell him, and follow the plays. If the WRs win and the OL blocks well, he'll do fine. When things break down, he's not going to be pulling you out of it. He's like, the definition of what a backup QB is. Totally valuable! Absolutely made sense giving him a year to show, and hell I would've given him another year in '21 instead of Lawrence. (For trade value, mind you).

Could Hurts derail the roster? Absolutely! Would swapping Minshew for Hurts save things? Hell no. If the Eagles started Minshew they'd be a 7-8 win team. Could Hurts do worse than that? Yeah. But who cares if you're 7-10 or 8-9 instead of 5-12?

Minshew not being a starter has nothing to do with his talent, but everything to do with his look and pedigree.

Yeah, OK, we'll have to disagree on this. This doesn't even mesh with your first statement. A QB who's primarily capable of short yardage passes isn't going to have GMs lining up at the door to sign him.

29 first round picks

Currently, NFL GM's are entrusting their team to these former high picks as likely Week One starters: Geno Smith, Daniel Jones, Wentz, Goff and Trubisky.  None of them are better than Minshew.  And that's not counting Winston, Mariota and Mayfield who may also not be as good as Minshew.  When Aaron says median starter, that's what he's talking about.  

Also, Nick Foles won a super bowl and nearly two more road playoff games so i'm not sure what your point is.  

33 Currently, NFL GM's are…

Currently, NFL GM's are entrusting their team to these former high picks as likely Week One starters: Geno Smith, Daniel Jones, Wentz, Goff and Trubisky.  None of them are better than Minshew.

Citation needed. I'll give you Smith and Jones. Big gigantic WTF on the others.

48 The only way you could say…

In reply to by BigRichie

The only way you could say Minshew's definitely an improvement on Trubisky would be if you just compared their rookie years. Trubisky was above average in '18 for a full season. With the Bears. Something Minshew's never done.

I mean, I'm not trying to sell Mitch Trubisky as friggin' Peyton Manning or anything. Far from it. But without a doubt Trubisky deserves a second shot at starting more than Minshew does. Trubisky's come way closer to being viable. I mean, he's been above replacement every year since his rookie year (well, excepting last year since he didn't really play).

God, debating Trubisky vs Minshew, what level of hell have we reached.

76 Wentz is significantly…

Wentz is significantly better than Minshew. Minshew is losing the backup job to Reid Sinnett at the moment.

Two years in Jax, Minshew had a 44 QBR both years. 

Here's Wentz: 47, 79, 62, 63, 42 implosion, 55. 

78 Minshew is losing the backup…

Minshew is losing the backup job to Reid Sinnett at the moment.

Eh, I think people read too much into that. Minshew was on the team last year, it's not that important for them to see where he is. Plus he's eminently tradeable, so if teams start thinking "huh, they like this other guy, I wonder if they're willing to give up Minshew," it could work. Minshew actually did draw real trade interest over the offseason, so it's not crazy.

Training camp drama's always hilarious, it's never quite as black-and-white as people want it to be. Been fooled by "Nate Sudfeld's really showing it"-type stories way too much.

 

27 "Hurts definitely has a lower floor"

I'm BEGGING you to just stop

Talking about college? Where Hurts broke out it his very first start of his college journey, "becoming the first true freshman to start at quarterback for Alabama in 32 years" which was, at the time 100 %tile breakout (now "only" 97th")? And Minshew couldn't break out (now 33rd %tile) until he transferred from his G5 team to air raid Washington State? Or was Hurts 94th %tile QBR and 98th YPA not that significant from Minshews 64th and 20th respectively?

Teams love QBs that "look" like Minshew. It's the reason they stupidly traded for him. 

38 No he didn't

That was Haskins...on 129 LESS ATTEMPTS! Imagine not actually leading the leading nation in either despite throwing the most. You think Zappe is better too? 

But what's so hard to understand? Are the links that hard to click? Let spell it for ya: Minshew can't even secure the backup role against a REID SINNETT. Not to mention they gave the most guaranteed money to Carson Strong.

54 If zappe went to…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

If zappe went to Jacksonville and had the two years minshew yeah I’d probably say he was better. 

62 Oh my goodness

Bias just lurching through at this point.

Well that's what I get for engaging with a guy that's objectively wrong on the simplest (in every sense) stat and doesn't understand Minshew wasn't even good in college and that him losing to an UDFA is a CLEAR signal that Minshew is NO WHERE NEAR Hurts.

80 Don't have a clue why Minshew has so many stans

Well...I do actually but regardless, a continued pattern of behavior of ignoring the factual reports from camp then asking a...dumb...question on why the incumbent is "in the game 2nd?" after the player that is supposedly not much better than went 6/6 for 82, a TD and a 0 yard sack while said incumbent doesn't have a TD and only has 42 yards on 9 attempts and a sack that lost a yard.

But yeah you surely can't which is better because he has a bright future and the other is just bright. 

Congrats on the 4th year player playing 2nd in the 1st preseason game over an UDFA. Surely that means he can unseat the guy that took his team to the playoffs anytime now...despite that guy being younger.

I'm just in disbelief that Hurts is being questioned with GARDNER MINSHEW. Just...insane

13 OK, OK, if we want to get…

OK, OK, if we want to get really really strategic and silly (***), you would do this:

  1. Hurts comes out, struggles first few weeks. Enough for top brass to say "yeah, not gonna go long term."
  2. You talk to Jalen, say "look, this probably isn't going to work out for a long term contract - how are you feeling? Any aches, pains, anywhere? We can drop you on injured reserve for a while, try to let you recover, and work out a possible trade for next year to another team."
  3. Drop Hurts on injured reserve for, I dunno, bruised pinky, swap to Minshew and then hopefully when Hurts is eligible to come back later in the season you let him come back to boost his trade value.
  4. Next year you offer Hurts + first round pick(s) to move up to grab a top-of-draft QB.

That's the only way I could see them jumping to Minshew mid-season. Still dumb and unlikely to work, but at least not wacko-crazy.

***: please, please, please note that I call this "still dumb" later.

4 Maybe it's all explained by…

Maybe it's all explained by injury, but Jimmy Gs post season was worrisome in every way; with the 49ers actively trying to hide him. Meanwhile, people juxtapose his miserable last year in Philly with his utter meltdown in the last week of the season with the Colts; basically concluding he is the equivalent of 2016 Joe Flacco.

In reality, I thought Wentz was actually above average; often the only thing keeping the Colts afloat in the first half of the season amid injuries to the offensive line. Yes he has some terrible looking turnovers, but on the whole I thought he was fine. Not worth trading a second and first for, but fine. And that's all he needs to be in Washington, who should have a strong defense plus a good coach in Rivera. I am rather bullish on them this year in fact.

24 Jimmy's Injurires

So the thing about Jimmy's last 4-5 games is you can see that the injuries were affecting him quite a bit.  He was doing pretty well in the Titans game until he tore the thumb ligament and then the wheels came off a bit.  He sat out a week then came back and played OK against the Rams in the first half, before the offense took over in the 2nd.

Then he was demolishing the Cowboys... Until he landed on his shoulder in the 2nd quarter.  From then on he was scattershot.

Then there was the game in Green Bay where... Well he wasn't great but he *also* was not spectacularly outperformed by Aaron Rogers either.  Call that a combination of "bad weather" and "no seriously it was fucking *cold*".

Against the Rams he was again lackluster but as "bad" as his performance was, it's again worth noting that this was a road playoff game against (to my eyes) a top 2 defense where the biggest play people hold against him was when he threw a desperation pass on like 4th and 10 deep in his own territory with a minute left in the game and Aaron Donald literally hanging on to him.

Meanwhile ppl are anointing Stafford as "is he HOF calibre?" Despite his performance in that self-same game being buoyed by Tartt dropping an arm-punt.

I've been watching this team for like 20 years now and when KS is saying "best QB since Young" he's not joking.  He's like a less consistent Drew Brees.

Also worth noting: anyone who wanted the 49ers to pass the ball in the 2019 NFCCG simply did not watch the game.  They were averaging nearly 7 yards per carry.  Why on earth would you *ever* throw the ball in that kind of a game?  You want a 40 yard deep shot down the field?  Forget that, just let Mostert break off another one for 30 yards.

28 Sure, maybe it is all coming…

In reply to by superglucose

Sure, maybe it is all coming from injuries. I've just seen Jimmy G get progressively worse under Shanny every year; to the point where I feel like Shanny has lost faith in Jimmy G to the point where he went from being a real asset to someone you wanted to hide. 

5 I have seen so many prior…

I have seen so many prior Cowboys teams look like versions of this team; including ones guided by Romo on offense, at least one strong receiving option between Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, and featuring an elite HOF defender in Ware. And those teams managed to disappoint, not even making the playoffs. 

Unless you have special faith in McCarthy( and I don't) that's what I am expecting this year as well.

35 I'm not sure what the…

I'm not sure what the Cowboys front office is thinking this year. There's a certain arrogance in their mindset that "their guys" are good enough, and that they don't need to bring in any other players for help. The wide receiver room is currently CeeDee Lamb, a bunch of rookies, and Noah Brown who up until this point has basically only been used for blocking. It reminds me of the beginning of 2018 where they actually thought "wide receiver by committee" was a good idea, then Jerry panicked mid-season and traded for Cooper. 

No one knows who the kicker is going to be because they're all inconsistent; not surprisingly they brought in an old face from 2019, Brett "Maybe" Maher, to join the competition.

I think Jerry has very poor memory and doesn't realize how similar this team is to the underachievers of the past. Or maybe Stephen Jones is  purposely punting on this year so that they can spend crazy money next year when their savior Sean Payton arrives.

7 NFCE:

Cowboys - still good, over

Giants - still bad, under

Eagles - still good, over

Commanders - still mediocre, under 

Speaking of Washington, I know it's far off but a lot of talk about Will Anderson from Alabama being the undisputed #1 pick next year (aka likely a bad QB, odds are Houston right now iirc). But Washington is (yet another) good example of when you pass on an upgrade for a supposed can't miss edge. Chase and Anderson are still good and will be but when you pass on the potential value of a QB you get the Commanders. Tricking yourself into Heinicke. And then Wentz. Stuck in NFL purgatory because that edge and overall defense can't lift THAT much. And by the time you (somehow) take a shot on one, Young et al need to be paid/want out/collapse etc. No one believes Wentz is gonna take Washington to anywhere but limbo. And Chase Young can't really do much about it. Take a shot on a QB instead of always nitpicking (Young is too small, Stroud wears certain colors on his helmet, etc). Well except for the guy that puts mayo in his coffee.

14 You think Tua was the answer…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

You think Tua was the answer?

\and before you say But Herbert — ain’t no one gonna take Herbert #2 in that draft.

47 Sowing and reaping

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

Bear in mind you've been defending this poster, Aaron.

67 ()

In reply to by Aaron Brooks G…

(called me out for being mean to him when I called him out for being yet-again intentionally obnoxious)

(had you called me out for being really stupid for thinking it would accomplish anything/descending toward his own level/calling him out for the sake of my own self-righteousness, well, I would've had to strongly consider a guilty plea then)

9   Also doesn't hurt that the…

 

Also doesn't hurt that the Eagles were able to bring back Jason Kelce, with his hand-picked replacement Cam Jurgens waiting in the wings. 

You freaking had to write this. Probably just before this happened. Bastards.

Yes, yes, I know, "routine," "could still be back for week 1," whatever. It's great that Kelce loves Jurgens, but Kelce's success is due to stuff that wasn't obvious in the draft, so I'm less bullish on them magically finding a replacement. That's not to be down on Jurgens but a ton of my opinion on the Eagles this year rests on Kelce/Johnson continuing to have a hell of a career finale (well, and Mailata's continued development). Part of the reason I'm not super-optimistic long-term with the Eagles is that if the OL still plays well this year, Hurts and AJ Brown could fool the Eagles into a longer-term commitment, and then when Kelce/Johnson call it a career, it'll be like "what's the reason for Hurts's decline?!? he had such a solid '22, I can't figure out why he just collapsed!"

They're just trying to navigate such a tight window. Literally anything goes wrong, and the whole thing could fall apart, and Kelce's elbow surgery just brings back echoes of the '18 preseason.

10 I am surprised you are so…

I am surprised you are so down on Hurts. At the very least, I think he's a decent starter. So committing to him while the team is good isn't so bad. But I think there's enough upside, depending on how he plays this year, to consider him a real asset at QB. Sure, the O line could be so good that turns him into a complete mirage, but I find that unlikely. 

Lots and lots of Qbs have had great 1 years and turned into pumpkins thereafter so I don't think Wentz can be used as an example. Otherwise, we'd have to widen it to players like Derrick Anderson or Kase Keenum. Really, the only QB I can ever remember who, in complete hindsight, turned into a mirage was Jared Goff.

 

21 Sure, the O line could be so…

Sure, the O line could be so good that turns him into a complete mirage, but I find that unlikely. 

There's the disagreement. Philly's OL has 2 guys that really should be Hall or up for Hall consideration (Lane won't, but that's due to the Hall completely ignoring run-blocking tackles) and another (Mailata) that PFF ranked the third-best tackle under 25.

The prime 2 guys on that OL already turned Wentz and Foles into an MVP candidate and an actual Super Bowl MVP. Turning Hurts into a mirage of a viable QB isn't exactly a stretch.

26 Yes, this is the source of…

Yes, this is the source of the disagreement. 

If it were an o line featuring  3/5 or 4/5 hall of fame talent, I'd be more on board. When I see Joe Flacco have an amazing postseason. And I see Case Keenum have an outlier year, and Josh McCown, and on and on, I am more inclined to believe Foles had a tremendous outlier postseason and I believe Wentz also had an outlier regular season. 

Thats why I said, its really just Goff who I can think of that went from all pro caliber multiple years to replacement level overnight with injuries explaining none of that. 

Coming back to Hurts. I think if Hurts plays well, it will suggest he's potentially very good. If he does it again, I'm going to be even more convinced. 

31 I haven't gone back and…

I haven't gone back and watched Flacco's postseason, and I certainly haven't broken down Keenum's 2017 season looking for "why" there. But I have gone back and broken down Foles's postseason, and that definitely wasn't due to him turning into Super-Foles or something. Especially in the Vikings and Patriots games, Philly's OL just effing took over.

It's funny because he didn't like, take forever to throw or anything, it was just that so many of the plays just worked exactly as you'd script them. Patriots sent 5 rushers a ton. Didn't work. Friggin Kelce took two of them on - one with each arm. Multiple plays! 3rd and 12, 15-yard completion to Torrey Smith. Looks like an amazing play by Foles - except then you note that while Wisnewski couldn't take over to let Kelce handle the stunting rusher... it didn't matter. Because Kelce just blocked them both and threw them aside, leaving Foles the easiest throwing lane you'll ever see.

Like I said: can't comment on Flacco, Keenum, or McCown. But Foles didn't go Beast Mode in the '17 playoffs. Jason Kelce did. When he's eligible, his Hall of Fame discussion should be nothing but screenshots of him from those playoffs.

A lot of the difference between the best and worst QBs isn't how they perform when everything is fine. It's how they perform when everything goes to crap. And basically nothing went bad in those games.

(edit: ok, I shouldn't be super critical of Foles, he did have a few really good plays later in the game when Vaitai started to wear down)

37 Mirages

I've always thought the news bit that Sean McVay was telegraphing to Goff where to throw the ball in his headset was what finally sunk Goff. Belichick changed the defensive alignment in the Super Bowl after the headset communication cut off so Goff had to analyze the field himself, and he fell to pieces.

I don't know if other teams replicated that afterwards, but it could be that McVay realized he couldn't win with a QB that could be solved so easily, and so he took the training wheels off the last two years to see if Goff could sink or swim on his own.

40 But the contract extension I…

In reply to by Romodini

But the contract extension I believe came after the super bowl. So if this obvious flaw was there, surely Sean McVay would have told his GM to hold off on this.

One day they'll have to be a deeper dive into what went wrong with Jared Goff. I remember after that Monday night air show between the Chiefs and Rams, there was legitimate debate at that moment if Jared Goff had closed the gap on the MVP conversation. And even some discussions about who had the brighter future.

41 So if this obvious flaw was…

So if this obvious flaw was there, surely Sean McVay would have told his GM to hold off on this.

Eh, it'd be worth the risk. The effective cost of the extension wasn't that bad: if it hadn't been for the pandemic, the Rams could've traded Goff for like $17M in dead money or something like that. Goff's contract was structured differently than Wentz's (almost $10M less guaranteed, and even Wentz's wasn't that bad).

My guess is that initially McVay mostly blamed himself for the Super Bowl, and then when he tried to fix it and realized his QB depended on it, he decided they needed to move on.

17 Not that I think Mishew is…

Not that I think Mishew is the answer, but its interesting how narratives shift just because a player was selected very low in the draft.

Everyone is making excuses for Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields or Zach Wilson, but Minshew basically played in barren hellscape for two years in Jacksonville. And that's all we ever saw of him.

Clearly, if people feel that way, then they do weight draft pedigree when it comes to future expectations. 

25 Everyone is making excuses…

Everyone is making excuses for Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields or Zach Wilson

Gaaah. Stop including Year 2 quarterbacks like this. Excuses for Year 2 QBs are fine. Rookie QBs suck. Even Justin Herbert was bad his rookie year relative to year 2 - he improved by like 10% DVOA, which is right around typical. A 20-25% improvement isn't crazy, and sometimes even higher is fine too depending on how many games the QB played (low statistics = more craziness).

There's a ready-made happy example for you right in this article. Daniel Jones. Right there. Minshew's done more to deserve a second shot as a starter than Jones has.

Of course Mitch Trubisky got punted straight to the sideline after putting up better years than Jones or Minshew ever did and like, no one makes excuses for him (except me, apparently) so I'm not sure your narrative actually holds up a ton. I'm really curious as to why guys like Jones get a full 4 years as a starter when Trubisky's yanked around like crazy.

81 It's clear the "arc" of a…

It's clear the "arc" of a young QB's performance matters a lot (in terms of the opportunities they get going forward). Trubisky took a significant step forward in year 2 (roughly +20% DVOA jump), but backslid harrrrrd in year 3 (-15% DVOA loss - and I have to say, that... is still somewhat better, let's say, my eyeball evaluation that year).

Jones, on the other hand, stank out loud for two seasons but then took a modest step forward* in year 3 (+10% DVOA), so he'll get a chance to take another one.

*In passing, anyway. For whatever reason his rushing took a nosedive last year, which is a shame because that was the one thing he had been actually good at.

I don't think this is entirely irrational - if someone declines significantly (especially to a previous baseline, granted here that baseline was only one season) despite no apparent external cause (i.e., no injury, major roster/coaching overhaul, etc.), it's not unreasonable to suspect that they just don't have it; if they're on the upswing, may as well see how far up it goes, as long as there aren't any obviously superior options.

Which is the elephant in the room here: The Bears considered themselves contenders, so while they did give him that chance to show year 2 was the real one, they hedged that bet pretty hard with Foles; the Giants harbor no such delusions, so starting Jones again is a can't-lose proposition. If he breaks out, hey, you got your QB! If he doesn't, hey, you're in great position to get a nice new Stroud or Young! I don't think there's any real commitment there at this point, regardless of whatever ownership or coaching are saying at the moment.

32 Well, the normal way low…

Well, the normal way low round picks break in is there is an injury, they start a bunch of games and the team likes what they see enough to keep them. (Dak Prescott, Jimmy G,  etc). Minshew has started 22 games but hasn't impressed enough to keep the job. The main difference draft position makes is high picks get a way more chances (sunk cost fallacy probably helps). If he got the same chances as a high round pick could he develop? Who knows, although low draft picks are usually there for a reason. 

If the goal is to find an above average starter you could argue that teams might be better of trading for guys like Minshew rather than failed first round picks(Mayfield, Wentz). Your odds of a breakout may not be much different(low either way), and the commitment and cost are waaaay lower. 

Teams probably don't do that bc it's safer. If you trade for Mayfield you can point to his draft rank as "potential" and if he fails you can point to his history. 

34 So I agree, low rounders…

So I agree, low rounders usually start due to injury and usually have to play well right away to be given a chance.

 

There is of course a chicken and egg problem, but most of those guys were on good teams, not this centuries Jaguars.

Tbh, I do think that if an offense is terrible, the QB has a big hand in that, so I am not inclined to give Minshew much of a chance to be really good. But, the q is, is he any less likely than a high round QB?

44 Well, assuming the draft…

Well, assuming the draft process works, highly drafted ones probably do have a better chance comming out of the draft. (Chances are almost never equal so it's really hard to say). Of course then you get to the point where you are comparing a highly drafted QB that has failed to develop vs a low drafted one who has had some success in a limited sample size/context and...it becomes much more difficult. 

That said, I suspect coaches don't give low draft picks more a chance bc they get blamed if it doesn't work, while they get blamed less for taking a chance on a high pick who hasn't broken out yet, despite the evidence pointing to it not happening.

I agree that a QB deserves alot of the blame when the offence is bad. It's hard to totally split it however. I'm not sure even a rookie Peyton Manning would have made Jax look good last year frex. 

46 I think a clear example can…

I think a clear example can be seen with Josh Allen. If Josh Allen was a low round pick, he probably gets benched during his rookie year and never gets a shot in his second year. And, if by some miracle, he does get to play in his second season, his career as a starter is probably over. I think the reality is that high first rounders are perceived as sunk costs that are greater than the opportunity cost of moving on. Low rounders are not and so they get cycled immediately. Is this thinking correct? I don't think it can be answered in the data because there's too much sampling bias at work. Almost no bad low round qbs get multiple consecutive years as starters. I would say its literally impossible to have a Daniel Jones career and be anything lower than a 1st round qb. 

To your last statement; yeah its a great unknown. Its kind of the David Carr question. Did the Texans fail him or do he fail the Texans?

50 It's a Principal Agent problem, slot

The "opportunity cost of moving on" for the GM who so decides to is he gets fired, and if that decision is indeed the right one his successor reaps the benefit thereof. And everyone and their sister then says 'boy, GM II sure was better than GM I, amirite guys?'

61 I think Derek kind of…

I think Derek kind of suggests the Texans ruined David. Derek’s development and career were tailored to avoid what happened to David.

How many years did it take Warner to recover from Martz?

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