It’s been a hot minute since I’ve written anything — adulting and other obligations — and I’m able to finally return to my normal schedule. This time, I’m filling in for Lester, and sharing my own thoughts on Da Bears along with what’s happening around the league.
It’s easy to say that I’m in a good mood right now.
This is a given as the most important team on Ditka’s Earth is playing some great football at this time. But first, let’s discuss everything else I see happening around the league.
1) These Baltimore Ravens aren’t just good. They are a throwback for old fashioned football that the NFL has tried to erase over the past two decades. They will run the ball, then run the ball some more, then dare you to commit 10 in the box. Their defense is legit, too.
Lamar Jackson is the clear favorite for MVP this season. Greg Roman, the unsung hero in Baltimore, is my favorite to win assistant of the year. He’s coached this offense and schemed around his young quarterback brilliantly.
The Ravens are at the top of the AFC’s pecking order. I don’t see a single team in that conference who’s able to knock them off.
2) You know another team who’s caught everyone off guard this season? The Buffalo Bills.
Despite losing to the Ravens on Sunday, they are at 9-4 for the season, and are likely to clinch at least one of the two wild card spots in the AFC. Their defense is top notch, and Josh Allen is playing like the QB who’s ready to lead these Bills into relevancy for the next few years.
Plus, Ed Oliver looks like the real deal coming off the edge.
FIVE SECOND RULE!— NFL (@NFL) November 28, 2019
Rookie @Edoliver_11 with the strip sack...Bills ball! #GoBills
: #BUFvsDAL on CBS
: NFL app // Yahoo Sports app
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3) As we enter the 4th quarter of the regular season, rumors leading into the NFL’s version of “Black Monday” are beginning to pick up. Jason Garrett, for example, seems like a lame duck heading into the final three games.
That’s not what has my interest here.
On Friday morning I woke up, did the usual routine of checking my phone, and saw this tweet on my timeline.
Jerry Jones says Jason Garrett will remain the coach but I can confirm a very real interest in Urban Meyer. In fact, I'm told Stephen Jones spoke with him recently. Lincoln Riley remains a strong candidate & file this name as a possibility Clemson OC Tony Elliott per sources.— Jane Slater (@SlaterNFL) December 6, 2019
I get the whole Lincoln Riley thing — and fellow writer Aaron Leming might tell you that’s a bad idea — but Urban Meyer? Given my background as a Florida Gators fan, and the fact I watch way too much football, I would say that’s a disastrous idea. You’ll see why down below.
Yes, Urban Meyer has won three national championships between two different programs, two with Florida and one with Ohio State. The work he’s done with QBs like Alex Smith, Tim Tebow (legendary in college, complete bust in the NFL) and J.T. Barrett has earned him looks from teams around the NFL. Hypothetically, Dak Prescott would thrive in Urban Meyer’s system. Really, the whole offense has enough talent to produce immediately under Meyer.
He’ll also want to do things his way. Especially when it comes to having complete control over his staff as well as the 53-man roster. That, right there, is why I have a difficult time imagining an effective working relationship between Jerry Jones and Urban Meyer.
Worst of all, Meyer is a person who abides by their own agenda.
Once adversity risks his reputation, he flees. He chickened out of Florida as arrests piled up for players and staff members involved in off-field incidents in Gainesville. Then, he was placed on “administrative leave” by Ohio State once an investigation for the Zach Smith incident began. Even though he currently serves as an assistant athletic director for Ohio State.
Case point, for all the razzle dazzle he’ll compose on offense, he’s not a coach who will hold their players accountable. Or even his staff members. Flat out, he’s never struck me as someone who cares about the term “discipline.”
Dallas would be a place I see him being interested in, chiefly because of the exposure and publicity he’d receive while at Jerry’s World. If Jerry decides to open his checkbook and hire Urban, then whatever. Just don’t expect a long lasting, seamless marriage. Let alone a faithful one.
4) Speaking about coaching searches....who wants to coach the Washington Football Team? Anybody?
Not one quality head coaching candidate should take that job until Bruce Allen is shown the door.
5) Ron Rivera, who was relieved of his duties with the Carolina Panthers earlier last week, will land on his feet somewhere. I expect him to be a head coach in 2020. He’s a man of integrity, flexibility, and takes care of his team like his own family.
The New York Giants are a team who would make complete sense once Pat Shurmer is canned in the near future. He could also elect to be a defensive coordinator, which will have teams lining up for his services. Riverboat Ron is one of the few coaches I am confident will succeed in any situation he chooses.
6) It’s about to be Bowl Season in the collegiate ranks. Naturally, high-end draft prospects contemplate the risk/reward for playing one more game before declaring for the NFL draft. Some players will take an early bow, and hold themselves out from bowl games that do not have any impact on the College Football Playoffs.
And you know what? That’s fine with me. They’re grown men, making a decision for themselves, and are making their intentions clear of going pro. Unless it’s one of the New Years Six bowls, there’s hardly any point to take a chance with injuries for a game that largely irrelevant.
I’m sure it’s a bummer for colleges to see their players holding out of a game that has little-to-no meaning. It’s also a bummer that people within the NCAA frown upon non-professional athletes who are pursuing their personal interests. After all, said athletes have already helped in generating millions of dollars of revenue for a profiting “non profit” organization.
7) It’s so nice to see that Alabama isn’t reaching the College Football Playoffs this year, by the way. Nick Saban looks like a coach who’s finally reached his peak, and Alabama’s decline is set to begin. Especially if all of his stupendous talent elects to declare for the draft this year.
8) I still cannot believe we all are witnessing the likely end to Eli Manning’s career in the NFL. Growing up, the Manning Bros — Peyton and Eli — were two of the very best quarterbacks in the NFL. He’s been bad during the twilight of his career. Then again, he’s had plenty of great moments as the Giants’ franchise quarterback.
Eli earned a far more notorious reputation than his older brother, Peyton. Not simply because of his boneheaded mistakes, he’ll forever be remembered as the guy who absolutely refused to play for the (then) San Diego Chargers. It was made even more epic when the Chargers actually did draft him.
In a move I don’t see happening again through the rest of my lifetime, the Giants made a deal with the Chargers to swap quarterbacks during the 2004 NFL Draft. Both Philip Rivers and Eli Manning have had productive careers. Manning; however, has the actual hardware to prove his success in the form of two Super Bowl rings.
Eli will never reach the statistical greatness that Peyton reached in his own career. Eli also has two Super Bowl rings, and will be known as the quarterback who took the 18-0 New England Patriots down. That’s a good enough legacy to retire without regrets.
9) This 2020 NFL free agency class of quarterbacks looks like an all-time bonanza that’s set to begin this coming spring. Players like Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, Jameis Winston, Teddy Bridgewater, and even Dak Prescott could hit the open market. For teams wanting big named veterans to man the most important position in all team sports, there will be plenty of options.
Also, here’s a friendly reminder that signing a free agent QB to big money can yield catastrophic consequences. For every Drew Brees and Peyton Manning signing, there are a ton of major busts that occur. We all shudder at Mike Glennon, and Nick Foles just got benched in favor of Gardner Minshew II.
It remains to be seen what the Bears’ plans are for the quarterback position. I can tell you at least two of the QBs previously mentioned as pending free agents will get paid a ridiculous sum of money. One can only hope that teams who’ll cash in on veteran quarterbacks this off-season are wise enough to draft a “Plan B” as well.
There’s also no way that Dak Prescott should earn a guaranteed $40 million per year. That’s a stupid idea to begin with.
10) To remain consistent with the theme of quarterbacks, where the hell has THIS version of Mitchell Trubisky been at all season?
The turnaround that Trubisky and this Bears offense has pulled off over the past five weeks is unprecedented. Their passing game is alive, holes are opening for David Montgomery up front, and the confidence #10 is playing with is astounding. Plus, that dude Allen Robinson is a baaaaad man.
.@AllenRobinson hauls in his second TD of the game!@ChicagoBears lead 17-7. #Bears100— NFL (@NFL) December 6, 2019
: #DALvsCHI on @NFLNetwork | @NFLonFOX | @PrimeVideo
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A large number of us gave up on Trubisky after he was sat down at Los Angeles. His performance prior to this hot streak was undesirable. His demeanor looked sad. He shied away from making big plays. Talking heads were laughing at Chicago for months. I, personally, was sick of it.
It’s clear that Trubisky and company are done with that level of disrespect. This is a Chicago Bears team that nobody wants to play right now. They’re rolling on all cylinders, pissed off, and hungry for a run at the playoffs. That final wildcard spot looks more plausible with each win the Bears earn.
What do you think? Are you enjoying watching the Ravens and Bears as much as I am? What are your thoughts about the coaching rumors flying around the league?