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Ten Thoughts on the NFL

Give our NFL Thoughts a gander this week and be sure to drop some of your own in the comment section!

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Tennessee Titans Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

1) The Washington Football Team knocked off the previously undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers, and in doing so they are keeping their hopes alive for the NFC East title. They are now tied with the New York Giants at 5-7 in the most exciting race of 2020.

But they’re also still are alive for that 7th seed as no team in the NFC is taking control of that wildcard spot. Right now the 6-6 Vikings are in the driver’s seat, followed by the 6-6 Arizona Cardinals, but anything can happen in the second most exciting race of 2020.

1a) The idea of weekday afternoon football on my TV is strange. Especially now that I work from home and can have it on in the background while I’m working, but I dig it.

2) The Cleveland Browns are for real. They may not have a championship caliber defense, but the offensive line is playing at a top level right now, they have one of the best running back tandems in the NFL in Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, and Baker Mayfield is coming into his own. In his last 6 games he has 11 TD passes to just 1 interception,

Plus he did this after his TD pass to Rashard Higgins.

I’ve wavered on them all year long, but their impressive 41 to 35 win over the Tennessee Titans was a statement game. They’ll be a fun team to watch down the stretch.

3) This stat about Miami Dolphins rookie QB is incredible.

Making his fifth career start, Miami rookie quarterback TUA TAGOVAILOA passed for a career-high 296 yards with one touchdown and zero interceptions for a 97.8 rating in the Dolphins’ 19-7 win over Cincinnati.

Tagovailoa is the second quarterback in the Super Bowl era with at least one touchdown pass and zero interceptions in each of his first five career starts, joining JEFF KEMP.

Rookie quarterbacks being safe and smart with the ball just doesn’t happen, and it certainly doesn’t happen to the extent Tagovailoa is doing it. He also only has just 1 fumble so far too, and that came in his first start.

Jeff Kemp’s rookie season was 1981, but he didn’t get his first start until 1984, so I wonder what other rookies have been as safe with the football as Tua has.

4) Here’s a big reason Russell Wilson went from early season MVP candidate that was leading the 5-0 Seattle Seahawks, to no longer an MVP candidate on a team that is 3-4 since week 7.

5) I see a lot of Bears fans on social media wanting Vic Fangio to return to Chicago to coordinate their defense if he’s fired as head coach of the Denver Broncos, but I don’t see the Broncos firing him. Sure Denver is a disappointing 4-8 after finishing last year 7-9, but they’ve had a lot of injuries and he has that team playing hard every week.

6) The Raiders owe Jets’ (now former) defensive coordinator Gregg Williams a hearty thank you for playing man to man and sending 6 pass rushers at QB Derek Carr.

Williams was fired on Monday by head coach Adam Gase, whose Jets are now 0-12 and still the odds on favorite to pick first overall in the 2021 NFL Draft.

“Obviously, I wasn’t happy about that call,” Gase said about the play that ultimately led to the Williams’ termination. “That was a heartbreaking way for our guys to lose a game. For that to happen in that situation, we just... we can’t have that happen.”

Teams don’t intentionally tank, but with the way in which they lost it does make you wonder.

Here’s more on the play call by Williams from ESPN Stats & Info.

The Jets made an unprecedented play call to end their game vs the Raiders

There were 252 pass plays meeting this criteria the last 15 seasons:

•Final 15 seconds

•Down 4-8 points

•40+ yards to the end zone

They were the 1st defense to send 6+ pass rushers in ^ situation

7) The Philadelphia Eagles made it official and announced that rookie Jalen Hurts will get the start at quarterback over Carson Wentz.

The Eagles grabbed Hurts with the 53rd overall pick in the draft even though they had given Wentz a huge contract extension before the 2019 season. Wentz wasn’t awful in 2019, with 4,039 passing yards, 27 TDs, and only 7 interceptions, but he had some holes in his game that Philly wanted some insurance just in case.

Wentz’s play has dropped off across the board in 2020, but how much of that is due to his offensive supporting cast having so many injuries?

Regardless the reason, the Eagles have Hurts to turn to.

If Hurts proves to be the QB1 moving forward, his contract is still small enough for the Eagles to just roll with Wentz as the QB2 (unless they find a trade partner for him) until cutting him makes financial sense after the 2023 season. Which is when Hurts’ rookie deal expires.

8) Bill Belichick is a defensive mastermind.

Okay, the Chargers aren’t very good, but that offense was putting up some nice numbers all year before running into the Patriots.

8a) If the Chargers fire their head coach, and it really seems like Anthony Lynn is coaching his last few games, that team is going to have a lot of offensive minded coaches lining up for a chance to work with Justin Herbert.

9) Stuff like this is why Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Dabol is a hot name for a head coaching gig in 2021.

Then you factor in the work he’s done with quarterback Josh Allen, who has shown marked improvement all three years he’s been a professional, and you can see why teams will be lining up for Dabol’s services.

In Week 13, Bills quarterback JOSH ALLEN threw for 375 yards and four touchdowns with zero interceptions and a 139.1 passer rating. It marked the third time this season that Allen has thrown for at least 375 yards and three-or-more touchdowns with a rating of 130 or better. Only one other player in NFL history has had three such games in a season: DREW BREES in 2013.

10) With rumors of an organizational overhaul hanging over the Bears like a kettle of buzzards, it really seems like they’re content on riding out the 2020 string. But there’s a recent rumor floated from ESPN’s David Kaplan that suggests team president Ted Phillips plans to retire at season’s end, and if that’s the case, then Chairman George McCaskey needs to move that time table up as soon as possible.

Several teams have already begun the process of looking for executives to bring in, so if the Bears are really going to be in the market for a team President, then they need to start that process immediately.