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Ten Thoughts on the NFL

The 2020 regular season is over, so check out our Thoughts on the league, and be sure to drop some of your own in the comment section.

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

1) Deshaun Watson led the NFL in passing yards this year with 4,823 (301.4 per game), and Patrick Mahomes was second with 4,740 (316.0 per game), but did you realize that free agent to be Dak Prescott was averaging 422.5 passing yards per game before he was injured.

In the first 4 games this year he had 1,690 yards passing for the Cowboys, and while there was no way he was going to maintain that 6,760 yard pace, he did have 166 in a little more than a half during their week 5 game before getting injured.

Dallas seems intent on re-signing Dak, and with no setbacks on his rehab from fractured leg, that seems like the best thing for both parties.

2) The NFL is a passing league, but how cool was it to see the Titans Derrick Henry rush for the 5th highest season total in league history this year (2,027). Or to see Colts rookie Jonathan Taylor rush for the second-most yards by a rookie in a single game in NFL history (253) on Sunday. Or to see the Ravens cap their season with a franchise-record 404 rushing yards, which is the fourth-highest single-game total since 1950.

3) The Cleveland Browns were hit hard with COVID related issues last week, and it just got worse.

“The Cleveland Browns were informed this morning that Head Coach Kevin Stefanski, two additional members of the coaching staff and two players have tested positive for COVID-19,” the team announced in a statement. “Our facility is currently closed while contact tracing is taking place. The team will continue to consult with the league and medical experts to determine the appropriate next steps as the health and safety of our players, coaches, staff and the entire community remains our highest priority. Our contingency planning calls for Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer to serve as the acting Head Coach.”

I figured the playoff tested Pittsburgh Steelers was going to win their wildcard game, but with this latest development it’ll take a miracle for Cleveland to pull off the upset.

4) I find it hilarious that the New York Giants are upset with the Philadelphia Eagles for putting Nate Sudfeld in at quarterback in their game against Washington. I understand their frustration, but they have themselves to blame for going 6-10 during the 2020 season.

As a wrestling fan, this Tweet made me smile.

However, Philly head coach Doug Pederson should have alerted his team of his intention to get Sudfeld in the game regardless of score at some point during the week.

Springing it on them in a close game was the wrong thing to do. It sends the wrong message to his players who have busted their ass all year long. Had they been aware the change was coming there may not have been any sideline confrontations during the game.

Two defensive players had to be held back from approaching Pederson. Center Jason Kelce and another offensive starter went to the coach to ask him why he had pulled the starting quarterback with the Eagles trailing by only three.

5) Staying with that game...

Washington rookie Chase Young left the field yelling, ”Tom Brady! Tom Brady! I’m coming! I want Tom. I want Tom.”

The WFT will host Brady and the Buccaneers in a wildcard playoff game on Saturday night, but is Brady the kind of guy you want to rile up?

Brady hasn’t spoken about it yet, but Bucs head coach Bruce Arians did.

“Both those kids from Ohio State, he and (Terry) McLaurin, are great kids. He’s a handful, but so is (Montez) Sweat, (Daron) Payne, the rest of those guys. Ryan Kerrigan, I’ve had a ton of respect for a long time. We’ll have our hands full, but it’s one of those games where you better watch what you wish for.”

Subtle, yet poignant.

Brady doesn’t need any extra motivation to get up for the postseason, but he’s the type of competitor that will use whatever’s there to get fired up.

6) For the last several years I would remind NFL fans on Twitter that teams simply can’t hire away assistant coaches that are under contract by other teams unless they get permission. I fired out my annual Tweet again this year after seeing several Chicago fans sharing their ideas of which assistant coaches the Bears should poach away to take Chuck Pagano’s job if he’s fired.

But then I was reminded about the rule change this year!

With so much stuff going on in 2020 this rule change completely slipped my mind.

Besides allowing assistant coaches to leave for coordinator positions, this new rule also allows scouts and player personnel employees to leave for assistant general manager jobs with other teams.

7) There are currently six team looking for a new head coach, Jets, Jags, Falcons, Lions, Texans, and Chargers, and each team offers something a little different at the quarterback spot. The Jags and Jets are picking 1-2 in the NFL draft with means the top 2 QBs in college football are there for them. The Falcons and Lions have good, but aging, veterans in place which gives them plenty of options come draft time. And the Texans and Chargers have two of the best young QBs playing right now which takes the stress of figuring out if you have “The Man” off the table for those franchises.

If I was a prospective coach being courted by these teams, I’m heading to L.A. to work with Justin Herbert.

8) There are several NFL analysts thinking the Dolphins could move on from quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

I think there’s a good possibility that both Ohio State’s Justin Fields and BYU’s Zach Wilson end up better players than Tua, but is the difference going to be so high where it makes sense to move on from the 5th overall pick from last year?

While he had some rookie moments in 2020, he was still a rookie. I think the Dolphins best bet would be to trade their 3rd overall pick to a QB hungry team and use the draft capital to build around Tua.

9) Even if Patrick Mahomes would have played in the Chiefs week 17 game, I still would have picked Aaron Rodgers as the 2020 MVP.

It’s disgusting just how good he was this year.

He led the league in completion percentage (70.7), TD passes (48), TD% (9.1), passer rating (121.5), the ESPN created QBR (84.4), and he had the lowest interception percentage this year (1.0).

At 37-years old he’s playing some of the best football of his life, and he owes some of his success to head coach Matt LaFleur.

That offense has taken a huge step forward after last season.

10) I found this stat dug up by John Breech interesting.

Since 2000, there have been a total of five teams that went into the playoffs with an 8-8 record and those five teams combined to go 4-1 in the opening round.

Breech is also picking the Bears to beat the Saints this Sunday.

10a) Yesterday on Twitter, I referenced the record of the Packer QBs against the Bears since Brett Favre took over in 1992. I looked it up as I was doing some research for my snap counts article and it’s ugly.

Someone asked me about the Bears’ quarterbacks during the same time, so I looked that up too. While the Packers have only started 7 QBs since 1992, Don Majkowski, Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn, Scott Tolzien, Seneca Wallace, and Brett Hundley, the Bears have started 33.

  1. Jim Harbaugh
  2. Peter Tom Willis
  3. Will Furrer
  4. Steve Walsh
  5. Erik Kramer
  6. Dave Krieg
  7. Rick Mirer
  8. Steve Stenstrom
  9. Moses Moreno
  10. Shane Matthews
  11. Cade McNown
  12. Jim Miller
  13. Chris Chandler
  14. Henry Burris
  15. Kordell Stewart
  16. Rex Grossman
  17. Chad Hutchinson
  18. Craig Krenzel
  19. Jonathan Quinn
  20. Kyle Orton
  21. Brain Griese
  22. Jay Cutler
  23. Todd Collins
  24. Caleb Hanie
  25. Josh McCown
  26. Jason Campbell
  27. Jimmy Clausen
  28. Matt Barkley
  29. Brian Hoyer
  30. Mitchell Trubisky
  31. Mike Glennon
  32. Chase Daniel
  33. Nick Foles