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Ten Thoughts on the NFL

Minshew on the move, running back injuries, don’t forget about the Patriots, and more in this week’s 10 Thoughts on the NFL

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Cincinnati Bengals
The new Joe Cool
Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

1 – The Jag with Swag now a Fly Eagle

The Jaguars sent backup quarterback Gardner Minshew to the Eagles for a conditional 6th round pick. If the mustachioed Minshew plays the majority of snaps in three games, that pick improves to a 5th rounder. In other words, the Jags couldn’t find another trade partner like Ryan Pace to get anything of significant value out of a quarterback they didn’t want on the roster anymore. Pity.

Minshew might not ever earn a monster NFL contract, but someone needs to take the reigns from Ryan Fitzpatrick as the most interesting journeyman QB in the league. There’s plenty of money to be made living on that fringe starter/ top backup option that teams talk themselves into each off season. Minshew can absolutely live in that space.

2 – Running Back Infirmary

Yet another starting running back won’t see the field this year as J.K. Dobbins tore his ACL in the preseason finale. Dobbins looked primed for a breakout campaign after gaining over 800 yards on 6.0 yards per carry as a rookie. The lead back role will fall to Gus “The Bus” Edwards for Baltimore, a serviceable back that lacks the dynamism of Dobbins.

Dobbins joins Cam Akers of the Rams and Travis Etienne of the Jaguars as young runners lost for the season. While the Jags still have James Robinson, the Rams went out and acquired Sony Michel from the Patriots to try and replace the explosive Akers. It remains to be seen what the backfield split looks like between Michel and Darrell Henderson, but I’d imagine both will get significant snaps.

3 – Next Man Lawson Up

The Jets lost Carl Lawson for the season after a ruptured Achilles tendon. Not wanting the nameplate to go to waste, the Jets acquired Shaq Lawson from the Texans for a 6th round pick. Lawson ends his sentence time in Houston playing… zero games as he was just traded to the Texans earlier this off season from the Dolphins. Drafted by the Bills in 2016, Lawson is now just a Patriots jersey away from earning a BINGO in the AFC East.

4 – The Kids are Alright

The five first round rookie quarterbacks all finished their first preseason with good marks. History tells us that all five probably won’t all be good and that at least one or two will fall short of expectations. I trust the talent of Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields to survive their individual circumstances while the environments around Mac Jones and Trey Lance should keep them safe and productive. I’ll stand by my stance that Zach Wilson is the most at risk for falling short of expectations.

5 – Cut Down Day

The best football player from my high school during my time there was a senior when I was a freshman. He got a full ride to Iowa State and started three years for the Cyclones. He went undrafted and signed as a UDFA, played one preseason, and got cut. He bought a shiny new truck with the money and that was the end of his career. Hundreds of guys who were the best players from their high school will share the same fate today. Congratulations on being in the upper 0.02% of your sport but we were looking for the top 0.01%.

Tough business.

6 – Famous Jameis

The Saints named Jameis Winston their starting quarterback this week, ending the ridiculous notion that Taysom Hill would win the job. Color me intrigued with the Sean Payton - Jameis Winston pairing. Winston is a very different player than Drew Brees but there’s a reason he went #1 overall to the Bucs years ago. If Sean Payton can’t get the most out of him, it’s doubtful anyone could. The Saints still boast a quality roster with plenty of top notch talent so they could surprise some people.

7 – Captain Kirk? Really?

I’m surprised at the level of buzz around the Vikings right now. This is the same team we’ve seen for years now and it’s a squad constantly on the playoff bubble. Their offensive line has plenty of issues and their defense, while led by a great defensive mind, probably peaked years ago. I think they’re an average team once again this year and will continue to be as long as Kirk Cousins takes snaps. Unfortunately for Zimmer, I think the Vikings ownership moves on this year if they don’t make at least a little noise in the playoffs.

I saw unfortunately because despite wearing enemy colors, I like Zimmer. He’s the kind of no-nonsense defensive coach that Bears fans would love. It’s just a tough needle to thread building a winner in the modern NFL with good defense and solid offense.

8 – Are we Overlooking the Patriots?

I know I’ve been guilty of this. My, how quickly we forget the decades-long dominance of the Patriots after just one down year. They’ve rebuilt that defense and returned a fair number of quality players that opted out during the COVID year. Mac Jones looked good during the preseason and while their wide receiver room still lags in talent, they’ve got enough playmakers at TE and a good stable of running backs to be competitive on offense. I’ve inked the Bills for the division crown like most people – but I’m starting to hear that little voice in the back of my head say “don’t forget about Belichick, you idiot!”

9 – Stripes are in this Fall

I think the Bengals could be fun. I don’t think they’re ready to be good and win a lot of ball games but I think that the offense is going to be a lot of fun. Joe Burrow publicly struggled with his return from injury early in the preseason but has improved steadily over the summer. With Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins, and rookie Ja’Marr Chase, Burrow has weapons to move the ball against most defenses as he tries to come from behind each week because, well, his defense will likely still give up a lot of points. That can make for some fun football and the Bears will see them up close in Week 2.

10 – Justin Freaking Fields


Those are my thoughts – what are yours? Sound off in the comments and find me on Twitter @gridironborn.