Week 2 of the NFL season is in the books. Matt Drufke has questions. Fancy Boys Football experts Brandon Andreasen and Jack Baker have answers. Let’s mailbag.
Before we talk about what’s happening on the field, let’s talk about a more general issue: the NFL’s return during the COVID-19 pandemic was somewhat akin to MLB’s, except some football stadiums are allowing fans in to watch the game. However, where many MLB games had to be postponed (as, seemingly, three St. Louis Cardinals were responsible for half of the COVID cases in the midwest), the NFL has fared much better with no games impacted (and, seemingly, very few players infected). What is the NFL doing right in terms of the coronavirus?
Editors note: this question was done on Monday. On Tuesday morning, it was reported that multiple players and personnel for the Tennessee Titans had tested positive for Covid-19. Subsequently, the Vikings, who played the Titans on Sunday, are quarantining.
Brandon – Luck? To be honest, there was no real playbook to use to get this right. Every league has managed to insulate themselves. It could be as simple as this: players not wanting to let their teammates down. Locker rooms are a bit of a brotherhood. You never want to be the one that ruins things for everyone else.
Jack – The NFL had a lot more time to prepare than the other leagues. They had better tests available and were able to learn from what had worked and hadn’t worked from the MLB, NBA and other sports leagues around the world. But really it’s just mostly luck like Brandon said.
Ok, let’s talk Bears. The Bears were getting drubbed by the Falcons yesterday, and then head coach Matt Nagy seemingly heard the voice of Shakira and her hit banger “Try Everything” (from the underrated Disney gem Zootopia): “I wanna try everything, I wanna try even though I could fail”. So, he tried back-up QB Nick Foles, who went on to throw three touchdowns and helped Chicago come back and win the game. Here’s the simple question: Are the Bears better with Foles?
Brandon – Yes and no. At that moment, Foles was the man for the moment. In week one, Trubisky was the man for the moment. Let’s not forget that the Bears won because they are playing a team that became the first in NFL history to lose two games in a season when leading by 16 in the 4th quarter, and they did it in back to back weeks.
The Falcons are an absolute greek tragedy dating back to them blowing the Super Bowl. I was calling for Falcons coach Dan Quinn to be fired at this time last year. Now, he exists solely as an avant garde experiment in sports fan staring into the abyss.
Are the Bears better with Foles? Yes….this week.
Jack – A Bears team quarterbacked by Foles has a much higher floor than one led by Mitchell the titty kisser, but it also has a lower ceiling. Mitch wasn’t the Bears only problem in the first three quarters of the game. Yes, he missed a couple of wide open receivers, but the offensive line was also hot garbage after their first two drives. Also, you won’t see Foles breaking off any 45 yard runs any time soon.
I don’t really know what to make of this team. They’re 3-0, which is great, but their best receiver keeps giving the ball away, their best players on defense keep giving the opposition third down conversions with dumb penalties and their offensive line only blocks like half the time. Are they better with Nick Foles? Probably, but let’s also not get caught up too much in the moment. This is the guy who lost QB battles to Case Keenum, Gardner Minshew and Mitch Trubisky.
Let’s keep talking about the Bears, because you both were very high on their defense. Yet, three games in, they’re averaging over 20 points a game, and they haven’t been playing elite offenses. What’s going on with their defense and can they fix it before they start playing better teams?
Brandon – The Lions were expected to be a good offense and the Falcons out up 39 last week, but point taken. The Bears have depth issues in their front seven. Eddie Goldman opting out of the year hurts them. Bilal Nichols hasn’t taken the big step people were expecting. Danny Trevathian looks slow and washed up. They couldn’t afford to resign depth pieces like Nick Kwiakowski during the offseason and it shows.
That said, Akeim Hicks and Khalil Mack were great yesterday. If Robert Quinn can get healthy and be more of a presence on the field, this team could be 5-0 in a couple weeks. They are playing the two least mobile quarterbacks in the NFL the next two weeks in Philip Rivers and Tom Brady.
Jack – I’m not sure I agree with the premise of your question. The Bears defense has been pretty good. They’re currently 9th in points allowed and their two best pass rushers have been hurt so far. Also, the Falcons and the Lions are both really talented offenses.
The Bears biggest problems so far are mental mistakes and Danny Trevathan’s pass coverage. The Falcons scored two touchdowns on drives that were extended with penalties on third down. That can’t happen. The Lions and Falcons both exploited the weak spots over the middle of the Bears defense because Trevathan can’t run like he used to. But in crunch time in both games, Pagano switched to the time Dime look with Deon Bush taking Trevathan’s place and those holes closed up. It can’t work all game, but their fourth quarter defense has been really good.
Two teams whose fans had a lot of optimism for this year were the Buffalo Bills & the Los Angeles Rams. The Bills were hoping that a Brady-less AFC East would lead them to an easy divisional championship, while the Rams seemed to be building a very dangerous offense. Those two teams met in the wildest game of the week, where the Rams scored 29 unanswered points and still lost the game. Which team will get farther? And does either team have a chance of winning it all?
Brandon – Before the season started, I thought the Bills would make the AFC Championship game, and I’m not ready to fade that prediction. That team is very good.
The Rams are decent, but play in the toughest division in the NFL. Seattle is a Super Bowl contender. The 49ers keep winning with their entire team injured. The Cardinals lost on Sunday, but are still very dangerous on offense. The Rams have to survive their own division.
The Bills just have to sweat the Patriots.
Jack – Every couple years the Bills get off to a great start and pile up a few wins against inferior competition, before ultimately losing to the Patriots. Who can forget when Fitzmagic had them 5-0 and got a big contract to be their QB of the future? So let’s slow down the Josh Allen for MVP talk just a little bit.
The win against the Rams is a big deal, but also shouldn’t have happened. They got a pretty big gift from the refs at the end there.
I don’t think either team has a shot to win it all. The Bills have a great defense but they also almost gave that game away and Josh Allen still makes so many stupid mistakes. How in the hell did he get called for face masking yesterday? Has a QB ever gotten called for face masking on a play that ended with an incomplete pass before?
I was thinking a lot of three quarterbacks this week: the Falcons’ Matt Ryan, the Lions’ Matthew Stafford, and Philip Rivers, now throwing the ball for the Colts. To me, each of these veterans could be lumped in as a very good QB whose teams could never quite get a ring; in fact, only Ryan has played in a Super Bowl. Rank these quarterbacks for me and then answer me this: Just how good are they? Meaning, if you were running the NFL Hall Of Fame, would any of these three men have good enough careers to qualify?
Brandon – Rivers might make the Hall of Fame eventually based on longevity. Matt Ryan will be called a product of his system and not get in. Matt Stafford doesn’t deserve to get in.
Troy Aikman was a good comp for Stafford and he is in the Hall of Fame. You know why? Count the rings. The Hall of Fame is clout chasing. They care about the championships you win. Stafford hasn’t won anything. Not even a single playoff game.
Current ranking: Stafford, Ryan, Rivers. Rivera’s arm is shot. He looks like an old pitcher that just doesn’t have a fastball anymore. Ryan threw seven straight incompletions late in the game Sunday that could have helped them win. The moment gets too big for him. Stafford is the best of the three, but he plays for Detroit. The two greatest players on that team retired so they wouldn’t have to play for the Lions anymore.
Jack – Matthew Stafford is the best right now by far. That Super Bowl broke Matt Ryan and the Falcons. That INT he threw at the end of the Bears game was Trubiskyesque. Philip Rivers is good for like 15 Trubiskyesque INTs a season now as well
Matty Ice has an MVP, but unless he wins a Super Bowl, he’s got no shot at the hall of fame. Rivers has had a phenomenal career and if Eli Manning hadn’t forced his way out of San Diego on draft night, he’d certainly be headed to the Hall of Fame on the strength of two Super Bowl victories with the Giants. He may get in anyways, but it will be close. Stafford has put up some phenomenal numbers and isn’t too old. He’s got an outside shot at the career passing yards record if things go his way, so I’ll give his HOF chances a firm maybe.
In the NFL, who is the most elegant player? Who is the most athletic? Who is the biggest crybaby? Who is the most terrifying? And who has the most red hair? In other words… who would say would be the Posh, Sporty, Baby, Scary and Ginger of the NFL?
Brandon-Andy Dalton is ginger. I’ll knock out the easy one first. Kyler Murray is Sporty because he was also a first round pick in baseball. Posh Spice is John Wall who is a basketball player and nobody is reading this anyway. The other two are Jim Belushi.
Jack – Tom Brady is Posh Spice. The biggest crybaby is also Tom Brady. He played baseball, so I’m going with Tom Brady as Sporty Spice as well. He’s not a ginger, but he could be, so Tom Brady for Ginger spice and Scary as well. These questions get worse and worse every time.