Seventy-two hours to start …
• Texans coach David Culley didn’t exactly surprise anyone by making the proclamation he made Monday, naming Tyrod Taylor as his starting quarterback for Sunday’s opener against the Jags. And it’s fair to assume that if Deshaun Watson isn’t the starter (and, again, no one thought he’d be based out of camp), he won’t be the backup, either, and Davis Mills is likely to be dressed up as No. 2 and Watson likely inactive. Which means we’re now entering the next phase of this never-ending saga, and that’s the part where the team has real games to prepare for and a real starting quarterback to prepare for them. Is the presence of Watson a problem? Well, it is unprecedented. In 2015, during the preseason, Washington coach Jay Gruden and general manager Scot McCloughan removed the plug from Robert Griffin III as the team’s starter and headed to Kirk Cousins, a decision that, over the previous months, had turned more and more obvious. The problem was, Washington had guaranteed Griffin’s salary for that drop and had exercised a $ 16.2 million guaranteed injury option for 2016, which Washington could only avoid paying if Griffin made it through the year healthy. So Gruden named Colt McCoy his backup and Griffin an inactive weekly game day. And while the circumstance wasn’t exactly ideal, Cousins ended up thriving and that Washington team won the NFC East. So how did they make it work (remember, Griffin was a star in DC early in his career)? I asked a couple of guys who were there, and what they told me was that Griffin was smart enough to realize that the best thing for his future would be to leave the people there with the best possible impression of him. There was also a mutual interest in Griffin staying healthy, and a strong young coordinator named Sean McVay was there to help overcome the discomfort. So could Nick Caserio and David Culley make the Watson situation work similarly? There are a couple of key differences. One, Watson has a huge long-term contract. Two, where both parties to the Washington situation knew the year would end with Griffin’s release, it will likely come to an end, at some point, with a trade. Three, Griffin’s relationship with the team owner in Washington was much better than Watson’s relationship with the owner in Houston. And four, and the most outstanding thing, is the legal situation linked to it. So I don’t know how strange all of this will be to Texans and to Watson. But we are about to find out.
• You’ll see my award picks on the site in a couple of days, but for now, I thought I’d share something I discovered that I found fascinating, which relates to the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. On just nine occasions since 1971 (all of them happened in the last 17 seasons), quarterbacks have earned that honor. And in a staggering six of those cases, the team that quarterback was in the league’s Top 4 in rushing offense. A seventh of those teams ranked 10th, with the two outliers being Sam Bradford and the 2010 Rams (25th) and Justin Herbert and last year’s Chargers (18th), both teams finishing 7-9 and out of the charts. playoffs. So what can we get out of this? Most of the time, the path to early success for a rookie quarterback’s careers is one of least resistance. If a team runs the ball well and plays good defense, the quarterback will play less from behind and farther away from manageable distance. So you want to know how Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Justin Fields, and Mac Jones will fare in their first year? Guys like James Robinson, Michael Carter, Raheem Mostert, David Montgomery and Damien Harris will be participating.
• It is difficult to see the situations of TJ Watt and Stephon Gilmore, who have established themselves as virtual obstacles, and not think that things never had to come to this. In Watt’s case, the Steelers have had two years to find common ground with a player who garnered 10 Defensive Player of the Year votes in 2019. At the time, Pittsburgh knew it would be a huge blow to bring Watt to the end of the classification. first round in 2017 and yet the Steelers waited and let Watt gather more leverage and more inflation to take hold, and all because of an internal rule that they do not make new deals (except for the quarterback) for players with two Years of its existence remain. So now, it will be expensive, and Watt is not in a position to be in his prime, with the team holding him back at camp. And in Gilmore’s case, the Patriots and everyone else involved knew that Gilmore wasn’t going to play this year for $ 7 million from the moment they moved $ 4 million into his contract from 2021 to 2020 last September. And yet they spent $ 160 million in guaranteed money, and they didn’t address that, putting Gilmore in a position where he had to protect himself by coming back from a torn quadriceps. That, of course, led the team to keep him in PUP, which leaves him out for at least six weeks and probably longer (which means he won’t really play all of 2021 for $ 7 million). For me, both cases were viable. And they can often come down to a simple question: do you want to win the deal or do you want the player? I’m not crazy about how these teams responded, who hope to compete in 2021 (which makes it worse).
• While we have contracts, Dallas Goedert, who mentioned his own contract situation Monday, highlights the interesting place the Eagles find themselves as a tight end. Both Goedert and Zach Ertz put together outstanding boot camps, and both boys are heading into contract years. And on paper, you’d think it would be relatively easy to decide to pay off the younger Goedert and let Ertz go. The thing is, Ertz is only four years older than Goedert, and the production level of the two is nowhere near (Ertz has posted five seasons of 74 receptions or more, Goedert never had one over 58). Add to that the rising cost of tight ends, and that guys like Travis Kelce and Rob Gronkowski have now hit 30 (and Jimmy Graham has played forever), and you can see where things aren’t as easy as some were. . months ago when Ertz wanted out and there was real concern for his future after a very depressed 2020.
• It’s hard to see a couple of really good Big Ten players and potential pros – Michigan WR Ronnie Bell and Minnesota RB Mohamed Ibrahim – go down during the year over the weekend. The news appears to be better for potential Oregon No. 1 pick / edge running back Kayvon Thibodeaux, who was in a walking boot after hurting his ankle against Fresno State. Ducks coach Mario Cristobal said Thibodeaux is improving and called it “day to day.”
• While Adam Shaheen’s absence received the most attention (due to his well-established views on the vaccine), the Dolphins should be more concerned about the possibility that they end up without LT Austin Jackson (who also landed on the COVID roster). -19) for the first game in New England. The Patriots’ passing race, with newcomer Matthew Judon on board, should be fierce, and Jackson’s situation from here on is unpredictable. Remember, there have been cases throughout the NFL where asymptomatic and vaccinated personnel tested positive and then proved nearly impossible to test negative, forcing them to wait 10 days to return to work. If Jackson has to wait 10 days, he will lose the game in Foxboro. (And obviously, the Cowboys’ problems before Thursday are further proof that these problems are not going away for teams.)
• Tanner Muse’s launch in Las Vegas has only shed light on Jon Gruden’s draft record (which wasn’t great in Tampa either) and, in particular, how quickly hope for his class of 2020 seems to be running out. That group retained the back half of the return of the Khalil Mack deal, and was supplied with seven picks in the first four rounds. Muse and her third-round partner Lynn Bowden have already left. First-round player Damon Arnette has yet to achieve a major role on defense. And fourth round John Simpson and Amik Robertson are backups. That leaves two receivers, first-round Henry Ruggs and third-round Bryan Edwards, and those two combined for 37 receptions last year. Now, I think Edwards has a chance to be really good, and Ruggs might as well put it all together soon. But overall, given how stocked the war chest was, the results haven’t been good enough so far. And it’s hard for me to allow Mike Mayock to be the scapegoat here, when Gruden has clearly been the guy from the moment he returned to the team.
• The Colts’ activation of Eric Fisher from PUP is a very good sign. Basically, it means they think he’ll be back for Week 6, and probably before that (otherwise it wouldn’t be worth burning the spot on the roster), as leaving him on the roster would put him out of the game for the first six games. it’s from the season. Get Fisher in September? Well, that would be a clear win for general manager Chris Ballard, given the difficult situation the team faced with the retirement of Anthony Castonzo in January. And if Indy has Carson Wentz back this week on top of that, we reported on this morning’s MMQB that he’s ready to play on Sunday, it would be fair to say that Indy got through a really bumpy month in pretty decent form.
• Just because it happened too late to be included in the MMQB, a big chunk of money for Florida State QB McKenzie Milton. What an amazing, amazing story.
• And expose something that was at the MMQB, I asked Lamar Jackson about his contract the other day. He had given me what I would consider a very Lamar answer. “My job is to play soccer and win games,” he said. “Without doing things in that order, you won’t have that money on your mind. That is why I feel comfortable with my situation. Just being focused on the task at hand, trying to win matches, trying to improve as a player, that’s the first thing. And that’s how I get distracted. “And as for when you get paid, is there someone I want to take care of?” Whoever God wants me to help, “he said.” I don’t really have things on my mind, trying to help certain people. “It’s whoever God sends my way, whoever is in my heart to help, I will. But other than that, there’s really no one. My immediate family, anyway.” I’ll say this about Jackson, and it’s something that echoes what John Harbaugh said in this morning’s column: the guy is very consistently himself. And I think, in situations like these, it’s a great quality to have.
More NFL coverage:
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• MMQB: Lamar talks about the work he’s doing to keep the NFL from catching up
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.