WHAT WE LEARNED: NFL WEEK 13

BY ADAM GREENE

We’ve got five weeks of regular season NFL football left. Here’s what we’re looking at after Week 13.

IT’S A ROUGH YEAR TO BE A QUARTERBACK

It’s not been the best year to be a star quarterback. With Trevor Lawrence hitting the turf and likely missing time with a high ankle sprain, the list of QBs that have missed games, if not been knocked out for the season, grows one name longer.

Here’s where we are right now;

Aaron Rodgers, New York Jets, Out for the year

Daniel Jones, New York Giants, Out for the year

Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings, Out for the year

Anthony Richardson, Indianapolis Colts, Out for the year

Deshaun Watson, Cleveland Browns, Out for the year

Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals, Out for the year

Here are guys that are going to miss some time, maybe multiple weeks;

Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh Steelers, Out 2-4 weeks

Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars, Out at least a week, probably

Derek Carr, Out at least a week

And here are guys that all missed time with injuries in 2023;

Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans

Jimmy Garoppolo, Las Vegas Raiders

Justin Fields, Chicago Bears

Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams

Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals

Dorian Thompson-Robinson, Cleveland Browns

Bryce Young, Carolina Panthers

It’s quite the list and the poor Browns have lost not one, but two guys. Thompson-Robinson might not be ready to go this week either. Tannehill and Garoppolo got replaced for good as starters. The only guy on this list you couldn’t point at for this year is Murray, who opened the year hurt, recovering from a torn ACL suffered late last season.

But, when you look at those lists, that’s 15 teams represented. Nearly half the league. It shows how important the backup quarterback position is and should continue to be in the future. And, luckily enough, there are a solid crop of QBs coming up in the draft, and guys still out as free agents, that could fit that bill. Late season signings like Joe Flacco and Carson Wentz have already boosted contenders (the Browns and Rams).

When you factor in guys like Mac Jones and Desmond Ridder getting benched, that’s more than half the league that’s fielding a QB they didn’t plan on starting back in August.

So, who’s available now if anything else hits the fan?

As far as realistic options for teams that actually want to win, you’ve got Colt McCoy, Nick Foles, Matt Barkley (who the Giants just cut) and Ben DiNucci (on the Denver Broncos practice squad), who played good ball in the XFL over the summer. That’s it.

NO COACHES FIRED THIS WEEK?

For the first time in more than a month we didn’t see a head coach, offensive coordinator or defensive coordinator hitting the bricks. We have two head coaching openings already and could end up with as many as 10 by season’s end. Certainly Ron Rivera (Washington Commanders), Brandon Staley (Las Angeles Chargers) and Chicago Bears (Matt Eberflus) are all dead men walking. The coaches of the two remaining NFC South teams that get left out of the playoffs, right now Todd Bowles (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and Dennis Allen (New Orleans Saints) are also heading to the guillotine. That’s seven right there and when you plug in a possible Bill Belichick retirement, that pushes it to eight.

So who are we looking at replacing all these guys?

Jim Harbaugh could very well bolt from Michigan after getting hit with a suspension from the Big Ten this season. Especially if the Wolverines win the national title. Lincoln Riley is a name that comes up every offseason and this could finally be the year he jumps to the NFL — specifically with the Bears who could be selecting his QB, Caleb Williams, at No. 1 overall.

As for the current coordinators? Ben Johnson, OC for the Detroit Lions, Ben Slowik, OC for the Houston Texans and Brian Johnson, OC for the Philadelphia Eagles are all going to land jobs if they want them.

The defensive coordinators are a tougher sell. Though Dan Quinn of the Dallas Cowboys and Raheem Morris of the Los Angeles Rams will get looks.

Guys you might not expect to get into the mix? Look at the Los Angeles Chargers’ Kellen Moore or Rams OC Mike LaFleur. The Carolina Panthers will have to reach to hire somebody because none of the top candidates are taking that job.

IF THE PLAYOFFS STARTED TODAY

It’s time to have some fun. Here’s where we sit heading into Week 14.

AFC

1. Miami Dolphins 9-3

2. Baltimore Ravens 9-3

3. Kansas City Chiefs 8-4

4. Jacksonville Jaguars 8-4

5. Pittsburgh Steelers 7-5

6. Cleveland Browns 7-5

7. Indianapolis Colts 7-5

In the mix: Houston Texans (7-5), Buffalo Bills (6-6), Denver Broncos (6-6), Cincinnati Bengals (6-6), Los Angeles Chargers (5-7), Las Vegas Raiders (5-7)

Now, you’ll notice the conspicuous absence of the two eight-loss teams and the reason they are not listed is because neither the Jets (4-8) or Titans (4-8) are making the playoffs. In fact, they shouldn’t want to make the postseason. They need draft capital and New York needs to draft an offensive lineman, preferably a tackle. Tennessee needs one of pretty much everything.

I have to include the Chargers and Raiders, but let’s be realistic. Neither of those teams are sneaking in here. Injuries to QBs, as we’ve already discussed, could knock the three teams currently holding the Wild Card spots all out of it. Frankly, I feel as if our playoff field would be a lot more fun if we replaced those three with the Bills, Broncos and Texans.

NFC

1. Philadelphia Eagles 10-2

2. San Francisco 49ers 9-3

3. Detroit Lions 9-3

4. Atlanta Falcons 6-6

5. Dallas Cowboys 9-3

6. Minnesota Vikings 6-6

7. Green Bay Packers 6-6

In the mix: Los Angeles Rams (6-6), Seattle Seahawks (6-6), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-7), New Orleans Saints (5-7)

Again, we’re knocking out the eight-loss teams like the Chicago Bears (4-8) and New York Giants (4-8) because they’re not making the playoffs. The Bears are probably about to fire every coach and all their front office personnel.

The Bucs and Saints are mostly alive, thanks to my old enemy math, and the fact that some crap team has to win the NFC South. They’re both just a game back.

The Rams and Seahawks are on starkly different trajectories.  LA has won three straight and the Seahawks have lost three straight. Worse than that, I don’t see a win on Seattle’s schedule until Week 16 and that game is at the Titans. This week the Seahawks are playing at the 49ers, who will obliterate them, then they’re playing at the Eagles next week. That’s a loss you can see from space.

Follow Adam Greene on Twitter @TheFirstMan.

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