WHAT WE LEARNED: NFL WEEK ONE PART 2
BY ADAM GREENE
We’ve already touched on the Los Angeles Rams and Home Field Advantage, now let’s talk about the elephant in the room….
TOM BRADY DIDN’T LOOK SO TERRIFIC… AND NEITHER DID DREW BREES
It was the marquee match up of the weekend for good reason. Two first ballot Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterbacks were meeting in Week One of the NFL season on two loaded teams expected to make the postseason.
And that happened. They did play. And neither of those guys looked particularly good doing it.
Tom Brady’s final line for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was 23 of 36 for 239 yards, two touchdowns and two picks, one returned for a touchdown.
Drew Brees finished 18 of 30 for 150 yards and two touchdowns.
This is not what any of us hoped to see. Brady is 43. Brees is 41. Both guys looked their age Sunday afternoon and, for the Bucs and Saints, that’s not good. Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians was legitimately shocked at how his quarterback struggled, as he basically picked up right where Jameis Winston left off last season tossing interceptions. In 2016, Brady tossed just two interceptions all year.
We’ve spoken about the QB cliff before, how a guy can be rolling along fine and then careen off it seemingly overnight. It happened to Peyton Manning, Brett Favre and plenty of guys I could list here. The only way to avoid it is to retire before you reach the edge, either willingly (like Joe Montana and Kurt Warner) or by injury (Troy Aikman and Steve Young). Could both these guys be Thelma and Louise-ing into the chasm at the same time? If so, we’re looking at a very different NFL than we expected to see a week ago.
TANKING IS TOUGH
Last year, the Miami Dolphins spent the offseason and early season unloading star players to acquire future draft capital and ensure they would land the top pick in the 2020 NFL draft to snag quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. While they were successful in nabbing their quarterback in the annual amateur player selection meeting, it was only because he got jumped in the rankings by eventual No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow out of LSU. The Dolphins were unsuccessful in their tanking attempt because they seemingly hired a good coach and still fielded a team of professional players. They ended up winning five games and were slotted in at the No. 5 overall pick.
This year, their fellow Florida squad, the Jacksonville Jaguars, opened with the same plan. They were obviously “Tanking for Trevor,” specifically Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the likely No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 draft unless he gets jumped by another QB.
The Jags have the same problem. They too have a good coach; Doug Marrone, and even though their roster is weak, they have professional caliber players on it. Worse, they might actually already have an NFL caliber quarterback under center, second-year man Gardner Minshew who carved up the Indianapolis Colts with a 19 for 20 passing performance for 173 yards and three touchdowns. That’s good for a 142.3 quarterback rating. He was one incompletion away from a perfect game.
Not only could Jacksonville be incapable of “Tanking for Trevor,” they may not even need a quarterback in next year’s draft.