40 thoughts on “2020-2021 NFL: Week 1

  1. Sun
    Jets-Bills
    Packers-Vikings
    Eagles-Washington
    Browns-Ravens
    Colts-Jaguars
    Raiders-Panthers
    Bears-Lions
    Seahawks-Falcons
    Dolphins-Patriots
    Chargers-Bengals
    Cardinals-49ers
    Bucs-Saints
    Cowboys-Rams

    Mon
    Steelers-Giants
    Titans-Broncos

  2. What stands out to me is that I don’t have a good feel for a lot of the teams. So this first week will be the first step gaining information about the teams. Then again, I usually take a very circumspect view of my judgments after week 1 (the first four weeks, actually)–and I should feel even stronger about that this year.

    The games I’m most interested in, besides the Raiders and Seahawks: Browns-Ravens; Packers-Vikings; Cardinals-49ers; Bucs-Saints; Cowboys-Rams; Steelers-Giants.

    Here’s some comments about games that may not seem so interesting:

    Cardinals–I just want to see what Murray and their offense looks like in year 2. Also, I want to get a sense about their defense

    Rams: I’m interested in the quality of their OL, and defense. I’m also interested in seeing if McVay has tweaked the offense

    Cowboys: I want to see if their run or pass oriented and the quality of their defense

    Giants: I’m interested in seeing their OL and their new offense, and the quality of their defense, overall.

    Browns: I just want to see if they play well. I’m also interested to see if Stefanski has installed the Shanahan-Kubiak ZBS, and how well he’s done that.

    For the more highly ranked teams:

    Ravens: Will they be able to run as effectively as last year? Has Lamar developed? Has the defense improved?

    Packers: Are they executing a run-first offense–or one that looks like McVay’s? Or does it look like the old Packer offense? How good is their defense?

    Vikings: How good is their OL? How good is their defense, especially the secondary

    Niners: Their OL; has Jimmy G improved; Is their defense dominant?

    Bucs: OL; How does Brady look? How good is the defense?

    Saints: Have they regressed? Are they still balanced? How’s their OL?

  3. Texans-Chiefs

    They seem like similar teams in terms of offensive style, although Chiefs utilize more misdirection, with WRs involved in the run game, and have more speed, I think. Their defenses seem they’re similar in terms of quality. But the Chiefs are just better.

    I liked the Chiefs ball control. I wouldn’t call them a dink-and-dunk team, but they will utilize runs and shorter passing game to move the chains. They ran the ball well fairly well.

    The Texans ran decently, but their passing game–specifically, their pass-catchers seemed contained all night.

    If the Chiefs can continue to control the ball, they will be tough. If they do this, they will score points, and can get a big enough lead, allowing their defense to tee off on the QB–and the Chiefs defense looks like this is something they can do fairly well (at least in pass-predictable situations).

    1. Yeah the Chiefs seem to play a style Reid liked. They had one big play all game and it was called back because the guy dropped the ball in the end zone. Speaking of which, that’s was a bogus call. The guy seem to have the ball a while before the defender stripped it away, and only after the receiver seem to bring the ball up. But no one complained.

      Reid talks about the Seattle o-line, but this Texan o-line was getting killed. It got ridiculous at points. Yes the Chiefs’ d-line may have been teeing off based on the score, but is that d-line that good? It was hard to tell how Watson was playing based on his protection, but he wasn’t great for sure.

      It was a pretty well played game overall. There were not a lot of penalties, not a lot of egregious miss tackles and not a lot of miscommunications between QB and WR. Maybe the importance of preseason is overrated.

  4. Seahawks-Falcons

    Story of the game: 4th downs. The Falcons were 0-4 (I think). One of them was a fake punt. They actually would have had the first down, but they fumbled, and the Seahawks recovered.

    I believe Seahawks was 1-1.

    The Seahawk OL was OK, or at least not terrible, which was a good thing! The Seahawks DL looked about the same as last year, maybe a tad better.

    One bad thing. Seahawks allowed the Falcons to move down the field way too quickly when they had a lead. They had this problem last year as well. Early in the game, they allowed huge rushing lanes as well, but they cleaned that up.

    Raiders-Panthers

    I love Josh Jacobs. He’s not a necessarily might type of back in the sense of being a hammer. But he’s strong runner, clever in reading defenses, lanes, and having deceptive moves. I’m not saying anything that people don’t know, but I’m just expressing enthusiasm for him.

    McCaffery seemed unstoppable at times. The Panthers got away from him, which I thought was a big mistake, and maybe cost them the game.

    The Raiders D looks about the same, which is sad. Same with Carr.

    Bridgewater does not look good. He has accuracy issues as well.

    1. Side note for the Seahawks, specifically Jamal Adams.

      He’s an interesting safety. In a way, he’s more like a linebacker/edge-rusher–or at least that’s what stands out. The Seahawks, who haven’t been a blitzing team, sent Adams in 11 times! The style might be similar to Polamalu, but it’s like Adams is on the LOS, more than floating in the secondary and dive-bombing his way in. It’s not like he’s not good in coverage, too, but that’s not where the highlights occur. He had a definite impact, though.

      Clips of Jamal Adams in week 1:

      His speed stands out. To me, he’s like a bigger Earl Thomas–one that can play on the LOS. He’s big and physical enough where I’ve seen him nail O-linemen. If his pass rush instincts are that good, I wonder if they’d consider putting him on the punt team to block punts.

  5. Browns-Ravens

    The Browns looked like the Browns, for the most part.

    The Ravens secondary looked good.

    Cardinals-49ers

    49er passing game struggled in this one.

    Kyler had some nice runs.

  6. Buccaneers-Saints

    The notion that the Bucs would be a contender was partly contingent on the fact that he wouldn’t turn over the ball as much as Winston. He turned in over twice today.

    Both defenses looked good.

    One thing that stood out. The number of plays that the Bucs run, especially the change-up type plays–e.g., screens, jet sweeps, trick plays, etc.–is very limited, especially compared to NE. The offense looks very vanilla in this regard. If this is going to work the Bucs will have to run better in my opinion.

  7. Fins-Pats:
    I thought both teams were pretty even overall. Maybe the Pats defense is a little better, but I wouldn’t say by a wide margin, because their d-line gets almost no pressure rushing four. The Pats won because Cam was the best offensive player on the field and maybe coaching. I think the Pats have a chance to be good, but like Reid’s criticism of Lamar and Ravens, I doubt the Pats have enough to make plays passing the ball. Their receiving corp seem pretty abysmal.

    Buc-Saints:
    The turnovers were big, but really the Saints defense controlled the line of scrimmage. That made it tough for the Bucs. Add to that Evans was injured and didn’t do anything, maybe he shouldn’t have played. The Bucs two LBs, White and David remind me of Wagner and Wright. They are sure handed tacklers that make plays.

    Cowboys-Rams:
    The Cowboys’ o-line was in pretty bad shape and it really cost them in this game. Oh and the Rams o-line controlled the line of scrimmage when they had the ball as well. So basically the line of scrimmage was won by the winning team. Dallas might have more talent everywhere else on the field, but at least in this one it wasn’t enough.

    1. Maybe the Pats defense is a little better, but I wouldn’t say by a wide margin, because their d-line gets almost no pressure rushing four.

      Yeah, the Pats front four isn’t that good. They don’t really have anyone (which was true last year, too–and I don’t really think Kyle Van Noy is great.) But I would hesitate to conclude the defenses were similar. The Dolphins were gashed on the ground.

      The Pats won because Cam was the best offensive player on the field and maybe coaching.

      I forgot to mention something. Watching the game, I got the sense Belichick believes his OL is the star of the team–maybe especially run-blocking–so he’s going to build his team around that. Even that that 5′ 6″ RB started getting it going.

      But the coaching is huge, too. To me, the contrast between the Patriots plays and play calling versus the Buccaneers really stood out. The Patriots not only have a variety of plays, including plays to keep people honest, but they have always been great at calling them at the right time.

      This is not to take away from Cam. But I think the OL, run game, and coaching was key.

      And, yeah, the pass-catchers on the Pats seem limited.

      The turnovers were big, but really the Saints defense controlled the line of scrimmage. That made it tough for the Bucs. Add to that Evans was injured.

      True, but you don’t think the play calling was too limited? I know I recently said good things about Arians, but I’m having doubts. Maybe if their OL/run game was better. Or maybe Evans injury really was decisive. That’s believable.

      Part of this has to do with the Saints front seven controlling the trenches, as you mentioned.

      The Cowboys’ o-line was in pretty bad shape and it really cost them in this game.

      They weren’t great, especially compared to previous iterations, if they have to be significantly better for the Cowboys to have a lot of success, I don’t think that’s a great sign–especially for Prescott.

      What stood out more to me was just the play calling and the offense overall. And it’s not just that they are doing a more pass-first style. The Chiefs are pass first, but they had a nice balance attack on Thursday. Maybe that’s not fair, but I only say that to show that it’s not just the shotgun/pass first style that I object to.

      I also feel like Elliot is being wasted. If they’re going to play like this, I don’t think he’s worth the money. They’d be better off getting a cheaper back and using it for other positions.

      1. Man we must have been watching different games. I didn’t think Miami was getting gashed on the ground. For the most part New England couldn’t do much offensively. New England did have a couple nice drives in the second half, but most of that work was done by Cam. The running backs for New England had some nice runs, but overall they were stifled. Yeah the rookie seem pretty productive, so maybe we will see more of him, and James White was okay as a surprise runner. And I think Burkhead had a nice run, but overall I wouldn’t say New England was running the ball well outside of Cam.

        Do you think Dallas looked different from last year? I know you didn’t like Dallas’ offense last year, but I thought the offense looked very similar to last year’s at least in this first game.

    2. Shoot, you’re making me wonder if I’m remembering the game wrong. So I went to check the stats. Total stats can be really misleading, but they ran the ball 42 times for 217 yards. Cam had 75 yards, which is quite a bit, but that’s still 152 yards for the other RBs. These stats match up with my impression.

      I do think they didn’t seem impressive, in that they didn’t have huge runs, or put up points, but they moved the ball on the ground quite steadily, I thought. I’ll put it this way: If the Patriots run like this against the Seahawks, I’ll be really unhappy (even if the Hawks win).

      Do you think Dallas looked different from last year? I know you didn’t like Dallas’ offense last year, but I thought the offense looked very similar to last year’s at least in this first game.

      Yes, it looked very similar–which is not a good thing, in my view. I thought they were shifting the offense, building it around Dak. And it looks like they’re continuing that.

      You mentioned that the OL was having trouble. The one thing that frustrated me (I was cheering for them) was that they didn’t run the ball more to help open up the passing game. How often did they play action? It didn’t seem like a lot.

      On a side note, Seahawks are wondering if the Seahawks are adjusting their style of play (Russ threw 35 times). To me, it’s one game, and I look at the nature of their sets when they throw–they threw a lot from sets that they run the ball out of, and I want to say they used a lot of play action. If the Cowboys did that, I think that would be fine–as long as they would be willing to run a lot when that’s also appropriate as well.

      (If the Rams OL plays like this, they’ll likely be contenders. The sucky thing is that the Seahawks DL is a weakness, so the Rams OL will probably play well against them. Man, I wanted the Rams to lose badly. The NFC West will be tough.

      1. I felt like the Pats had a lot of 3 yard runs. I guess it could be worse, but the Pats offense was far from prolific. I think the game was 7-3 at the half with both defenses winning the first half. I believe New England scored on their opening drive of the 3rd and based on what Miami was doing in the first half, it seem like the game was over. Miami did score, but New England scored back. I didn’t get a feeling that the RBs for New England was doing a whole lot or getting a lot of first downs without Cam. I thought the Rams were doing a better job running the football, and it’s not like they were unbelievable either, but they seem to be getting like 4 yards on every run.

    3. My impression is that the Patriots gashed the Dolphins on the ground. What would prevent them from being prolific was an anemic passing game. For one thing, I think they only completed the ball 14 times on 19 attempts. Any penalties or negative plays could wreck their drive. I think the offense was like this last year as well. The main issue are the pass catchers. They might be the worst in the league.

  8. Bears-Lions

    Lions lost this game–or maybe it’s more accurate to say Stafford lost this (although the Lions defense is pretty horrid–they look the same as the last year. The Seahawks might actually have a better DL, which is saying something.)

    Granted, Swift dropped an easy game-winning TD, but Stafford forced a throw near the end of the game that ended in an INT. He also took a really bad sack in the second half.

    Oh, AP is a shell of himself, but it’s amazing how effective the “shell” can be. An AP at half his ability is still a good RB.

    Vikings-Packers

    The Vikings were without Danielle Hunter, but their defense did not look good, especially the run defense. Maybe they didn’t have enough pre-season to get their run fits down.

    The Vikings passing game struggled without Diggs.

    Packers locked solid–ran the ball quite a bit. Their defense looks OK, not great. (So far no defense looks great.)

    Bears don’t look that good either.

  9. Dolphins-Patriots

    Patriots run game was really good, including Cam. Their secondary (and the Ravens) looked like the best I’ve seen so far.

    Rams-Cowboys

    Rams OL looks good. They were getting a good push on running plays. The Rams screen game was deadly.

    I don’t like the Cowboys offense.

    Colts-Jaguars

    Rivers looked horrid–in terms of INTs, and in terms of just looking old.

    The Colts defense wasn’t that great in my view.

  10. Steelers-Giants

    I’m a believer in the run game, but even I thought the Giants stuck with it a bit long. The Giants OL looked overwhelmed especially run the ball. How many negative runs did they have? It seemed like a lot. The Giants RBs had no chance.

    The Steelers defense looked like the blitzburg of old. My sense is that going to a quick passing spread attack is the way to go. What’s weird is that when the Giants went to a spread, they seemed to opt for more long developing routes. I felt like they needed shorter passes.

    But the two turnovers by Jones was a big reason they lost.

    By the way, take away those turnovers and Jones looks promising. First, his arm seemed better than I remember. Second, he has poise.

  11. The thing to remember about the Patriots-Dolphins game is that Cam is with a new team and this was his first time playing with these guys. I agree the pass-catchers don’t look good, but I also think in a situation like this, the Patriots and Newton went with known qualities.

    The plays designed for Newton to run the ball generally worked very well. This is an encouragement, because it hints that he might physically be past worry. The plays where he ran on his own, that’s partially Cam relying on the one player he knows he can rely on. Hopefully this will change as he gets to know his guys.

    I’m wondering if this could also mean a regular running back in a few weeks, the guy who Cam feels he works best with. Or maybe it doesn’t matter to him.

    The Dolphins pass coverage looked good but I don’t know if that’s good DBs or bad receivers.

    I enjoyed the Cowboys-Rams game, mostly because I kinda like watching the Rams and I’m super interested in how Dallas does with all that talent in skill positions.

    People seem down on Goff lately, but the guy still drills some Rodgers-like passes, and he’s still got a nice stable of receivers. I would not be surprised if one of them (I’m guessing Woods) has a Michael-Thompson-like season.

    I like McVay, Goff, Woods, and Kupp — I don’t know how to feel about my gradually growing fondness for watching this team play.

    On Ezekiel Elliott’s TD reception on the right sideline, I thought most RBs would have stepped out at about the 7. There were six defenders between the runner and the end zone, but Elliott cut in and mostly blew past them. He gets yards where other backs don’t, and for a Game 1, I think Cowboys fans should be encouraged, despite that OL looking a little porous.

    1. I agree the pass-catchers don’t look good, but I also think in a situation like this, the Patriots and Newton went with known qualities.

      I think your point about not knowing if the Dolphins secondary is really good or the Patriots pass-catchers are really bad is a good one, in this context. But on paper, the Patriots pass-catchers are not good–unless N’Keal Harry has improved or someone else surprises.

      Re: the Rams
      I’m curious to know if you guys think the Rams offense looks like a late 90s, early 2000s NFL offense–with a few wrinkles, like no-huddle, jet sweets, TE screens?

      Re: Goff
      I’ve said for a long time: with protection (and good running) Goff looks like an elite QB. But under duress, obvious passing situations, he is the close to the opposite. This doesn’t seem to have changed. The Rams will be a Super Bowl contender if the OL plays like one of the best in the league.

      1. Unlike the two of you, I didn’t think the Rams’ offense looked all that good, with the exception of the consistent four yard runs. It looked better than last year for sure, but it’s super hard to dink and dunk your way to victories consistently. Maybe the Rams didn’t get any opportunities to throw the ball down the field, but if their offense will look like this the rest of the year, I wouldn’t be encouraged if I was a Rams fan. I think at one point Collinsworth said that the average depth of reception was a little over 2 yards.

        Dallas’ o-line started a undrafted rookie because Lael Collins is out for at least three games. Add to that, Dallas couldn’t provide enough consistent help to the rookie because of Aaron “fricken” Donald. They needed two on him at all times and Donald was moving all around the line. I hope next week without Aaron Donald, that Dallas will get some help for the rookie and hopefully some more practice time this week will help as well.

    2. Unlike the two of you, I didn’t think the Rams’ offense looked all that good, with the exception of the consistent four yard runs.

      The Rams are nowhere near they were in their recent Super Bowl year (which I guess is obvious), but “consistent 4 yard runs,” with few negative plays, is a big deal. If they can maintain that, I would be surprised if they’re not a strong playoff team, maybe a Super Bowl contender, depending on the quality of their defense.

      Maybe the Cowboys OL was worse than I thought. I was more preoccupied with the play calling and the offense overall, I think.

      1. No doubt “consistent 4 yard runs” is awesome if you can sustain it. However, it would seem that would be something easy to take away for a defense by just stacking the box. Add to that, the Cowboys D consistently get pushed around so as you stated in other post, how much is it a strength or a weakness that is causing a team to look good.

        Just based on this game, and again it’s almost a guess after just one game, I would put the Rams at about 8-8.

    3. My opinion is contingent on the Rams OL. If they’re not able to consistently play the way they did this past weekend, then I don’t think they will be a strong playoff team. But if they do, I think they will be. I have no idea if they will or not. As you said, it could be that the Cowboys DL/LBs weren’t good–or they just need time. (Losing Vander Esch had to have hurt as well.) The thing is, the OL performed at a high level two years ago–and I feel like McVay’s coaching might have been a big reason for that. If that’s true, he might be able to do it again.

      I hope not, though. I would love for them to go 8-8. But I’d be surprised if they go 8-8, if the OL plays like they did against the Cowboys.

  12. Power Rankings

    First tier

    Chiefs, Ravens

    Saints

    Chiefs and Ravens seem to be head and shoulders above the rest–but I would put the Chiefs ahead of the Ravens because I like Mahomes over the Jackson, at this point.

    I would put Saints above the second tier teams.

    Second Tier

    Rams, Seahawks
    Steelers,Packers, Bills
    49ers

    The Rams OL looked good, and their defense looked solid. What hurts them, in my view, is Goff’s ability to handle pressure/protect the football. To win the Super Bowl, he’ll likely face a pass rush that get to him.

    I’m not really comfortable putting the Seahawks next, because of their defense (and I’m still uncertain about their OL). If they don’t add any player, their DL might end up being among the worst. How can a team win the Super Bowl with one of the worst DLs in the league? I guess my response is that with decent OL play, Russ and the supporting cast, and a really good secondary, there’s a chance? (The secondary is not really good, yet. They have some guys that can hit, though.)

    The Bills don’t look as good to me for some reason.

    The 49ers have problems on the offensive side. They’re banged up, though, at WR and OL. They’ll likely move up if they get healthy.

    Third Tier

    I’m too lazy to write and sort all the teams here, but there’s a bunch that are probably not far from the second tier–or at least a bunch that could get into the second or even first tiers.

    1. I know the Titans didn’t look super, but just maybe, Denver plays a defensive style that is effective against the Titans. Denver shut out the Titans last year too.

      If Corey Davis stays healthy and plays like he did against Denver, with AJ Brown and Humphreys, they can have a great receiving corp. Corey Davis is a big “if”, but they can be close to a first tier team if he can be a pro bowl WR. I thought Tannehill looked pretty good overall against the Broncos.

    2. I’m not as worried about the Titans offense–I was thinking more about their defense, that it didn’t look impressive, even when the Titans had three 10 play drives in a row. To be fair, their starting MLB got kicked out of the game, so maybe they’ll look way better. Plus, Clowney just came to the team.

      If they end up having one of the better defenses in the league, then I would put them in the first tier.

      Then then would be similar to last year’s 49ers. The question would be: Could Tannehill make the handful of key plays in the post-season? If they get behind, can he pass a lot to bring them back? Right now, I’m not too confident he’s that type of QB. (I kinda feel the same about Jimmy G.)

      (On a related note, I wanted to clarify something about Lamar Jackson. He’s passing the ball pretty well, even last year. My questions have to do with a) passing in predictable situations–i.e., having to make a comeback; b) can he make the handful of key plays and protect the football in the big games–especially from the pocket. Oh, another situation: When the running game’s not working so well, or the supporting cast is not as strong–can he still perform at a high level.)

      1. My guess is Tennessee’s defense’s ceiling is fifth in the league, but I would also say the basement it tenth. I don’t think they are the best but they are surely above average. They seem great against the run, but their pass defense which includes their pass rush seems average. But I get a feeling that Vrabel coaches them up pretty well.

        I wouldn’t put them in my tier 1 as well. But they are solidly in my tier 2 after one week.

    3. Essentially very good, but not great, and at worst, merely good? If so, I think this is likely, although I wouldn’t rule out that they could move into great category. They are a type of team I would not want to play in the playoffs. But to be Super Bowl contenders their defense has to get into the great range.

      1. I think this offense if Davis can be a true number one WR can be very similar to Dak’s rookie year. They can have great ball control. They have those pieces. If the offense gets there this team can be a Super Bowl team with a very good defense and not necessarily great. I also think this team and especially the coach know how to win close games.

        I’ll just point out that I think AJ Brown is probably already very close to a number one WR, but he just doesn’t have the physical abilities of Davis, who can be close to Julio in terms of physical abilities.

      2. How confident are you that Tannehill can make the handful of key throws and protect the football in the playoffs? Also, how confident are you that if the Titans get behind, Tannehill can sling the ball and lead a comeback (in the playoffs)? In a way the questions about Lamar Jackson are the same ones I have for Tannehill. Right now, I’m more pessimistic about the answers to these questions.

        But if the Titans can run like they did for most of the playoffs and/or their defense becomes great, they’re not going to be a team you want to face.

        The Cowboys comparison is interesting, but the Titans do not have a dominant line. And I would say Dak is better than Tannehill.

        As for their WRs, I think I like AJ more than Davis. Also, I believe the Titans didn’t sign Davis’s 5th year option, which is not a good sign.

        1. As you know I’m much higher on Tannehill than you. Dak as a rookie is not better than Tannehill. Tannehill does everything well. He is great at protecting the ball and he was very good in the playoffs last year. I don’t have Tannehill as a top ten QB, but he’s close. Man, I would definitely trust Tannehill over Josh Allen to make a play.

          Yeah Davis hasn’t produced and does not deserve a contract. He is hurt a lot, and when he plays he’s pretty inconsistent. He was playing with Mariotta though. But he has physical talents. He was very touted coming out of college. His ceiling is definitely higher than Brown, but yeah Brown has been better thus far when playing together.

    4. Yeah, I knew you liked Tannehill more than me, but I didn’t know the your answers to those questions. I assume your answers would be that you’re pretty confident.

      My memory of Tannehill’s playoff performance is hazy. But didn’t he have a few bad INTs? Also, in the Chiefs game, I feel like he when the Chiefs stymied the run game, he was very ineffective. If the Titans have to pass a lot to win, especially in the playoffs, I would not like their chances. To me, he’s a solid game manager–which is not bad if the team can run well, and he can protect the football and make the handful of plays needed to win.

      Man, I would definitely trust Tannehill over Josh Allen to make a play.

      Allen reminds me of a young Cam Newton: reckless, forces things, not always accurate, but can make plays with him arm and legs. I think he’s better at creating when a play breaks down. But in terms of protecting the football/avoiding bad play, I’m not very confident about him at this point.

      Here’s a good one: Do you like Tannehill over Cousins? This is a good comparison to me, because they seem like very similar players–at least in terms of natural ability, they don’t seem to be too far a part. Both are the type of QBs that need a strong supporting cast to be successful. For me, I’d take Cousins.

      As for top ten QBs, I’d have to list all the QBs to see.

      1. Yeah I think Cousins is better, not more talented per se, but he can be more effective. However, Cousins is known to shrink in big moments and is known as a guy not even good during a primetime TV game during the regular season (ala Monday, Sunday or Thursday night). There is great proof that this is true, but a lot that is just BS as well. But Cousins at least yet, hasn’t proven to be worth the contract he was given by the Vikings – not that, that is completely what we are talking about here.

    5. I’m a little surprised you chose Cousins over Tannehill. And where you do stand on the claim that he “shrinks in big games?” I don’t get the strong impression this is true, but I’m not totally sure. For one thing, I wouldn’t go by just wins–as many other factors besides the QB go into this. Instead, I would look at his performance in these games, relative to the talent around him. My impression is that he is poised QB. The problem is inconsistency–specifically he can make a bad decision, try to force things in.

      In a lot of ways, he has the qualities of a good back-up QB. Good back-ups have talent to be a good starters, and can for short stretches play really well–say, for a several games. But they can’t consistently sustain this level of play, and this includes having a bad turnover(s) at some point. Fitzmagic is a really good example. (By the way, Fitzmagic kind of reminds me of Dave Krieg, although mabye Krieg is slightly better.) For what it’s worth, I am very, very close to putting Derek Carr in this category.

      My sense is that Cousins is right outside of this, putting him in the legit starter category–but he needs a strong supporting cast. Flacco, Dalton, Jimmy G seem to be in a similar ball park. I feel like Eli Manning is in this mold as well, although he might be a better version of this. (What about Cousins or Eli Manning? I think I might choose Eli. I feel like Eli has better arm talent.)

      With Tannehill, I’m not sure if he’s outside of the good back-up category.

      As for Cousins contract, I would say this: a QB that is not good enough to build a team around, but can make the handful of key plays and protect the football in the biggest games/moments is worth a big contract. That’s what I tend to believe anyway.

      1. You don’t think there are times Cousins just doesn’t perform? He has had talent, maybe the best receiving duo in the NFL. His o-line may haven’t been great, but the times I saw him, I didn’t get the feeling he was running for his life on every play, yet he just doesn’t move the team. And although I have been critical of Cousins of panicking early in his career, I agree he is pretty poised now. I don’t know what the issue with him, but from the little I’m privy to, I don’t get the feeling he is a great leader. For example, I don’t get that same feeling about Dak. I think Cousins is a better passer than Dak, I’m just not sure I would take Cousins over Dak because I don’t always feel like I can trust Cousins. And when I say “not trust him”, I’m not talking about Cousins making a boneheaded play, but more performing when his team needs him.

        The primetime thing is not an opinion. I’m pretty sure if you google Cousins in primetime, you will find many people making the case that he “shrinks”. Again part of that could just be a coincidence or part of it could be he played most of his career on a bad Redskin team, but there just may be a little bit of “truth” to it.

    6. The Vikings OL was brittle. Do you remember seasons when the Falcons and Chargers had shaky OLs–ones that would collapse quickly, and Ryan and Rivers would have to throw from muddy pockets? The Vikings OL is brittle, not exactly in the same way, but similar. Let me ask this–if the Vikings had one of the better lines–like the Packers, Patriots, Steelers (of recent years)–do you think Cousins would fail to deliver to the same degree? I tend to think not. In this situation, I think the problem would be mistakes he’d make–which would be more than the elite QBs–and whatever limitations he’d have from a limited arm.

      …I don’t get the feeling he is a great leader.

      I don’t get this sense–if anything I think it’s the opposite. My feeling has always been that Cousins has limited arm strength, but he sometimes plays as if he thinks he’s Favre. I think he’s gotten away from this, but his ball security is still not elite–acceptable, but not elite–and he still has limited power. I feel like if Cousins was better at driving the ball, he’d be in the elite group. Maybe the limited arm strength is why seems to not deliver? He is accurate, has really nice touch–and he display both both under pressure. But besides these type of passes, he can’t and won’t make the type of wow throws like Rodgers, Mahomes, or Newton in his prime. Actually, overall, he’s just not a playmaker like those QBs–or Wilson and Watson.

      The primetime thing is not an opinion.

      Did you mean it’s not “your” opinion? I’ve heard this opinion before. If people who say this base this on wins, I don’t really put a lot of stock in that. As I said, I look at performance relative to supporting cast. My sense his performance doesn’t shrink. In last year’s playoffs, the 49ers defense overwhelmed the Vikings, especially the run game and OL. Against the Saints, I know he had at least one big time throw–similar to the one Garappolo missed in the Super Bowl. Although in this game, I think the Vikings DL was key to winning. They beat the Saints OL, and put a lot of pressure on Brees. All this underscores why judging Cousins, or any QB, by wins/losses is a questionable method.

      One interesting question: What if Cousins played for the Patriots or Saints? I don’t think he’d be as good, but I kinda feel like the shrinking in big games narrative wouldn’t be there. Does he strike you as someone who succumbs to pressure?

      1. I should have said I don’t think it’s solely just opinion in that his performance both in stats and just overall performance in primetime isn’t nearly what it is in other games, and I don’t think it’s solely based on record (In fact, I don’t think his win loss record is absurdly bad – bad but not ridiculous.). But I did say it could just be coincidence or other reasons.

        I used to think Cousins is bad with pressure, but I don’t get that feeling now. I also don’t think he’s excessively bad in terms of just bad decisions ala Favre (ie: making bad decisions without QB pressure). Although I think somewhat highly of Cousins in general, whenever I see him play I almost never come away impressed. But overall I don’t see him as a guy that does anything really wrong or has a glaring weakness.

        You sort of alluded to him not “wowing” you, but I get the feeling that you think the same of Brady. But do you see a big difference between Brady or Cousins? Or do you see them as equals?

        1. As far as his play in prime time, do you get the sense that there was a dip in performance–relative to playing good teams in non-prime time games? I never got that sense.

          And I don’t think Cousins forces throws now so much (e.g., trying to gun the ball in a tight window), but I think he did this before–too much. (I think Fitzmagic could be like this, too.) Every so often he does this now, but for me it’s as big of an issue. (If he gets to the Super Bowl, it wouldn’t surprise me if he lose the game with a turnover. But many good QBs can and do have bad turnovers in the Super Bowl.)

          You sort of alluded to him not “wowing” you, but I get the feeling that you think the same of Brady. But do you see a big difference between Brady or Cousins? Or do you see them as equals?

          This is a good question. My quick answer is that I don’t see them as equals. I mean, Brady has played in way more playoff games and Super Bowls than Cousins–and he’s played well. That by itself should gives Brady a leg up.

          Brady doesn’t may not have a lot of wow throws like Rodgers, Favre–in terms of displaying incredible power or just making seemingly impossible throws–but I’m pretty sure he has a lot of really impressive throws. I think the issue is that specific throws he’s made don’t come to mind. When you think of Brady, do you know you’ve seen a lot of wow throws, even though you can’t remember specific ones? I feel like there are these, but I’m not as confident compared to someone like Montana (even excluding the iconic ones).

          I do think Brady is the type of QB that needs a strong supporting cast and/or good coaching–in a way that QBs like Marino, Elway, Rodgers, Wilson do not. But I think you can say that about a lot of really good QBs. I have doubts about how good Montana would have been without the supporting cast he had and Bill Walsh and his system. But I think I’d still choose him as the best QB of all time.

          1. Aside: Speaking of wow throws, I know you saw Gruden’s QB camp with Favre, but watch from 3:30 again, where Favre explains why he was throwing so hard in practice, and watch Gruden’s first reaction. Hilarious.

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