Rodney Harrison Calling Zach Wilson Garbage In Chris Jones Interview: Wrighster Or Wrong?

We need to talk about Rodney Harrison’s seriously unprofessional postgame interview of Chris Jones.

Honestly, this shocked me. 

Every year as the NFL has more and more broadcast partners, an increasing number of former players and coaches are getting opportunities to be part of the pregame, postgame, or broadcast crews. 

I’ve been in the booth. I’ve done every kind of analysis there is, and I know that there can be pitfalls and temptations when that red light comes on, to put a message out to the public that might not be something the audience is ready to digest. 

Rodney Harrison though? He shouldn’t be that guy. He’s been part of NBC’s coverage for fifteen years now. And NBC is supposed to be the classy channel, serving up football to the morally upstanding crowd that spent the rest of their football viewing hours at church or with their families. 

So what happened? Let’s get into it.

The Kansas City Chiefs just finished a 23-20 win over the New York Jets in front of Taylor Swift.

I’m not sure if you caught one of the 500 mentions that she was at the game.

And Chiefs defensive lineman Chris Jones, who sacked Zach Wilson in the win, was invited up to the booth to speak with Harrison and Tony Dungy.

Harrison asked Jones : Was Zach better tonight than what you anticipated he would be watching him on tape? And you can be honest.

Jones replied with: Honestly, if I’m being completely honest, we knew it was gonna be a battle. He’s continuing to get better week in and week out. He’s continuing to lead week in and week out

At this point it went off the rails, Harrison interrupted to call Zach Wilson “garbage,” and when Jones pushed back and said that “Zach Wilson is special,” Harrison finished the exchange disagreeing, saying that “I think he had a special night, but I don’t think he’s “special.”‘

Damn, Rodney.

Look, no one thinks that Zach Wilson is out here tearing up the league. He was replaced by Aaron Rodgers this season. The Jets knew Wilson wasn’t ready to be the guy in 2023, but he just put together a good enough game to keep the Jets within striking distance against the defending Super Bowl champions. Was right then and there really the time to be calling this man “garbage?”

And if you’re going to call a player garbage, what do you need Chris Jones to agree with you for? You have a platform. Call the man garbage on your own time. 

You wasted a moment with one of the game’s best defensive players, who earned the right to talk about HIS team and all they’ve done to stay on top, to bring negativity to the set and embarrass yourself  in front of America.

Now, to Harrison’s credit, he apparently did reach out and apologize for his comments, but I’m more concerned with how we got to this point in the first place. Everyone has takes that are too hot for broadcast TV, and some networks have build an entire sports talk economy so there can be a place for those takes. If Rodney Harrison wants to step off that NBC desk and do the podcast circuit, or get on the radio with me and chop it up, anything goes. 

But we can’t have people that have reached the pinnacle of broadcasting looking down at these hot take streets and trying to have one foot in both worlds. And we definitely can’t have people in that role setting up the game’s best athletes to take the bait and end up in some drama that they never wanted to be a part of. 

Let that sink in.

Everything We Learned From The Dolphins’ Historic 70-20 Beatdown Of Sean Payton And The Broncos

We need to talk about the Miami Dolphins scoring 70 on the Denver Broncos, and all of the things that scoring 70 in an NFL game means. 

First up- Mike McDaniel is that Dude

That doesn’t mean that what owner Stephen Ross did to try and ruin Brian Flores’ career chasing Joe Burrow, Tom Brady, and the man that just got 70 dropped on his head- Sean Payton, is something we can excuse. 

But McDaniel can coach. 

Just look at the development of Tua Tagovailoa. He took the offense from 25th ranked in 2021, to sixth in 2022. And this year, they’re first by a longshot. And they haven’t really fallen off defensively in yards allowed. 

Mike McDaniel’s credibility is set in stone. You have to score to win in this league, and a game like this on the back of the season he had last year ensures that he’ll be employed in this league for as long as he wants to be. 

At a minimum this man is the next Norv Turner.

Next, Tua is Enough

Tua Tagovailoa can run this offense, and he can run it as well as anyone you might want to be in his position. 

As long as this offensive line can keep him healthy. 

The Miami Dolphins have been desperate for a franchise QB as much as any franchise over the last 30 years outside of the Chicago Bears, and even though Tua has had some good games in his first four seasons, there’s always that little bit of doubt.

70 points, plus the fact that he’s on pace for a 5,800 yard season should put all those doubts to a permanent rest.

Third- Sean Payton Hates Russell Wilson

He has to.

If you have a franchise QB getting franchise money, you protect him. Trotting this man out there in the second half down 50 points is embarrassing. It means you don’t care if you lose him. 

If it’s really like that, then get the Jets on the phone and start the process to move him so you can score some assets and maybe get the Dolphins back for this game by giving their division rival a chance to win this season.

Four- Vance Joseph Has to Go… Again

Sean Payton making the decision to bring one of the least-liked Head Coaches in Denver Broncos history back to be his defensive coordinator was as head-scratching as Vance Joseph’s decision to accept it. 

Denver Broncos Head Coaching history is a long list of extraordinary winners- Red Miller, Dan Reeves, Mike Shanahan, John Fox, and Gary Kubiak kept this franchise relevant for the overwhelming majority of four decades. A lot of Broncos fans believe their downfall started when Vance Joseph was first hired, and having him around again, and in charge of the unit that just gave up a historic number, is a true exercise in hubris for Sean Payton.

And finally, the last thing we learned for this 70-point game is that…

…Mercy is Worse than Death.

Mike McDaniels, a former Denver Broncos ball boy that didn’t even get an interview from his hometown team in 2022, had the ability to break the NFL record of 72, and he decided that didn’t fit with the message he was trying to send his team. 

This man said we have bigger goals than setting records, in the middle of setting a modern record. 

That is a whole different level of viciousness. 

Because the only thing worse than giving up 70, is having to carry the knowledge around that it could have been worse, but the team doing it to you felt sorry for you. 

10 touchdowns with a side of pity. 

Let that sink in.

The Illegal Hit On Colorado’s Travis Hunter Exposes The Hypocrisy Of NCAA Targeting Rules

We need to talk about Travis Hunter’s injury on the cheapshot by Henry Blackburn in the Colorado/Colorado State game. 

If you didn’t see it, Blackburn came over from his safety position and put his shoulder into Hunter’s ribs well after a sideline pass had already sailed over Hunter’s head. 

Blackburn was trying to knock Hunter out of the game, and it worked. After being pulled from the game and sent to the hospital for evaluation, we now know that Travis Hunter is knocked out of several games.

And until he gets back, Henry Blackburn should be suspended too. But he won’t be. Because you can intentionally try to injure anyone you want in college football, so long as you don’t lower your head when you do it. 

Lower your head and whiff on a tackle like Weber State’s Naseme Colvin did against Utah last weekend? Kicked out of the game.

Lower your shoulder into the ribs of the best player on the field at full speed well after the play has ended? Stay in the game, but the ball gets moved 45 feet ahead. 

Now, Henry Blackburn isn’t going to go unpunished. This is a young man FROM Boulder Colorado. Walking around in his hometown is gonna be a little less comfortable now that people like LeBron James are tweeting about his dirty hit. However, he will be able to play the first half next week against Middle Tennessee State, while his teammate Mohamed Kamara will have to sit out because he got flagged for targeting on his hit of Sheduer Sanders.

But this is less about Henry Blackburn, and more about how it exposes the NCAA’s ridiculous refusal to address the fact that a massive portion of targeting calls involve accidental contact and end up being judgment calls from referees watching who are watching slow motion replays.

There needs to be a differentiation between incidental, non-malicious contact on the field that the NCAA still wants to discourage, and the intentional type of plays that can ruin careers, and endanger someone’s physical wellbeing. 

Nobody understands the need to keep players as safe as possible in an intensely physical game more than I do. I had to take these hits. But I’m a former offensive player out here telling you that trying to take the football out of football by not differentiating between things that happen when a defender is trying to make a play, like when Mississippi State’s Shawn Preston Jr. got tossed for tackling a non-sliding Jayden Daniels in their game against LSU. 

At most that should have been a penalty for leading with the helmet. I could live with that, but for the rules as they’re written to create the reality that it’s less egregious for a safety to use his shoulder as a weapon on a defenseless receiver after the play ends?

That’s a joke. 

We can try and rid the game of lowered crowns and launching- that’s a noble pursuit. Stuff like what the Denver Broncos Kareem Jackson did to Washington Commanders TE Logan Thomas on Sunday needs to involve punishments that span the length of the injuries they might cause. I feel the same way about Henry Blackburn. 

But if the illegal contact seems unintentional, throw the flag and make it a teachable moment instead of an overly punitive action that shifts the balance of competition in the game. 

Let that sink in.

Josh Allen’s Return To His Cowboy Gunslinger Ways Shows Doubt In Himself And His Team

We need to talk about Josh Allen.

To survive in the NFL, or just to survive in this world in general, you have to adapt.

And not just once. You have to keep adapting. 

I didn’t think Josh Allen would be successful in the NFL when he came out of Wyoming. Not as a quarterback anyway- I thought he might have been a generational Tight End. 

Tim Tebow might not have been able to make that transition, but Matt Jones, Logan Thomas and Feleipe Franks figured it out. And I thought Josh Allen could have been the best of that group.

But he proved me wrong. He proved a lot of people wrong. And the way he did that? He put the pedal to the floor at all times. Ran hard. Threw hard. Didn’t care about being neat. Didn’t care about turnovers. Definitely didn’t care about his own physical welfare.

He just had the mindset to be the last man standing at the bar brawl. 

It was entertaining. And it gained him a lot of fans. After all, this is an entertainment business.
But in the course of that entertainment, the Bills started to win. And as they won, everything increased. The stakes. The expectations. The pay. The hype. 

And when Josh Allen figured out NFL defenses with the help of offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, he found himself as the 2020 NFL MVP runner up. That’s when the pendulum began to shift, as it always does. After the 2020 season, Josh Allen signed a massive extension- which every team with a franchise QB knows makes it harder to retain stars at other positions. The success led to later draft picks, which are harder to hit on. And it also led to Brian Daboll getting a job as the Head Coach of the New York Giants. 

I’ve often said the thing that gets you to the party isn’t always the thing that keeps you at the party.
Josh Allen has to feel like this team’s success is more and more on his shoulders. So in 2022, he started to revert back to his Wyoming Cowboy barfight ways. He finished 3rd in MVP voting, and the Bills won 13 games, and a playoff game.

But, his sack percentage jumped from 4 to 5.5, he turned the ball over 19 times in the regular season, and another four times in the 2022 playoffs. Plus he had another 10 fumbles last year that the Bills were lucky enough to fall on before they added to that turnover total.

To stay at this party, Josh Allen needs to chill. He needs to trust the defense that was first in points allowed in 2021, and second in 2022- and that was suffocating the Jets last night until Allen’s four turnovers gave them new life. 

After the game last night, Josh Allen had a blank stare. He knew he lost the Bills that game. “I was trying to force the ball,” Allen said. “Same shit, same place, different day. I hurt our team tonight. I cost our team tonight. This feels eerily similar to last year and I hate that it’s the same. I do.”

And all of the sudden, the thing that made Josh Allen fun- playing like he had everything in the world to prove, doesn’t seem so fun anymore. 

Josh Allen has already proven himself. To me, to his front office, to his fans, to everyone in the league whose opinion matters. 

He might have crashed this party, but he belongs here now. And the second he starts acting like it, and trusting the game plan, and his teammates, he’ll start having fun again. 

Let that sink in.

Brandon Staley Has 12 One-Score Losses And His Defenses Are Terrible- Can He Fix The Chargers?

The Los Angeles Chargers are 19-16 under Brandon Staley.

12 of those 16 losses are by one score or less. 

In five of their last six losses, the Chargers had a second half lead. 

This man is blowing it, literally and figuratively. 

He even had Darren Sproles calling for his job before the season started. When have you ever heard Darren Sproles say anything negative about anyone?

Brandon Staley has to do something to get people to stop thinking about how his team blew it by getting outscored 31-3 in the final 31 minutes of last year’s Wild Card round.

Or how about when Brandon Staley called a timeout to give the Raiders time to kick a game-winning overtime field goal to knock the chargers out of the playoff race at the end of the 2021 season?

Staley was hired after one season as the Rams defensive coordinator. Before that, he’d never been responsible for calling a defense at a major college or professional level. 

Sure, Brandon Staley had the number one defense, and the Rams won the 2020 Super Bowl, but anyone that had even accidentally brushed up against Sean McVay was getting interviews, and Staley certainly benefited from that. 

You’d figure at the very least, the defensive ingenuity that got him the job would translate, but it hasn’t. 

In 2021, the Chargers were 23rd in yards given up, and 29th in points allowed. Last year the Chargers’ secondary leveled up to be seventh in the league against the pass, but it didn’t matter because they were 28th against the run. 

On Sunday, the Chargers gave up 466 passing yards to Tua Tagovailoa, and 121 yards of offense in the fourth quarter alone. 

And despite having a defense with Khalil Mack, Joey Bosa, and Derwin James going against a Miami offensive line that almost got Tua killed last year, the Chargers didn’t have a single sack. 

Brandon Staley has one of the best arms in the NFL in Justin Herbert, two $20-million receivers in Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, plus not one, but two insanely productive running backs in Austin Ekeler and Joshua Kelley, and this supposed defensive mastermind is out here wasting all of his offensive resources with a defense that surrenders more than the French army.

One of the worst parts about Brandon Staley is that he came into the Chargers gig with the mindset of being the most aggressive coach in history when it comes to fourth downs, only to start second guessing himself in the middle of last season.

In 2021 the Chargers went for it on fourth down one third of the time, and converted nearly two-thirds of those. Then last November, out of nowhere, Staley decides to punt on 4th and inches with a third quarter lead against the Chiefs, putting the ball into Patrick Mahomes’ hands. 

You can guess what happened next.

People are starting to talk about whether Staley can make it through the season, but I’m not worried about the season, I’m worried about the next five games- Titans, Vikings, Raiders, Cowboys, and Chiefs- if they aren’t at least .500 after that slate, Chargers OC Kellen Moore might be getting a pay bump and some expanded responsibilities. 

Let that sink in.

NFL Keeps Suspending Players This Year for Gambling On The Apps The League Promotes

Gambling in Sports

We need to talk about college and pro athletes betting on sports.

Right now, Denver Broncos defensive tackle Eyioma Uwazurike is suspended for allegedly betting on games he participated in at the NFL level, and is under criminal investigation for attempting to manipulate data to make it look like he wasn’t betting on games he played in while at Iowa State. 

His college teammate, Iowa State starting QB Hunter Dekkers, is also under criminal investigation for betting on games using his mom’s account before turning 21. 

This is on the heels of several NFL players being suspended for using legal gambling apps like FanDuel to bet while at the team facility. Players that placed bets full well knowing that star wide receiver Calvin Ridley was sitting out the entire 2022 season for betting on games while injured.

There are more players suspended from last year’s Detroit Lions team alone than the NFL suspended for gambling in its first 98 years of existence. 

College and NFL players didn’t start gambling on sports when legal mobile sports betting came on the scene. But there was no digital footprint when my teammates and I had a friendly wager on a big boxing match. Now, apps like DraftKings and Fan Duel are pumping enormous sponsorship dollars into teams and leagues directly, and as part of those agreements, they’re required to report data on betting from players, their family members, and the geofenced locations that those bets take place at. 

On one hand, the players know the rules. On the other, the league had to know that relentlessly promoting mobile gaming apps and wagering promotions was going to appeal to its members. 

Gambling, the responsible kind anyway, is done for the most part by men with disposable income. 

The one thing professional sports is full of is men with disposable income. 

I’m not saying the penalties are unfair when suspensions are issued, but leagues have to admit there’s an element of cause and effect here, and acknowledge the fact that prior to 2019, there were only three total gambling suspensions. 

I’m curious to know what you all think about this. I know my audience wagers. I keep an eye on the lines every week. Has the legalization of mobile gaming lessened the idea that athletes betting on their own sport is ‘evil?’ My generation, and the one before it, came up in the shadow of Pete Rose, Major League Baseball’s all-time hit leader, being permanently banned by Cooperstown for wagers he placed as a manager. 

That was considered sports’ most unforgivable sin. Prior to Pete Rose, the worst scandal in sports history was the 1919 Chicago White Sox conspiring with professional gamblers to rig the world series. You still know them today as the “Black Sox.” 

The appeal of sports is that there isn’t a script in place. It’s what makes gambling gambling. No predetermined outcomes. But the nature of sports are also what make sports fans the most logical group to market gambling apps to. 

Think about it. Everything about being a sports fan is a gamble. When you buy tickets to a game, you’re gambling on the idea that the money you spent is going to be made worthwhile by a win. When you buy an athlete’s jersey at the Team Shop, you’re gambling that your team won’t trade that player two weeks later. Almost every dollar invested in sports is based in the hope of positive outcomes, full well knowing that in order for those outcomes to take place, you’re gonna need a few lucky bounces. 

So I want to know, is the idea of athletes betting on sports all that bad? Even their own sport, in the event that it’s not a game they have the ability to directly influence? Or should players be allowed to bet their own overs, or on their own team so long as it is to win?

Where do you draw the line on what you are and are not comfortable with?

Five NFL Players That Might Be Household Names By The End Of 2023

Let’s talk about five players that might be household names by the end of the 2023 season

Sam Howell

The Washington Commanders are coming into 2023 with more hope for the future that they’ve had in two decades thanks to a change in ownership, but let’s focus on what they’re putting on the field.

From 2019 to 2022, Washington has started ten different quarterbacks, and has had a different player lead them in pass attempts for four consecutive seasons. They haven’t had a quarterback start and finish the season since Kirk Cousins in 2017.

Sam Howell might be ready to break that streak. 

I’ve heard people call Sam Howell a great value Baker Mayfield. I’ve heard people say that even though he threw for 10,000 yards in the ACC, he fell off in his junior year. 

What people don’t point out is that his offensive line didn’t hold up as a junior, and he so he took it upon himself to go from a pure pocket passer with 181 rushing yards in 25 combined games as a freshman and sophomore, to rushing for almost 850 yards and 11 touchdowns as a junior. And he STILL threw for over 3,000 yards. This man is what uncreative sports analysts might call a “sneaky” athlete.

Sneaky means white.

Howell has an extremely solid young group of receivers led by Terry McLaurin, who has three consecutive 1,000 yard seasons, and if Jahan Dotson progresses, you better watch out. 

With the NFC East up for grabs, you might be hearing Sam Howell’s name quite a bit come December.

Desmond Ridder

Has there ever been a young QB more set up for success than Desmond Ridder is in Atlanta? 

Three former first round picks on the offensive line, including Jake Matthews. Kyle Pitts, the #4 overall pick in 2021 at TE. Drake London, the #8 overall pick at WR. A returning 1,000 yard rusher in Tyson Allgeier. One of the best college running backs we’ve ever seen in Bijan Robinson. And they STILL have Cordarrelle Patterson.

For anyone saying that I’m overhyping a 24-year-old quarterback with only four career starts, you have to remember that Ridder started 50 games in college, and took Cincinnati to the College Football Playoff. 

Atlanta has as much of an opportunity to win the NFC South as New Orleans, Carolina, and Tampa Bay- and if they pull that off, this young roster in the playoffs is going to energize the Falcons fanbase for years to come. 

Brian Burns

Do you know the name Brian Burns? If not, you’re about to. 

The Carolina Panthers defensive end and former 16th overall pick out of Florida State seems to have just ended his brief holdout, and is about to become one of the highest paid defensive ends in NFL history.

Why? Well, he has 38 sacks in four seasons, has improved every single year, is coming off back-to-back Pro Bowls, and has only missed two games over that span. Only three players over the last three seasons have more total QB pressures than Burns.

Burns isn’t the best at getting off blocks, and he’s also not considered a top tier edge rusher against the run, but if he improves in either of those areas this season, we’re no longer talking about a top-10 pass rusher. We’re talking about a top-10 defensive player, regardless of position.

And if you’re getting Myles Garrett or Maxx Crosby money, you deserve Myles Garrett and Maxx Crosby’s name recognition. 

Jahmyr Gibbs

The Detroit Lions have had three 1,000 yard rushers in the last 20 seasons. They haven’t had an 1,100 yard rusher in 18 years.

That streak might end. 

Jahmyr Gibbs started his college career at Georgia Tech, and finished at Alabama, and despite splitting reps in a crowded backfield, Gibbs displayed a skillset that might be the closest thing we have to Christian McCaffrey. 

He’s an elite runner, and an elite receiver. There’s never a reason to take this man off the field. 

Anyone in a points-per-reception fantasy football league probably already has a Jahmyr Gibbs jersey, but the casual NFL fan might be learning this young man’s name for giving Detroit a backfield threat they’ve been missing since the 1990’s.

Travis Etienne

I get that it’s a QB league. I get that Trevor Lawrence deserves all the hype he’s getting heading into the 2023 season. I get that the return of Calvin Ridley is a big storyline as well. 

But the man y’all need to be talking about is Travis Etienne. 

The one place Etienne needs to improve, and it has to be a team effort, is against the NFL’s best run defense- the Tennessee Titans. Etienne’s awesome 2022 campaign included two absolute stinker games against their division foe, where he had 24 carries for 49 yards.

Without those games, his per carry average goes from 5.1 to 5.5.

5+ yards a carry over a full season is insane. Fred Taylor did it in his final two seasons, but there was a 14-year gap before Etienne pulled it off last year. And he duplicated that effort in the playoffs as well.

The only reason Etienne isn’t getting more hype is that he wasn’t their primary short yardage option in the red zone.

2023 Is A MAKE OR BREAK Year For THESE 5 NFL Players

Let’s talk about five NFL players that are in a “Make or Break” year.

Kyler Murray

Kyler has already been paid, so this isn’t about his finances. He’s set for life in that area.

This is about Kyler Murray needing to play superhuman football in 2023 to keep the Cardinals from being in a position to use one of the two top-10 draft picks they’ll probably have in 2024 to replace him. 

And the problem for Kyler is that he won’t be ready to go until week 5, as he’s coming off a torn ACL. 

Murray has been at war with the organization that drafted him for years, whether it’s disagreeing with Steve Keim’s draft picks, dealing with the front office leaking things to Christ Mortensen about him, having the owner embarrass him with a film study clause in his contract, or the extremely contentious contract negotiations themselves- it’s always been something. 

Now he has a new coach, a new GM, and rumors are swirling, courtesy of Michael Lombardi, that the Cardinals would be fine to give him the year off to set themselves up to recoup some money via injury insurance and set themselves up for the Caleb Williams sweepstakes. 

The one person that can stop this from happening is Kyler Murray, but are fellow short kings Hollywood Brown and Rondale Moore enough on the outside to help Murray flip his organization’s plans? We will see. 

Chase Young

Let’s get this out of the way- Chase Young is not a bust. He was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and a Pro Bowler at 21 years old. 

He’s been injured. And unfortunately for Commanders fans, he’s still dealing with recovering from a stinger he got in the preseason. 

The Commanders already gave up the rights to his fifth year, so he’s literally in a Make of Break situation. 

People see running backs tear an ACL and come back fully healthy within 9-10 months, and expect it’s going to be the same for defensive linemen, but that’s not the case. A knee injury can end a defensive lineman’s career. Keith Millard went from NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1989 at age 27, to only appearing in 22 games for the rest of his career. Steve Emtman , the first overall pick in the 1992 NFL Draft, never started more than 9 games in a season and was out of the league by 27- mostly because of his knees. Remember Andre Wadsworth? If you don’t, it’s because the third overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft had a bad knee that had him out of the league for good by the end of his third year. 

I’m rooting for Chase Young, but you can’t prove your worth on the field if you can’t get on the field. 

Justin Fields

There’s no excuses for Fields this year. The Bears went out and got him DJ Moore, and I’ve said this a bunch, but if Moore was anywhere other than Charlotte the last couple years, we’d be talking about him the way we talk about Justin Jefferson or Tee Higgins. He’s that good. 

You have to be careful with Bears fans because they’ve been without a franchise QB for so long that their instinct is to be aggressively protective of Fields. I wish the offensive line in Chicago had that same instinct. 

Let’s just be objective for a second- his completion percentage is low. If Kyler Murray had Justin Fields’ completion percentage, there would have been no controversy about the study clause in his extension because there would have been no extension. 

Justin Fields’ sack percentage is off the charts, and it contributes to a high turnover rate. And one thing I like to say is sometimes a man’s strengths flow from the same place as his weaknesses. That being said, it’s incredible that an NFL QB rushed for almost 1,200 yards last year, but it also never should have happened, and it should never happen again!

But it might, because Fields’ offensive line outside of the center position is an average of around 24 years old, and came from schools like Southern Utah and University of Charlotte. Darnell Wright was picked last year at 10th overall and is starting right tackle for a man who is trying to get a $250+ million dollar extension. 

Justin Fields is out here running around on a tight rope, but at least the defenses in the division are as collectively bad as any in the entire NFL.

Mac Jones

Say what you want about Mac Jones, but you can’t ever call him a coward. The man went from following Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa at Alabama, to stepping in for the greatest QB of all time in New England. He’s out there in the bright lights, with a world of pressure on his shoulders, screaming at his assistant coaches to let him throw the damn ball.

Mac Jones hasn’t been bad. He hasn’t been good, but he hasn’t been bad. There’s going to be a place for him in the NFL for a very long time. But is that place in New England, under Bill Belichick? The standard out there is winning- and the Patriots didn’t do that last year.

New England lost four one-score games, and Mac Jones only has one fourth quarter comeback in 31 career starts. He also only had one game last year where he threw three or more touchdowns, and it came in a game where he also turned the ball over three times.

Now we’re going to be measuring him against his old Alabama teammate, Aaron Rodgers, and Josh Allen in six division games this season, and if he clearly looks like the worst of the four in all six games, what motivation is there for New England to keep this going?

Baker Mayfield

Baker probably made enough money off of commercials alone to not need a big second contract, but I get the feeling this man is fueled by something other than money anyway. 

He wants to stick it to Cleveland. And Carolina. And Colin Cowherd. And Odell Beckham Jr’s dad. And the guy in the stands calling him a bum. And if he could go back to Oklahoma and plant the flag again, I’m sure he could do that too. 

But is Tampa Bay the right place for Baker’s revenge tour?

After Bruce Arians retired, the Bucs went from three-straight top-3 finishes in points scored, to 25th last year under Todd Bowles. And now Tampa brings in a QB that is 8-16 in his last 24 starts, with a 4:3 TD to INT ratio, who barely completes 60% of his passes and takes as many sacks as anyone not named Justin Fields.

Will The Indianapolis Colts Give Anthony Richardson The Same Freedom They Gave Manning and Luck?

We need to talk about Anthony Richardson and the Indianapolis Colts. 

Everyone is talking about the San Antonio Spurs when it comes to lottery luck and the opportunity to draft franchise changing generational players, but what about the Colts? 

Peyton Manning was the first overall pick in 1998, won more MVP’s than anyone in NFL history, and brought Indy a Super Bowl. 

Andrew Luck was the first overall pick in 2012, set the NFL rookie record for passing yards, and made four pro bowl and an AFC championship game before his body ultimately broke down. 

And now they’ve got fourth overall pick Anthony Richardson, who many believe has all the same tools as Andrew Luck, despite not statistically proving that at the collegiate level. 

In 1998, the Colts tossed Peyton Manning the keys and never looked back. In 2012 they did the same with Andrew Luck. 

They have no reason not to do the same with Anthony Richardson.

But will they?

Peyton Manning threw the ball 35 times per game as a rookie, leading to 28 interceptions, a rookie record that stands to this day. 

Andrew Luck threw the ball 39 times per game as a rookie, and while the Colts won 11 games as opposed to the 3 games Peyton Manning won as a rookie, Luck still produced an AFC-leading 18-interceptions.

That’s the freedom I want for Anthony Richardson. The ability to match or exceed the 36 pass attempts per game that the 4-win Colts had last year so that a player that desperately needs the reps can figure things out for himself without having to worry about whether he’s going to get replaced.

And since this is the organization that has done this twice before, there’s no reason not to grant him that freedom and confidence. 

I’m just not sure they will. 

Whether it’s that the NFL has become such a win-now league, or that Jim Irsay flirted, jokingly or not, with the idea of drafting Will Levis in addition to Anthony Richardson, or even the other, very obvious difference between Richardson and the two other quarterback on this list- it seems as if the odds are stacked against Richardson being given that same level of freedom.

But what could it hurt?

Even Josh Allen, who paved the way for Richardson to be such a high pick with his physical gifts far outweighing his college production, took the occasional brea from trucking linebackers to toss the pigskin 30 times a game as a rookie. And it was rarely pretty- but look at him now.

For the Colts, and the rest of the country, to know if Anthony Richardson has what it takes to justify his draft slot, we’re going to need to see him cook. 

Let’s hope the Colts let him have complete control of the kitchen.

Jalen Hurts and Nicole Lynn Work Together to Prove Their Worth

We need to talk about that Jalen Hurts contract.

$179.3 million guaranteed. Highest annual salary in NFL history. And a no-trade clause. 

More specifically, we need to talk about his agent, Nicole Lynn

I’ve interviewed Nicole Lynn. I was impressed when she signed Quinnen Williams because *he* saw the vision to affect change and reached out to her. I loved her book, Agent You.

One of the things I enjoy most about Nicole is that in her book, she talks about her path from poverty to Wall Street, and the sacrifices she made to realize her dreams to become a high-level NFL agent, and the honesty she expresses about feeling called into this field, being blessed with opportunity after opportunity along the way, but still having regrets about some of the sacrifices it took to get where she is today.

To have someone that has faced adversity, persevered, but is still grounded enough to understand that the way in which they persevered carries as many lessons as the adversity they faced- it makes you wonder if I’m talking about Nicole Lynn or Jalen Hurts. 

Both are young, talented, black pioneers. Both tuned out the doubters to realize their dreams. And based on the conversation I had with Jalen Hurts’ father, Averion, leading up to last year’s Super Bowl, both are fully aware that they are still a work in progress. 

I’ve talked about Jalen Hurts before, but the fact that he left Alabama with the reputation of “game manager,” then left Oklahoma as a Heisman finalist is wild enough. But when people projected him as NFL receiver, and he fell to the 53rd pick in the draft and a third stringer behind Carson Wentz and Nate Sudfeld, who would have guessed that he’d be in this position today? 

Nicole Lynn, that’s who. 

I’ve said it before, but truth bears repeating- success isn’t always a straight line, but Nicole Lynn and Jalen Hurts prove that if your internal compass is pointed in the right direction, whether there are oceans, mountains or deep valleys in your way, you’ll find your way there. 

I’m not sure I’ve ever been happier for an agent/player combination. This is like the real life version of Tom Cruise and Cuba Gooding Jr. in Jerry Maguire.

I talked with Nicole two years ago about one of her dreams- to be a contributing expert on television when it comes to major athletes signing big contracts. 

I hope she’s enjoying the irony of people all over the sports media landscape discussing the record-setting contract she helped negotiate. The first of many, I’m sure.

Let that sink in.