10 Things: Big Ben and Matt Ryan are Done; Urban Meyer Apologizes; The Next Mike Evans
1. The Kansas City Chiefs have played in three-straight AFC Championship Games, two-straight Super Bowls and won a legacy-defining and perhaps dynasty-starting Super Bowl in SBLIV.
They won’t win another Super Bowl this year with the defense that’s on the field right now.
Patrick Mahomes II can cover up a lot of mistakes, but the Chiefs’ defense is among the worst in the league in terms of yards allowed (No. 31 overall), scoring (No. 31), and chunks plays allowed. Only the Atlanta Falcons rank worse overall.
That’s not helped by the fact the Chiefs play in a division with the No. 1 overall offense (Las Vegas Raiders) and where the only team with two losses is them.
Mahomes and Andy Reid are magical together, but until the defense can consistently make stops, the Chiefs will have an early playoff exit at best. A returning Frank Clark could help and fans are hopeful that Willie Gay, Jr. will be an impact at linebacker, but it’s more than those players missing that’s hurting this team. There is poor communication across the defense. The front office has bet on going bargain hunting at cornerback but lack a top-tier cover man on the outside.
And this is all well and good when Mahomes can dial up 40 points per game, but that’s not sustainable. The “let them score because we can score more” strategy doesn’t last into the postseason.
2. Welcome to the Heisman race, Bijan Robinson.
The Texas running back went off on Saturday to the tune of 215 yards and two touchdowns and currently sits at No. 2 in the nation in rushing yards (652). Robinson was the entire offense for Texas in a must-win game over TCU. He’ll have a chance to impress voters on a national stage against Oklahoma in the Red River Shootout on Saturday, October 9 at 11am CT.
3. I know some fans don’t like the anticlimactic nature of college football, and the 2021 season will do nothing to help with that as Alabama is once again a dominant program and another SEC elite (Georgia) is the definitive second-best team in the country.
As it stands right now, no team looks ready to go toe-to-toe with the SEC’s best. Ohio State bounced back well last weekend but it was against Rutgers. Oregon lost to Stanford, proving the Pac-12 cannibalizes itself every year. And while Penn State and Iowa are both undefeated and very good all-around teams, they lack the explosiveness on both sides of the ball to defeat an Alabama or Georgia.
Sorry, Big Ten fans, it’s just the truth.
So if you hate the predictability of college football, this isn’t your year.
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4. Clear your schedule and get your chores done; Saturday’s schedule of college football games is insane. And yes, I realize we said that last weekend too and it ended up being a lot of blowouts, but this one promises to pay off. Check it out:
11am (CT): Texas vs. Oklahoma; Arkansas at Ole Miss
2:30pm: Georgia at Auburn
3:00pm: Penn State at Iowa
6:30pm: Michigan at Nebraska; Notre Dame at Virginia Tech; LSU at Kentucky
7:00pm: Alabama at Texas A&M
5. Drake London secured his spot at my WR1 with another dominant performance on Saturday against Colorado. London finished the day with 130 yards, but the stat sheet doesn’t do justice to the types of grabs he was making along the sideline and in the end zone.
Speaking with one USC staffer this weekend, they compared London to Mike Evans—a nod to the type of post-up receiver many of us believe he’ll be in the NFL. I reminded this coach that Evans ran a 4.52-second 40 yard dash, something he believed London could match at 6’5” and 210 pounds.
Speed questions will be prevalent because on tape it looks like London struggles to separate due to the number of contested catches he sees, but he simply doesn’t lose those 50/50 ball battles. To me, that carries over to the NFL.
6. As of Tuesday morning, Urban Meyer is still the head coach of the 0-4 Jacksonville Jaguars after videos surfaced of Meyer in a bar with a young lady dancing in his lap while photos and other videos emerged of him groping the same young lady. That alone should be enough for owner Shad Khan to move on from Meyer—this isn’t college football, after all.
On top of the team being 0-4, the Chris Doyle hire, the Tim Tebow distraction, and now this is the fact that Meyer is an NFL head coach who didn’t fly back with his team following their Thursday night game in Cincinnati. That’s unheard of. Again, this isn’t college football.
On top of that was Meyer’s “apology” where he essentially blamed the young woman and her friends for coercing him to join their group for photos. Meyer, who preaches accountability, passed the buck and blamed someone else for his embarrassing behavior.
The Meyer hiring never made sense to me and many moves made since that day are head-scratchers. This entire episode, though, is 100 percent a fireable offense.
Scandal has followed Meyer from Florida to Ohio State and now to Jacksonville. What history has told us is that this won’t magically get better—instead he’ll likely have a “health issue” and resign only to pop up again on TV or at another college he can fleece for millions of dollars per year.
7. Matt Ryan? Washed. Ben Roethlisberger? Washed.
Sorry, fans, these are the facts. It’s like watching late-career Eli Manning at this point. Both quarterbacks look old, slow (slower, for Big Ben), and have lost the top-end of their arm strength to a point that it’s painfully obvious that the end is near.
The Falcons have no long-term quarterback of the future on the roster. The Steelers have Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins, so really they don’t either unless you believe Haskins can be rehabilitated after his disappointing start in Washington.
When looking ahead to the 2022 NFL draft and identifying teams that could reach on quarterbacks, Atlanta and Pittsburgh should top the list. As it stands today, Atlanta would own pick No. 5 overall and Pittsburgh has No. 12.
In a draft class without a defined QB1, the Falcons could be in good shape with a top five selection to land one of the top prospects. But let’s put this into perspective—any quarterback ranked in the top 10 this year won’t be on a level with last year’s top quarterback prospects. Just because Matt Corral or Malik Willis rank highly in a bad-to-average quarterback class doesn’t mean they’re automatically better than Mac Jones last year. This is why player rankings can’t be an across-the-board comparison—2021’s No. 15 overall player can be graded much higher than 2022’s.
So even if the Falcons, Steelers and other quarterback-needy teams play their way to a top 10 pick, context matters when discussing the type of quarterback they’ll be drafting.
8. The Arizona Cardinals are the best team in football.
Not only are they the NFL’s only undefeated team, they’re doing it with a high-octane offense that can dice you up through the air, on the ground, or with Kyler Murray simply taking the game over and doing it all himself.
I was a strong critic of Murray’s over the summer, believing he needed to commit himself to getting into better football shape and to making faster decisions on the field. He did both, and the result is a quarterback playing at an MVP-level through four weeks.
Now, we’ve seen this show before. Remember last year when Russell Wilson was the first quarter MVP before the Seahawks came back down to Earth? Murray is playing unbelievable ball right now, but NFL defensive coordinators are known for catching up to early success. The key for Murray and head coach Kliff Kingsbury will be to stay innovative and continue to not turn the ball over. If they can do that, this Cardinals team looks like they could go the distance this regular season as the NFL’s best team.
9. Regular season awards can’t be won in just four weeks, but if they could we’d go ahead and cement Trevon Diggs as your 2021 NFL Defensive Player of the Year. As it stands he might take home that trophy and the NFL’s Most Improved Player Award.
Diggs, through four games, has five interceptions and has been a legitimate shutdown cornerback for the Dallas Cowboys. A second-round pick in 2020, Diggs was a wide receiver at Alabama who transitioned to cornerback and flashed high-end potential but there were concerns about work ethic and that he relied too much on athleticism over technique.
He’s clearly worked through those issues, if they existed, and so far this season is the NFL’s best cornerback.
10. And finally, let’s end on a Stock Up!
Alabama linebacker Henry To’o To’o transfered from Tennessee this summer and has been a revelation at linebacker. Rocking No. 10, To’o To’o is all over the field as an off-ball linebacker with excellent athleticism, range, and instincts.
While teammate Christian Harris was the more highly-ranked draft prospect headed into the season, To’o To’o has closed the gap. You could make a strong argument that no linebacker in the country is playing better as of late, and NFL scouts are taking notice.