TMF: Behind Josh Allen, the Bills have changed the narrative in the AFC, Jon Gruden out as Raiders head coach, Mahomes and Chiefs need help.
Josh Allen and the Bills have arrived, Mahomes and the Chiefs need help, Jon Gruden out in Las Vegas.
Oh, what a night.
If you’re a parent to young children like I am, then you probably woke up Monday morning absolutely drained. After a long weather delay at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City that ensued right as halftime hit, the Bills and Chiefs finally took the field to resume playing. And in the second half, the Bills unrelenting dominance continued.
Sunday Night Football’s AFC title rematch mostly featured a dominant Bills team on both sides of the ball – and the extended weather delay didn’t seem to affect the outcome of the game.
Allen and the Bills ran away with a 38-20 victory over Mahomes and the Chiefs.
TMF, The Front Page: THE BILLS HAVE ARRIVED.
And it’s no fluke.
Behind Josh Allen, the Buffalo Bills look like one of, if not the best team in the entire NFL.
With Stefon Diggs, the duo of running backs, and emerging tight end Dawson Knox, the Bills have as dynamic an offense as anyone in the league. Combine that with the defense, and some of the alpha-dogs this unit has – the Bills are competitive, good, and maybe even complete.
The Bills haven’t simply arrived because they beat the Chiefs. Buffalo has arrived because I believe they can actually compete, and even beat, any team in the NFL.
Behind Josh Allen, the Bills are the team to beat in the AFC.
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LEAD TAKEAWAYS FROM WEEK FIVE
Behind Josh Allen, Bills have changed the narrative in the AFC
“To be the man, you gotta beat the man.”
On Sunday night, Josh Allen and the Bills ‘beat the man’ in the Mahomes led Chiefs – and rather convincingly, too. Buffalo has done a remarkable job of building a team around Josh Allen, and that front office doesn’t get enough credit for it. When Allen was drafted in 2018, the Bills were not a contender, nor were they even a regular playoff team. In fact, last season’s 13-3 record marked the first time since the 1998-1999 seasons that the Buffalo Bills had consecutive winning seasons.
Since Josh Allen was drafted, the Bills are 33-20. Exactly half of Buffalo’s losses since the beginning of the 2018 season came in Allen’s rookie season (6-10). When Allen made a giant leap in his second season, the Bills outlook truly began to change. And the results are glaring as the Bills are 27-10 since the start of the 2019 season.
Looking back at the moves and decisions that Buffalo has made over the past three years, Buffalo’s front office is looking better by the day. Buffalo has been quietly planning, building, and developing a team capable of competing with – and even beating– Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs.
Of course, an NFL team doesn’t build a team with the sole purpose of beating one team. But we’d be lying to ourselves if we thought that teams don’t factor in their competition when planning for a season, or a single game.
Fearless Josh Allen
Josh Allen didn’t fear ‘the man’ on Sunday night when he leaped over Chiefs DB L'Jarius Sneed in the fourth quarter.
And I get the sense that behind Allen, the Bills fear no one.
Mahomes needs more help:
Sunday night wasn’t all about an underwhelming Chiefs defense, or an overpowering Bills defense. If we dive deeper into some of the things the Chiefs are struggling with, the picture might become a bit clearer. Maybe.
Outside of Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, Mahomes really has no one else to rely on in critical moments; third-and-long’s, two-minute no-huddle drives. Over the past few years, it’s sort of been this way, at least so we thought. But now that we look back at past seasons, players like Sammy Watkins may have been a little more important than the Chiefs – or even we – thought.
Teams are game planning for Hill differently, and Kelce isn’t just a pass catcher, he has other tasks in his job description, being a tight end and all. Clyde Edwards-Helaire has largely been a disappointment since being drafted by the Chiefs in the first-round last year. Although there’s still time for CEH to change that narrative given he’s only in his second NFL season, the Chiefs are built to win now.
Waiting two to three seasons for a highly drafted running back or receiver to develop isn’t necessarily a strategy most Super Bowl aspiring teams take. Now let’s be honest for a brief second. We all know (and agree) that it’s unreasonable to expect any NFL franchise to hit on every draft pick. Evaluating players is extraordinarily difficult, and even exceedingly hyped first-round players occasionally don’t pan out.
It is fair to question the position a team drafted, however.
The signing of Josh Gordon signaled to us that Mahomes and the Chiefs know they need more help on offense. And with how putrid the defense is playing – the deficiencies on offense are that much more blatant.
About the defense…
On top of the imperfections on offense, the greater concern in Kansas City should be engrossed on the defensive side of the ball. Five games into the 2021 season, the Chiefs defense has regularly made opposing quarterbacks look like MVP candidates. And if I had to choose which area of this team needs a big boost – it would unquestionably be the defense.
The Chiefs need to genuinely consider adding a real player to this defense, not a depth-type player, but an actual starting caliber difference maker. Miami cornerback Xavien Howard, for example.
At the end of the day, as long as Mahomes is behind center in Kansas City, this team will be fine.
The problem, however, remains the same. With a generational quarterback like Mahomes, the Chiefs should be more than just ‘fine.’
Jon Gruden out as Raiders head coach
As I’m watching Monday Night Football, and writing this column, ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweets out a bombshell.
Jon Gruden is out as the head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders.
Hours prior to the news, The New York Times released further emails from Gruden’s past that displayed Gruden making homophobic and misogynistic comments, among others.
Raiders owner Mark Davis didn’t have much of a choice, and the decision to part ways with Gruden was made swiftly, per reports.
Raiders started the season with promise, and now, questions will surround this franchise for the remainder of the 2021 NFL season.
And as for Jon Gruden, questions will be asked, and many will deserve answers.
Seahawks may need ‘Superman’ to save their season
Russell Wilson injured his right middle finger in Thursday night’s 26-17 loss to a Matt Stafford led LA Rams. And with Wilson reportedly set to miss 4-8 weeks, the Seattle Seahawks are in trouble.
Seattle now sits at 2-3, tied for last in the NFC West. Sitting behind a 5-0 Cardinals team and a 4-1 Rams team, the Seahawks are hardly a bona fide playoff team even before Wilson’s injury. Now, their season rests on the shoulders of backup quarterback Geno Smith. Smith played suitably well when he replaced Wilson on Thursday night, but how far can he actually take this team?
Next week will be fairly telling, when the Seahawks hit the road to face the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on Sunday Night Football. If Geno Smith struggles mightily and Seattle falls short, Pete Carrol might want to consider making a phone call.
And rumor has it, Cam Newton is available.
Jacksonville should cut ties with Urban Meyer sooner rather than later
Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan has to be having second thoughts about the hiring of Urban Meyer. The first 10 months of Meyer’s tenure couldn’t have gone much worse. And with the drafting of Trevor Lawrence being the only bright spot for this franchise, I’d be worried if I were Khan.
Meyer’s actions in that bar last week were incredibly senseless. His apology, or lack thereof, to his team the following Monday was impassive and not particularly heart-wrenching, per reports. But that alone isn’t cause for Meyer’s firing.
His decisions on the football field and in that locker-room are, however.
Meyer looks to have already lost his team’s faith and trust. I’m guessing over the coming weeks we’ll start to hear stories from the likes of Adam Schefter and others, on how certain ‘anonymous’ Jaguars players feel about their disgruntled head coach.
Trevor Lawrence has a bright, bright future in the NFL – and Urban Meyer is not the coach to help get him there.
Through just five games, that is now evidently clear.
TWO-MINUTE DRILL: QUICK-HITTERS FROM THE WEEK
In a Monday Night Football showcase, Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens showed us something Monday night. Coming back from a 22-3 deficit, Lamar Jackson showed me something I had not yet seen from him. And if the Ravens are capable of winning in multiple ways, and Jackson is capable of passing for 400+ yards, the entire league should be on notice.
After a horrendous start, the Patriots found themselves down 21-9 to the Houston Texans. Led by Mac Jones, New England fought their way back to sneak out a win. At 2-3, this team is still a work in progress. Nevertheless, a win’s a win, as they say.
The Packers needs help on defense. And if cornerback Jaire Alexander is out for the season, it’s that much more critical that the front office in Green Bay make a move to bolster its defense.
Packers tried to sign CB Kyle Fuller back in 2018. Could a trade with Denver bring Fuller to Green Bay? Salary cap would have to be reworked, but worth a conversation.
Derrick Henry is a monster.
Giants’ rookie wide receiver Kadarius Toney emerged on Sunday, and he was perhaps the sole bright spot for an injured-riddled Giants team. Toney ended the game with 10 receptions for 189 yards.
The last Giants rookie receiver to have a game like that: Odell Beckham Jr. OBJ had 12 receptions for 185 yards against the Eagles back in 2014.
After yet another heartbreaking loss, I feel for you, Lions fans.
The 'Cliff-Theory’ Update: Tom Brady threw five touchdown passes in a 45-17 whopping of the Dolphins. Brady appears to be standing comfortable on the Cliff, with no signs of falling off just yet.
Is Kyle Shanahan still looked at as one of the best offensive minds in all of football? I’m curious, because I haven’t seen the magic recently. Trey Lance might need more time to sit and learn behind Jimmy Garoppolo. But even so, this 49ers team has the talent to play more consistently on offense.
The 49ers are in year five with both John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan. With a 31-38 record in that span, I’d say we pump the breaks on the confetti.
Falcons rookie tight end Kyle Pitts had a breakout game Sunday morning in London. Pitts caught nine receptions for 119-yards and a touchdown. I should’ve traded for him in my Fantasy Football league when I had the chance…
I know Kyler Murray has had a great start helping the Cardinals take a 5-0 start to the season. But as of today, Justin Herbert would be my pick for NFL MVP. Herbert has elevated this Chargers team in ways I don’t believe we truly appreciate the way we should.
In a year or two, we may look at Herbert and Mahomes in a similar light. Mahomes will always be the superior quarterback, but Herbert could become the Peyton Manning to Tom Brady.
ASK ME ANYTHING FROM THE WEEK
– If not Green Bay, where do you see Aaron Rodgers playing next season?
The obvious names would remain the same as last season’s list, with the Broncos and Raiders leading the list. I do have two teams that were not on the rumor mill this past offseason, but could show interest next offseason, if Rodgers is once again, wanting out of Green Bay.
Pittsburgh and New England.
Again, these are strictly my opinions based on detailed analysis and data I came up with on an excel spreadsheet my six-year-old helped me create.
Where do I believe Aaron Rodgers would want to play?
Which NFL teams are equipped to sell Rodgers on a Super Bowl window?
Teams with a coaching staff that would allow Rodgers to give input on scheme and personnel.
This is all hypothetical, but we all know the Steelers and Patriots want to win now. And I’m 100% certain there will not be a quarterback available in the next five years, via the draft or free agency, who is better than Aaron Rodgers is right now.
– Who’s one player that no one is talking about that could be traded before the deadline?
Saints WR Michael Thomas.
Thomas and the Saints have shared their fair share of disagreements over the past two seasons. If the two sides continue with its disgruntled relationship, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if we see Thomas dealt to a contending team this season.
Especially if Sean Peyton and the Saints don’t view the current team worth investing in.
– Favorite sleeper for the 2022 NFL Draft?
It’s tough to label which college football prospects are sleepers and who aren’t this early on. But one player I really like that isn’t receiving a ton of in season hype is Mississippi State cornerback Martin Emerson Jr.
I really like his overall game. And again, it’s still very early, but I could easily see Harrison being a player that shoots up draft boards late in the process.
FOURTH AND LONG: LOOKING INTO THE FUTURE
Even with Mac Jones, Bill Belichick could still pursue Deshaun Watson
After the offseason Belichick and the Patriots had, it’s fair to say that the team has not only failed to meet expectations. But they’ve flat out look awful. Sure, could they beat the Cowboys this weekend? Absolutely.
But until this team truly turns things around, I’m not buying any of it. Belichick is as competitive a coach as there is in all of sports. He may slowly come to realize that his scheme is best suited for an experienced quarterback who is capable of elevating the players around him. The chapter(s) have only just begun for Mac Jones and his young career. Yet, if Belichick senses that a better option could be had – don’t fool yourself, he will consider it.
“We’re always going to do what’s best for our football team,”
I’ll never claim to have legitimate sources, because I don’t. But I will tell you that I know for a fact that Belichick has always thought Deshaun Watson was one of the best quarterbacks in the league.
Last year, Belichick was asked about defending Watson and the Texans offense, and if there were any similarities from defending Lamar Jackson:
“I think Watson is really a complete quarterback, and they (Texans) run very much of a traditional, professional passing game with the addition of a lot of RPO’s and some moving pocket plays so they give you a lot to defend and they have a terrific group of skill players… and a good QB, a really good QB. Watson has the ability to make all the throws, handle all the passing game from empty 3x1, 2x2 sets, intermediate, deep and quick throws and moving pocket plays. So this is a very difficult offense to defend and I would say Watson has shown the ability as a QB to be as versatile really as anybody we’ve faced.”
Watson’s ongoing legal issues are in no way condoned or supported by myself, or any member of The Draft Scout team. This quote was made prior to Watson’s off the field troubles, so keep that in mind when chirping me on Twitter.
Pursuing Watson would have to happen in the offseason, but assuming Watson can deal with the off-field issues he’s placed himself in, I would rule nothing out with Bill Belichick.
And you shouldn’t either.