What a busy time in the NFL! Sure, Sunday Night Football on NBC is missing the season already, but there’s more than enough going on to keep us football fans entertained.
From J.J. Watt soaking up his first free agency experience since being drafted by Houston ten years ago, to Brady unsure what to do without a game or Super Bowl boat parade to attend, there are so many open ends to so many NFL questions yet. Oh yeah, then there’s Cam Newton getting disrespected by a high schooler who has since apologized.
Ahhhhhhh… bask in the drama.
The storylines don’t end there of course. There’s been a lot of quarterback talk this offseason, as there is every offseason, but to be honest, I don’t think we’re talking about some of them enough, and one in particular.
Here’s Three Things I Learned Last Week in the NFL
1) Why is Nobody Talking About Dallas’ QB Problem?
Okay, to be honest, everyone might be tired of hearing about the Dallas Cowboys, who have owned the last three offseasons going back to the Zeke Elliott holdout, then to Dak’s back-and-forth contract uncertainty last season. Because the matter wasn’t resolved last season is the exact reason that it needs to be a topic still today.
Maybe the topic is quiet because everyone is assuming that Dak, recovering from his gruesome ankle break in the middle of last season, is going to be content returning to “America’s Team” under the franchise tag. Currently valued at $37.7 million, the franchise would be a decent payday for Prescott, a former third-round pick, his injury last season is precisely why it shouldn’t be assumed that he will sign it again.
The $31 million that Dak made off the franchise tag last season is enough to live comfortably through the 2021 season should he decide not to sign it, which is an option. That would be another year for him to heal his ankle, and more importantly, send a message to Jerry Jones that it’s deal or no deal, and the franchise tag isn’t an option moving forward.
I don’t believe Dak has been fully utilized in Dallas, as he has the talent to lead a dual-threat offense, but the plays he makes on the run never seem to be scripted and take place rather out of necessity. Unfortunately with the ankle injury, we may never see him be what he could have been, but even limited as he has been, he’s tied with Tom Brady in career passer rating (97.3), is tied with Patrick Mahomes at fifth all time in career completion percentage (66%), and is third in career interception percentage (1.7%) behind Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers who are tied at number one (1.4%).
Dak seems ready to return to Dallas and “run it back” next season, but I would hope that he does so under a new deal, because of all the quarterbacks that are being talked about this offseason, his situation deserves more attention to bring Jerry Jones under the microscope again.
2) Carson Wentz to Indianapolis is a Big Loss for Philly
Speaking of NFC East quarterbacks, Carson Wentz is officially no longer a part of that discussion. After the number one pick in the Wentz and Prescott draft class got traded last month in Jared Goff, Wentz, the second pick, will have a new team as well after the Philadelphia Eagles traded him to the Indianapolis Colts.
The concept of the trade itself isn’t bad as the Colts need a new quarterback after Philip Rivers retired, and the situation with Wentz went sour with the Eagles after he was benched in favor of Nate Sudfeld and Jalen Hurts down the stretch in a season that Philadelphia still had an outside chance of qualifying for the playoffs. What’s awful for the Eagles is the deal that they accepted to move Carson.
— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) February 18, 2021
To be fair, the Los Angeles Rams gave the Detroit Lions two first-round picks and a third-rounder as well as Jared Goff for Matthew Stafford, and the picks were probably enough to get the deal done anyway, but there was no way the Rams could keep Goff, and the Lions then needed someone to sell to the fans after trading Stafford. That said, a third-round pick this season and a second-round next year that could move up to the first-round is a rather light return for a quarterback that has been great when supported, and struggled when not.
Frank Reich was a part of Wentz’s best times with the Eagles, and the pair will try to recreate that in Indianapolis, though Reich has much 52 other guys to worry about than just running the offense nowadays. For Philadelphia, this feels like a loss compounded with another loss to lose Carson for that price. Sure, it’s something in return, but is it really?
3) Rob Ryan Quietly Joined the Ravens Defensive Staff
Enough quarterback talk! I’m officially dubbing this offseason “The Year of the Linebacker” thanks to the performance in Super Bowl LV by Devin White and Lavonte David. In keeping with that theme, the Ravens are feeling it too and have added Rob Ryan to the defensive staff to coach the inside linebackers and, notably to me, Patrick Queen.
Rob Ryan is a former defensive coordinator for a number of teams including the Browns, Cowboys, Bills and Saints, just to name a few, but in 2019 returned to coaching inside linebackers for the then Washington Redskins. Ryan’s career got kicked into gear after he was the inside linebackers coach for the New England Patriots from 2000-2004, when he coached guys like Willie McGinnest, Tedy Bruschi and Mike Vrabel.
The Baltimore Ravens have enjoyed over 20 years of excellent inside linebacker play from guys like Ray Lewis and CJ Mosley, and are looking for Queen, a first-round pick last year out of LSU, to carry on that torch. While Chase Young ran away with the AP Rookie Defensive Rookie of the Year honors this year, Queen was barely a blip, receiving just one vote. The first-year linebacker recorded 66 tackles and three sacks while forcing three turnovers (one interception), on a defensive unit that ranked seventh overall in total defense in 2020, as ranked according to yards allowed per game.
With the defensive front potentially losing the talents of free-agents Matt Judon and Yannick Ngakoue, Queen will be poised to take on a more prolific role for the Ravens next season, and Rob Ryan’s hire, though under the radar since late January, could make a statement.
Of course, there’s a lot going on this time of year, even though it’s the “offseason”. Did something catch your attention that didn’t get mentioned here? Any thoughts on what stood out to me? Let me know in the comments below, or on Twitter @JarkClonas, and be sure to tag @110Sports.