Based on a report that was out there last week, NFL fans may have dodged a bullet. We have seen the need for the league to have scheduling flexibility in this COVID-19 influenced season; games have been moved around and postponed and the like. According to the report last week, if the Lions/Jags game had to have been postponed, the only option left for the league would be to play that game in Week 18. There was no way to put that game anywhere in the existing 17-week schedule. The existence of a “Week 18” would necessitate a change in the playoff schedule and the Super Bowl; it would be disruptive.
Now, imagine for a moment that the NFL gets incredibly lucky with its schedule-juggling act for the rest of the year. Would anyone want the Lions/Jags game to be the only game taking place in a “Week 18”?
That report, coming so early in the season, points to the likelihood of an extended regular season this year. However, the only reason to play games in an extended season between teams that are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs or involving a team whose playoff seeding is cast in concrete would be to ascertain the order in the 2021 NFL Draft. That is pretty thin gruel in terms of motivation and meaning – – but once the extension has been scheduled and the playoff games moved and the Super Bowl moved, there is no real way to untangle that mess.
Fans dodged the bullet last week of seeing a Lions/Jags game in Week 18, but there are other riflemen on the firing squad. Fans need to remain nimble – – and lucky.
While on the subject of the NFL and things that do not make a lot of sense, let me bring up the NY Jets once again. After their loss to the Dolphins last week, the Jets traded DT, Steve McClendon to the Bucs. McClendon is 34 years old; by the time the Jets rebuild and approach relevance, he will likely be out of the league. Nonetheless, he is functional defensive lineman at this point in his career and the Bucs need a DT because of an injury to Vita Vea. So, the trade made sense to me in that the Jets – seemingly – were trading away veteran assets to amass more draft picks.
However, as I looked at the details of the trade, things got a bit murkier:
- Bucs get McLendon plus the Jets’ 7th round pick in 2023
- Jets get the Bucs 6th round pick in 2022.
Forget the timing of the two draft picks; that is really getting down into the weeds. A 6th round pick is marginally better than a 7th round pick – with the emphasis on the word marginally. So, the Jets sent off one of their starting defensive linemen for a marginal improvement in draft position in 2022. That’s it? That’s all there is?
The story continues… In this morning’s Washington Post, there is a report according to “a person with direct knowledge of the deal” that the Jets have traded outside linebacker Jordan Willis to the Niners. Willis is not the second coming of Lawrence Taylor, but he is a functional player and the Niners need defensive help due to injuries. So, here is the reported deal:
- Niners get Jordan Willis plus the Jets’ 7th round pick in 2022
- Jets get Niners’ 6th round pick in 2022.
Stop me if you have heard this before…
Take these trades and juxtapose them with the outright release of LeVeon Bell about a week ago; the Jets got nothing for Bell, a pittance for McClendon and a drop in the bucket for Willis. Now, tell me that the Jets have not thrown in the towel on the 2020 season…
As I said, Steve McClendon is a competent DL and Willis is a functional LB, but they were simply marking time with the Jets. There is no defensive lineman or linebacker in the history of the NFL who could make the 2020 Jets into a good team. In fact, the 2020 Jets even prior to these player giveaways might be an historically bad team if they continue the path they are currently on. Consider:
- After 6 games, the Jets have a point differential of minus-110. That is an indictment of the Jets’ offense and the Jets’ defense.
- [Aside: The next worst point differential this year after 6 games belongs to the miserable Jags – – but the Jags’ mark is only minus-56 points which is only half of the Jets’ margin of defeat.]
- If you project the Jets’ stat out to 16 games – I know, that is not likely to happen – the Jets’ point differential for the season would be minus-293.3 points.
- The worst point differential in NFL history was posted by the expansion Tampa Bay Bucs in 1976 at minus-287 points.
On track to be historically bad…
There was another report late last week that made me scratch my head. The report at CBSSports.com said that the Lions coaches were working with Matthew Stafford on his footwork mechanics. I recognize that no one is perfect; everyone has room for improvement. Having said that, I wonder if it might be a bit late to make any significant changes to Matthew Stafford’s muscle memory.
- In his college career, Stafford dropped back and threw 987 passes completing 564 of those passes. He had 51 TDs and 33 INTs and was the overall #1 pick in the 2009 NFL Draft.
- In 12 seasons in the NFL, Stafford dropped back and threw 5,864 passes completing 3661 of those passes. He had 265 TDs and 138 INTs.
It is about time someone corrected his footwork…
Finally, here is an item from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times:
“Seahawks QB Russell Wilson says he taught speedy second-year wideout DK Metcalf to swim this summer.
“The 100-yard fly, we presume.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………