Ease up with the Dak Prescott discourse; Bills' coaches aren't the problem; and ranking the (bad) head coach openings
The finish line is in sight, folks. There are three games left on the NFL schedule before the offseason hits. This a great time for us to pause, reflect and not overreact to the NFL action that just graced our televisions. Let’s slow down and try to appreciate all the work that goes into being good enough to make it this far in the season. (And make some fun of teams still looking for head coaches.)
Bills coaches are fine; the roster needs some retooling
The Buffalo Bills were bounced from the playoffs in the divisional round for the second straight year after getting trounced 27-10 by the Cincinnati Bengals. This is a disappointing result for a team that had legitimate Super Bowl aspirations and legitimate Super Bowl talent. It was a step down from the dazzling display they put together in Kansas City during last year’s divisional round. The Bills now face more scrutiny than they did after that loss.
That’s fair, to a degree. Scoring 10 points at home in the snow while the other team doesn’t have much of a problem moving the ball is frustrating, but this loss doesn’t indicate a need to shake up the entire structure of the coaching staff as they try and get ready for another run in 2023. The Bills still have the framework for a championship-level team. They have one of the best offensive duos in football with Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs, a great defense on the other side and a solid coaching staff led by Sean McDermott, Leslie Frazier and Ken Dorsey.
Losing this game doesn’t have to lead to them hitting the panic button, but they could use a bit of a retooling this offseason as they try to figure out what the next evolution of this offense looks like. It sounds a bit weird to fans of teams that don’t have a quarterback as good as Allen on their rosters, but Allen could use a bit more help as the Bills navigate this offseason. A steadier offensive line and running back they can use to take some of the onus off of Allen in the run game would make this offense pop. The Bills also need to add another wide receiver next to Diggs for the long haul — that might be an area they attack with their first-round pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.
Allen is going to be a loose cannon in his play style. It’s what makes him great and frustrating at the same time. When he has too much of the responsibility, he can press and make mistakes because he has the physical ability to make any play on the field. Allen needs some of that workload alleviated, which can be done in an offseason if the Bills are deliberate in how they want to continue to build this roster.
The Bills are still in a position to challenge the Chiefs and Bengals for the next few years, but this offseason is going to be pivotal in regards to how competitive they are in the postseason. They’re close, but they need a few tweaks. That’s not worth hitting the detonate button on the entire coaching staff. Try again in 2023, they’ve earned it.
Relax on Dak Prescott and learn to appreciate the actual sport
The way that these standalone games are being discussed is infuriating. On Sunday, the 49ers' defense damn near pitched a perfect game against one of the best quarterbacks in the league and it somehow became a referendum on Dak Prescott instead of an appreciation for an elite defense trying to reach the Super Bowl. Of course, there’s always going to be discussion centered on quarterbacks, and especially the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, but these prime-time games don’t have to put everyone in a chokehold just because it’s the most recent thing the NFL has produced. Taking such an intense microscope to certain players and teams causes people to lose perspective on what’s actually happening on the field.
Just because Prescott was stifled by the best defense in the NFL doesn’t mean that Prescott is suddenly incapable of winning the Super Bowl. Take a step back and look at the big picture. There are so few games in general that hyper-examining one of these outcomes isn’t particularly helpful from a narrative standpoint. Prescott is one of the best quarterbacks in the league. He got his lunch eaten by the best defense in the league. Both things are true, and both things are fine. Playoff games are always going to precede national debates, but it’s important to remember it's just a one-game sample and that all players are capable of having a substandard performance at any point.
Not every quarterback gets to be Patrick Mahomes. Joe Burrow and Josh Allen have had some shaky moments this postseason and it doesn’t take away from their greatness. Lamar Jackson is the engine of the Baltimore Ravens’ offense and even he has games where he struggles to get the ball in the end zone. Players like Burrow, Allen, Prescott and Jackson should make fans appreciate the Mahomes-level players that come once in a generation. At the same time, don’t get so stuck in quarterback-lensed analysis that the other 21 players on the field on any given play fall to the back burner. They’re active participants as well in the games we enjoy.
Dak Prescott is still going to be the quarterback for the Cowboys. The fact that the idea he wouldn't be has become a topic of discussion shows that it’s good to take a second to zoom out and look at the big picture. Try to appreciate the actual sport, not the debate over the sport. That’s how you end up thinking the Cowboys need to move on to their Cooper Rush era.
Giants have no easy answer with Daniel Jones
The Giants are in no man’s land as far as their quarterback situation is concerned. They're faced with the unenviable task of deciding what to do with Daniel Jones as his contract expires this offseason. Jones had his best season as a pro, but it’s fair to wonder if the Giants believe he's worth committing to for the long haul. He also might not be bad enough where it’s worth letting him walk in free agency with no answer to take over for him in the long run. This is a conundrum that’s made only more difficult by the looming Saquon Barkley decision as well.
All options need to be on the table as the Giants navigate this. They don’t actually need Jones himself, but they do need to keep their quarterback position competitive to continue to gain momentum as Brian Daboll gets another season under his belt as the team’s head coach. They’re at the crossroads where struggling teams sometimes arrive.
Committing to Jones long-term might be a tough task considering the money he can command on the open market. Letting Jones walk means they very well might have a worse quarterback on the team for the 2023 season. Franchise tagging Jones would put them in a situation where they either have to sign Barkley to a long-term contract or let him walk in free agency, the latter of which would be a huge blow to their offense considering how much of it was predicated on having Barkley in the backfield.
There’s no perfect answer here, but the Giants have to come up with one rather quickly. It’s not like they’ll be in position to draft a new quarterback with the 25th pick in the 2023 draft. Even going outside of Jones and bringing in Derek Carr or Jimmy Garoppolo can be solutions here. The only unacceptable answer to this situation is ending up without a quality starting quarterback for the upcoming season. How much they decide to commit to that cause will be a pivotal moment for this franchise as the Giants try to build a sustainable machine under Daboll and general manager Joe Schoen.
Good luck, fellas!
Ranking the mostly bad head coach openings in the NFL right now
With Frank Reich taking the job in Carolina, four head coaching opportunities are open right now: Arizona, Houston, Indianapolis and Denver. The group of potential coaches thinned out further when Dan Quinn pulled his name out of the hat and decided to stay in Dallas coaching the Cowboys’ defense.
Maybe there's a good reason for Quinn’s decision. How many of these jobs are actually better than what he has? Is being the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator a better job than the head coach of these four teams? It’s worth asking the question. All four of these jobs have major pitfalls that scream danger, so let’s take a quick chance to rank the jobs that still aren't filled as the NFL enters championship weekend.
1. Arizona Cardinals
There has been a whole lot of dysfunction with the Cardinals, but at least they have a promising quarterback situation with Kyler Murray. This past season was not what Murray or the Cardinals hoped for, obviously, but Murray still has shown that he can be a star quarterback when the pieces are around him. The defense needs building up and the Cards need to add some more pieces in the front seven, but they have a quarterback and the third pick in the draft. Could be worse!
2. Houston Texans
The Houston Texans don’t have a quarterback, but they can at least have a QB prospect with the second pick in the NFL Draft coming up in a few months. Whoever the Texans pick will be in a situation where the onus will be on them to play well, but having the ability to handpick a quarterback is enticing for a new head coaching prospect. Unfortunately, the Texans are going to be on their fourth head coach in the past four seasons, so it’s hard to have faith in management to create a good partnership here.
3. Indianapolis Colts
Hey, Jim Irsay is out there, but at least the Colts are in position to pick their quarterback of the future. That’s all I got. A first-round draft pick and a quarterback.
4. Denver Broncos
Good luck to whoever takes this job. Russell Wilson is your quarterback. There’s no moving on from that for at least another year or two. The Broncos have a first-round draft pick that’s tied to the San Francisco 49ers, which will provide some support, but the biggest thing here is trying to get Wilson to look like the quarterback he was in Seattle — or at least something close to that. That’s going to be tough because that player might not exist anymore. Regardless, there’s a lot of pressure to win immediately with Wilson and his contract, and that might not be feasible.