Willo's 2020 stock report: Week Eight

By Thomas Willoughby

There’s only one thing I want to talk about this week. It’s not the Falcons win (that said, who’s beating us now? 10-6 incoming, baby. Send me to Tampa.), and it’s not the Jets who are still awful. It’s not even the state of the Chargers who, despite the NOTICEABLE lack of memes, are even worse chokers than my Falcons. No, it’s from Sunday evening at Soldier Field. Javon Wims, come on down.

Javon Wims trying to punch the helmet off of C.J. Gardner-Johnson is, without question, the funniest thing I’ve seen this week. Everything about it is pure comedy. The quick glance from the Saint after being hit the first time, just to check if this was actually happening. The arrogant shuffle from Wims as he readied a second. Just incredible. I don’t truly understand the motivation behind that series of events, but I do find it interesting that Michael Thomas was suspended by the Saints for something very similar only a few weeks ago.

Either way, I found it hilarious, and I hope you all did too. Here are the stocks!

Invest Heavily

I thought Brian Flores did an excellent job in 2019 under really difficult circumstances. He took over a Miami Dolphins side that had made the conscious decision to lose as many games as they could. What few assets the team had were sold the the highest bidder, and they’d gone all in on tanking the season for Tua Tagovailoa. Despite coaching a team designed to fail, Flores managed to pull a 5 win season from somewhere, AND land their number one target. After 8 weeks in 2020, the Dolphins are 4-3, 2nd in the AFC East, and an outside bet for a playoff berth. A lot of that can be owed to Flores, and the job he’s done coaching-wise. Even more is owed to the defense.

It helps that they had loads to spend in free agency, and could afford to throw comically overstuffed bags with dollar signs on them at the likes of Byron Maxwell and Kyle Van Noy. But they’re pulling together in a way only a handful of teams are even close to matching. To this point, no team in the league has conceded less points than the Miami Dolphins. It’s amazing.

If the Dolphins make the playoffs it’ll 100% be thanks to that defensive unit. As Tagovailoa acclimatises to the NFL, they’re going to lean on that defensive unit heavily to get them through games. Going into 2021 and beyond, though, look out. The Dolphins might actually be onto something.

Photo Credit: Wilfredo Lee - AP Photo

Trending Up

In week two, I had the rookie pairing of Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert trending up, on the basis that they’ve been really good. Since then, they’ve been nothing short of excellent. I think they deserve another mention. This class of rookie quarterbacks is insanely good. 

Joe Burrow just played the Tennessee Titans, a team renowned for its exceptional defensive play, and completed just over 70% of his passes to the tune of 249 yards and 2 touchdowns. Justin Herbert put up 278 yards, and 3 touchdowns, on a “still really good” Denver Broncos defense. And, while he didn’t really go much of anything, Tua Tagovailoa scored his first professional touchdown as the Dolphins beat a tricky LA Rams side.

These guys just keep on impressing. This is as good a QB class as I’ve ever seen. Probably just edged out by 2012, if I have to really think. The only thing standing in the way of these guys having their teams competing long term are the decisions out of their hands. Personnel and coaching. Right now, though, I want to watch them every week. Absolute box office stuff.

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I think the Ravens are really good. Rather, I think the Ravens have the potential to be really good. I like Lamar Jackson a lot, and his offense is capable of scoring bundles of points at a whim. That defense, too. Wow. So heed these words accordingly: the Baltimore Ravens are in a spot of bother.

It’s weird to say that, too. They’re 5-2, almost certainly going to be in the playoffs, and I would be shocked if they don’t win at least one playoff game. They’ve played exactly 2 good teams over their 7 games, however, and have lost both times. That. in my opinion, is bad.

I’m reluctant to write them off, but they’re a side in need of a classic “statement win”. 4 of their last 9 opponents have winning records, so their window for pulling that out of the bag is closing. Their best bet is against the Titans on November 22nd. Let’s call it playoff redemption. I’m excited already.

Trending Down

For all my praise of Matt LaFleur in week three, I have to be equally critical of Mike Pettine. That Green Bay defense is pretty rubbish.

Over 7 games, they’ve conceded less than 20 points once, and that was against an abject Atlanta Falcons. Over the past 3 weeks, they’ve given up a total of 86 points, and two of the sides they played have exactly 3 wins between them. They’re ranked 25th in terms of rushing touchdowns given up, and are a bottom 5 defense when it comes to touchdowns given up in the redzone (ranked 28th). Fools gold, I tell you.

The former Browns Head Coach got some serious praise last season for the job he’d done turning that Packers defense around, but they’re in danger of the floor falling out. Like the Ravens before them, they need a statement performance. Against an ailing San Francisco 49ers this Thursday, they might well have that chance. That said, if anyone can expose a defenses deficiencies, it’s Kyle Shanahan. Good luck, Mike.

Photo Credit: Mike Roemer - AP Photo

Sell Sell Sell!

Week 8 and we’re about to see our first big swing from ya boi Willo: I was wrong about the Cleveland Browns. They’re the same as they ever were. The Browns are bad, and you should want nothing to do with them. If you’ve any stock in them, I urge you to shift it as quickly as you can. This team is going nowhere.

Oh it’s a big bet. 5-3 is a good position to be in, by anyone’s estimation. Yet the Browns are a team significantly outperforming where they probably should be. Over 200 points scored over 8 games is pretty good. Conceding 237 in that time, however, is not. Only the New York Jets and the Dallas Cowboys have conceded more. That isn’t a sustainable winning model. Against the Las Vegas Raiders, an actually good side, their offense just didn’t bother getting off the coach. There’s just nothing there.

The Browns have 3 very winnable games in a row coming up. By the end of November, the Browns might well have secured a non-losing season for the first time since 2007. Do they go any further than that, though? Not for me, thanks. Even if they do win the 5 games they should win, and make the playoffs, they’re going nowhere. Think the 2016 New York Giants and Miami Dolphins. Think the 2009-2015 Cincinnati Bengals. Yeah, you made it. Well done. Where are you going next, though?

Awful franchise.

Thomas Willoughby