Willo's 2020 stock report: Week Thirteen
By Thomas Willoughby
I try to keep this weekly thing as fresh as I can. Repeating myself isn’t fun for me or you, so mixing it up as best I can insures it stays interesting. Or as interesting as it can be. But some things need to be said.
DIRK KOETTER. GET OUT OF MY CLUB RIGHT NOW. Not content with calling one of the most pathetic offensive showings of the season, against the Saints, when he’s lucked into a position to win the game he calls 3 straight run plays. Against the best run defense in the league. Get out of my sight you utter blight.
I’m sorry. Here’s the stocks.
We’re just about to enter the final quarter of the NFL season, and things are just starting to heat up. Forget about what’s going on at the top of the AFC and NFC. Those races are dead. The scrap for those wildcard spots is where it’s at.
Over in the AFC, occupying those Wildcard spots, you have Cleveland, Miami, and Indianapolis. On the bubble, Las Vegas, Baltimore, and New England represent the teams with the best shot at making it. In the NFC, Seattle, Tampa Bay, and Minnesota (HOW) are currently in. Arizona are 6-6, and a slew of 5-7 teams (Bears, Lions, 49ers, Washington) could make a legitimate argument for being in the hunt.
Now I’m not going to make any predictions, here. But I feel like those positions, especially those in the NFC, are going to change hands on a weekly basis. Right up until the final day, I’m not sure we’ll know who is finishing where. Fasten your seatbelts, folks.
Contributing to that playoff conversation is, and I cannot believe I’m saying this, the NFC East. The much-maligned division has been the butt of jokes across the league this season. Hell, I’ve advocated for its destruction on more than one occasion here. Yet here we are. They genuinely might have two representatives in this season’s post-season. Unbelievable.
The New York Giants sit atop the tree at 5-7. A pretty poor record, granted. But they’ve won 5 of their last 7, including handing the Seattle Seahawks a defeat few expected. All while running the ball heavily without Saquon Barkley, and passing the ball effectively without Daniel Jones. They face Arizona, Cleveland, Baltimore, and Dallas in their final 4 games.
The Washington Football Team, not to be outdone, traveled to Pittsburgh for a rare 10pm kick off. The Steelers were, rightfully, heavy favourites. You don’t get to 11-0 to not be considered favourites. Despite being down 14-0 at one point, Washington hung close. Out of nowhere, in the 4th quarter, they found themselves up 20-17. Literally minutes later, Montez Sweat bats down an errant Roethlisberger pass, which Jon Bostic gladly picks off. Washington find themselves up 23-17 with about 15 seconds on the clock. They hold Washington are now 5-7, and face San Francisco, Seattle, Carolina, and Philadelphia.
I don’t want to hazard a guess as to how this ends up. Both sides could legitimately lose the final 4 games of the season. They might win a few between them. But they’re hanging tough, against good sides. Whoever takes the division might actually do something there. Whichever side doesn’t take it has a genuine shot at the wildcard. The best part is that things are close enough for either Philly or Dallas to make a late run. The NFC East: the most interesting division in football. What a time to be alive.
Keep An Eye On
You don’t need me to tell you how the NFL Draft order is set. You also don’t need me to tell you that the New York Jets, with a 0-11 record going into this weekend, are one of, if not the, worst teams in the history of the league. They hosted the Las Vegas Raiders, a side with playoff aspirations. If it weren’t for one of the worst play calls of the weekend (we’ll get into that), they’d be 1-11. They’re 0-12, and firmly grasping the number one overall pick.
The Jacksonville Jaguars started the season absolutely desperate for that pick. That’s why they’ve thrown Gardner Minshew under every single bus they pass. They’ll never forgive him for that week one win. Having fired everyone making decisions, and essentially condemned the existing coaching staff to the same fate, Jacksonville have embraced the tank like only the 2019 Miami Dolphins could previously. Albeit with close to zero chance of getting their top target with wins.
Where am I going with this? Great question. The Jets have 4 games you’d expect them to lose to round out the season, including a potential playoff-deciding trip to New England on the final day. Those two sides are the only teams with a realistic shot at Trevor Lawrence. Can I shock you by suggesting you keep one eye on how they end the season? The way Darnold played on Sunday (competently) might well earn them a win. The race to the bottom might actually be something, you know.
Don’t look now, but the Arizona Cardinals are on the slide, here. They went from potential NFC West winners to possibly missing out on the playoffs in the space of about a fortnight. The NFL is wild like that.
They didn’t just lose on Sunday. It wasn’t even close. The Rams put on a clinic of efficiency. They limited Kyler Murray’s ability to rack up passing yards, and allowed DeAndre Hopkins all the catches he wanted to limited yards. And Jared Goff just slung it. The Cardinals didn’t seem to have an answer.
They’re well in the mess, now. With the Giants, Eagles, 49ers, and Rams to round the season out, you just can’t call which way they’re going to go. Having lost 3 on the spin, I have no reason to believe they’re going to turn it around. Anything less than playoffs should be the end of the Kingsbury experience. Prove me wrong, Kliff.
Sell Sell Sell!
The New York Jets are really bad, guys. Like so bad. They’re the worst team I‘ve ever seen. Genuinely. Yet, on Sunday, they were so close to winning. They were up by 4, the Raiders had the ball at the halfway line, and there was enough time for maybe one play. Not even they could blow it.
They blew it.
Gregg Williams dialled up an all-out blitz on the final play of the game, and Carr found Henry Ruggs for a touchdown. Gregg Williams was fired the next day following an absolute pasting from his own players. Bye Gregg.
Let me make myself absolutely clear: Gregg Williams did not “throw the game”; he knew his time with the Jets was up at the end of the season, along with every other coach on that team. The idea that he would try to preserve the best pick in the draft for his soon to be former employers was nonsense. He called that blitz with absolute sincerity, and it should keep him from working as a coordinator in the NFL from now on.
Williams has disgraced himself for over a decade at this point. Be it having played a key role in the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal of 2009, being involved with Jeff Fisher’s anemic St. Lois/Los Angeles Rams, or calling plays for the 0-16 Cleveland Browns’ defense, Williams is over.
Sell this man for whatever you can get for him. Let the league see the back of him.