Willo's 2020 stock report: Week Three

By Thomas Willoughby

We’re three weeks into the 2020 NFL season, and already I’m sick of it. I’ve made no bones of my Falcons allegiance, but that team makes it damn hard to follow this sport, I’m telling you. Could I have put any of this in the below? Yeah, maybe. But the “sell sell sell” section would be perpetually Falcons. So this is my pledge to you: this is the last you’ll hear of the Falcons in a negative light. From this week on, unless they do something borderline offensive, they don’t exist in a negative light anymore. JUST BE NORMAL.

Anyway, we’ve a lot to get into this week, so let’s not waste any more time. Here’s the stock report.

Invest Heavily

Following a highly improbable Super Bowl comeback against one of the league’s premiere defenses, I proclaimed that Patrick Mahomes was the greatest to ever play the game. No, I wasn’t drunk. I’d watched the game in a Hard Rock Cafe, and you can jog on if you think I’m paying their prices. I might have been overtired, given it was 3am, and a solid 2 hours from home. Regardless, I think I meant it at the time. In hindsight, I stand by that statement.

This guy is something else. It helps that he’s having plays called by Andy Reid and Eric Bienemy, but there are some things you can’t teach. He extends plays for as long as he wants to. He can throw a ball as far as he wants to. The moment the game starts, you’re playing by his rules. Baltimore didn’t stand a chance on Monday night, really. I fully expect the Chiefs to repeat as Super Bowl champions this season, or at least make the Conference Championship, and it’s because of him.

Let me repeat myself: Patrick Mahomes is the best to have ever played the position. And I sincerely mean that. The man is at the absolute peak of his powers. Drink it in. In a decade, that GOAT conversation will be in full swing.

Trending Up

Unlike with Mahomes, I’ve been a little harsher on one Matt LaFleur. Supporting a team that he was employed by previously, of whom didn’t seem particularly impressed by him when it came to replacing their offensive coordinator, I’ve always been sceptical. Especially when he bounced from the Rams to the Titans without leaving much of a scratch in either role. I felt his employment in Green Bay was a mistake. Here’s something you won’t hear me admit often: I was wrong.

LaFleur’s Green Bay has shaken off the disappointment of 2019 in emphatic style. Green Bay have scored 122 points, an average of 40.7 a game – good for 1st in the league. For an offensive-minded Coach like LaFleur, you cannot ask for more than that. Their defense is a work in progress, but that isn’t what he’s necessarily employed to do. This Green Bay offense is clicking in ways I didn’t think possible last season, and you have to assume that’s as a result of the Head Coach.

Is LaFleur riding the arm of Aaron Rodgers? Maybe. We’re probably 3 or 4 seasons away from finding out who was responsible for this revival. For the time being, however, I’ve seen enough. LaFleur is serious.

Mahomes Magic
Photo Credit: Tommy Gilligan - USA Today Sports

Keep An Eye On

Weird one, considering he’s Quarterbacking a 1-2 side that sits behind the Washington Football Team in their division, but I’m going to use this platform to make a bold prediction: Dak Prescott is an outside bet for league MVP. Why are you laughing?

The Dallas Cowboys are 1-2, and would be 0-3 if you replayed their single win 999 times out of 1000. Prescott isn’t the reason that side are where they are. If anything, Prescott is the reason they’re anywhere close to competitive. Three games in, he’s thrown 1188 yards, 5 touchdowns, and 2 picks. The final two stats aren’t impressive in the slightest, but the fact he’s thrown the most passing yards in the league, 150 more than 2nd placed Josh Allen, suggests the Cowboys have become pretty one dimensional. On Sunday, Prescott almost singlehandedly pulled an unlikely victory from a trip to Seattle. 

At the current rate, Prescott will finish the season with over 6000 passing yards. That’s obscene. If the Cowboys are going to do anything this season, it’ll be because of him. Just keep an eye on him going forward. He’s on the verge of becoming a game-breaker.

Trending Down

Week Twelve, 2019. A slightly younger Willo sat down to put together his Stock Report. Trending down that week? The Quarterbacking class of 2015. Week Three, 2020. A weary Willo sits down to put together his Stock Report. Trending Down this week? Carson Wentz. Just Carson Wentz.

Carson Wentz is a really sad subject, because I do think he’s pretty alright. He’s capable of winning games, and he’s capable of a high level of play. Like the previously mentioned Mahomes, he’s able to extend plays for as long as he needs to, and he’s got an impressive passing range on him. But, right now, Carson Wentz isn’t capable of any of that.

It’s not entirely his fault, of course. The Eagles have done a really bad job of surrounding him with anyone other than Zac Ertz. In a tie vs the awful Bengals, Wentz’s top target was Greg Ward Jr. Not event Greg Ward Jr knows who Greg Ward Jr is. It certainly doesn’t help that Philly seem to have a slew of new injuries on an hourly basis. Wentz doesn’t help himself, however. His accuracy is shot to pieces, and, is it just me, or are all his passes super low? There’s no velocity on any of his passes.

It’s become clear, over the last 3 weeks, why Philly took a Quarterback in the 2nd round of the Draft. I’m not sure Wentz is done, but he’ll crash out at this rate. He needs a nap, for goodness sake.

Mahomes Magic
Photo Credit: Laurence Kesterson - AP Photo

Sell Sell Sell!

The Falcons/Saints rivalry is one of the more vicious in the NFL. It doesn’t have the history of Bears/Packers, or the flashpoints of 49ers/Seahawks, but it is the most consistently disgusting. We hate them. They hate us. No one outside of the two fanbases seems to notice, but, trust me, it’s brutal. In recent weeks, there’s been more than a healthy dose of schadenfreude from both camps. Probably a coping mechanism to mask the fact we’re both pretty rubbish right now. With that in mind, is there an element of that to what I’m about to say about Drew Brees? Not totally. But, at the same time, yes.

Drew Brees is a historically good NFL Quarterback. He’s played some very good football over the course of his career, and his stats (while padded to all hell) reflect that. Drew Brees in 2020 is not a good NFL Quarterback. Drew Brees in 2020 is so far over the hill he’s climbing a second hill 3 miles in the distance. He’s done.

His deficiencies can be masked when Michael Thomas is carrying 3 yard slants for 15 yard gains, but take the tall Jarvis Landry away from him and all he can do is check down to his running backs. Against the Packers, his average depth of target was 4.8 yards. He simply cannot push the ball down the field like he used to.

There is an air of 2015 Peyton about Brees. While most neutrals will comment on how sad it is to see his story play out like this, they’ll ignore the fact that, if he wasn’t Drew Brees, he’d be holding Jameis’ clipboard right now. I expect the Saints to still make the playoffs, but that run will be in spite, rather than because, of Drew Brees.

Thomas Willoughby