Willo's 2020 stock report: Week Twelve
By Thomas Willoughby
Okay. Before we get into this weeks stocks, I want to take a minute to talk to you about the COVID situation in the NFL. At the time of writing, the Baltimore Ravens are in the midst of an epidemic the league hasn’t seen. Their game with the Steelers has been rescheduled to an 8.40pm (our time) kick off on Wednesday, leading to a host of other reschedulings to counter it.
Arguing that the Ravens should be forced to forfeit the game because “they can’t get their act together” is a bad take. You’d be denying the Ravens an honest shot at the playoffs, and the Steelers players would lose their game cheques. The NFL has put the bare minimum in place to prevent or help teams tackle outbreaks in their buildings. Be angry at them, not the players risking their health for your entertainment.
Enough of that, let’s get into why we’re all here: your week 12 stocks!
Way back in week 3, I waxed lyrical about Patrick Mahomes, and how he is the GOAT-elect. This week I’m revisiting that conversation. Not only is Mahomes currently playing at a supremely high level, he’s playing at a level that not even he has reached. This is special stuff.
462 yards against anyone is exceptional. 462 yards against an actually really good Buccaneers defense is even better. Mahomes made it look easy against Tom Brady’s new side. How that game ended as close as it was I will never know. Seemingly every time I looked up, Mahomes was slinging it for a touchdown. Either way, they got it done, and that was thanks to Patrick Mahomes. But it’s not even this weekend he’s been like this. It’s been this way basically all season.
Through 11 games, he has 30 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. In his best season, Mahomes managed 50 touchdowns and 12 picks. With 5 games to go, it’s unlikely Mahomes reaches that number of touchdowns, but it’s clear that he’s become a lot safer over the past 2 years. He should be the outstanding candidate for league MVP in 2020.
This selection is unprecedented. For the first time in the history of this series, the player “trending up” isn’t actually “trending up”. In all likelihood, he won’t ever play again. But the way he handled himself, under the most difficult of difficult circumstances, needs to be highlighted. Kendall Hinton, get yourself a pint, my friend. You did great.
I’m not sure there’s ever been a situation where one player has been set up to fail more than Kendall Hinton. The guy played Quarterback at Wake Forest (which I’m reliably informed is not actually a forest), and lost the starting gig in his 2nd season, never getting the opportunity to win it back. In his final year, he transitioned into a slot receiver, and balled out, earning a spot on the Denver Broncos practice squad. Then the Broncos Quarterback room decided to take their masks off around Jeff Driskel, who tested positive for COVID-19, making them all ineligible for selection that Sunday. Guess who was called up to start under center?
I won’t dress this up. Kendall Hinton was bad. He sucked so bad. He completed one pass from nine attempts, for 13 yards, and a further two interceptions. You could argue that he was lucky to not throw 2 more. The fact that he was out there, though? Unbelievable. He moved around pretty well, too, taking a single sack against a defense that registered 8 on Matt Ryan a week previous. That’s a win, in my book.
Hinton won’t ever play Quarterback in the NFL again. He probably won’t take any snaps as a receiver, either (though he definitely should). But to have the mettle to even go out there says more about his character than anything else. Great job, my guy. Hope that organisation is getting you a decent Christmas present.
Keep An Eye On
We’re well in the thick of the season, and a pretty significant number of sides have already started planning for 2021. The Texans and Falcons tried to get the jump on everyone else by moving on from Bill O’Brien and Dan Quinn respectively after torrid starts to their years. Things are starting to get serious now, though. Head coaching firings are coming thick and fast.
Following their Thanksgiving defeat to the Huston Texans, Matt Patricia was finally put out of his misery. His time as the Lions head coach was really, awful. Ownership in Detroit must be avid readers of this series, because I absolutely slated that man a few weeks ago. Having sold off everything of worth in pursuit of the first overall pick, the Jacksonville Jaguars have moved on from long time GM Dave Caldwell. Doug Marrone has been told he will see out the season, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he doesn’t go any further than that.
And then you have what’s going on with the Jets. It’s a weird situation because it’s clear that team isn’t going anywhere, and it’s becoming more and more clear they’re going to lose every single game. Yet Adam Gase remains. Do they think he’s their best shot at Trevor Lawrence? Probably.
Expect to see way more firings in the coming weeks. I predict a further 3 positions (Chargers, Bears, Eagles) opening up, in addition to the aforementioned Jaguars and Jets roles. I could probably make a case for at least 2 more on top of those. Keep one eye on the coaching carousel. It’s just starting to get going.
You don’t get to lose to these Atlanta Falcons and think you can get away with it. You don’t get to get blown out by these Atlanta Falcons and think you can escape my gaze. Las Vegas, your new team just embarrassed themselves internationally. You should be ashamed.
The Falcons defense is absolutely atrocious. They let Taysom Hill play like a real life Quarterback only last week. Yet the Raiders made them look like a professional defense. Everything about that showing from them was abhorrent. 5 turnovers, 4 sacks given up, and a total of 6 points scored. The Raiders were so bad Derek Carr got benched. Final score? 41-6. The Falcons offense wasn’t even very good! It was an absolutely disgusting display by a side I’ve been secretly hoping I can champion.
They sit 6-5, and have the ultimate “get healthy” fixture up next, hosting the New York Jets. After that, they play the Colts, Chargers, Dolphins, and Broncos. Oh they’re gonna blow it again, aren’t they?
Sell Sell Sell!
I support the Atlanta Falcons. You know this, I’ve made no secret of this. Part of the deal, over the past couple of seasons, is that we’re barely selected for the UK coverage. Outside of prime time offerings, we’ve been on Sky Sports exactly zero times in 2020. So Gamepass (and RedZone during the bye) has been my home for live football this season. On Thursday, however, I tuned into the Thanksgiving slate of games, on Sky Sports, looking forward to a doubleheader of barely professional football. What I watched was appalling.
Neil Reynolds is the broadcasting equivalent of Marmite, at this point. He’s been doing the job for long enough that you know what you’re getting with him, and you either like it or don’t. I fall in the latter category, on the basis that I find he tends to stop anchoring the show, and tries to become a comedian, far too often. That said, I can appreciate that a lot of people do like that style of presenting, and fair play to him. Alongside him, however, we had Sky Sports veteran Shaun Gayle, and Quarterbacking legend Vince Young. This is where things became unforgivable.
Shaun Gayle is fine. He’s been around long enough that, again, you know what you’re getting with him. Vince Young turned up to the studio having done absolutely no preparation. He admitted to not watched the Lions this season (one of the sides playing that night). He didn’t seem to know who T.J. Hockenson was. He suggested Dwayne Haskins would find a job as a starting Quarterback away from Washington on the basis that there are “no Quarterbacks in the NFL right now” DURING THE POSITIONS GOLDEN AGE. Most hilariously, he seemed surprised to find out the Buccaneers played on Monday night.
They have a history of giving air time to voices that don’t seem to know what they’re saying (Rob Ryan), and it’s atrocious that it’s ongoing. Inbetween ill-informed analysis, and groan-inducing banter, we cut away to regular “social media round-ups”, showing us people in their jerseys, displaying their mid-week roast dinners. It’s more Soccer AM than Super Sunday.
I don’t want to criticise what they do at Sky too much. For all their faults, they’ve ultimately been the driving force behind the growth of the sport over here. But it’s 2020. The sport has been on a consistent up for about a decade. The UK fan isn’t in for the novelty any more. They’re in because they care, and they’re knowledgeable. It feels like it’s time for the UK’s flagship broadcast to recognise that. It’s time to grow up with your audience.
Or, at the very least, commit to never getting Vince Young back.