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The OCHO: Week 13
The AFC is in chaos
Here we go with this week’s eight observations. The first one is a bit long, but bear with me.
Surprise Number One: It’s time to talk about Tua
I have been avoiding talking about Tua Tagovailoa all season. This has not stopped me from talking about the situation with Deshaun Watson, mind you, which I have burned the Dolphins for repeatedly. But as far as just evaluating Tua, his progress, and his future, I have stayed pretty quiet. I am also the ONLY person on earth to do so. Talking about Tua has become something of a cottage industry. Dolphins fans have become extremely aggressive both defending and attacking Tua, anyone who talks about Tua, or anyone taken before or after Tua in the draft. As a result, it feels like people just try to get Tua’s name into every clip they make, regardless of whether it makes any sense at all. Look at this clip from Chris Simms. Simms is OBVIOUSLY trolling, as this comparison makes absolutely no sense. There are plenty of descriptors for Taysom Hill, but accurate isn’t one. Meanwhile, Tua sets accuracy records every week at this point. Listen to Logan Ryan moaning and groaning about the Dolphins’ approach. He is the third defender this season to specifically attack Tua following a loss to him. The reason I have avoided talking about Tua, is simply that I think he is a solid young QB with potential in a bad situation. For most of the season, the Dolphins have been irrelevant. I don’t know if he will live up to it or not. I am not sure the Dolphins will let him. But the Dolphins are relevant now, so here is what I do know.
He makes good decisions with the football. Compared to most of his young peers, he has significantly fewer interceptions. This is also true of Mac Jones. You can see how this was emphasized at Alabama, and it helps players start well in the NFL.
He is accurate with where he puts his throws. It’s not just getting the ball to a player. Tua leads players so they can get YAC. He puts the ball low over the middle, and high outside to prevent INTs or getting WRs killed.
His arm strength is not elite. This is very apparent. His throws look a lot like Drew Bress or Russell Wilson. Loopy, but sometimes by design. He will have to anticipate very effectively to be a great QB.
He has some mobility, but not much. He quietly has 6 rushing TDs in his career (more than Kyler Murray’s first 17 games). But he rarely runs, and probably shouldn’t. He is neither fast nor elusive. He is VERY good, however, at moving in the pocket to avoid the constant rush the terrible Dolphins’ line allows.
His health continues to be a problem. He has never played a full season at either the college or pro level. It’s becoming a noticeable issue. At this point, most of the injuries do not appear to be chronic. Even the hip issue hasn’t resurfaced. Still, it’s concerning. You would think protecting him would be priority one, but I am not even sure the Dolphins know they are allowed to.
Surprise Number Two: No one wants to be in charge in the AFC.
We will see what tonight holds, but it is very possible the Patriots could lose, and the top seed in the AFC will change hands once again. Right now there are 13 teams with somewhere between 4-6 losses. The Dolphins, with 7, are still very much in the mix. That’s 14 possible playoff teams for 7 spots. I am not even going to pretend to have any idea how this will sort out. Most teams face the very realistic possibility they could win the top seed or miss the playoffs entirely. Games like Sunday’s Steelers Ravens game that was decided by literal inches on the final pass of the game will end up being huge in the final result. Tonight’s game will have a huge say in who gets the top spot. It’s very, very possible that SEVERAL winning teams will miss the playoffs in the AFC, while MULTIPLE teams at .500 or less could be in in the NFC. Last year, the 10-6 Dolphins missed the playoffs so the 7-9 WTF could be in.
Surprise Number Three: The Vikings lost to the Lions
Look, this isn’t a total surprise. Look at the above tweet I made. That is a week ago. I know the Vikings do stuff to lose like have their QB stuff his hand in the wrong man’s taint, or have entire memes based on their kicking situation and a horror movie, or just suck for weeks at a time for no reason. But look at this.
That is just straight up negligence. It is the mirror image of the Jets blitzing everyone last season with the game on the line and the opposing team fifty yards from the end zone. Here they simply take almost all their players off the field and let Jared Goff throw a simple square in for at TD as time expires. It’s so insane if feels intentional. Does Mike Zimmer just want to be fired at this point?
Surprise Number Four: The most brotastic thing you will ever see
The Eagles aren’t going anywhere this season. Jalen Hurts is bad at throwing. The defense is extremely ordinary. The running game works sometimes, so that is fun. But Jalen Hurts got hurts last week, so we got to see everyone’s favorite mustache totin’, fighter pilot gearin’, Axe sniffin’, brotastic bro Gardner Minshew step in and lead the Eagles to a critical win over the defenseless Jets. Are the Eagles going anywhere with Minshew? For sure no. But they probably aren’t going anywhere with Hurts either. Both are very different quality backups and that’s it. But if you think for even one second I am not going to savor this display of ape like manhood, you are completely, and totally insane. Minshew is perfect for Philadelphia where 85 percent of the males engage in a similar display to establish their oedipal credentials. God bless him.
Expected Thing Number One: The Seahawks beat the 49ers
This game came across as an upset to many (including me). It shouldn’t have been though. The Seahawks have had the 49ers number for a while now, including earlier this season. The players may have changed, but Pete Carroll definitely seems to have Kyle Shanahan figured out. Also, Russell Wilson started to look like Russell Wilson again. Was it an aberration? Just a good matchup? Is his finger finally better? We will find out in the weeks to come. Pretty much everything is at stake for the Seahawks. Meanwhile, the 49ers keep taking two steps forward and one back in their push for the playoffs. This was a critical game, and they choked. They are running out of chances.
Expected Thing Number Two: Running the ball is super important… according to analysts
It’s hard to go 10 feet these days without hearing some seasoned NFL mind preaching about the importance of a running game. Of course, this is non-sense. While it is important to keep some semblance of balance on your team, the key to moving the sticks this season is not running the ball. Here are the three best teams at running the ball this year. The Eagles, Browns and Colts. Combined, they are .500. Running the ball is NOT important. What is important, this year, is being able to move the ball consistently in smaller increments. Teams have given up on the idea of pressuring elite QBs and offenses for the most part. Many, many teams have started to keep two safeties deep almost the entire time. The goal is to take away deep completions and make teams march down the field. So teams with smart QBs who can keep a high completion percentage have been doing well. We just talked about Tua, but Tom Brady and Derek Carr run the two most successful passing offenses by yards. It’s what teams are giving up right now. Don’t tell Tony Dungy though. He thinks the solution for every offense is to run the ball more, regardless of any mitigating factors of any kind.
Expected Thing Number Three: The Steelers kept their season alive, the Ravens opened the door to failure.
In spite of themselves, the Steelers managed to hang in there and snag a win in a tough matchup with the Ravens (they were my money line upset pick of the week). Once Marlon Humphrey went down with a season ending injury, the near total lack of cornerbacks for the Ravens sparked the awful Steelers offense into gear and they managed enough fourth quarter points. Unfortuntately for them, they won’t get to keep playing secondaries without cornerbacks, however. Meanwhile the Ravens are in real trouble, as injuries continue to peel away options on offense and defense. With the Browns, Packers, Bengals, Rams and Steelers coming up (not a single losing record), the Ravens will be trying desperately to hang onto their playoff spot. The Steelers will try to send Ben Roethlisberger off into the Sunset Valley Retirement Home of his dreams by losing in the first round, but will also have their hands full with the Vikings, Titans, Chiefs, Browns and Steelers. It’s completely possible that both of these two could miss the playoffs. Those two inches between drop and catch in the clip above might end up deciding whether or not they do.
Expected Thing Number Four: The NFL goat sliding doors moment for all of history.
Remember this? Well, Broncos fans do. They ROASTED Teddy for his total disinterest in contact for the last several weeks following this non-incident. Teddy had no choice but to take it… until Sunday came around. Teddy Bridgewater had a terrible day, throwing several INTs and generally being totally unable to complement a strong running game lead by future fantasy draft pick Javonte Williams. Meanwhile, Daniel Sorenson has had the season from hell. He was constantly tormented across the league for giving up one huge play after another as the core of the problem with the Kansas City defense. On Sunday, the wrong kind of goats finally met up. In a moment that could not have been put together by the script writer for Sliding Doors two of this season’s biggest punching bags had their chance at redemption. Teddy Bridgewater could make the tackle to save the touchdown and keep the game going. Daniel Sorenson could break loose, and seal the game. Let’s watch.
Oof. Teddy delivers a hit only a mother could love. Falls over. Trips the last man with a chance by putting his face in front of that player’s foot. Meanwhile Daniel Sorenson dances to glory. I am not sure there is a clip that would better explain the Chiefs and Broncos in the Patrick Mahomes era. Congratulations to you, Daniel Sorenson, for going and doing something like this