There is no sense breaking this game action down in any detail, because it was pretty obvious just a few minutes into it that Atlanta was gonna blow the doors off of Green Bay. The Packers kept coming up short on the early opportunities while stacking up more and more injured players from the opening whistle through the whole game. It wouldn’t have mattered if the Packers scored on one of the earlier drives or didn’t lose a couple players to injury early – Atlanta was just the better team. There was no tentativeness or conservatism in Atlanta’s play – they just came out and thumped the Packers. Perhaps, if we could redo the entire season and the Packers keep their defense healthy all year (but still keep Lacy and Starks injured) and thus built continuity and experience on the defense…maybe they would’ve put up a better fight here, but on this day, at this time, the Falcons deserved to win and they did.
Here’s why I know none of us still truly respects the Atlanta Falcons… If I told you that you had a free chance at one million dollars by correctly picking next year’s NFC Super Bowl representative – would you pick the Falcons? I’m guessing you would debate between picking Dallas or Green Bay. You might consider Seattle. You’d write Atlanta down as a team that should be considered, but unless you’re a rabid Falcons fan I doubt you would put your chips on an Atlanta Super Bowl repeat next season. This just feels like one of those one-year things…like what the Panthers went through last year.
Oddly, Green Bay lost and many of us are sitting here thinking – are they the Super Bowl favorites for next season? That’s the kind of impact Green Bay had brought us the last few weeks… Actually, that’s the impact Aaron Rodgers had on all of us the last few weeks.
I wonder why it is that we feel so much better about Green Bay’s future, despite the ass-kicking they just took, than we do about the future of the Atlanta Falcons – the team that just kept rolling through teams on their way to this season’s Super Bowl? I wonder how mindsets might change if it Atlanta thumps New England in the Super Bowl.
— I could ask many of the same questions for fantasy football 2017 as I did above, but using quarterback names instead. If you could have any quarterback for the 2017 fantasy season – who would you pick? Matt Ryan, Dak Prescott, Russell Wilson, or Aaron Rodgers? I’m guessing we just moved back to the era of Aaron Rodgers as a debatable first round draft pick in many leagues next year.
How can he not be?
It was just a season prior that everyone pronounced Matt Ryan dead. I know I did. The only mathematics I can figure into this is Kyle Shanahan is a miracle worker – and he’ll be gone soon. Should we assume Matt Ryan falls back to earth without Shanahan?
Until Seattle fires Darrell Bevell, which may never happen, I cannot confidently put all my chips on Russell Wilson. I have a lot of fantasy chips on him…but with waning confidence.
I love Dak Prescott’s future outlook, and I suspect Dallas is going to build this team/offense around him, but like most people – I’m not ready to guarantee a Fantasy superstar status to Prescott just yet. I think it’s going to happen — but for some reason, it doesn’t feel right to elevate him this fast. You think it’s because he’s just a rookie – however, people were going insane for Robert Griffin and Andrew Luck after their rookie years. I think it’s just more perception and emotion than reality…like what fantasy scouting is — trying to separate emotion and media hype and discover reality. The draft pick status and pre-draft hype that they all sign-off/walk in lock step with — it matters SO much for the mainstream football media. They take every breath by it.
Because all of our reactions to the proposed fantasy 2017 QB question is ‘Aaron Rodgers‘ – it’s definitely going to be him going highly for most people in redrafts, etc., next year. I don’t know how you could think any different after watching what he just did this year. He has the name and the media backing, and the team people love…and he’s as good a QB talent as there is. The only hesitation I would make is – I think this season only gives Mike McCarthy extra fuel to go: ‘yeah, we were really good but if we only had a running game.’ And then we go back to near QB2 Aaron Rodgers from the first half of the 2016 season and the last half of the 2015 season.
— Who’s the best wide receiver in the NFL?
Set aside fantasy for a moment if you can. Who’s the best wide receiver in pro football? Jot down the names on a piece of paper real quick or just make the list in your mind. Take a second to do that.
Is your list just three? Antonio Brown or Odell Beckham or Julio Jones? I know it doesn’t have Dez Bryant or DeAndre Hopkins on it anymore after 2016.
I started thinking about this question during this game because I heard Troy Aikman proclaim Julio Jones as the best wide receiver in football after one of his early catches in this game. That statement triggered memories of hearing the same claim multiple times over the past few weeks watching game tape – I don’t know why, but there’s something annoying to me about an NFL analyst boldly proclaiming, “I think Julio Jones is the best wide receiver in football.” They say it so confidently, so smugly – as if they’ve discovered something no one else has thought of. Like, is anyone else ranking Julio #17 among NFL wide receivers? We all know Julio is a great talent. Are you ready to stab someone who wants to proclaim Antonio Brown over Julio Jones? They’re all great wide receivers.
I keep stopping short on Julio as #1 overall because I turn and look at the end of the season and see his touchdown totals – and he never puts up anything all that impressive. Did you know he only had 6 TDs this regular season? Last three seasons for TDs: 6-8-6. How can 6 TDs in 2016 happen from the greatest wide receiver in the NFL playing on the highest scoring team in NFL history? Tevin Coleman scored 11 TDs this season for Atlanta. Taylor Gabriel tied Julio with 6 TDs receiving for the Falcons…and Gabriel didn’t start playing until weeks into the season.
I wanted to go through that whole ‘best WR’ exercise first because it was something that happened the very next drive after Aikman’s proclamation about Julio that made me think of an alternative WR thought, my main point of discussion here — why isn’t Jordy Nelson considered in the best-wide-receiver-in-the-NFL discussion?
What’s the argument against him? He’s put up unbelievable numbers for years. He almost never drops a pass. You could point towards his injuries, but I’m just strictly talking wide receiver talent on the field. You don’t think Jordy Nelson could put up big numbers in Pittsburgh with Big Ben? You don’t think he’d be Eli’s favorite wide receiver if he were there and not OBJ? I’m pretty sure Jordy would’ve scored more touchdowns than Julio Jones did if he were on the Falcons instead of Julio this year.
Why can we not accept Jordy Nelson as the single best wide receiver in the NFL? He has the numbers; he posseses NFL athleticism (look at his measurables coming out of college). What cornerbacks have ever really shut down Jordy in a game? I know a few have – the same corners that have shut down all the other elite guys I just mentioned (Richard Sherman from a few years ago, Patrick Peterson etc.).
What’s more impressive to you – Julio Jones having a big day against sixth-string corners on Green Bay or Jordy Nelson still unstoppable playing with broken ribs?
We sell Jordy Nelson short partly because we want to credit Rodgers for his success, and partly because the football world is not ready to accept a white wide receiver as a ‘best in class’. It’s another perception or emotional football scouting valuation versus reality. I feel OK bringing up the race card because I’ve sat among NFL scouts at the Senior Bowl practice weeks and heard them proudly boasting about how they would never take a white wide receiver in the draft no matter how good they looked before the draft. I sat within earshot of a former NFL player (then turned scout) sitting and holding court …and within earshot of many colleagues (we were all credentialed scouts and media types) proudly proclaiming this ‘feeling’/scouting for one and all to hear. Everyone else laughed and nodded their heads. FYI, the wide receiver that set him off was Jeff Janis…so, maybe he was right all along.
Do you ever hear an NFL analyst give the smug declaration that Jordy Nelson is the best wide receiver in the NFL? Never. Julio, yes. Antonio, yes. Odell, yes. Jordy, never. The never Jordy movement.
I believe Odell Beckham Jr. is the most talented wide receiver in the NFL for my money, but that’s strictly based on pure talent. If I factor in locker room presence and ability to fight kicking nets, etc., I’m not so sure I wouldn’t rather have Jordy Nelson or Antonio Brown…maybe it would have been Antonio until his Facebook idiocy.
Last two seasons of full play for each WR:
195 catches for 2,776 yards and 27 TDs = Jordy
242 catches for 3,118 yards and 22 TDs = Antonio
197 catches for 2,817 yards and 23 TDs = Odell
219 catches for 3,280 yards and 14 TDs = Julio
I would at least like Jordy to be in the conversation…instead of ignored from the discussion or laughed out of it.
Note – if I worked for a major football media outlet, what I just wrote would probably get me fired…or the section just edited out before publishing.
I need your support to keep football thought alive! Don’t make me have to go work for them, please!!
I was watching the Trump inauguration ball coverage and saw him first-dance poorly to ‘My Way’ by Frank Sinatra. It made me re-remember how great that song is. The last part of the song…
For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels and not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows and did it my way.
Please help me keep from kneeling…
Thank you for all the support of FFM!
The funny part is – I’m worried people will be offended by my Jordy argument…I’ll probably have more people upset that I referenced ‘Trump’ (neutrally) in an article.
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— There’s another NFL bias that was on display in this game that drives me even more insane – the anti-David Johnson movement. I am telling you, NFL analysts do not get it. They don’t want to get it. They still think David Johnson’s performance is an anomaly. I’m not even sure they know he exists. His 2016 cannot be repeatable because he’s not supposed to be this good. They want to push Ezekiel Elliott 24/7 as the great RB of the modern era…and David Johnson is trying to get in their way.
Not even facts will stop them. As witnessed in this game…
At one point in this game, Devonta Freeman caught a pass and Troy Aikman went on about how Freeman is one of only three players who rushed for 1,000+ yards and caught 500+ yards this season. For Aikman, those numbers placed Freeman in elite company with Le’Veon Bell and the magical unicorn Ezekiel Elliott.
So many problems with this claim.
First, Freeman did not accomplish those numbers in the 2016 regular season (he did it in 2015, but was short in 2016 by 38 yards receiving). If you add in his two playoff games this season – then he got over 500+ yards receiving in 2016. I didn’t realize we get to allow some players 18 games worth of statistics and others just have to stick with 16. That’s not the egregious part. Could have been a simple error we all make. The next one, I won’t look past…
Secondly, Ezekiel Elliott did not accomplish this task either. He was well short as a receiver in 2016. Why was he well short? Because he is secretly below average as a receiver out of the backfield. Every single scout and analyst will tell you how incredible Elliott is as a pass-catcher – I’m telling you from the time I scouted him in college to watching all of his NFL games – he is an average-to-below-average receiver out of the backfield. Clunky hands like Jordan Howard’s. Elliott’s good/OK for catching little screens and flares, but you cannot send him downfield as a receiver like the top runner-receiver guys.
Thirdly, the big mistake by Aikman was this – David Johnson DID accomplish 1,000+ and 500+…he was the best at 1,200+ rushing and 800+ receiving. He had the most total yards of any of these guys and by far the most receiving yards among them.Troy Aikman didn’t mention David Johnson as accomplishing it in 2016…instead substituting Elliott (who didn’t) in his place. The guy who combined for 2,000+ yards rushing and receiving this year…escaped Aikman’s mind. His in-game thinking left DJ off the list and inserted his Cowboys brother Ezekiel Elliott as one who did.
It was a rare window into the soul of a typical NFL analyst – if you were to show them the raw numbers from David Johnson (2,116 total yards and 20 TDs) this year right next to those of Elliott (1,994 total yards and 16 TDs), and then you asked them which running back had which season – they would almost all assign Elliott to David Johnson’s historical season numbers.
Do you want to talk about emotion versus perception in football scouting – you don’t have to look any further than how analysts rally to Ezekiel Elliott and ignore/dismiss David Johnson. Why? I don’t get the lopsided love. You’d think they’d hedge their bets. Elliott is going to burn them eventually because of off-field antics…you know it’s coming. David Johnson is a choirboy…beyond being exponentially better than Elliott as a talent, he is also the model locker room guy and workout warrior. Elliott came into his rookie training camp overweight.
You cannot find an NFL analyst that would tell you David Johnson is better than Elliott – and that’s why I have a job. No group is more wrong about assessing football talent than the people who are paid millions of dollars to do it for a living. My track record over them speaks for itself the past 5+ years…and I make hundreds of dollars a year. Michelle Tafoya probably makes more money in one Monday Night game as a sideline reporter than I do in an entire season. Let that sink in… I’m talking to me, not you. What have I done choosing this outside path for a career over a safe corporate job?
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