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I don’t think anyone is shocked that the Patriots made the Super Bowl. What’s the point of even analyzing or critiquing them anymore?
Did any of us see the Falcons in the Super Bowl? I suspect not. Perhaps, you’re like me and predicted the Falcons for a losing record and constantly predicted their demise all season…and thought Dan Quinn would get fired during/after this season? You didn’t see it…and that’s cool. I didn’t see it…and that makes me bad at my job.
This week, in honor of the Falcons, I am reprinting all of their 2016 game recaps to embarrass myself more publicly. Laying myself naked before you. Also, I am going back through and reading to see if there were clues to what I was off on and to see what I was thinking going negative on the Falcons as a Super Bowl season was unfolding. It’s not the first time…I didn’t buy into the Panthers all last season either.
I am reprinting the Falcons 2016 season throughout the week and adding some extra commentary on how bad (or good) my commentary was at the time. In honor of the Falcons and to publicly flog myself this week, here we go…
*Original commentary from the day it was published in black text with my 2017 comments in green.
Eagles 24, Falcons 15 — A shocking loss that sent Atlanta to (6-4) and (2-3) in their last five games. The Falcons looked terrible and just saw this game as the typical Falcons I have in my head.
After re-watching this game, I have to say – the Atlanta Falcons are not my cup of tea. I just do not see a playoff team, nor a jaw-dropping defense…nor Matt Ryan as MVP. Give me a break. I saw jittery, default-everything-to-Julio Matt Ryan in this game. Sure, get it to Julio a bunch, but if you’re 5-for-11 throwing to all the other WRs and TEs…the defense can sit on Julio for just the right moment. Atlanta’s comeback effort ended with a Ryan throw into triple coverage, looking for Julio…and it was picked off.
The Falcons need to beat Arizona next week coming off their bye week. They lose to Arizona, and Atlanta is at risk of winding up 8–8. The Falcons are 2–3 in their last five games.
Differently confusing to me is Philadelphia. They are no threat going forward because Carson Wentz is not a very good quarterback, and he has Jordan Matthews and then a lot of garbage to throw to. Philadelphia has to get out to a lead and try to sit on it because they are not going to be able to come from behind on most teams. The Eagles are solid, a nice defense, but overall not special because of their pass game. We’re seeing an 8–8 finish. They are 2–4 in their last six games.
It would not shock me if both of these teams finished 8–8, or hit 9–7 and this game winds up to be a wild card tiebreaker among them.
Well…that didn’t happen. Philly went to 5-4 with this win. They had been close in their losses. The Eagles were looking up…and then lost their next five in a row after this game. Atlanta would win five of their next six. In this game…the Eagles were clearly better. The rest of the season…not so much.
— There was a lot of Wendell Smallwood (13-70-0, 0-0-0/1 target) in this game. I think the Eagles are for sure seeing Smallwood as their future, and the future is moving closer to happening.
Don’t get too excited for fantasy just yet.
All Smallwood’s emergence is doing is creating more toys Doug Pederson can ‘hot hand’ with. You’re not going to know from one week to the next what the RB plan is. Ryan Matthews (19-109-2, 2-30-0/2 targets) had 19 carries in this game and looked sensational. In the prior two weeks, Mathews had 4 and 5 carries in each game. Darren Sproles (2-19-0, 8-57-0/10 targets) had 15 and 13 carries in his last two games…and just two carries here. Suddenly, Sproles is the Eagles’ best WR – 10 targets in this game.
I’d rather not have any of them because I have no idea what they’ll do each week. Smart for the NFL strategy, mayhem for fantasy. I’ll tale Sproles for PPR, and you can have the rest of them.
Eventually, Smallwood will be ‘the guy’, but that’s likely to happen more in 2017.
Ryan Mathews finished #28 in PPR PPG among RBs, and Sproles #29. Who would have guessed Mathews ahead of Sproles in PPR in 2016?
Valuations and Trends…
*Receiving numbers for the Eagles the last 3 games:
5.3 rec (8.7 targets) for 29.3 yards = Sproles
5.7 rec. (11.7 targets) for 75.3 yards = J Matthews
6.0 rec. (6.3 targets) for 57.0 yards = Ertz
It’s been the story all year – Sproles is getting all kinds of touches, but not compiling much with them.
— Speaking of Jordan Matthews (6-73-0/10 targets)…I’m getting frustrated again. Every other week my emotions swing. He had 5 catches for 70 yards at halftime and dropped a 30+ yard pass wide open before halftime. At the half, I’m thinking he’ll have 10+ catches for 150+ yards by the time this over. He had one catch the rest of this game.
He’s killing my patience, but you can’t throw him in the trash. He’s got 10 or more targets in three straight games. They are pushing the ball to him…he just has decent fantasy numbers to show for it. Just 3 TDs this season. No 100+ yard games since Week 1. You want to give up in redraft, I can’t make a great case for him. Tough matchup Week 11 vs. Seattle.
Jordan Matthews finished #36 in PPR PPR among WRs in 2016.
— I’m frustrated with Jordan Matthews, but it’s Carson Wentz’s (25-36 for 231 yards, 0 TD/0 INT) fault. He’s not good. Really not good. He’s not a disaster, but he’s not good. The future is not bright. Now, he’s got the size, etc. He’s going to get years of opportunity and coddling and will get a little better. I’m sure he’s the first guy in the building, but no matter how many hours he puts in – the problem is his talent for the position.
I’ve always thought the whole Carson Wentz thing was a farce…a media-created farce. People started ‘liking him’ at the Senior Bowl week, and Mike Mayock started the ‘promotion’ and everyone signed on. You weren’t smart if you didn’t like Carson Wentz. He was the clever scout’s #1 QB prospect…by ‘clever’, I mean does not do an ounce of study and follows what everyone else says.
I’m seeing the same Wentz in the pros as I saw in college – below-average arm because he stands flat-footed too often throwing passes, and he has a bad hitch in his throws. I complained about it in the preseason, and it’s in full force in the regular season. It takes him too long to throw a pass, and when he does it wobbles with little zip because he isn’t confidently driving into throws. He’s a dump passer at heart. I’m sure he’ll win an IQ battle, but he doesn’t have the ‘it’ as a quarterback…which means the Eagles are in trouble the next few years spinning their wheels in the mud with an average QB.
Atlanta proves you can win with a lot of dump passes to running backs, so maybe there is some hope. I’m just not a fan of Wentz. If I’m right about Wentz, everything related to the passing game is going to suffer to some degree. Matthews will get the catches, but TDs are going to be hard to come by.
Valuations and Trends…
*Wentz TD passes per game Weeks 1–4 = 1.8 per game (4 games)
*Wentz TD passes per game Weeks 5–10 = 0.4 per game (5 games)
That’s what you call ‘getting figured out’.
Think I’m just making fun of Wentz now, when it’s convenient? Here’s the beginning of my game recap of the Senior Bowl for College Football Metrics.com (below). I’m sure I was the only scout mocking Wentz, as well as making the case Prescott should be considered equal or better than Wentz…in February 2016 (and this wasn’t the only time I was anti-Wentz and pro-Dak).
Originally posted 2-2-16
The 2016 Senior Bowl is what most every college all-star game looks like…a vanilla offense that makes the quarterbacks look silly, mostly due to the fact that they are working with unfamiliar receivers and ever-rotating O-Lines…plus, they get about 2–3 series of play if they are lucky. The 2016 Senior Bowl quarterbacks/offenses had one more set of circumstances to deal with…how can I put this? Here’s what I told my friends about the game: A collection of day-three of the draft and UDFA prospects on offense took on a ‘who’s who’ of day-one and day-two defensive draft prospects, led by defensive lines littered with first-round talent…on both sides.
As far as the football media went, I suspect their Senior Bowl game recaps went as follows: “Carson Wentz graced all of us mere mortals with his presence, and some of us were lucky enough to be there to witness the glorious event. Every Wentz throw was majestic, all the completions sublime, and all the incompletions the receivers’ fault. Wentz is like a 6’6” ‘next Cam Newton’, only better…he is super-tall, without human sin, and runs like a person who was created via the Greek god Hermes mating with Pegasus—and definitely don’t question his arm, because he put all those rumors to bed with all his 0–5 yard throws in Mobile. Oh, and Noah Spence can get after the quarterback.”
There, you are caught up on what happened at the Senior Bowl according to all the analysts who will echo each other this week…and throughout the process.
We’re going to go a little deeper here, but I have to tackle this Carson Wentz thing first. And no disrespect to Wentz, he is a solid NFL prospect, but he should be generating a lot more skepticism than unbridled lust from football analysts. Never let facts get in the way of a good story.
Here’s my recap of the Senior Bowl game/week…
Can I first ask this question? What happened to every football analyst who was pushing Paxton Lynch like he was the 2016 QB Messiah just a few weeks ago? I can’t wait to watch Todd McShay slink out of a horrible early call on Lynch projected to #2 overall a few weeks ago, to start the process…and also watch him magically glom onto Wentz with the rest of the crowd.
Why Carson Wentz (6-10 for 50 yards, 0 TD/0 INT) has become the ‘it’ QB prospect of the moment, I have no idea. It’s the same thing over and over with the mainstream—the taller the better, and God bless if you can run a little…then it all comes down to the mystical ‘makes all the throws’. No one mainstream can actually scout the complex stuff, but anyone can see ‘tall’, ‘fast’, ‘big arm’. The problem is there are 4-5-6+ ‘taller, quicker, strong-armed’ capable quarterback prospects in this draft…and Wentz is not that fast, and he has an average+ arm. He’s winning ‘tall’, and that’s about it.
In 2014, Carson Wentz went 15–1, 16 games played, and never threw for 300+ yards in a game…never threw for 250+ yards in a game either. But he did throw for less than 200 yards eight times. In 2015, he threw for 300+ yards once in his seven games played, and less than 200 yards four times.
In case you are wondering, Wentz started out 2015 with a 4–2 record, hurt his wrist in his second loss and missed the next eight games. His backup came in, a freshman, and went 8–0 with a near-identical passer rating…and beat a team (Montana) that Wentz lost to. Wentz returned for the title game, won it…throwing for 1 TD/2 INTs, 197 yards, and completing 55.2% of his passes.
This is the next great, unquestionable force headed to the NFL?
He is unquestionable if you watched the love fest on the NFL Network. Everything Wentz did was viewed as somewhere between ‘awesome’ and ‘answered all the questions I had!’ He threw a few timing passes with solid velocity, and was thus declared the next big thing. Never did Wentz sit in the pocket and read the defense, and pick it apart. He tried to once, early on, but the defense broke on his pass, and batted the 10+ yard throw away, because Wentz hesitates and has a long windup throwing downfield. Later, in a two-minute drill against a prevent defense, he hit a wide-open receiver for 10+ yards…and you would have thought cancer had been cured, according to the analyst reaction.
Wentz was fine, average, OK, no better or worse than the other average/solid/good/suspect QB prospects in this game…but it was presented/spun as ‘awesome’. It was not. It was fine.
I don’t have the words to explain to you how much better a prospect Jared Goff is, but for some reason analysts are anti-Goff. I feel like they don’t want him at the top, and they are searching for someone to take him down. It was going to be Paxton Lynch 2-3-4 weeks ago; now it’s Carson Wentz.
The analysts really didn’t have to look much further for a nice QB prospect story than the quarterback who came in for the opposing team, just after Wentz departed, and won the MVP of the game. As soon as Dak Prescott (7-10 for 61 yards, 1 TD/0 INT) came in, the whole offensive tempo and vibe of the Senior Bowl changed…after dull performances by Wentz and Jake Coker. Prescott has a better arm, and a much quicker release than Wentz, so his passes were ripping off to receivers, and getting momentum for the team. Late in the drive, Prescott threw a bad pass in the end zone, a near-pick (dropped). He then followed that with a savvy placement throw/TD pass. The announcers really wanted to focus on the almost-interception.
I’m not saying Prescott is the end-all, be-all QB prospect either, but he’s better than Wentz (or worst case on par with). He’s mobile like Wentz, but thicker-framed with a quicker release as a passer, and has SEC success to tout…but that doesn’t matter. Wentz is tall, and the ‘machine’ has thrown in with Wentz, for now.
— One quick note on Vic Beasley (4 tackles, 2.0 sacks) – he was credited with two sacks in this game, but you want to talk about flimsy sacks. His first sack was Carson Wentz in the pocket forever, moving around and eventually Beasley came from way out of the play to run into Wentz when Carson turned to head another direction. His second sack was a play he was blocked away but he reached out and slapped the ball away from Wentz in the pocket, and that was credited as a sack. This was not Beasley as the unstoppable pass-rush force.
I said things like this a lot about Beasley this year. On paper, he should be a force. He led the league in sacks. I just don’t see a monster on tape. I see blocked, but fast pursuit of flushed QBs a bunch. The Joey Bosa story. Jadeveon Clowney, as an example, was scary rushing the passer this year, but didn’t have the same sack numbers as Beasley.
— Let’s watch how the Eagles DST does at Seattle this week (gave up 26 in a loss). Philly is flashing as a potential top 5 NFL defense, but they’ve been inconsistently good-to-great. If they show well, Weeks 13–16 might be an OK run to use them: Dalton, Cousins, Flacco, Eli.
In some 12-team redrafts, Philly is on waivers right now. There so inconsistent with a decent, not-great schedule ahead…I can’t invest ahead in many cases. The next five games, the five-game losing streak…the Philly DST allowed 26-27-32-27-27 for points in games.