2021 Dynasty/Fantasy Preseason Wk1 Game Analysis: Bears 20, Dolphins 13
I was looking forward to this, for the QB matchup, but not sure what I wanted to see more…Tua or Fields? Who am I kidding? I wanted to see the car crash – I wanted to see if Tua was still as awful as he was in 2020…or if he magically ‘grew’ in the offseason. I’ve got a lot of bets placed against Miami and against Miami-things for FF because of Tua, so I was excited to see how my anti-investment was doing.
I’ll discuss Justin Fields’s debut first and then we’ll get into Tua scouting, and then all the other notes from this contest.
Dynasty/Fantasy Player Notes…
-- The Justin Fields (14-20 for 142 yards, 1 TD/0 INT, 5-33-1) debut…
He was fine. He’s ready enough for the NFL…like most all of these rookie QBs are. They are so well prepared, so groomed from a young age…these rookie QBs are just walking into the league without blinking. Fields looked unfazed by anything happening around him.
Because he rushed for a TD and threw for one…the media has him enshrined into Canton, but that’s typical. The media loves QB controversies and rookie QBs…so they got it all here. When Andy Dalton started out the game/ran onto the field, no one in the Chicago stadium cared/made a sound. When Fields came in after two series…the entire place erupted. That’s what goes on in the media’s heart with these rookie QBs – it’s a religious experience of hope that the rookie is a magical unicorn.
Fields’s debut was fine, but there were things to worry about…or just be waiting to see how it goes/develops. I mean, this was Fields working against backup defenses. We also saw Fields make some head scratching throws that didn’t get picked off but should’ve. We still need more evidence to evaluate, but by and large this was totally fine for a rookie preseason debut.
When the play breaks down, and Fields is on the move…he’s at his best. He’s a comfortable playmaker on the move.
When Fields is operating from the pocket (especially if it’s muddy), he’s less effective, less comfortable, good to check down, and tends to throw erratic passes medium-deep. Everything is fine when everything around him is fine – protection or him extending the play with his feet, moving outside the pocket. When it’s a known passing down, like a 3rd & 7 type thing…and you need a big throw from the pocket, that’s Fields’s worst case scenario…still.
I walk away from this debut thinking: (a) he’s fine, and (b) he’s not as physically big or as big armed as Trey Lance. Fields is not as good a prospect as Lance, but Fields is OK. Fields is not a leader personality either, so there will be problems NFL-wise ahead -- but today it’s all rainbows and puppy dogs for the Bears, and for 4pts per pass TD Fantasy leagues (once he starts).
If I were Matt Nagy, I would just throw Fields in there Week 1 and let him make plays, run around a bunch and take his lumps…but I suspect Nagy is not lying – he’s starting Dalton for at least two games (Week 2 at CIN, if they lose, it’s over for Dalton).
-- Fields was the same guy I expected from his college scouting/tape…good/OK not great, has flaws, but he’s going to be OK because he can run, and he’s not easily rattled. He’s just not a super-talent, but he’s fine.
I went into the Fields debut with an open mind ready to see what I’d see, wondering if he might be more jumpy in his debut…but he was fine. With that same mindset, I entered the tape study to watch Tua Tagovailoa (8-11 for 99 yards, 0 TD/1 INT)…thinking he was unfixable/a bust from watching his 2020 and scouting his Alabama career. BUT I was open to him maybe growing and being better with an offseason under his belt. I was bracing myself for a better Tua, flying in the face of betting against him for Fantasy (against all his WRs) and betting the ‘under’ on Miami’s season win total.
So, I sat down for the watch/study and…yep, same awful Tua.
I’ve watched Mac Jones, Trey Lance, Justin Fields in their debuts so far (at the time of this writing) and was fine with all of them for a rookie debut. I could see they weren’t totally over their head…compare that to seeing Tua last year, and then game -- upon seeing his first 2021 throw in the preseason, I knew he hadn’t changed…and then watching it all, it was confirmed – Tua is a bust. It ain’t getting any better. The clock now ticks to him being replaced in-season and being declared a bust. It’s already true, but Brian Flores won’t admit it/can’t see it…until it’s painfully obvious…it will probably take about half the new season before he makes a change. Flores will die with Tua – and I don’t know if it is stubbornness or he’s just that bad at personnel.
Tua has two modes, and the defense dictates what you’re getting…
1) When Tua has plenty of time and no pressure, he’s OK. He’s not a dumb QB. He can see things and makes some throws.
2) When there is any pressure, Tua falls apart and is not equipped for NFL success…he stands flatfooted or leans back/away and throws floaters blindly to anything he thinks he sees. Tua doesn’t have the arm to throw with poor body position…like Trey Lance or Zach Wilson can…or like Justin Herbert. Tua doesn’t have the feet to extend plays either. Tua is trapped – he’s a bad NFL QB prospect stuck in a bad offense. It’s not going to be good.
At Alabama, he had supreme protection with supreme weapons. He ain’t in Alabama anymore.
May I remind the class – every football analyst assured you Tua was a franchise QB worthy of tanking a season to get a shot at drafting him. If they use the hip injury in 2019 as an excuse, then they’re just lying to themselves hoping you won’t question them being way off on a scouting thing at QB again. These same people are out talking about the new crop of rookies…you shouldn’t care what they say.
Jacoby Brissett (6-10 for 67 yards, 1 TD/0 INT, 2-12-0) will be named starter before the 2021 season is out, to finish the 2021 season. Miami, I believe, will be the final destination for Deshaun Watson in a trade.
-- The biggest news from this game… Malcolm Brown (9-8-0, 0-0-0/0) started and played the first two series before we saw Miles Gaskin (4-19-0, 1-3-0/2). I have been howling that the Gaskin thing was ridiculous and only a matter of time before he’d get bumped.
If you don’t think Brian Flores is serious about Brown over Gaskin, may I remind you he spent/paid up to bring in Jordan Howard and Matt Breida last offseason…and then never used them much in the regular season, he went right to Gaskin the rest of the way (until he got hurt).
Brian Flores has the single worst sense for personnel in the NFL…even worse than Mike Tomlin. Flores has the worst QB and RB grouping/starters in the NFL…that’s not good news for Miami’s 2021 season, but it is great news for my ‘under’ win-total Miami bet.
So, Brown is who you want for Fantasy Week 1…but it will be a flimsy output in a terrible offense led by Tua, who no defense is afraid of/has to respect.
Brown was followed by Gaskin, who was followed by a high-effort performance by Salvon Ahmed (6-40-0, 2-31-1/2), who was followed by rookie Gerrid Doaks (3-2-0, 1-0-0/2). Doaks did not look like he was being taken seriously in this group.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the Dolphins traded/added Sony Michel before opening day…and they ran a Michel-Brown duo.
-- Speaking of bad RB groups, the Bears RB report…
Highly overrated, high touch count coming David Montgomery (1-3-0) hurt his foot on the very first play of the game and came limping off the field. We don’t know how bad it is yet. He’s probably just going to be done for the preseason and be ready for Week 1.
Damien Williams (2-4-0, 1-9-0/1) came in and looked Damien Williams…an average/OK NFL RB.
Rookie Khalil Herbert (6-38-0, 3-11-0/3) came in and performed solidly, as expected – a capable #3 back who could be a #2 back. Good in the passing game and capable as a runner on limited touches, not a workhorse star of the future.
-- Two other Dolphins FF notes…
1) Mike Gesicki (2-56-0/2) got a couple nice floaters to ‘go get’ with Tua. It’s the top throw Tua makes – he panics in the pocket, hidden by his tall O-Line/Tua’s short stature, and Tua sees the tallest guy on his team downfield and he just heaves it his way hoping a prayer is answered. With Tua at the helm, Gesicki has TE1 aspirations again.
2) Jaylen Waddle (0-0-0/0) had a Brian Flores debut… You wanna see the rookie get the ball in his hands and see what he does with it? Nope, no targets for Waddle. Tua is incapable of seeing Waddle running routes and firing it to him in tight windows. Waddle never even got looked at by no-look Tua.
Watching Waddle run his routes…that dude is fast. No doubt. But so is Jakeem Grant (0-0-0/1), and no one cares.
-- I have one IDP note here, and it’s on a guy I did not have on my radar at all. He jumped out at me right away and I stopped the tape and went and sought a refresher on who this guy is, and why I couldn’t remember him/his background or my CFM scouting grade.
I’ll share that study in the Subscriber Extra Notes posted sometime after this game recap is published.
***The 2021 FFM Draft Guide Package is now available – see the FFM homepage for more information, including Combo deals with the In-Season Package and Dynasty Stash reporting.
2021 College Football Metrics subscriptions are still available – all the NFL Draft/rookie prospect scouting reports, Dynasty Rookie Draft (weekly top 350) coverage and analysis PLUS our annual Devy scouting report/rankings summer series begins in July.***
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