The first question was answered here. The next nine of the best 10 from the day are answered below.
It’s a Monday PFT mailbag, courtesy of the fact that I forgot to do one on Sunday.
Check it out below, and be ready to ask questions the next time we ask for them at the PFT Twitter page.
From @DrJ144: “Excluding Russell Wilson, which NFC West QB would you buy the most stock in over the next 5 years? Goff & Jimmy have both been to a Super Bowl (& both missed a big throw in a Super Bowl). I may say Kyler despite just one year seeing him.”
Without question, it’s Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray. He was phenomenal as a rookie, better than Patrick Mahomes or Lamar Jackson in their rookie seasons. (Mahomes, of course, played only one game.) Murray could be the NFL’s next big thing, and I’d bet on him having a higher ceiling than Jimmy Garoppolo or Jared Goff, both of whom seem to be as good as they’re ever going to be.
He can throw, he can run, and he won more than a few games without much help around him. The team will be better this year, and Murray could end up being a lot better than he was in 2019.
So give me Murray — especially since he has three years left under his rookie deal, and then a fifth-year option.
From @MikeLikesDirt: “Could the removal of Brady instantly have made the AFC East one of the most exciting/competitive divisions in the league?”
The perceived regression of the Patriots definitely makes the AFC East more interesting, but if anything it feels like a two-team race between New England and Buffalo, with the Dolphins or the Jets maybe having a chance to make things interesting.
The NFC East seems to be more wide open than the AFC East. All four teams have improved, and even though it’s believed Dallas and Philly will battle it out for the top spot, Washington and new coach Ron Rivera may quickly become a factor, especially with one of the best front sevens in the NFL.
And don’t sleep on the NFC West. All four teams could be good enough to get to the playoffs. With three wild-card berths per conference, all teams in theory could — especially since they play the four teams of the AFC East and NFC East.
From @idunno_40: “I would like to know how you can really say ANY game on Thanksgiving isn’t prime time? It’s Thanksgiving. A huge national holiday with a limited number of games. They are all prime time Mike.”
Prime time is night time, period. Given the stakes, playoff games are bigger than the Thanksgiving Day games, and no one regards a playoff game that starts at 1:00 p.m. ET to be a “prime time” game.
That said, the Thanksgiving Day game are special. They ooze tradition. They feel like a bigger deal than other games, even night games. And they generate gigantic ratings, thanks to a captive audience that otherwise would be interacting with family members.
But the only prime-time game played on Thanksgiving is played at night. Because only night time is prime time.
From @MarleyGUSU: “Which team with a losing record in 2019, will have the best record in 2020?”
The top candidates are the Browns (6-10), the Colts (7-9), the Broncos (7-9), the Buccaneers (7-9), the Falcons (7-9), and the Cardinals (5-10-1).
I’ll go with the Broncos. They’ve got something special in second-year quarterback Drew Lock, and they’ve devoted plenty of assets to making the offense better, both in free agency and the draft. The defense will be improved in coach Vic Fangio’s second year on the job — and if pass rusher Bradley Chubb can get and stay healthy, he could explode in his third season.
Yes, the Broncos need to contend with the Chiefs. But each of the other teams that finished under .500 will have tough teams to deal with in their own divisions, too.
A lot of it depends on whether Jefferson can quickly contribute. Some first-round receivers do, plenty don’t.
So first he has to get on the field, and he has to play well enough to attract attention away from Thielen. Until Jefferson does, the impact will be nothing like the impact Stefon Diggs had on the offense.
As impact on the Minnesota passing game goes, don’t overlook 2019 second-round tight end Irv Smith Jr. The Vikings expect big things from him this year, and a lot of the balls that would have gone to Diggs may instead find their way to Smith.
From @deanosborn42: “Can Frank Gore play long enough to catch Emmitt Smith’s career rushing title?”
Can he? Yes. The real question is whether he’ll continue to get the opportunities to be on a team, and then the chances to carry the ball, long enough to catch Emmitt.
Last year, Gore carried the ball 166 times with the Bills, gaining 599 yards. At that rate, he needs to play five more seasons to match Smith. Which means Gore needs to get the ball more — and to do more with it — before the sand runs out of Father Time’s giant hourglass.
Yes, the clock is ticking, and the grim football reaper is lurking. At some point, the wheels will come off. And so Gore is in a race against time, and in a competition with Le'Veon Bell for the touches needed to get closer to 1,000 yards than 500 if Gore wants to ultimately leapfrog Emmitt. Which is something Emmitt has told PFT Live he’d like to witness in his lifetime.
From @leepers500: “Could the season begin in earnest and with all of our hand-wrung yearning, suddenly become unplayable as players test positive or the loss of competitive balance as superstars are sidelined?”
It’s no accident that the NFL has loaded the cannon with an ambitious Week One schedule, and then has engineered the next three weeks to permit reconfiguration in the event things get out of hand with the virus.
However it plays out, the kind of rampant testing necessary to make the season feasible will compel the league to quarantine anyone who tests positive in order to keep the virus from spreading like wildfire. And, yes, the sudden and swift sidelining of a player — especially a key player — will create a sense of unfairness for the teams that suddenly don’t have a starting quarterback or shutdown corner available.
But is that any more arbitrary than a routine tackle from which the player doesn’t get up? Bo Jackson’s career was ended by a play that looked no different than thousands of others we see every season.
While a deadly disease and a broken ankle (or a hip ruined by avascular necrosis) aren’t comparable, the point is that the ever-present risk of a player being scratched due to the virus isn’t much different than the ever-present risk that a player will be shelved for several weeks due to a knee injury that no one even knew he had.
When a player gets injured, it’s next man up. When a player tests positive for coronavirus, it also will be next man up.
From @jeff356 “Will the NFL consider expanding the rosters from 55 and 10 practice squad members considering that multiple players per team each week could get flagged with a false positive virus test to only test again and not have coronavirus a few days later?”
The league will have to do something to have players who are in shape and ready to go at a moment’s notice, given the possibility that one or more players could be shut down on the night before, or even the morning of, a game. Having more than 60 players on the roster and practice squad will help, but the usual process of players suffering injuries will eat into the total number of players who are ready to go.
As a fallback, the NFL may need to maintain a separate group of players who routinely stay in shape and practice, like the XFL’s ninth team in an eight-team league. Maybe there will need to be one extra NFL team for each division, or perhaps two per conference. Regardless, the NFL will need to have a strategy for quickly filling rosters that may be ravaged by the pandemic.
From @NFLeeds: “What’s the deal with the supplemental draft? Can guys like Trevor Lawrence apply for this believing there might not be a college season?”
The NFL reportedly has made it clear that no major changes will be made to the supplemental draft to allow college football players to bypass a season of uncertainty. Which makes sense; the NFL typically avoids anything that could impact college football in a negative way, especially when it comes to potentially taking away its unpaid labor.
As to Lawrence, he’d still be barred based on the fact that he’s fewer than three years removed from the graduation of his high school class. With or without a college football season in 2020, he can’t enter the NFL draft until next April.
So don’t expect guys who otherwise were in line to play college football this season to secure a golden ticket to the level of the sport that pays with paper money.