NFL: Seven Moments That Defined the 2020 NFL Season

By: Brady Atkins

The 2020 NFL season is over. And as we sit here, three weeks removed from the Super Bowl, the final game of the season, what are we supposed to take away from the year?

17 weeks of games, 256 regular-season meetings in total, and a host of opportunities to take a trip down memory lane. For reasons, both football-related reasons and beyond, the 2020 NFL season was one to remember. But who were the players that defined the season? What were the games, the moments, that made 2020 the fun football campaign that it was?

From fanbase to franchise, there were plenty. But on the landscape of the league at large, here are seven moments that belong in the time capsule, that defined the 2020 NFL season.

1. Ravens vs Browns — Monday Night Football

What are you supposed to say about the game that had it all? Neither of these two teams represented the AFC in the Super Bowl, neither even made it through the Divisional Round of the playoffs. But on Monday Night of Week 14 — the two teams had what might have been the most iconic meeting of the regular season.

Records were set. Both Cleveland and Baltimore combined for a grand total of nine rushing touchdowns through the contest. The most in modern NFL history, and the most since 1922, back in the days when Rock Island was considered a dynasty akin to the Jordan-led Bulls.

Points were scored. The 2020 season saw the most points scored in the history of the league, and this game embodied just that, with a final score of 47 for the winning Ravens, and 42 for the Browns. The two offenses combined for 89 points that night, the most of any two teams in a regular-season game from the highest-scoring season in NFL history.

Memes were made. Beyond the actual football stakes, NFL Twitter was granted the gift of A) an appearance from the legendary Trace McSorely under center for the Ravens, and B) a locker room walk from Lamar Jackson for… what we’ll call, “unconfirmed circumstances.”

Perhaps both these teams will be forgotten to the sands of time, with neither making much noise in the postseason, but their Week 14 clash stands as a monument to the 2020 regular season.

2. Nine Full Weeks of ‘Letting Russ Cook’

Speaking of points scored, one of the most efficient, explosive, and all-around good-time offenses in the league for the first half of the season belonged to the Seattle Seahawks — despite the odds.

This was, and still is, a group that loves to run the football — a mentality instilled by their head coach, Pete Carroll. But for nine weeks, nine beautiful acts of football majesty, Carroll let his star quarterback Russell Wilson off the leash a bit. He, dare I say it, let Russ cook.

And cook Russ did. Wilson wasn’t just getting chances in the passing game — but he was making the most of them as well. Through those nine games, Wilson managed to hit the endzone through the air 28 times, adding nearly 2,800 passing yards into the mix — all on 70% completion percentage in an aerial attack that let the quarterback sling the rock at will.

But after their ninth game ended in a 23-16 loss to the Los Angeles Rams, making the Seahawks losers of three of their last four, the party abruptly ended. Wilson’s attempts per game dropped from 37.1 to 32. His yards per attempt dropped. His touchdown rate dropped. His completion percentage dropped along with it. Russ was taken out of the kitchen. 

But let’s never forget the time he had while he was there. For nine games, we all witnessed MVP-caliber Russell Wilson, one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.

3. Alvin Kamara’s Six-Touchdown Performance

It’s been said that once, many weeks ago, football fans never believed in Christmas Miracles. That all changed one holiday morning in 2020, when they got the chance to see one for themselves.

New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara,  with the power of Air Heads, Santa Claus, and the league’s worst run defense in yards per carry allowed on his side, put together a record-setting running back performance on Dec. 25 against the Minnesota Vikings.

A six-touchdown rushing performance in a 52-33 Week 16 catapulted Kamara into the record books, dusting off a record held for nearly a century — six rushing touchdowns, tied for the most with Ernie Nevers back in 1929.

Kamara brought the gift of history to the children of New Orleans, and with it, a glimmer of hope that fans of the team might have the best running back in the league.

4. Justin Herbert’s Surprise Breakout

Justin Herbert wasn’t supposed to play in his rookie season. He ended up winning Rookie of the Year.

He was supposed to sit behind Tyrod Taylor, who in recent years has turned into an NFL journeyman, bouncing from the Ravens to the Bills to the Browns to now the Los Angeles Chargers. Taylor started for the Chargers in Week One, and looked as he always has, someone who can distribute the ball well enough to get his team a win, but won’t light up the scoreboard doing it.

Was Taylor bound to bring the Chargers inspired quarterback play? Probably not. But he was exactly what the team wanted him to be, a bridge quarterback for a rookie quarterback seen as a raw prospect, who would need a year or two to develop into a franchise savior.

So when Herbert was called up in Week Two, replacing an injured Taylor, calling it shocking that he managed to go toe-to-toe with the reigning Super Bowl champions and the best quarterback in the league, would be an understatement.

From that win moving forward through the year, Herbert never looked back. Shattering just about every rookie record along the way, all while missing one game at the start of the year.

5. Tampa Bay’s Week Six Beatdown of Green Bay

The Tampa Bay Buccanneers played the role of underdog throughout most of the playoffs. Coming in as the NFC’s top Wild Card team, Tampa Bay faced three favored opponents in New Orleans, Green Bay, and Kansas City en route to a Super Bowl blowout victory.

But, maybe, the team shouldn’t have been doubted as much as they were. After all, back in Week Six, the Buccaneers showed the world exactly who they were in a 38-10 win over the Green Bay Packers– a statement win that would mirror the team’s performance in the Super Bowl.

The explosive offense of the Packers was silenced entirely in their meeting with Tampa Bay. Winners of their first four games of the season, Green Bay hadn’t scored fewer than 30 points in any contest during their 4-0 start. Their eventual MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers had thrown for 13 touchdowns and not a single interception up to that point. And even still, the Packers found themselves without answers.

Their 10 points scored would stand as their lowest total throughout the 2020 season. Rodgers’ two picks ended as the most he threw in a game in 2020, and made up for 40% of his total interceptions on the season. The Tampa Bay defense also forced the Packers’ quarterback to his lowest completion percentage of the year, his second-fewest total passing yards, and the only time during the season where he would fail to record a passing touchdown.

This game was a precursor to the Super Bowl. The Buccaneers offense did their part, but the defense stood tall and gave a juggernaut Green Bay offense fits for 60 minutes.

6. Aaron Donald’s Sixth-Straight Statement Season

Los Angeles Rams’ defensive tackle Aaron Donald was drafted 13th overall in 2014. In his first season as a pro, he would go on to record nine sacks in 12 starts, earning a Pro Bowl birth and Defensive Rookie of the Year in what would go down as a very nice first season in the NFL.

In six seasons since then, Aaron Donald has blasted past the role of an elite defensive player into a category all his own. The ‘Donald Zone,’ where he and only he stands. 

Aaron Donald has made an All-Pro team in six consecutive seasons. Nobody at the defensive tackle position is better. Aaron Donald has won the league’s Defensive Player of the Year award in three of his last four seasons. Nobody on the defensive side of the ball is better than him, either.

Aaron Donald has transcended what we all assumed possible for a player in the defensive tackle position. The six-time All-Pro recorded 13.5 sacks in 2020, good for second in the league. Only one other tackle recorded more than ten. All of this, while being double-teamed on 70% of his pass-rush snaps. And sometimes tripled-teamed, just to be safe. Aaron Donald just might be the best player in the NFL.

And of course, he’s been in that argument for a long while before 2020. But this season reaffirmed what most of us already knew. There is nobody else quite like Aaron Donald.

7. The Erosion of the Patriots Dynasty

When was the last time you remember the Patriots being a bad football team? Or at least, on the level they were in 2020 — a competent, yet unspectacular group? I’ll answer that for you.

It was the 2000 season, when the team went 5-11 as a scrappy young go-getter named Tom Brady rode the bench as a wide-eyed, sixth-round rookie. That’s the last time the Patriots were a bad team. That’s the last time they finished below .500.

That is, of course, until the 2020 season. Stalwarts at the top of the NFL standings for two decades no longer, as New England’s reign as the league’s pre-eminent dynasty finally came to a close. Tom Brady found a new team, and the Patriots found themselves floundering on offense.

The New England Patriots were an irrelevant, unassuming team in 2020. That’s what makes them such a relevant talking point.

Top Destinations for Von Miller

Where Will The Broncos Pass Rusher Land?

By: Brady Atkins

With recent rumors reporting that Von Miller, a longtime pass-rusher with the Denver Broncos, a three-time All-Pro and a Super Bowl MVP, suggesting that Miller is on his way out from Denver– a unicorn is about to hit free agency.

All 32 teams in the league spend their life in constant search of a player at Miller’s caliber. Even now, with the future Hall of Famer in his 30s, and coming off of an injury, an edge rusher with Miller’s resume should attract the attention of suitors across the NFL– and Miller should be able to take his pick.

But which teams make the most sense? Coaches and general managers are bound to put forth their best offer, but which teams are more likely to go all-in, and which teams offer the best fit for a veteran legend?

Any defense in the league could find a starting spot for Miller– but there are three teams that could potentially turn him into a cornerstone of their defensive front seven.

Tennessee Titans

Is there a team in the NFL that could use the presence of a bonafide, veteran superstar edge rusher more than the men in two-toned blue?

The Tennessee Titans, bottom three in the league in quarterback pressure rate, hurries generated per dropback, and total sacks through the 2020 season, are a group that could use a spark in the pass-rush department.

Von Miller may not be the three-time All-Pro, Super Bowl MVP he was while at the peak of his powers– but if he can return to the form he showed in his last year of play back in 2019, he would be the Titans’ best edge rusher from day one.

Miller’s eight sacks through 15 games in 2019, the veteran’s lowest production since 2013, were head and shoulders above the sack total of anyone on the Tennessee roster in 2020, with third-year player Harold Landry coming the closest with 5.5.

Even coming off of an injury in his early 30s, Miller’s track record as a future Hall of Famer pass-rusher makes him too alluring of a player for a team without a clear-cut threat on the edge to not at least kick the tires on.

Las Vegas Raiders

If Von Miller and the Denver Broncos, the team that took him second overall in the 2011 NFL Draft, were to part ways– how petty does the pash-rusher want to be?

That’s what matters most in this projection– because the fit is too good to be true.

The Raiders have been in search of a pass-rush specialist since the departure of Khalil Mack, a fellow All-Pro Canton-bound edge rusher, who took his 53 sacks through five seasons with the franchise to the Chicago Bears in 2019.

Since then, Las Vegas has been a team that manages to get into the backfield at an average rate, but struggles when it comes to actually bringing the quarterback down. Despite ranking 16th in pressure rate in 2020, and top five in quarterback hurry rate, the Raiders finished the 16-game season with just 21 sacks– the fourth lowest in the league. 2019 was similar. 11th in hurry rate, 25th in total sacks.

In contrast, Miller has been a sack artist since first setting foot on an NFL field– finishing with double-digit sacks in all but two of his nine seasons played. A master at brining the quarterback down, and a veteran presence for a budding star at the position in Maxx Crosby, Miller’s fit with the Raiders makes too much sense to not happy.

Provided he’s willing to play his former team twice a year, of course. 

Buffalo Bills

With the sudden emergence of Josh Allen, and the ascension of Stefon Diggs from a great player to one of the best wide receivers in the league, the Buffalo Bills have gone from a Super Bowl longshot to a team one or two players away from bringing home a Lombardi.

So let’s give them one more player.

Von Miller to the Buffalo Bills is far more than a luxury addition for the reigning AFC East champions. Despite a star-studded cast of defensive players, from Jordan Poyer and the All-Pro Tre White manning the secondary, to the emergent Tremaine Edmunds at linebacker, one area where the Bills could use a bit of help is bringing in an elite pass rusher.

Even while finishing 15th in the league in total sacks with 38, nobody on the Bills’ roster managed more than five sacks through 2020, and the team’s leader in tackles for loss, the veteran Mario Addison, managed seven. All this, despite the Buffalo defense blitzing at the eighth-highest rate in the league.

Give Von Miller to Head Coach Sean McDermott, a defensive-minded specialist, and Miller could thrive as he’s done for his entire career.

Why The Value of a Great Defense Holds True: Buccaneers Super Bowl Proves It

Why Defense Wins Championships

By: Brady Akins

It’s third down and long, Super Bowl Sunday– the Kansas City Chiefs, Patrick Mahomes, and the rest of their Andy Reid led, superpowered offense face a situation they’ve seen before.

Kansas City found themselves tasked with 194 third-down attempts in the 2020 regular season. They converted on 95 of them, just a shred under a 50% success rate, and the third-highest conversion rate in the league. This probably isn’t much of a surprise to you.

After all, the Chiefs are the epitome of what a modern-day NFL team is supposed to look like. Their 2018 MVP, 2019 Super Bowl champion, and ‘media-appointed messiah’ gunslinger Patrick Mahomes continues to lead the way for the NFL’s second-ranked offense in DVOA, and the league’s top-ranked offense in yards per game. But Mahomes is just the tip of the iceberg.

Kansas City built their team with playmakers at key positions on offense. Their defense? Well, they’re okay. Both Chris Jones and Frank Clark are multiple Pro Bowl players on the defensive line, Tyrann Mathieu is a three-time All-Pro at safety, and everyone else is just about good enough to let the nuclear powered Chiefs offense fully take over games, with headline-grabbing three-time All-Pros Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill helping Mahomes and Reid, their offensive-minded veteran coach, piloting a team that’s looked built to compete for every Super Bowl over the next decade.

So facing third down and long on Super Bowl Sunday, well, it’s nothing to worry about. Not for this Chiefs team, one that’s modeled after an NFL archetype. Offensive minded coach? Check. Lucking into an elite quarterback? Check. Putting the playmakers around him? Yet another check, put that one in Sharpie, too. It’s how elite teams are supposed to be built in 2021– and Kansas City does it better than anyone.

Which is why what happened on Super Bowl Sunday is weird, to say the least. It’s weird that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the champions of Super Bowl LV were able to completely shut down those very same Kansas City Chiefs beyond a shadow of a doubt. It’s weird that Shaquil Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul, Vita Vea, Ndamukong Suh and a host of others in the Buccaneers front-seven were able to generate enough consistent pressure to hold that Kansas City offense to nine total points– the lowest of Mahomes’ career, college or pro.

It’s weird that Tyreek Hill was held to just three catches through three quarters, after exploding for over 200 receiving yards in the first quarter alone when these two teams faced in Week 12 of the regular season. It’s weird that the rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, with 64 yards on nine carries, finished as the offense’s most efficient player. It’s weird, more than anything, that the team that did everything right in roster building for modern football, constructing an offensive masterpiece on paper, was thwarted by a better team in the Buccaneers.

Every week in the NFL is a learning experience– and for recent seasons, the one thing we’ve learned is that elite offense matters above all else. But the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in the most lopsided Super Bowl since 2014, sought to teach the world a lesson that we’ve seem to forget.

An elite defense, a truly special defense, can transcend even the greatest offenses– and matter above all else.

Tampa Bay’s Big Night

Holding an NFL offense, any NFL offense, below 10 points in a game is an incredible feat. 

These are world-class athletes, the best of the best on each roster throughout the league. The New York Jets, the NFL’s lowest-ranked scoring offense, still managed 15.2 points per game. And all but eight teams averaged over three touchdowns a game in 2020. 

Now, holding the Kansas City Chiefs offense below nine points– that’s something else altogether. That’s something that last year’s eighth-ranked scoring defense, the San Francisco 49ers, couldn’t manage one Super Bowl ago– giving up 31 to these very Chiefs. That’s something that’s never happened since Mahomes became a starting quarterback.

Tampa Bay did it, and barely broke a sweat in making the Chiefs’ offense look pedestrian. This wasn’t something the Buccaneers lucked into, or a case of the opposing team shooting themselves in the foot. This was pure, unfiltered obliteration— at every level of the defense.

This was the Buccaneers defensive line controlling a game from start to finish. Super Bowl LV marked just the fifth game in Mahomes’ 18 appearances in 2020 that the quarterback was sacked three times. But it was so much more than that.

This was Shaquil Barret, the Buccaneers superstar pass-rusher and the league’s leader in total quarterback pressures, hitting a season-high in that metric with eight on just 41 pass-rush reps, for a 19.5% success rate. Even crazier, Barret wasn’t alone. Five players on the Tampa Bay defense recorded a quarterback hit, and the team as a whole recorded 29 hurries on Mahomes’ 56 dropbacks. Even crazier, Tampa Bay did all of this while abandoning their blitz-happy identity, rushing more than four players on just 9.6% of their defensive snaps– leaving plenty of players in coverage, forcing Mahomes to hold the ball, and giving him no other choice but to run for his life to keep plays alive.

This was Lavonte David, the Buccaneers’ unheralded star off-ball linebacker, playing at the All-Pro level he’s played his entire career– but without the recognition, and just one nod to an All-Pro team in 2013. In just one of David’s nine seasons as a pro has he recorded under 100 tackles. In just one season has he recorded fewer than 10 tackles for loss. In the Super Bowl, tasked with keeping Travis Kelce contained, David played like the steady star he’s always been. Don’t let the 10 catches fool you– they’re empty calories. The tight end recorded just one catch in the first quarter, and did most of his damage on one up-tempo drive that ended with four catches– and just three points for the offense.

This was Devin White– a second-year player at the same position as Lavonte David, who has made an equal impact on the Tampa Bay defense. White hasn’t recorded so much as a Pro Bowl yet in his career, but he earned that ‘Super Bowl Champion’ next to his name in a season that came with 15 tackles for loss and nine sacks. White led the Buccaneers in tackles in that Super Bowl win, doubling the total of the next closest player on the team.

This was Carlton Davis, Jamel Dean, Jordan Whitehead and the rookie Antoine Winfield Jr. doing exactly what they needed to do against one of the toughest tasks in football– containing the Kansas City Chiefs pass-catchers. Those three catches for Tyreek Hill in three quarters weren’t a mistake, they were a product of spectacular defensive play. Nor were those 29 quarterback hurries a product of just the Buccaneers’ defensive line. Kansas City’s fastball is their deep-pass game, which thrives through the production of Hill– who was shut down with the Buccaneers’ two-high safety scheme, which they ran on 87% of their plays, holding Mahomes without a completed pass of 20 or more air yards. Credit Whitehead and Winfield for that. The Chiefs’ other pass catchers, Mecole Hardman, Byron Pringle, Sammy Watkins and Demarcus Robinson, were held to a combined five catches for 31 yards. Credit Davis and Dean for that.

This was Todd Bowles, the defensive coordinator behind the scenes, pulling every perfect string at the exact right moment to make this defensive performance one for the ages. Tampa Bay ranked sixth in yards allowed per game in 2020, and eighth in points allowed per game. They played above that station in the Super Bowl, against, once again, the Kansas City Chiefs’ All-Pro riddled offense.

This was a message. Drafted by Bowles, co-signed by every player and every position coach that touched the Tampa Bay defense in 2020. They are an elite unit. Loaded with elite players at every level contributing to elite production and basking in their shared eliteness. They just beat the reigning Super Bowl Champions with ease– and they did it through the forgotten art of the smothering defense, that year upon year becomes less of a priority for NFL franchises. 

Let this be a lesson for Kansas City, and teams across the league. If you want to bring home a Lombardi, you can’t forget about the defense.

Trying to Outscore the Unscorable

You can’t out-Chiefs the Chiefs, and you can’t win Super Bowls by trying.

What you can do, however counterintuitive to the modern-day NFL it might seem, is build a roster designed specifically to counter the high-flying, point-scoring priorities. You can build a roster that doesn’t so much try to one-up the Chiefs, but shut down their game entirely.

None of that is to say that Tampa Bay is the anti-Chiefs. From Mike Evans and Chris Godwin to the greatest football player in the history of the universe under center, the Buccaneers’ offense still comes close to matching what Kansas City has. Rather, this is to say that, rather than attempting to shy away from the daunting challenge of stopping the Chiefs’ explosive offense– Tampa Bay approached it head-on, and assembled a defense that should serve as a model for the rest of the NFL.

The Denver Broncos attempted to out-Chiefs the Chiefs. In the 2020 Draft, their franchise went all-in on assembling a roster equipped to outscore Kansas City– beating them at their own game. They invested in their young stars like Noah Fant and Courtland Sutton, and their hopeful potential star quarterback Drew Lock, by using their first two draft picks on two wide receivers. But in 2020, Denver failed in their effort of out-Chiefsing.

The Cincinnati Bengals attempted to out-Chiefs the Chiefs. Their franchise jumped on a bandwagon two seasons ago sparked by the hiring of Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay– but one that had been around long before McVay. Hiring the young position coach or coordinator who had the closest proximity to an effective offense, and investing heavily in offense during the 2020 Draft, despite having one of the lowest-ranked defenses in the league the season before. Cincinnati too, failed in their hail mary of out-Chiefsing.

The cold reality of the league is that, try as you want, but out-offensing Kansas City is a fool’s errand. You might find a cast of stars to build an offense around, but you won’t find another Patrick Mahomes. You won’t find another Andy Reid. That has yet to stop coaches and general managers from trying, however. Kliff Kingsbury was hired as an NFL head coach, less than a year after being fired from Texas Tech, specifically because he possessed promise, not as a head coach, but as an offensive innovator. 

In the midst of all of it, the simple act of building up a defense has become something of a lost art. Although, not completely forgotten. A team like the Los Angeles Rams stand as examples of that value. One year after missing the playoffs with the 11th ranked scoring offense, and the seventh-ranked group in total yards, the Rams improved their record, made it back to the postseason, and earned a win in the Wild Card round against the NFC West champion Seattle Seahawks with the league’s top-ranked defense in yards and points allowed per game. Their offense, meanwhile, finished 22nd in points scored per game– 11 spots behind where they were last year.

And of course, there’s the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Who just won a Super Bowl by doing what many teams have given up on even attempting to pull off– stopping the Kansas City offense. It wasn’t just the Chiefs, either. Tampa Bay’s opponent in the NFC Championship, the Green Bay Packers, were held to just 26 points– just the fifth time in 18 games they were held below 30. A week earlier, the New Orleans Saints were shut down to 20 points, their lowest scoring total of the season.

The Buccaneers defense didn’t just show up on the biggest stage, they led the way throughout the playoffs. They were the driving force behind Tampa Bay’s success, and they did it while facing two talented offenses in the Saints and Packers, and put an exclamation point on their statement by not allowing the most explosive offense in the league to find the endzone once.

Defense still matters in the league. Don’t forget that as the NFL continues down a path of paying top-dollar for offensive superstars while building up the defensive side of the ball to simply the realm of “good enough.” 

Elite defense, like the one that the Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers have assembled, still matters.

Five Quarterback Targets For The San Francisco 49ers

Where Does Kirk Cousins Land?

By: Brady Atkins

The San Francisco 49ers sit in an uncomfortable spot heading into the 2021 offseason.

They’re just over one calendar year removed from competing for a Super Bowl. For the 2019 season, San Francisco set the league on fire en route to 13 wins, the conference’s number one seed, and an NFC Championship. They even had a 10 point lead at one point in the fourth quarter of the big game.

And now? The 49ers finished 2020 sitting at 6-10. They were plagued by injuries throughout the year, have now lost their defensive coordinator, and perhaps above all, they had a hole at the quarterback position.

Granted, their Week One starter from this past season, Jimmy Garoppolo, was one of the victims of an injury-riddled season– but still, two things made themselves apparent. 

Number One: The 49ers’ depth behind Garoppolo can look nice at times in a quarterback-friendly system, led by Head Coach Kyle Shanahan, but it’s not enough to reach the Super Bowl contending aspirations of the franchise. Six wins and the 21st ranked scoring offense in the NFL can attest.

Number Two: Even when healthy enough to play, the struggles of Garoppolo are hard to ignore. 2019 told the story of a quarterback just good enough to get a team to the door of a championship under perfect circumstances. He was efficient, completing nearly 70% of his throws for 27 touchdowns, but was not asked to do much.

In 2020, through six games, Garoppolo looked to have taken a step back. His accuracy decreased, his interception rate increased, and after seven touchdown throws through those six games– Garoppolo’s season was over with a 3-3 record.

The San Francisco 49ers are still a group with talent, with the right coach in place. If they were to move on from their current situation at quarterback for a higher-ceiling candidate, the right player could be the one necessary piece to bring the 49ers back into Super Bowl contention.

There are at least five names, from the draft to free agency to trade candidates, that could help San Francisco to ascend. Here they are.

1. Deshaun Watson

The San Francisco 49ers need some consistency at the quarterback position, and someone talented enough to fully elevate the roster around them taking snaps for the franchise going forward.

Deshaun Watson needs some consistency on a franchise level, and a group of coaches, managers, and owners who are talented and willing enough to recognize Watson’s immense skillet and build an offensive scheme that maximizes his talent.

Let’s start the insanity.

Head Coach Kyle Shanahan has shown through years in the league, regardless of his role in an offense, an ability to impact quarterbacks for the better. In his tenure as the offensive coordinator with the Washington Football Team, Shanahan brought out the best in a rookie Robert Griffin III– who won the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year award in 2012 and earned an invite to the Pro Bowl, the only one of his career.

As an offensive coordinator with the Atlanta Falcons, Shanahan saw repeated success at the quarterback position– putting together a gameplan that led veteran Matt Ryan to his first MVP award in 2016, and his only since. The following season, Shanahan was brought to the 49ers to serve as the team’s head coach, where it’s been more of the same. 

The 49ers’ won 13 games, and the NFC, in 2019 with 16 starts from Jimmy Garapplo completing 69% of his passes, and more recently, the San Francisco offense propelled backup quarterback Nick Mullens to some NFL history– where this season he shot up to second place on the list of most passing yards through 16 starts.

Now, imagine what he could do with Deshaun Watson, an already established star in the league with a four-year track record of thriving without the help of a quarterback friendly system or overwhelming offensive roster talent.

In fact, Watson’s best season as a pro came this year, with the circumstances around him sitting close to rock bottom. The franchise had fired their coach in the middle of the season, but not before trading DeAndre Hopkins– a three-time All-Pro receiver, and Watson’s favorite target. The team didn’t have a player run for more than 700 yards, gave up the second-most sacks in the league, and saw Will Fuller, the team’s best receiver, get suspended for the final five games of the year.

All this, and Watson still hit a career-high for touchdown throws with 33. He still threw the fewest interceptions of his career with seven, had the best completion percentage of his career, and the third-best in the league at 70.2%, all while throwing the ball more than ever before.

Watson is hitting his peak. He’s shown to be a player that can excel with or without much talent around him. The 49ers and Shanahan, on the other hand, have proven to be a steady force that can produce a worthwhile offense without the help of elite talent. But the union of those two forces could be a deadly mix for the rest of the league.

2. Kirk Cousins

A reunion of sorts between Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins and Shanahan could, and maybe even should, be in the works for 2021.

Cousins and Shanahan have been a part of the same organization, with the current 49ers’ coach serving as Cousins’ offensive coordinator in Washington in 2012 and 2013. Cousins even got a to play a bit during that time, even while primarily serving the role of backup to Griffin, but with an eight touchdown to 10 interception ratio during that time, Cousins never really got the chance to showcase the player he is today in a Shanahan offense.

Next season could bring about some second chances for both parties. Cousins has developed into a much different, much stronger player than he was in 2013. Now a two-time Pro Bowler, the 32-year old quarterback has evolved into an efficient, accurate passer capable of leading two different franchises to the postseason.

But Cousins, despite his talent, might serve to benefit from a clean slate– same for his offense. After a 7-9 finish to 2020, despite a wealth of talent on the offensive side of the ball ranging from Adam Thielen and the rookie Justin Jefferson at receiver, to the two-time Pro Bowler Dalvin Cook at running back, a rebranding for both parties might be what’s best.

The Vikings might need a quarterback who can provide more of a spark than be a steady hand for a talented offensive roster, while Cousins might just need a ready-made contender in need of nothing more than above average play to reach their Super Bowl aspirations.

3. Alex Smith

Another reunion might be in play for a new 49ers’ quarterback, but not so much a reunion between Shanahan and one of his former players, but between a quarterback and his former franchise.

Alex Smith, now 36 years old, was taken at the top of the 2005 NFL Draft by none other than the San Francisco 49ers. Smith provided the franchise with seven years of steady play at quarterback– but hadn’t truly reached his career peak until becoming the quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs, where an offensive-minded head coach in Andy Reid led Smith to three Pro Bowl seasons in his five years with Kansas City.

More recently, Smith has made his way to the Washington Football Team where, once again, he’s shown an ability to lead a team. But the Football Team could be looking for options outside of the longtime NFL veteran. 

Under the guidance of Washington backup Taylor Heinicke, the Football Team came within one score of beating the eventual NFC Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers– looking like the potential future of the franchise, albeit in a one-game sample size. And if Washington were to prioritize a quarterback beyond Smith, the 49ers could be a potential suitor.

Now with Shanahan at head coach, Smith could enter an environment similar to the one he thrived in with Kansas City. An offensive-minded head coach leading the charge, with a track record of maximizing the talent of the guy taking snaps.

Smith made three Pro Bowls under similar circumstances. At 36 years old, the veteran might have lost a step, but he could still be a player capable of leading the 49ers franchise to a 10-11 win season under the right circumstances.

4. Trey Lance

There’s gotta be at least one rookie on the list, right?

Trey Lance from North Dakota State, a powerhouse of the FCS level, might be one of the most intriguing prospects from the 2021 rookie class. Talented without question, as 42 total touchdowns without a single interception would indicate.

But the thing about Lance’s brilliant 2019 season is, that, it was Lance’s only season at the college level. The quarterback threw one pass as a freshman in 2018, and played just one game in 2020 as the FCS season ended up canceled due to COVID-19.

Lance’s inexperience also comes against an inferior schedule, compared to his 2021 quarterback counterparts. Future rookie starters like Justin Fields and Trevor Lawrence have national title experience up on the FBS level. Lance is a champion himself, but did so in the FCS.

But as we’ve explored, if there’s a coach in the league that can maximize the raw talent of an unpolished quarterback, it’s Kyle Shanahan. Trey Lance might be in need of the right hand to guide him to stardom– and he might find it in San Francisco.

5. Mac Jones

Okay, fine, TWO rookies on this list.

Shanahan hasn’t had a highly-drafted rookie that he could fully mold from the start of his career since Robert Griffin III– in a year where 2012’s second-overall pick exceeded expectations to win Rookie of The Year. Mac Jones might have the potential to follow suit.

Jones has ranked around the consensus QB5 among 2021 draft experts, but similar to Lance, he might just be in need of the right coach and the right system to guide him to greatness. In 2020, the Alabama quarterback put up the numbers to show that some level of greatness might just be possible.

The Heisman-finalist turned national champion led the NCAA in 2020 in, well, just about everything. His 4,500 passing yards were the most in college football. His 77.4% completion rate was the highest among qualified passers. His 41 passing touchdowns were, wait, only second? Nevermind– the guy’s a bust.

College production is rarely ever a one for one translation to the pros, especially with the level of talent Jones was blessed to work with at Alabama. But what Jones’ college performance does show is that he has the traits to run an offense to near-perfection, championship-winning perfection.

His game isn’t as refined as the other quarterbacks on this list, and his profile isn’t as high. But he’s a clear talent that, in the right system, could thrive at the next level.

Why Zach Wilson Can Restore the Patriots Dynasty

Zach Wilson Poses the Top Fit with New England

By: Brady Atkins

It finally happened. It finally happened. And it’s still hard to fathom.

For the first time since 2008, the New England Patriots missed the NFL playoffs. For the first time since 2002, the New England Patriots finished with fewer than 10 wins. And for the first time since 2000, a year before the eternal Tom Brady became a starting quarterback in the league, the New England Patriots finished with a losing record.

Ding dong, ding dong, the NFL’s witch, the league’s most inevitable force over the last two decades, is finally dead. What a world.

And not just dead, but the Patriots will head into the 2021 offseason facing a need to rebuild that they haven’t since the Earth was still cooling. The New England offense, more than anything, is in desperate need of a facelift. The NFL’s 27th ranked offense in both points and yards per game, a group ranked 23rd in offensive DVOA, finished as the franchise’s lowest ranking unit since 1992– well before the days of Tom Brady, and even Drew Bledsoe.

It’s not easy to pinpoint one clear issue within the Patriots’ usually well-oiled machine. Rather, the New England offense typically looked like an amalgam of broken parts, from a 31-year old starting quarterback with more interceptions than passing touchdowns to a collection of four running backs who, despite 318 combined carries, managed a total of just eight touchdowns. From a wide-receiver group who could not manage a 1,000-yard pass catcher, or even an 800-yard pass catcher, to an offensive line that gave up a sack on 7.8% of Cam Newton’s dropbacks— seventh-most in the league.

What are you supposed to do if you’re New England? Free agency is a good start, as the Patriots are lucky enough to head into the offseason with over $57 million in salary-cap space— the fourth-most in the league. The team could throw their money around if they wanted to, and maybe they should, but how far is a spending spree on skill position players bound to get a team facing a pressing issue at quarterback?

Allen Robinson, TY Hilton, and Sammy Watkins headline a pool of free-agent receivers for 2021 that the Patriots could target, but without a sure hand under center to hold an influx of talent together, New England could face yet another season stuck in the middle of the NFL pack.

Picking at 15th overall after a 7-9 finish to 2020, New England will be far out of reach for the biggest names in the rookie quarterback class. And after floundering through one season of a veteran stop-gap at quarterback, older free-agent targets like Matthew Stafford just might not be the answer for New England.

In order to get back on track, in order to rebuild the Patriots to the year-after-year Super Bowl contender they were just a couple of seasons back, there is one man, and maybe only one, who is capable of lifting the Patriots back to those typical heights. 

BYU’s very own Zach Wilson.

Who Is Zach Wilson?

Wilson is a 21-year old quarterback, coming off his third season in college and his third season as the BYU Cougars. He fully emerged in 2020, his junior year, rocketing himself into discussions as a first-round quarterback, in the class of North Dakota State’s Trey Lance and, in some cases, Ohio State’s Justin Fields. 

But don’t go calling Wilson a one-year wonder.

The BYU product’s career tracks a fair bit like a recent big-name quarterback, Heisman Winner and 2020’s top-overall pick, Joe Burrow. Wilson, like Burrow, showed promise in his early years of play before exploding in his last season. As a freshman, Wilson threw for 12 touchdowns and added three more on the ground, all in just nine games. 

And after a slight step back the following season as a sophomore, Wilson hit his potential– a player with 33 passing touchdowns to just three picks, along with a completion rate of 73.5% and 10 more touchdowns on the ground. He led BYU to their fourth-best season in program history in 2020, and their best since 1996

Wilson has proven to be a winner, and someone who can elevate a team around him, as the quarterback hasn’t seen BYU bring in a top 50 ranked recruiting class since he joined the program in 2018. He still led the Cougars to as high as eighth in the AP Poll, doing so without a wealth of talent around him– similar to a situation he would inherit should he find his way to New England. A roster not quite packed to the brim with talent, but one that, with the right player, could unlock a potential that has the team competing on a high level.

The question that remains now is whether or not Wilson’s accomplishments can be translated to a professional level. A quarterback who dominated in college, but did so against a 12-game schedule of teams outside of the Power Five conferences.  

Wilson can only do his best against the teams he’s scheduled to face, but it’s a fair question to ask. Can Wilson’s turnover-averse style of play stand up against two meetings a year against the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills, two defenses ranked first and second in total turnover percentage? Can Wilson’s touchdown production, both on the ground and on through the air, be enough to outpace elite offenses within the conference, like the Kansas City Chiefs and Tennessee Titans, two teams ranked in the top four in offensive DVOA?

The Immense Talent of Zach Wilson

 Those questions of Wilson’s talent might be the very reason why his fit with the New England Patriots is picture-perfect. 

If he can bring a similar level of carefulness to the professional level, his presence on the field will only help in four meetings against defenses who thrived at creating turnovers. If he can be a scoring machine like he was with BYU, one who helped lead the Cougars to the third-ranked scoring offense at the FBS level, an inept 2020 Patriots offense might morph to one more than capable of keeping pace with the league’s best offenses– with the help of a Belichick led defense, of course.

Those are the strengths of Wilson’s play, but there’s more. Wilson’s completion percentage was good enough for second in all of college, behind only Alabama’s Mac Jones. His 10 rushing touchdowns have him tied for fourth amongst FBS quarterbacks. With his third-ranked yards per passing attempt, Wilson’s stat sheets come together to paint a picture of an ultimate ‘do-it-all’ player. One who excels at everything just enough to find a starting spot at the NFL level.

He’s not Lamar Jackson, or prime Cam Newton for that matter, but he’s more than athletic enough to keep plays alive in the face of pressure, and to be a scoring threat in goal-to-goal situations. He doesn’t have a Josh Allen arm, but he has skill with his accuracy on throws both short and long to make just about any pass an NFL offense could ask from him.

Wilson’s an accurate passer with an arm, a mobile enough guy to find the end zone 10 times through 12 games as a quarterback in 2020. His skill set is diverse enough to fit in well with just about any offense in the league. 

But for Wilson to truly excel, his best bet would be stumbling to an NFL roster that can emphasize the strongest points of his already strong game. A team that can adapt their offensive style, make Wilson comfortable, and thrive as they push the right buttons for the quarterback to be as dominant a pro as he was in college.

We need an offense with a quarterback friendly scheme that brings out the best of the man under center. Any ideas?

Wilson, The Patriots, and Football Harmony

The multi-talented Zach Wilson is capable of fitting into many different offenses across the NFL. But for someone like Wilson, who has succeeded in college at so many things, he could use a team that is willing to adapt to the player that he is.

Enter the New England Patriots, coached by a living legend in Bill Belichick– a three-time Coach of The Year winner and six-time Super Bowl champion, who earned that level of success for many reasons. One of those reasons? His unrivaled flexibility and ability to adapt to offensive schemes that build around a player’s weaknesses while propping up their strengths.

Through 20 seasons as a New England Patriot, Tom Brady built up a legacy as the greatest of all time while playing in an offense that shifted over time. In 2007, Brady’s seventh as a starter with the quarterback hitting the peak of his powers, the New England offense produced big play after another, and ended with Brady being the first quarterback in league history to hit 50 passing touchdowns, while leading the league in yards per pass attempt.

As the years progressed, Brady continued to flourish, but turned into a different player in a different system. His yards per attempt began to decrease through the years as his accuracy began to see a slight uptick. Even in his late 30s through to his early 40s, Brady was still a regular Pro Bowl player– now getting there in an offense that gave the quarterback easier, quicker throws as his raw arm talent began to fade. 

The beat continued after Brady left as well. In 2019, the Patriots last year with the future Hall of Famer, New England lived and died through those quick and easy passes, as Brady finished with 613 passing attempts– the fourth-most in the league. In 2020, with Newton under center, a more turnover-prone, less accurate passer, the Patriots dialed back their passing game to the point where Newton finished with only 368 passing attempts, 25th in the NFL.

The Patriots have never been rigid in who they are on offense. For as long as they’ve been football’s most dominant force, they’ve been a team that has constantly evolved to fit the skill of their players. With Wilson, the Patriots could enter a world of possibilities as they work to make an offense fitting of the quarterback’s caliber.

New England has shown they’re willing to use their quarterbacks as threats on the ground. For all of Newton’s issues in 2020, the quarterback finished with 12 rushing touchdowns in 15 starts– similar to Wilson’s ground production of 10 touchdowns through 12 starts. 

New England has shown they’re willing to give their quarterbacks easy looks to take advantage of their accuracy. If Wilson struggles at first to adapt to the speed of the NFL, New England has the kid covered. For years, and multiple Super Bowl wins, the Patriots were working with an older Tom Brady without the arm talent he had in his younger years. The throws became shorter, quicker, and easier for the quarterback to hit so long as he had the accuracy skills.

New England has even shown they’re willing to let their quarterback sling it, although you have to travel a ways back to find that era. But should Wilson get his footing, the Patriots could let him lean on that deep ball accuracy that propelled Brady to one of the greatest quarterback seasons ever back in ‘07.

Are the Patriots prospects of landing Wilson complete wishful thinking? It might take some luck, but New England may have a reasonable path to their potential franchise savior without needing to trade. Other quarterbacks of the 2021 rookie class like Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence and Ohio State’s Justin Fields come from schools with higher profiles than Wilson’s, that have competed for championships every year they’ve been starters. Their path to being top five picks might be set in stone.

Same for a player like Trey Lance from North Dakota State, who has the advantage of multiple seasons worth of hype over Wilson. With three potential players to be taken above Wilson, the Patriots’ path to drafting the kid from BYU might not be impossible. Difficult, but within reason.

To return to form, the New England Patriots might need the efforts of Zach Wilson. To reach his full potential, Zach Wilson might need the New England Patriots. 

All that happens now is for the world to wait and see what happens, to see if they need to, once again, fear the brilliance of the New England Patriots.

Five Potential Landing Spots for Jadeveon Clowney

By: Brady Akins

Five teams that could bid for the talents of the three-time Pro Bowler

Who is Jadeveon Clowney, aside from that guy that made that tackle in college you’ve seen approximately 18,000 times on your Twitter feed? The answer, as seen through Clowney’s seven-season resume, isn’t black and white.

Clowney has been just about everything throughout his NFL career. He’s been the brightest up-and-coming defensive star in the league as the number one overall pick back in 2014. He’s been the heir apparent to the Hall of Fame-bound JJ Watt with the Houston Texans. 

He’s even, at times, played better than Watt himself. Clowney’s best season as a pro came in 2017, a year which Watt started in five games during a year derailed by an injury without a sack. Clowney ascended that season, finishing with a career-best in both sacks and tackles for loss, with 9.5 and 21 respectively, the latter being the second-most in the league.

The last few seasons of Clowney’s NFL tenure have shown something of a fall from grace. 2018 was a step back, but still typically high-level performance with 16 TFL’s. 2019, his first away from the Texans, saw the once-coveted pass rusher finish with his lowest sack and TFL numbers since his rookie year, a season which saw Clowney start in just two games.

His latest season, an eight-start 2020 campaign with the Tennessee Titans, showed even further regression. Five tackles for loss and not a single sack before missing the rest of the year with an injury. It all comes back to the question– who is Jadeveon Clowney?

Clowney is a player of immense talent, who can provide a spark to just about any defense in the league, but maybe is not the bonafide superstar he once looked on pace to be. He’s a player that, in the right scheme and with the proper level of talent around him, can be a dangerous athlete who elevates the pass-rush group on a given roster.

In the NFL, there are five teams who could give Clowney exactly what he needs. A roster with young, promising talent or defensive-friendly schemes that could take the pressure off the pass-rusher, and using his talents properly. With Clowney’s contract now expired, let’s look at who might be in the running for the former first-overall pick.

Indianapolis Colts

An embarrassment of defensive riches gets even more embarrassing in our first landing spot for Clowney, a talented player that just might need a high level of talent around him in order to reach his peak potential.

That’s where the Indianapolis Colts come in. Their defense ended the year ranked as one of the NFL’s best, top 10 in both points allowed, yards allowed, and total takeaways. One brief look at their defensive depth chart– it’s no mystery why. 

Deforest Buckner, the league’s best non-Aaron Donald defensive lineman, serves as the highlight of a group with talent at every level. Buckner himself, with his 9.5 sacks, finished as a first-team All-Pro for his efforts. Alongside Darius Leonard, a third-year linebacker who was a star from the second he stepped on a football field, who joined Buckner as a fellow All-Pro player.

With two definitive defensive stars on the roster, a player like Clowney could slide right in to make an immediate impact. For being as talented as he is, Clowney has always done his best work on defenses where he didn’t need to be the biggest threat. Clowney’s last two seasons, which have marked a backslide in production, came in Tennessee and Seattle defenses that required him to be the leading presence on the defensive front..

With both Buckner and Leonard, Clowney would be walking into a defensive dreamland, and adding an element that had been missing from a typically dominant Colts’ defense in 2020. Despite finishing as a top 10 defense in just about every way, one aspect where they were less dominant was in generating pressure, ranked 16th in quarterback pressures per dropback.

Clowney could come in and provide a spark to the Indianapolis defense that takes them from great to unbeatable. And with the third-most cap space in the league for 2021, the Colts should be able to afford his heavy price tag. 

Dallas Cowboys

And… on the opposite side of the defensive spectrum… we have the Dallas Cowboys, a team that could use Clowney on their side less as a fun spark player, and more as a legitimate building block.

The Cowboys, depending on the health of quarterback Dak Prescott and Jerry Jones’ willingness to write him a check fitting of a franchise quarterback, should be better than fine on offense. With the efforts of Prescott, a former first-team All-Pro running back in Ezekiel Elliott, and three wide receivers all with the talent to be top targets on just about any team in the league, Dallas’ ability to score points could be unrivaled in 2021.

The Dallas defense, on the other hand, a group ranked 28th and 23rd in points and yards allowed per game respectively, is a far different narrative.

Sitting pretty at 12th in the league in salary cap space with nearly $14 million, Dallas could have a nice chunk of change to throw around once the offseason starts, and plenty of holes to fill along the defensive side of the ball. 

Clowney, coming off of a down season without a sack through eight starts, could come into the year needing less money than the $15 million he was offered for 2020, but could be a great addition to a Dallas defense that managed just 31 sacks, 20th in the league.

Similar to his potential fit with the Colts, Clowney wouldn’t be doing it all on his own in Dallas. Eversen Griffin and Aldon Smith, while not as strong as the duo of Buckner and Leonard, are a solid duo of pass-rushers that could prove even stronger with the addition of a talented presence like Clowney.

Forming a high-potential three-man rotation of Griffin, Smith, and Clowney for 2021 gives the Cowboys the chance to flip the script, taking the defense up just enough notches to let a dominant offense take over games.

Carolina Panthers

The wildcard in all of this. In the 2020 draft, the Carolina Panthers invested heavily on the defensive side of the ball. Actually, wait, really, the invested exclusively on the defensive side of the ball. Using all seven picks on different defensive players.

But, even while the early returns on players like Derrick Brown and Jeremy Chinn look promising, neither they nor the five other defensive rookies taken in 2020 were enough to elevate the Panthers’ defense past the point of the league average. In fact, in the pass-rush, Carolina finished as one of the lowest-ranked teams in the NFL with just 29 sacks, the ninth-fewest in the league.

Clowney could help boost that number, both in the obvious ways and otherwise. An NFL veteran like Clowney, someone who has been in the league since 2014 and has amassed 75 tackles for loss in that time, knows how to fight against an offense. Just like how he can contribute instantly for the Colts and Cowboys, Clowney can add a strong presence for the Panthers as well.

But, for a team like the Panthers, with a second-round pass rusher just finishing his rookie campaign in Yetur Gross-Matos, along with another young player in Brian Burns, Clowney’s veteran presence could mean more in what he can teach to Burns and Gross-Matos than what it means to the stat sheet.

Two talented defensive edge-rushers could take another step forward under the wing of Clowney, who could elevate the defense as a whole in the locker room and on the field.

New England Patriots

The New England Patriots find themselves in a handful of unique situations heading into the 2021 offseason. For the first time in 11 years, the NFL’s seemingly indestructible empire has missed the postseason. 

However, for the first time in about as long, that same empire will have one extra element working in its favor– an absolute boatload of cap space, with a bit over $57 million heading into 2021, fourth-most in the league.

Enter, Jadeveon Clowney, a league star who could emerge as the biggest name in the Patriots’ front-seven from day one. New England’s star-studded secondary of 2019 Defensive Player of The Year Stephon Gilmore and two-time Pro Bowler Devin McCourty could use a boost to a pash-rush group that managed just 24 sacks in 2020– 26th in the league.

Clowney won’t be confused for a ‘sack-artist’ in the mold of TJ Watt or Myles Garrett, especially after his last two seasons held a combined three sacks, but he’s a more than capable player who, in the right scheme, could flourish. 

Opposite a surprise, up-and-coming sidekick like New England’s own Chase Winovich, who led the defense last season in sacks with 5.5, Clowney could re-emerge as the star he once looked on pace to be. That, while in a Belichick-led defense known for maximizing the talents of even the league’s forgotten players, could push Clowney into the league spotlight once again. 

Jacksonville Jaguars

Could Jadeveon Clowney be the final piece to the Jaguars’ puzzle, and take a Jacksonville team from the 1-15 basement of the NFL standings into the defense-led playoff contender that they were just a few seasons prior?

No, probably not. But that doesn’t make him a bad fit for the franchise.

Hiring a new head coach, presumably drafting a quarterback with the number one overall pick, and doing it all on a team that won just 12 games in the three years since their 2017 AFC Championship run, the goal for 2021 shouldn’t be to go from the worst team in football to an overnight Super Bowl contender– the goal should be to go from unwatchable to a spunky, up and coming franchise.

Clowney would be the perfect offseason hire to fit that image. Give the new coach, and the new quarterback, a functional situation in order to win five, six, maybe even seven games and build their confidence heading into the season after. Adding Clowney, with a few other pieces, could do just that for the Jaguars.

The Jacksonville defense, while not the group they once were, was able to bring in some solid rookie contributors in the 2020 draft class– with cornerback CJ Henderson and defensive end K’Lavon Chaisson being taken within the first 20 picks, and both serving as starters at points during their rookie seasons.

Clowney could come in and elevate a group that, despite having some talent, ranked as one of the league’s worst pass-rushing groups, finishing with the NFL’s third-worst sack-percentage at 3.3%.

No team has more cap space, and arguably a bigger need for a pass-rusher, than the Jacksonville Jaguars. Clowney wouldn’t be competing for an immediate Super Bowl ring should he take his talents to Duval County, but he could be a key piece in establishing a winning culture that sets the Jaguars up for a decade’s worth of future success.

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