Three Takeaways from the Bears preseason so far

Andy Dalton has struggled with the offense

By: Dylan Clemons

Football is back and I couldn’t be any more excited for the start of the season. The Bears are 1-1 in the preseason, winning the opener against the Miami Dolphins 20-13. Then getting smoked by the Mitchell Trubisky led Buffalo Bills 41-15, in which the Bears offense was stagnant all afternoon.

In Week 1 against the Dolphins the first team offense didn’t quite get going. Andy Dalton only played two series and finished the day 2-4 for 18 yards. Starting running back David Montgomery limped off the field after one carry, but his injury doesn’t seem to be too serious.

The man of the day was Justin Fields. He came in and looked awesome, the way he navigates the pocket, and move the chains with his legs is just an absolute game-changer. Fields was 14-20 on the day and threw a 30 yard touchdown to Jesse James, and also ran for a touchdown on an 8 yard scramble. The Defense settled in after giving up two drives that resulted in field goals. Deandre Houston-Carson intercepted Tua Tagovailoa in the end zone to end Tua’s day. That’s something the Bears have been preaching for the defense is forcing more turnovers.

Week 2 was the same story for the first-team offense as it struggled with Andy Dalton under center once again. Numbers-wise it doesn’t look that bad, he was 11-17 for 146 yards with one touchdown and one interception. However the Bears offense could never get into a rhythm with Dalton at the helm. Fields also struggled when he entered the game after halftime. He showed a few flashes, but the two quarterbacks where both dealing with pressure all day long from the Bills front seven, being sacked four times.

The Mitchell Trubisky revenge game was in full force on Saturday. He tore up the Bears defense, going 20-28 for 221 yards and one touchdown in the first half. The Bears defense did not play well by any means. The receivers where able to get separation from the Bears defenders whenever they wanted, Jake Kumerow beat Jaylon Johnson on a 4 yard in route for a touchdown. The Bears defenders were also missing tackles all day long, and quite frankly just couldn’t get stops. Those things need to be cleaned up fast, in order for the Bears to succeed this season.

Offensive Line Problems

It was announced earlier this week that 2nd round rookie left tackle Teven Jenkins was out for most of the season after undergoing back surgery. That is big news considering the Bears were going to slide him into the left tackle position, after letting go veteran Charles Leno in the offseason. They signed 39-year-old Jason Peters to try and put a band-aid on things, but he has yet to play in a game this preseason.

25-year-old Elijah Wilkerson started at left tackle against the Dolphins, and that’s who I expect to start the season there as well. The 5th year veteran has 26 career starts on the right side of the line, mostly at right tackle. The Right tackle position is in bad shape as well. Germain Ifedi, who was going to be the starting at right tackle is on the PUP list with a hip flexor. So that leaves the door open for rookies Lachavious Simmons, and Larry Borom to possibly start there in the season opener if Ifedi can’t get healthy.

Whoever the starting five offensive linemen are, they are going to have to protect the quarterback better than what they did against the Bills. The offensive line allowed four sacks and allowed a huge hit to franchise quarterback Justin Fields that knocked his helmet off. Fields got up and were ok, but it was still a scary sight to see. The offensive line will have to play much better in order for the Bears to have success this season.

Offensive Struggles

Through the first two preseason games, the Chicago Bears first-team offense has struggled to get going with Andy Dalton at the Helm. Dalton has played in nine series this preseason, and the offense has only managed to pick up four first downs, and have one scoring drive. His touchdown came on a huge play by wide receiver Rodney Adams on a solid throw by Dalton that went for a 73-yard score against the Bills. Rodney Adams has been a pleasant surprise this preseason, he has caught seven of his 12 targets for 146 yards and one touchdown.

The fans in Chicago have already fallen in love with rookie sensation Justin Fields. How could you not though? When Fields came into Miami, the offense struggled a bit, going three and out on his first three possessions. But after that, something clicked and the Bears scored on their next two possessions. Once By fields extending a play with his feet and scoring from eight yards out. Then the second scoring play was a 30-yard passing touchdown to a wide-open Jesse James, on a beautifully drawn-up play by Head Coach Matt Nagy. Fields ended that game going 14-20 for 142 yards and two total touchdowns.

Fields had a much tougher time against the Bills defense, being pressured all day long. However, he still showed flashes of what he can do. His ability to extend plays with his feet at an elite level as he has shown through two games could come in handy for a team with an offensive line that struggles to protect their quarterback. That is something Andy Dalton can’t do. However, Bears fans will have to wait to see their future quarterback. Matt Nagy was quoted after the game saying “We have to see Dalton in a regular-season game”. I tend to disagree with Nagy, I believe Fields gives you the best chance to win right now.

Defense Has Been Up And Down

This Bears team will only go as far as this defense will take them, as they are still the strength of the team. They have had an up and down preseason so far. The defense has forced four turnovers in the two games and has gotten to the quarterback for seven sacks.

After a solid performance against the Dolphins, the Bears defense really struggled to stop the Bills offense led by Mitchell Trubisky. The Bears secondary was considered to be the biggest weakness on the defense coming into the season, and it showed against the Bills. They missed quite a few tackles and gave up some big plays to not-so-well-known wide receivers. That unit is very young and will need to play better in order for the Bears to get to where they want to go this season. Right now there is no clear front runner at the slot corner position yet, both Duke Shelly and Kindle Vildor have flashed, but neither has stood out.

Another quick thing that concerns me is the health of Robert Quinn. He has struggled with health since signing a five-year 70 million dollar deal with the Bears last offseason. He only totaled two sacks in his first season with the Bears. He also had a play that stuck out to me against the Bills. It was a fourth down and one and the Bills pitched to Devin Singletary Quinn had great content, and Singletary juked once and put Quinn on the ground and scored from 14 yards out. A healthier Robert Quinn from two seasons ago, makes that play. That signing looks like a disaster for Ryan Pace and the Bears, hopefully, as a Bears fan, he proves me wrong.

Why is Andy Dalton the outspoken starter?

Is QB Andy Dalton the starting QB in 2021?

By: Jeremy Trottier

The Chicago Bears have had quite the offseason so far, moving pieces all over the place between additions and removals.  With the drafting of Justin Fields, and the signing of Andy Dalton for a relatively decent amount, the debate for starting QB has begun.  Most would expect Fields to start right away as he was taken early in this years draft, however that may not be the case immediately.  

In this article, I will be going over three reasons as to why Andy Dalton should be the Bears starting quarterback in 2021.

Fields needs time to develop

A lot of people think throwing a QB straight into the game will work every time, or at least will work in their case.  First off, Fields is a phenomenal quarterback from what we have seen, I cannot deny that in the slightest.  However, taking a year to develop NFL tendencies and learn from the coaches in the building as well as learn the Bears’ scheme and offense would definitely benefit him in the long run.

We have seen this work out before, the primary example being with the Kansas City Chiefs letting Patrick Mahomes develop behind Alex Smith for a bit.  Or even Justin Herbert behind Tyrod Taylor, despite only being a few weeks.  Having Andy Dalton and Nick Foles around, two veteran QBs who have seen it all in a sense, to teach you the ins and outs of this next step would do wonders.

Chicago is not ready yet

This one is pretty self-explanatory, Chicago is not ready for a deep playoff push yet, potentially not a playoff push at all if they underperform.  Even if Fields were to start, there’s no guarantee whatsoever that he can take them to the playoffs in his rookie campaign.  Therefore risking the compromise of his health just to give him experience is not the brightest idea in the book.

With their coaching and GM situation also really on the brink of collapsing, the worst case scenario is Fields takes the field year one and has a coaching change after one year.  Or even worse, he does not have enough to start yet and that gets the coach and GM fired because he underperforms year one.  The best and most suitable scenario for Fields is to sit a year, let the Bears do whatever they do this year while he learns the playbook and scheme, and let the front office get cleaned out if it needs to be.  

Andy Dalton can at least break Fields in

If the Bears do not heed this advice and start Fields in the first year, at least they should let Dalton break Fields in.  What I mean by that is 50:50 split the season, starting Dalton for the first half of the year and Fields for the second half.  Following the lines of what Miami did last year with Tua Tagovailoa and Ryan Fitzpatrick, where they just got Tua playing time while not rushing him in full time.

This knowledge of how to play in an NFL game and how to handle that pressure may do Fields some good, as it will make him work even harder in the next offseason to prepare once he knows what it is like.  They cannot make the same mistake they make with Mitchell Trubisky, despite him and Fields being vastly different QBs. 

Dynasty Fantasy Football: NFC North QBs Outlook

Andy Dalton Is a Buy

By: Andrew Hayslip

Hey all, happy to be here working on my first piece for Pro Football Mania!  Over the next few paragraphs I’m going to do everything in my power to talk about a few quarterbacks, while striving for my perfect crystal ball projection.  Alas, three sentences in and we’re already off to a great start.  Fantastic.

But let’s get to it and have some fun actually looking at players in the 2021 fantasy season.  And today’s focus is going to be on specifically the Quarterbacks of the NFC North.  So Aaron Rodgers, Kirk Cousins, and the newly acquired Andy Dalton and Jared Goff.

But before we even get into the players or metrics specifically, its important to know that in any buy/sell scenario, we’re not operating in a vacuum.  I may “buy” Ryan Fitzpatrick and “sell” Patrick Mahomes for the 2021 season.  That doesn’t mean I’d take Fitzpatrick over Mahomes in a draft, more so an explanation of where they’re each going respectively, I like the value of one player over that of another.

Additional programming note:  we’re evaluating Average Draft Position (ADP) and player value in April.  That’s absurd.  These will change.  Maybe not a ton, and there is still value in evaluating their general perception among the industry, but changes will happen.  The draft is right around the corner and could very easily shake up everything.

But that’s enough with the caveats and nonsensical hedges by which I’ll cover myself when one or all of these calls flame out miserably. 

Lets get started.  

The first thing we have to do is stop and see the respective ADPs of each of the guys we’re discussing.  Right now, Aaron Rodgers is the highest ranked QB being taken of the four, towards the middle of the 4th round in 12 team leagues.  Andy Dalton is going undrafted.  As a note:  This data is full PPR (relevant only for the average draft spot, even though it means nothing to the QBs themselves) provided by fantasydata.com.

These are the respective values by which we’re going to judge our buy/sell decisions, as every player has a price.  Its just now our responsibility to figure out if its worth paying.

Aaron Rodgers

Verdict:  Sell

Woah hey alright, put the pitchforks down for a second… I know Rodgers is coming off of an MVP season and all of that.  He’s a fantastic player.  That said, Rodgers threw 48 touchdowns in 2020, a career-high, as well as a figure that best his three previous season totals by over 20 touchdowns. 

Now, I should take this opportunity to say I don’t expect Rodgers to regress to his totals of the past three years.  He’s playing better following 2020 than he was in those years where he threw 16 (in 7 games), 25, and 26 touchdowns, respectively.  I think the happy medium is right in-between that range, likely somewhere in the 30s.  And that’s completely fine.  But I think overall touchdowns are most likely to regress to what would be more “normal” for a quarterback of his age and use.  And nowhere reflects this quite like the goal line.  Of his 48 touchdowns, a whopping 29 of them came with less than 10 yards to go.  That number is utterly obscene.  And while it speaks to Rodgers’s trademark efficiency and safety with the ball, it’s a number that will likely normalize in 2021.

The last metric I want to point to isn’t even one of Rodgers, but rather that of the man he primarily shares the backfield with, Aaron Jones.  In 2020, within that same “opponent’s 10 yard line” range, Jones got 20 carries and converted 6 of them for touchdowns.   In 2019, what was considered a “breakout” year for Jones, he converted 11 of his 19 carries within the same range.   Similarly to Rodgers, he went from highly efficient to moderately inefficient given his opportunities, and could see a similar rebound to mirror a decline from Rodgers.  And that doesn’t even factor in the likely increased opportunities for 2nd year back AJ Dillon, who seems like he was built for goal-line work.

All in all, I see Rodgers regressing a moderate amount within the opposing 10 yard line.  Coupled with the likely increased efficiency of Aaron Jones, this could very easily result in a slight decline in the fantasy outlook of Rodgers.

Kirk Cousins

Verdict:  Buy

As of this moment, Kirk Cousins is going off the board at Quarterback 20, in the back end of the 11th round.  And simply put, he’s better than that.  Always has been.  Over the last 5 years, his average finish among QBs has been 10.6, averaging just over 18 points per game.

And I find this telling, as he’s had Dalvin Cook during his entire Minnesota tenure (when healthy of course).  Any narrative of him being on a run-first team simply doesn’t hold up for that reason alone.  Sure, a reasonable argument can be made that the scheme doesn’t make it such that he’ll have a 50 touchdown season, and that’s perfectly reasonable.  But getting a mid to high end QB2 at an ADP of 20 if the definition of value.  Especially when he has two elite receivers in Jefferson and Thielen, and dynamic outlet options in Cook and Tight End Irv Smith Jr.

…all that said, I don’t want you to go into the season with Cousins as your primary plan at the position.  You should probably be shooting a little higher and locking up a guy that does have the potential for a bigger statistical output.  But if you’re looking to draft a backup QB to pair with a high-risk guy, Cousins is a fantastic option to return above-drafted value.

Jared Goff

Verdict:  Sell

I cant pretend, I started the brainstorming piece of this article fully expecting Goff to be a buy.  The presumption would be that Detroit was going to likely be a bad team and that Goff would be able to garbage time his way to fantasy success.  And there’s a part of me that does still believe that.  Its easy to forget that towards the end of his time in Jacksonville, Blake Bortles was a valuable fantasy asset, as the team was often behind and he had to scramble in hopes of catching his team up.

I thought I’d likely try to push a similar narrative with Goff, I really did.  But then three main factors pushed me off of this narrative.

  • His ADP is already too high to provide reliability of value.
  • Garbage time still requires weapons to catch the ball.
  • We’ve only seen him succeed in a McVay system.

I won’t give the first its own paragraph, as its moderately self-explanatory.  For a player to get moderate value in the “dart throw” category, he has to be going late.  And the value of QB23, while certainly low, isn’t the most preposterous thing I’ve ever seen.  So that was a deterrent, but really points 2 and 3 got me thinking.  The first one is also moderately straightforward as well.  As it stands on April 7th, 2021, the Lions’ receiver room consists of Tyrell Williams, Breshad Perriman, and Quintez Cephus.  Yikes.  If you’re going to be in catch-up mode and constantly pushing for points to close games, it would generally be helpful to have some elite weapons on the outside to help drive that goal.  This group likely isn’t it, even if you count Tight End TJ Hockenson in that mix.  And even if they were to add a receiver at 7 overall, I don’t know that a young rookie quite moves the needle enough to make me suddenly feel confident in the group as a whole.

The final point is one of speculation.  And its driven by the idea of not knowing what exactly Jared Goff is.  We’ve seen one season of him without the play-action and QB friendly system of Head Coach Sean McVay.  That season (his rookie season) had him looking like one of the absolute worst Quarterbacks in the NFL.  Yes, I know, rookie QB on a bad team and all of that.  I get it.  There are ways in which it can be explained away.  But any explaining HAS to be done with at least some amount of respect to the concern.  None of us know.  We think we might know, but its no certainty that McVay wasn’t the driving force behind Goff looking completely serviceable following his rookie year.

Andy Dalton

Verdict:  Buy

My goodness this is free money.  And I both love and hate the fact that I took it.  Andy Dalton is an easy easy buy.  And simply put, its because he’s free.   

Will Andy Dalton be an actual usable fantasy asset in 2021 though?  That’s the question we all have to look at and ask ourselves.  And my answer is… kinda?  And I know, that’s such a hedge.  No doubt.  

But the other side of that coin is that in 2020, Dalton wasn’t a fantasy tire fire either.  When he came back in week 11, he averaged over 17 fantasy points per game, which would have been a stream-worthy QB2 in many formats.  And that’s simply the definition of value if you can get it at an undrafted price.  

All that said… that was 2020.  And in Dallas.  Where the weapons are such that I could put up fantasy value throwing to those weapons.  Chicago is… not that.  Chicago has Allen Robinson, who is fantastic, but beyond that is a plethora of question marks.  Can Darnell Mooney and Cole Kmet take the next steps?  Is Anthony Miller going to get traded?  Can Tarik Cohen come back from injury to be an outlet in the passing game?

I don’t have the answers to any of these questions, but I can tell you that I have a surprising amount of confidence that this offense won’t be terrible in 2021.  I think Dalton is a professional quarterback who can elevate the play of the other guys such that they can in turn facilitate his value as a fantasy quarterback in 2QB and SuperFlex leagues.  I wouldn’t push it in single-quarterback formats, but if you completely punt on the position or find yourself in a bind, Dalton is likely an asset that has far more value than his current market price.

Summary

Sell:  Rodgers and Goff

Buy:  Cousins and Dalton

Caveat: All of the things can and likely will change.  Its April, have fun with it and understand the draft is going to throw a wrench is all of your carefully laid plans.  But at the end of the day, it’s just a game we do for the amusement of challenging and heckling our friend, so whatever.

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this diatribe.  If you want to discuss it or anything else related to the NFL, please don’t hesitate to hit me up on twitter, @FF_AHayslip. 

Top Five Worst Free Agency Signings

By: Tayyib Abu

NFL free agency began with a bang last week as teams started to construct their rosters for 2021. Free agency is the first tentpole of the offseason, it precedes the draft, and fans can finally see what moves their team makes. At this time of the year, every fan is excited. It is the season of new hope. Conversely, it is also the time of year when teams make some mistakes. In their desperation, franchises may overpay for veterans or, they might make too many desperate moves. Last week saw many talking heads talk about which team made the right moves; therefore, it’s time to look at the wrong signings.

Nelson Agholor – New England Patriots

The New England Patriots splashed the cash in the first days of free agency. After missing out on the playoffs, New England is eager to rectify that in 2021. That is why the team spent big money on several players last week. A lot of those moves made sense for the Patriots, although one didn’t.

The Patriots inked wideout Nelson Agholor to a two-year $22 million deal. That is an exorbitant amount to give to a veteran receiver, specifically in a crowded market where no wideouts are getting top dollar. In comparison to Agholor, Juju Smith Schuster got a one-year $8 million contract. The Steelers pass-catcher is much better than Agholor at this stage of their careers.

Agholor shone for Las Vegas as the deep-threat on passing routes. His 2020 stat line read like this; 48 receptions, 896 yards and eight touchdowns. Going off those stats, Agholor is an inspired signing. It was the best season of his career. At 27, it felt like it came too late. Throughout his career, Agholor’s played very inconsistently. He’s only played a whole season three times in his career; moreover, Agholor is streaky. He experiences spells where he drops balls, struggles with his routes and can lose confidence.

Patriots quarterback Cam Newton is wildly inconsistent as well. The Patriots needed to sign a reliable number-one target. Agholor’s never been that in his career. Outside of deep-post routes or vertical routes, Agholor will struggle in New England. Newton’s arm is not as powerful as it was before.

Consequently, the deep-routes may not be the best plan for New England. If New England strays away from that plan, Agholor could become redundant as the Pats run the ball out of 22 personnel. Signing a streaky wideout to a big contract is overkill. New England could’ve spent the money elsewhere, especially with a loaded receiver class in the draft.

Kenny Golladay – New York Giants

Kenny Golladay signed an eye-watering four-year $72 million contract. As other receivers got the bare minimum, Golladay received the big bag of money he desired. Intrinsically, signing Golladay is not a bad thing. On the other hand, signing him to that deal is a big mistake. The former Detroit Lion is injury-prone. He’s played one 16-game season once in his career.

Moreover, there is the glaring issue of the quarterback. Daniel Jones is still wildly inconsistent; he straddles the lines of glory and disaster like a tight-rope walker. Jones requires players that create separation from defenders. Golladay is not that player.

He excelled in Detroit due to his skill at catching contested balls; plus, he had a quarterback that could rifle the ball into tight windows. Daniel Jones doesn’t possess Matthew Stafford’s bazooka arm. Jones isn’t the player to jam a ball in a tight window on his receivers’ back shoulder. That is Golladay’s bread and butter.

Kenny Golladay is a terrific receiver; however, the Giants won’t see that with Daniel Jones. New York effectively paid Golladay $18 million in 2021 to evaluate Jones. That is like buying the most expensive training-wheels for a bike missing a wheel. No team should ever overpay a skill-positions player to make a judgment on the quarterback. That is a recipe for disaster; especially, if Jones can’t make it work with an elite receiver.

Andy Dalton – Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears’ miserable offseason continued as they signed quarterback Andy Dalton. After courting Russell Wilson, Chicago settled for the Red Rifle. Dalton is an upgrade on Trubisky, of that there is no doubt. Sadly, he isn’t Russell Wilson and because of the Bears fans understandable anger, Dalton is in a lose-lose situation.

It gets worse for Chicago. The Bears needed to release Pro-Bowl cornerback Kyle Fuller to clear space for Dalton. Chicago could’ve signed Dalton for less money last year; instead, they traded a pick for Nick Foles. Dalton is a solid quarterback, nevertheless, Chicago overpaid for a quarterback that doesn’t make them a contender in the NFC North.

Rayshawn Jenkins – Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jacksonville Jaguars came into free agency with a ton of cap space. Urban Meyer was ready to attack his first season in the NFL. Strangely, Jacksonville opted to sign safety Rayshawn Jenkins to a $35 million contract that may rise to $39.5 million.

Jenkins is notorious for his lousy tackling, plus he’s only notched five interceptions in his career. The 2021 draft boasts a wealth of talent at the safety position. The Jags own picks throughout the early rounds; they could draft a premier safety like Richie Grant or Trevon Moehrig instead of spending money on Jenkins, who’s struggled mightily in his career so far. The Jags would own more cap flexibility and a better player on the roster if they didn’t sign Jenkins.

Trey Hendrickson – Cincinnati Bengals

Paying players for the number of sacks they posted is a risky move. That is what the Bengals did in signing Trey Hendrickson. The former Saints player shone last year as he totaled 13.5 sacks; Although Hendrickson did play on a fantastic line in New Orleans.

A lot of his success can get dished to the other players as well as himself. The Bengals inked Hendrickson to a massive $60 million contract. It is a huge contract, one that Hendrickson mightn’t deliver on.

Hendrickson is a speed-rusher, one that beats players in one-on-one battles. The Bengals defensive line doesn’t boast the depth of talent that New Orleans’ did. That will become a problem for Hendrickson as he will get double-teamed a lot more.

Hendrickson lacks the power to bull-rush past defenders, he will need help from the other players on the defensive line. The Bengals spent a lot of money on Hendrickson; if they are to see an improvement on the line, they’ll need to spend some more.

Top Five Quarterback Options for Washington

Will Taylor Heinicke Return?

By: Tayyib Abu (@tayyibabu1)

The quarterback carousel began in earnest over the weekend. Late on Saturday, news broke that Matthew Stafford was heading west to become a Los Angeles Ram. The first significant domino fell over the weekend. The Rams got their man at quarterback, Stafford and Sean Mcvay could form a devastating tag-team. The Rams fought off stiff competition from Carolina, Denver and Washington. Those teams are still searching for the answer; Washington, in particular, is looking for a franchise quarterback.

After winning the NFC Least in 2020, Washington is desperate to ram home their advantage. A ferocious defense is the platform that led Ron Rivera’s team to a division title. Several members of the defensive roster are on rookie deals; that means they are all under cap-control. This fierce group finished as the third-ranked passing defense in the NFL. That is a robust platform to build a winning team. After missing out on Stafford, it is more important than ever that Washington explores the quarterback position options.

Dak Prescott

With Stafford off the market, and Deshaun Watson’s status uncertain: Dak Prescott is the big prize on offer in the free-agent store’s quarterback section. Prescott was enjoying a superb season for the Cowboys before an injury ended his year. At 27-years-old Prescott is not an old quarterback, his 2020 form demonstrated that he was getting better. His QBR for the season was a career-high 78.6, Prescott also displayed an ability to air the ball out. The Cowboys could not run the ball; therefore, Prescott threw the ball over 40 times in several games; the fact that he kept them in those games is a testament to his talent.

Prescott ended the narrative that he is a safe passer or a better runner than passer. His next-gen passing chart shows that he was brilliant at throwing outside the numbers as well as deep downfield. Prescott will come with concerns; How is the rehab going? Will he be the same player? Those are legitimate questions; however, Washington is in no position to judge Prescott on that. Comeback Player of The Year-elect Alex Smith led Washington with a winning record in the games he started. With Antonio Gibson and Scary Terry Mcluarin; Washington possesses two, star offensive weapons that Prescott can lean on. A move like this is incredibly ambitious, bordering on audacious. Nonetheless, if the Football Team wants to upgrade their quarterback room, as well as weaken a division rival; it is a move they must consider.

Cam Newton

Once upon a time, Cam Newton won an MVP under Ron Rivera’s stewardship. Now Newton needs a team, and Rivera needs a quarterback. Newton was on a base salary of $1.5 million at New England in 2020; he will be an inexpensive pickup for Washington. Newton is incredibly difficult to judge based off one year in New England with no receivers. The New England offense is bereft of good talent at the skill positions. Newton’s career passing yards gained per attempt is 7.3; in 2020 for New England, it was 7.2. The arm is still performing at the same level. Newton will never be Aaron Rodgers; conversely, a player like Aaron Rodgers will never hit free agency.

Newton is still a competent passer if not an explosive passer. The beauty of Newton is that he offers such a unique proposition under center. While his rushing totals will never match what he did in his rookie year, Newton displayed solid rushing skill in New England. A man of his size is difficult to stop. Newton with Antonio Gibson in the backfield creates a dynamic duo that could run all over teams. If Washington committed to a run-game using play-action, they could get away with it as the defense is exceptional. A ball-control offense married to a rampant defense could be the key. Moreover, Ron Rivera and coordinator Scott Turner could revitalize Newton.

Andy Dalton

If Dak Prescott stays at Dallas, Andy Dalton could be in play for Washington. Dalton is not a backup quarterback; he can be a solid starter for most NFL teams. With his quick-fire release, accurate passing and veteran experience; Dalton can be a steady hand. Similar to Newton, the Red Rifle will be reasonably inexpensive for Washington to acquire. Dalton is an excellent short to intermediate route thrower; that is good news for Terry Mclaurin and Cam Sims. Both of those players excel after the catch. Washington could use plenty of in-breaking routes to get their wideouts into space.

Dalton is good working out of short dropbacks, that can be useful in Landover. With a top running-back in Antonio Gibson and that tremendous defensive unit; Dalton doesn’t need to be Superman, he just would need to look after the ball, make smart decisions and let the talent around him succeed. In his lengthy career, Dalton did all of that in Cincinnati. He owns that experience.

Alex Smith

The Comeback Player of The Year award should get renamed the Alex Smith award. The former San Francisco 49er went through hell after he suffered a horrific broken leg injury. After 17 surgeries, Smith finally stepped out onto a football field in 2020. With Dwayne Haskins causing himself more bother, and Kyle Allen getting hurt; Rivera called upon Smith to be Washington’s signal-caller. With Smith under center, Washington went 5-3 which catapulted them into contention in the NFC East. At pick 19, Washington is probably out of range to draft one of the top four quarterbacks. The next best available could be Mac Jones who could still be on the board when Washington is on the clock.

Jones is not a viable day one starter. Therefore, Washington can draft their future quarterback, while using Smith as the starter. His QBR of 78.5 confirms that his play was of a high level. Smith is not a deep-ball passer; he will dink and dunk his way to methodical drives. Washington can build around Gibson and Mclaurin on offense; while letting their defense go to work. Smith can be the veteran voice guiding a young quarterback in his development. Smith can do all of that while ensuring the on-field results stay consistent. In a division with three bad teams, that might be all Washington needs for 2021.

Taylor Heinicke

In one playoff game, Taylor Heinicke thrilled the NFL world. The Old Dominion Alum shone one wildcard weekend as he took it to Tampa Bay. Heinicke is a practice squad veteran; he’s been on four different teams’ practice squad. Critically, Heinicke crossed paths with Ron Rivera in Carolina. The Panthers claimed him off waivers in light of Cam Newton’s injury in 2018. After a lost stint in the XFL due to Covid, Heinicke went back to school to finish his engineering degree.

That was until Ron Rivera sounded the bat-signal for Heinicke. The engineering student came into play for Washington after Smith’s calf injury. Heinicke played like a wild man; he ran, threw good passes, some bad passes and provided unpredictability to Washington’s offense against Tampa. Heinicke demonstrated enough raw tools for Washington to bring him back and evaluate him during the off-season programme. It would be the wildcard move from Washington; however, he is called Riverboat Ron for a reason.

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