By HCR Staff | November 9, 2020
We’re now past the halfway point in the 2020 NFL season, and we’re feeling thankful that we’ve even gotten this far. Kudos to all the medical, support and logistical staff that help stage the games, and thanks to all the players and coaches. Whether it’s good or bad ball, it’s still ball, and it certainly has been interesting so far.
Let’s get to it.
Sean Payton Puts On A Clinic. Payton and his staff put a beatdown on Bruce Arians and his Bucs last night. Of course, we’ve seen beatings before, but this one was different. It was clinical, thorough, and certainly showed how the cream of the NFL coaching fraternity is very different in quality from the rest.
In every aspect of the game last night, Payton dominated. He didn’t give the Bucs any daylight anywhere; frankly, the beating was so thorough that we were embarrassed for Arians.
Arians certainly has had his successes, but to close observers, the Bucs also struggled against the Giants in Week 8. What’s alarming to us is that while the Bucs certainly have assembled the veteran and quality talent necessary to compete, the offensive game plans and play calling seem to have no rhyme or reason.
We simply can’t discern what Arians is trying to do on offense. It’s as if he’s just expecting the players to figure it out for themselves.
As for the Saints, they’re healthy now, and looking to hit their stride. According to our rankings since inception, Payton has been among the best head coaches in the NFL, and last night, he showed why.
Ron Rivera’s Appointment Of Scott Turner As Offensive Coordinator Is Hurting The Football Team. WFT plays hard for Rivera, and that’s Rivera’s best quality as a head coach – he’s a good unifier and he knows how to get a team to play with passion. However, one of his blind spots is his coaching hires, and in our view, his hiring of Scott Turner as offensive coordinator is hurting the Football Team.
Turner is the son of longtime coordinator and former head coach Norv Turner. However, while they’re father and son, there is a quality difference between the two.
The son, Scott, is exposing his quarterbacks to injury. He’s got an inferior offensive line right now, but he’s not helping them out, and his game planning and play calling are far too ambitious – his line simply can’t block what he wants to do at the moment.
The modern offensive coordinator loves the passing game, and all the fancy stats that come with it. But if you can’t block it, prudence dictates a different type of game plan. WFT’s quarterbacks have been running for their life all season long, and it doesn’t have to be that way.
Scott Turner needs to adjust, and get less ambitious right now. He needs to get his line some confidence, and until this happens, his quarterbacks will continue to get exposed – unnecessarily in our view.
Raheem Morris Isn’t Going Down Without A Fight. The Falcons are a Todd Gurley kneel down away from a four-game winning streak, and we like what we’re seeing from interim head coach Raheem Morris. He’s simplified things in Atlanta, and the team is playing far faster, crisper, and with the philosophy of getting their best players in position to do what they do best.
The Falcons are playing with the same, fast tempo for 60 minutes now – when they get the lead now, there isn’t any clock watching. The defense is playing with more physicality, and on offense, the offensive line is starting to come together – they lost first-round draft pick Chris Lindstrom early in the 2019 season, and his play in 2020 is a huge plus.
At 3-6, the Falcons have a steep climb to playoff contention, but they are going to be a hard out for every team on the schedule. Morris deserves strong consideration for head coaching opportunities; he was far too green when he got his first opportunity in Tampa, but now he’s got the necessary experience to contend for a permanent gig.
Jon Gruden Is Building A Dark Horse AFC Contender. The Raiders escaped with a win against the Chargers yesterday, but combined with Week 8’s victory against the Browns in inclement weather, Gruden is quietly building the mentally tough team he wants, the way he wants.
Gruden’s received a lot of criticism about the way he’s gone about building the team he wants, but he doesn’t care – he knows his vision, and he’s going to stick to it. He knows the difference between winning and losing in the NFL is slim, and that only mental toughness is going to tip the scale in his favor, more often than not.
The Raiders can play with balance now, and that’s nirvana to Gruden. He can smash it with running back Josh Jacobs, hit the seam with tight end Darren Waller, throw to his fullback Alec Ingold, or hit the “go” with wide receiver Henry Ruggs. He wants to be able to go four-minute offense when he needs to, and now he can, whenever he needs to.
On defense, he wants physical players with attitude. Yes, speed is important, but attitude is paramount. That’s why the return of safety Johnathan Abram was so important. The young defensive ends with Clelin Ferrell and Maxx Crosby are gaining confidence, and Gruden is just one thumper away at linebacker to have all the pieces he wants.
The Raiders’ victory over the Chiefs shows they can compete with any AFC team. Keep an eye on them.
Matt Nagy’s Issue Is OC Bill Lazor. When Nagy hired Lazor earlier this year, we asked “why?” We simply didn’t see anything in Lazor’s resume that justified this. Sadly, the Bears’ offensive performance is confirming our instincts.
If we could describe them as a “mess” on offense, that’d be an improvement over what they are right now.
What are the issues? Let us count the ways.
For one, they don’t line up consistently, ready to play. Their body position simply isn’t ready to play, and this happens far too often.
Second, their tempo is all over the place; they don’t break huddles at a consistent moment against the play clock.
Third, quarterback Nick Foles often appears to have no confidence in the scheme. Watch him carefully and you’ll see a guy who basically knows that he’s stuck with a scheme that doesn’t play to his strengths; rather, they expose his weaknesses.
We could go on, but we don’t want to be accused of piling on.
Nagy does certain things very well as a head coach. For example, he’s very good at creating a team atmosphere that is unified. He has a natural empathy and enthusiasm that connects with players.
But the Bears are wasting a Super Bowl quality defense, and its Nagy’s failure in hiring the wrong offensive coordinator that is at the root of the Bears’ issues.