Pete of the North
In the wake of a geriatric Tom Brady out GOATING the baby GOAT from his Florida retirement home thanks to the Chief’s offensive line going MIA and the KC defensive backfield getting called for no less than 6,423 yards of pass interference penalties, it’s time to put another great NFL season in the rearview and put on our back seat GM caps for the offseason.
If I was given the keys to a real-life Madden franchise mode, here are the first five moves I would make to drive some epic storylines, find justice for some downtrodden legends, and make for a wild 2021 season.
- Bring Big D*** Nick back to Philly. In what would be one of the wildest, most dramatic transactions of all time, I call on the Bears and Eagles to swap their overpaid, underperforming quarterbacks.
- The Eagles would be bringing back their Superbowl-winning, statue-earning, Philly-specialing, jock-strap shredding hero in Nick Foles, who after signing a big money contract with Jacksonville has struggled and been passed around the league like a hot potato ever since. Nick is comfortable as a back-up and would make a great mentor and partner in the quarterback room for up-and-coming Jalen Hurts, and would be ready to jump in and drop some late-season heroics should Hurts struggle or face any injuries. This move would instantly dissolve the drama of the Wentz/Hurts quarterback controversy and give first year coach Nick Sirianni a fresh start at the position. Hurts showed potential as a franchise QB in his first season and seems ready to take the reins this year, and while Foles has shown himself capable of being a starter in a pinch, what better way for him to spend the rest of his career as the most popular back-up quarterback in the league in Philly?
- The Bears would find themselves with a reclamation project in Wentz, but one with potential to be the franchise’s all-time greatest quarterback (sorry Jay Cutler and Rex Grossman). The horrible dynamics between former Eagles’ coach Doug Pederson, the Philly front office and ownership, and Wentz took a major mental toll on the 28-year old QB this year and his play took an unprecedented nose-dive, but he is still a young, athletic player who has twice found himself (even if briefly) in MVP discussions over the past half decade. If Wentz can recapture a level of play even close to that near-MVP game, while matched up with a smart young coach in Matt Nagy and one of the league’s top defenses, this could be a brilliant move and the Bears could be truly scary. Plus, Mitch Trubisky isn’t a true starter in the league at this point, but he is a more than passable back up if the wheels fall off this experiment…
- Bring Fitzmagic to Foxboro. The Patriots need a quarterback after Cam Newton appeared to be a shell of his former self last year. Ryan Fitzpatrick needs a team after the Dolphins unceremoniously moved on to their quarterback of the (at least imminent) future, Tua Tagovailoa. Bill Belichick needs to work some magic after watching Tom Brady win without him in Tampa Bay this year, seemingly losing the two decade-long argument of who was really bringing the W’s to Foxboro. Fitzpatrick, with one of the most excitingly, frustratingly inconsistent careers of our time, has shown in spurts that he can make a bad team better. He did it in his one great season with the Jets (setting the franchise record for passing touchdowns), he did it coming in as a back up in Tampa Bay, he turned a Dolphins squad expected to be the “worst team ever” into a competitive, driven squad, and he briefly looked like a future star in his early days in Buffalo. Is he poised for a late career, Rich Gannonesque MVP run with the GOAT of head coaches? He can be picked up on the cheap as an unrestricted free agent, which Belichick likes. He is a brilliant, Harvard educated dude, which Belichick likes. He is a team-first, locker room leader, which the Patriots need. Belichick made Matt Cassel and Brian Hoyer look like functioning starting quarterbacks, so imagine what he could do with a little bit of Fitzmagic. This could be a true match made in heaven.
- Swap Sam Darnold and Deshaun Watson.
- Deshaun Watson is a great player who deserves better than the cyclone of ignorance, dishonesty, and creepy cult-like behavior that the Texans front office seems to be devolving into. Watson, arguably a top 5 QB despite his team’s struggles, would instantly step in as the greatest quarterback in Jets franchise history (no offense to Broadway Joe and Vinny Testaverde), and, even if the Jets still suck for the short term, would get to show off his game in the biggest media market in the world. Paired with a charismatic new head coach in Robert Saleh, this could usher in a new golden age of at least better-than-mediocre Jets football, and some truly exciting times in the Big Apple. They are still a year away from being a year away from contending, but they would have the most important building block of all in place.
- Sam Darnold is a trooper. He kept his chin up and kept showing up to work every day, survived a bout of mono while playing for a team owned by Donald Trump’s butt-buddy and coached by a sad tweaker (who must have serious dirt on Peyton Manning to continue getting his endorsement for jobs), while getting sacked almost 100 times, losing almost every week, and still showing enough for experts to believe he still has what it takes to lead a team. If he can handle Woody Johnson and Adam Gase, the powers-that-be in Houston should be nothing new. If the Texans play their cards right, they could have a new, content starting quarterback in Sam Darnold, the number two pick in the draft that they could turn into one of the best wide receiver prospects ever in Davonte Smith, and load up on future draft picks as well to continue to build around their new centerpiece. Is it hard to give up a top 5 QB? Absolutely. But when you don’t have a choice, which the Texans don’t (regardless of their claims otherwise), getting a starting QB and a small army of first round draft picks back is an outstanding consolation.
- Buccaneers run it back. This one is simple. Run the damn thing back.
- Give Brady his extension now. The dude is 43 and literally hasn’t lost a step. Keep him happy. This is his team. Give him a second year on his deal so he can focus 100% on getting rings 8 and 9 before he hangs it up for good.
- Keep as many free agents as possible. This is easier said than done, but the last quarter of the regular season and the playoffs showed that this team has exactly what Tom Brady needs to succeed. Shaq Barrett needs to be the first priority, as the Bucs pass rush dominated the league’s best QB on the biggest stage, and Shaq Barret led that charge. Gronkowski and Antonio Brown should be able to be kept on the cheap, as Tom Brady is an outstanding behind-the-scenes GM and I don’t foresee either of them turning down another run at a championship. That leaves Chris Godwin and Leonard Fournette as the top remaining names, and if I have to choose one, I’m going Fournette. As great as Godwin has shown he can be, the Bucs have a ton of weapons to catch the ball but need their number one back to keep the offense balanced. Now with a full season together, there is no reason this squad can’t stay hot and go for back-to-back rings next year.
- Let’s see Todd Bowles get another chance as a head coach in 2022. Bowles had some limited, brief success in the eternal s***show that is the New York Jets during his tenure as head coach there, but unfortunately the wheels fell off before he ever got the bus fully up to speed. That said, he once again proved himself to be perhaps the best defensive coordinator in the league this year, and I believe he deserves a shot to coach in a functional organization. I would love to see him get another opportunity at the head seat of a squad in 2022.
- Andrew Luck emerges from the ashes in Indy. All signs seem to be pointing to the rumors of Andrew Luck’s return being all but a hoax, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t fun to dream about. He would step into one of the most talented overall Colts squads that he ever played with and would all but guarantee an Indianapolis return to the playoffs. What an incredible redemption story that would be. Plus, it would take the Colts out of the Carson Wentz sweepstakes, increasing that odds that my first wish comes true and St. Nick makes his triumphant return to Philly. Who, one year ago today, would have honestly thought that a 44-year old Tom Brady and a freshly unretired Andrew Luck meeting in Superbowl 56 would be anything more than a Jim Irsay ambien-fueled dream? Come on Andy, let’s give it one more shot!
Agree? Disagree? Couldn’t care less? Let me know! And as always, thanks for checking out the blog!
Side note: I finally finished construction of my new basement studio, so here’s hoping I’ll have a ton more content coming out soon!