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NFL Truths: Belichick Is Dean Smith; Brady Is Michael Jordan; Cam Is Done; Steelers Are The Best

Dear Big Sexy:

I heard you visited the White House and interviewed President Trump. I’m sorry we didn’t connect. I’ve heard a lot of wonderful things about you and told my staff I wanted to meet you. Let’s sit down for an interview the next time you’re in DC.

XOXO

Melania

Here are your NFL Truths for Week 7:

10) Did Bill Belichick hold back Tom Brady the way Dean Smith held back Michael Jordan?

Belichick is the greatest football coach in NFL history. I have no interest in disparaging Belichick’s legacy. 

But Belichick, a defensive genius, may have miscalculated the impact of NFL rule changes related to player safety and what those adjustments mean for the life expectancy of quarterbacks.

Surrounded by Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Rob Gronkowski, quarterback Tom Brady looks 30 again. Do you remember 30-year-old Tom Brady? Randy Moss was his top target, and Brady threw 50 touchdowns and led the Patriots to an undefeated regular season. 

Brady was the best player in football at age 30. Seven games into the current season, Brady is starting to mount an MVP campaign. He’s far behind Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, Myles Garrett and Aaron Donald at this point. I’d rank Brady number five with a bullet. 

The last five weeks, Brady has thrown 15 TDs and one INT. The ball is coming out of his hand and flighting as well as any QB in the league. 

Brady was right. He can play two or three more years. The NFL eliminated the “delivery sack,” which means quarterbacks absorb a lot less punishment than in the days of Dan Marino and Joe Montana. There’s no reason for receivers to fear going over the middle. Offenses have a huge advantage.

Brady wanted Belichick to balance the Patriots and provide the offense more weapons. Belichick resisted that change. You can’t blame him. His defenses won two titles for the New York Giants. His defenses led the Patriots to six Super Bowl titles. 

Why change?

Well, Brady was the reason to change. He’s a special quarterback who perfectly fitted Belichick’s all-in approach to football.

I have to admit I was wrong, too. I thought Brady was too old to play at this high level. I miscalculated. 

It’s the same miscalculation the Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers made after watching Jordan play in Dean Smith’s North Carolina offense. 

Everyone agreed Jordan was special, but the NBA traditionally valued size over skill. And Smith’s offensive system didn’t showcase Jordan. He averaged 17 points in college. Houston and Portland selected Hakeem Olajuwon and Sam Bowie ahead of Jordan.

Belichick thought he could win this year with Cam Newton. The Patriots are 2-4. Brady’s Tampa team is 5-2 and arguably the best team in the NFC.

9) It’s fair to blame Belichick’s ego for Brady wearing a Tampa uniform. 

That is not written as a vicious attack on Belichick. You can’t build a dynasty without a huge ego. Belichick’s player evaluations have been spot on for two decades. He dumps ageing stars before they spoil in a Patriots uniform. 

He dumped Ty Law, Richard Seymour, Rodney Harrison, Lawyer Milloy, etc. Belichick stayed true to his beliefs when he let Brady go. 

Great leaders recognize their special soldiers, and they trust those soldiers more than they trust their system. Certain people trump process. 

Belichick used to recognize that. That’s why rules didn’t apply to Lawrence Taylor, the defensive star who led Belichick’s Giant defenses. Belichick has had the privilege of coaching arguably the greatest defensive player and greatest offensive player in football. He was an assistant coach when he had Taylor. 

Two decades of success as a head coach clouded his vision on Brady. Belichick’s ego got the best of him. It happens. 

8) The Patriots should deal Cam Newton to the Cowboys… if Jerry Jones would have him. 

Cam is a terrible fit in New England. He’s the anti-Tom Brady. Cam believes in his physical gifts far more than he believes in honing his skills. Cam spent the entire offseason posting videos showing off his physical gifts. His offseason approach baffled me.

Everyone knows Cam is a physical freak. What we’ve never seen is Cam commit to the mechanics and fundamentals of a great quarterback. 

His footwork and mechanics remain terrible. He throws the ball while leaning back, making him inaccurate. The ball doesn’t come out on time. He tossed three interceptions on Sunday. He’s thrown two TDs and seven INTs for the season. 

He can’t help the Patriots. Not consistently. 

With the injury to Andy Dalton, maybe Dallas would trade a ham sandwich for Cam. It’s only going to take four or five victories to win the NFC East and qualify for the playoffs. Dallas shouldn’t give up on their season. 

The Patriots should give up on theirs.

7)  Tampa made a mistake signing Antonio Brown.

Brown is going to be a disruptive force inside the Tampa locker room. Brady won’t be able to control Brown. He’s not humble. He’s desperate. He’s signed to a one-year deal worth $2.5 million. He’s going to want the football. 

On game days, in front of the cameras, Brown will behave. Off camera, he will be a problem. And those problems will manifest themselves in Mike Evans or Chris Godwin. AB is going to cut into their touches. Evans is going to have the biggest problem. 

The Bucs don’t need Brown. Their primary reason for signing him was keeping him off Seattle’s roster.

6) Time to crown the Pittsburgh Steelers the best team in football. 

A week ago, I tagged Tennessee as the best team. Well, Mike Tomlin’s boys beat the Titans despite losing the turnover battle 3-0. 

Do you know how impressive that is? A plus-3 turnover differential gives the team with the advantage a 91 percent chance of winning the game. Tennessee is a really good football team. No way any team should beat them giving away the football three times and not creating a single turnover. 

Pittsburgh is an excellent team. Defensive end/outside linebacker T. J. Watt is Pittsburgh’s best player. He had a sack and three tackles for loss. Negative yardage defensive plays are a substitute for turnovers. The Steelers had two sacks and six TFLs.  They held Tennessee to seven points in the first half. 

My top five teams: 1) Pittsburgh; 2) Kansas City; 3) Tampa Bay; 4) Green Bay; 5) Tennessee.

Missing from my list: Seattle and Baltimore. Seattle’s defense isn’t good enough. Lamar Jackson has to play at a high level in the postseason before I totally believe in Baltimore.  

5) The most meaningless stat in football is passing yards. 

Matt Ryan, Deshaun Watson and Joe Burrow lead the league in passing yards. Their teams are a combined 3-18. 

High passing yards indicate that a team is constantly trailing and throwing the football to catch up. Ryan, Watson and Burrow are not the reason the Falcons, Texans and Bengals consistently find themselves buried on the scoreboard. 

They’re good quarterbacks. 

I bring all this up to say passing yards are what make the media overvalue Dak Prescott. Before he broke his ankle, he was leading the NFL in passing yards. People mistakenly said Dak was “balling” before his injury. 

No. Dak was putting up big numbers digging out of deficits. He’s a good quarterback, like Ryan, Watson and Burrow, on a bad team. 

4) Piping hot take: I’d rather have Justin Herbert than Joe Burrow. 

Herbert has a stronger arm and stronger body. The knock on him coming out of college was he was inaccurate. He’s completing a higher percentage of passes than Burrow, whose primary strength coming out of LSU was his accuracy.

Both Herbert and Burrow are on track to be successful. Herbert looks special.

My only concern for Herbert is his size. I don’t like quarterbacks shorter than 6-foot-1 or taller than 6-foot-5. Herbert is 6-6. 

3) Kliff Kingsbury’s poor decision-making caused the Seattle-Arizona game to go into overtime.

It’s great that Arizona pulled the upset. Congrats to Kingsbury and the Cardinals. 

But Kingsbury foolishly tossed away three points in the second quarter when he eschewed a field goal on fourth-and-goal at the 3-yard line. The Cardinals were trailing 13-7. 

Every coach loves to be aggressive in the new analytics era. Too many of them flirt with being stupid. Kingsbury was stupid. Kick the field goal. Had he, the game never would have gone into overtime. 

2)  Gregg Williams should be the head coach of the Jets starting today.

No one cares about Bountygate and Williams’ role in it. It’s long over. Williams deserves another chance to be a head coach. On an interim basis, he did a nice job with the Cleveland Browns in 2018 . 

It’s obvious that Adam Gase is a top-flight NFL assistant coach and the absolute wrong personality fit to be an NFL head coach. 

Under Williams’ direction, Baker Mayfield finished his rookie season in promising fashion. Maybe Williams can salvage Sam Darnold. Williams is doing an incredible job with New York’s defense. His unit held Buffalo to six field goals on Sunday. The Jets had a chance to win because of Williams.

Fire Gase and replace him with Williams. See what happens. Things can’t go worse.

1*) If Roger Goodell doesn’t suspend Washington linebacker Jon Bostic for his illegal hit on Andy Dalton, Bostic should thank Black Lives Matter.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the league isn’t expected to suspend Bostic.  

Goodell and the league are clearly afraid of their black players. They fear any negative engagement with black players because they know social media and the sports media will frame it along racial lines.

Let’s hope a white defensive player doesn’t illegally concuss Lamar Jackson. That would put Goodell in quite the predicament. 

Written by Jason Whitlock

Jason Whitlock is a longtime sports writer, TV personality, radio host, podcaster and the newest member of the Outkick family.
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29 Comments

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  1. Nooooo way Dallas needs Cam. That would only add to the disfunction. Dallas needs leaders not front runners. Let the wheels fall off so JJ can realize he has to clean house and start from scratch. How can you not back up your QB when he takes a hit like that. Disgusted to be a life long Cowboys fan.

  2. I’m a Bears fan, so I’m admittedly not all that familiar with whatever Mike Tomlin’s flaws might be as a head coach, but I do believe he’s on the cusp of tying the record for most consecutive winning seasons to start a head coaching career. He’ll certainly go down as one of the all-time greatest head coaches.

  3. It’s great watching Brady play in that Tampa offense and proves he was never a system guy, he’s a superstar, maybe the best pocket passer to ever play.

    BUT… Belichick is smart, he knows Tom can’t play forever and they need to eventually re-rack the QB position. The longer Bill waits, the less likely he’ll have time to groom the next young QB in New England. Worth noting bill doesn’t need a superstar QB to win, that division is and has been garbage for a long time. The Pats went 11-5 with Matt Cassel. There’s no way the Pats can get Lawrence, but a 6-10 record gives them a legit shot at Justin Fields, Trey Lance at worst. That’s what Bill needs, he needs a QB he can plan the next 10 years around.

  4. I like your top 5, though Baltimore is better than GB right now, though if GB’s D keeps growing with experience they could be there at the end of year. Your last point seems spot on, sadly. The negative effects of BLM, Antifa, and the social media atmosphere continues to corrode our society as you point out so well every week, and thank you for that Jason.

  5. Jason, since I’m not watching much NFL (mostly highlights), I look forward to the NFL Truths every Monday. I did watch part of the 1st Qtr of the Steelers/Titans. I agree with your top picks, but I’d flip a coin on Pittsburg and KC. I had planned on watching a few minutes of the Seahawks/Cardinals, but when I turned to it there was Pete Carroll wearing a We Want Justice shirt. Immediately switched to something else. Pete wants justice, we want FN “woke” out of sports.

  6. You nailed it with #1. Goodell and Silver are both afraid of their black players. We’ll continue to see the pandering until either the players ask them to turn revenue around because of the impact to the salary cap or until they demand both commissioners be replaced for the sake of diversity.

    • Great point, there’s a great blog by a local NC guy named Bobleesays.com. Its wonderful stuff and aligns with what you see on this site. Bob wrote a piece 10 years ago and recently updated it about the Gladiators taking over the arena and turning on the spectators/management. Bob was absolutely right on that. Its what happens when you give absolute power to people that lack even the basic education of a high school student. Huge swaths of current NFL players couldn’t do college freshman work if their lives depended on it. They are rubber stamped through college, many of them through HS as well.

  7. 4) Piping hot take: I’d rather have Justin Herbert than Joe Burrow:

    Interesting take here but I would take Burrow. If you watch Burrow’s quickness to make decisions, you can already tell he’s at the top. And his ability will only increase as time goes on. For whatever reason, many QB’s make the right decision but just don’t make them as quick as others. Burrow’s brain is moving at a faster level than most QB’s already.

    If Cincy can ever get a few decent defensive backs and an improve their o-line, Cincy will be dangerous.

  8. Here’s a better question to evaluate Brady v Belichick. Would the Pats be any better with Brady at QB right now based on how you’ve seen the “team” play so far? I’m not so sure. It’s not just the QB position. Their WR are terrible and the o line is not good either. I’m not sure Brady would make much of a difference on this current Pats team, but that’s just me. Brady has two of the top WR in the NFL to throw to in TB, so a bit of a different situation.

  9. Brady looks great. My adopted home town of Tampa is on fire 🔥 4 sports right now. Curling is getting huge here.

    When Jordan was drafted, Bobby Knight famously told an NBA scout that wanted a Center in the draft – when asking about 6-6 Jordan, ‘play him at center’.

    MJ is the Goat 🐐 in basketball.

    Brady already is the Football GOAT and still ticking. Wowza.

  10. It is still too early to admit Tom Brady clown suited Whitlock. We saw Drew Brees’ arm, and even Brady’s arm tucker out in the last few weeks last season.

    100% agree on Gregg Williams. He should be coaching Cleveland right now.

  11. Cam to Dallas smacks of the NY Yankees in the 1980’s. Constantly trying to find a missing piece or a big name, never quite getting to the promised land.

    • Good comparison. To me a name won’t fix a “culture of losing” they’ve developed in Dallas. Think about it. Half of their team wasn’t alive the last time the Cowboys won a Super Bowl, so those days are long gone. When today’s kids think of the Cowboys they don’t think of Super Bowls, Smith, Irvin and Aikman. Today’s kids think about Dez Bryant, very unfortunately. Pretty boys, money, glamour, stat padding selfish guys, choke in the playoffs, soft, and overrated. There needs to be an intervention with the Cowboys leadership about this reality if they want to win. They are still stuck in the 90s. Get more gamers and less hair-dos in pads on the roster.

  12. Jason, don’t work about Justin Herbert bring 6’6″. I agree with your optimal quarterback height take. The difference here is that Herbert isn’t gangly, goofy tall. He’s very coordinated. He’s an outlier. And he’s an impressive QB!

    This coming from a Chiefs fan.

  13. I too though Brady look old the first couple of games . But he’s look great in the last two games I’m a big Brady fan . Belichick is very smart he no’s Cam can’t play anymore he got him for a smoke screen for the fans. Belichick is going to end up with a good draft pick and he will get a quarterback .Next year the player who sat out this year will be back and in two years New England will be wining tiles again .

  14. Agree with the Jets comment. Gase is out of bullets. Tanking for Lawrence, and then not have him come out would be a bitter pill for the Jets, if they are done with Darnold. For the sake of Williams, the Jets, and Darnold- What have they got to lose?

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