Whitlock’s NFL Truths: Zimmer Blew It Early; Haskins Has Victimhood-2020; Aaron Donald The GOAT; And Dalton > Rivers

Dear Jason:

In the past month, I’ve noticed that Tamron Hall, Paige Spiranac, Kayce Smith, Katie Nolan, Jane Slater, Alex Flanagan and virtually every other attractive woman on Twitter has taken a potshot at you. I see you still got the magic touch with the ladies. On the bright side, at least they find you irresistible.

Hang in there, big fella. You just need a slump buster. Even the all-time greats fall into an occasional slump. 


Shawn Kemp

Here are your NFL Truths for Week 5:

10) Vikings coach Mike Zimmer planted the seed for Minnesota’s defeat late in the third quarter, not with his fourth-down decision in the final 2 minutes.

Minnesota cut Seattle’s lead to 21-19 with a little more than 3 minutes to play in the third. Zimmer foolishly attempted a two-point conversion. It failed. 

In a close game, there’s zero reason to go for two points until the final 6 minutes of the fourth quarter. There’s no reason to chase points when there are multiple possessions left in the game.

Had Zimmer kicked the PAT late in the third quarter and made the score 21-20, his decision late in the fourth quarter would have been simple. Ice the game with a chip-shot field goal by going up nine points.

You follow?

Add the extra point, and the score would’ve been 27-21 when Zimmer chose to go for it on fourth-and-inches at the Seattle 6-yard line. Minnesota could’ve kicked a 24-yard field goal and made it a two-score game.

Coaches chase points in the second and third quarters all the time. It’s stupid. They should let the game play out. 

Zimmer blew the game in the third quarter.

9) Washington quarterback Alex Smith’s return to the football field is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen in sports.

Two years ago, a defender broke the fibula and tibia in Smith’s right leg. An infection caused by 17 surgeries provoked doctors to consider amputating Smith’s leg. Smith nearly died. 

Smith is 36 years old.  

It was stunning to see him take the field Sunday after starting quarterback Kyle Allen injured his shoulder. It’s a testament to the power of the human mind, particularly Smith’s mind. He never doubted he could return to the field. 

I thought his determination to play again was a mind trick he was playing on himself. He was shooting for the moon in hopes of landing atop a mountain. 

Alex Smith is Neil Armstrong. He landed on the moon. 

This COVID and Black Lives Matter-marred NFL season was worth it for no other reason than the inspiration Smith provided all of us who love the game. 

8) Washington third-string quarterback Dwayne Haskins is the antithesis of Alex Smith.

Haskins skipped Sunday’s game because he wasn’t “feeling well.”

Let me be accurate. Washington excused Haskins from attending the game because Haskins told the team Saturday night that he wasn’t “feeling well.” Maybe it’s true. 

But I think Haskins’ tummy ache was caused by his demotion from starter to third string. He can’t handle adversity. I hope I’m wrong. I hope his tummy ache was a real thing that can be cured by some hot tomato soup, a couple of Bayer children’s chewable aspirin and some TLC from mommy.

Right now, I think Haskins’ tummy ache is a symptom of the disease Victimhood-2020. Social media is a super spreader of Victimhood disease. And just like COVID-19, Victimhood-2020 is ravaging my community, the black community. 

Victimhood will prevent Haskins from landing a lucrative job as a backup NFL quarterback. Football coaches and executives live in fear of their locker rooms contracting a single case of Victimhood-2020.

Victimhood is very contagious. It travels through the air and can live on football helmets and shoulder pads for 48 to 72 hours at a time. Masks are often ineffective at stopping the spread of Victimhood-2020. The disease can also be spread through sound. A carrier can infect a teammate simply by whining. Muzzles work better than masks at slowing the spread of the disease. 

Many carriers are asymptomatic, or at least they believe they are. In fact, many carriers of Victimhood-2020 are Victimhood deniers. They don’t believe in muzzles or masks. They believe a victim’s mindset is the proper mentality for success in sports and life. 

Washington should consider a permanent quarantine for Haskins. He’s a potential super spreader. 

7) Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald has a chance to be the best football player of all time. 

I’m serious. 

Donald recorded four sacks on Sunday against Washington. It was absolutely amazing to watch. He cannot be blocked one on one. Can’t be done. He’s the Reggie White of defensive tackles. 

The Minister of Defense, for my money, is the greatest defensive player in NFL history. No disrespect to Lawrence Taylor, but Reggie is the most dominant defensive player I’ve ever seen. There was a three- or four-year stretch when Houston’s J.J. Watt was on Reggie’s level. 

Watt, based on my research, is the only player in league history to record two 20-plus sack seasons. He did it in 2012 and 2014. Donald, an interior lineman, has a chance to register his second 20-sack season. He has 7.5 through five games this year. He recorded 20.5 in 2018. 

The all-time great sack artists — Bruce Smith, Chris Doleman, Reggie White, Lawrence Taylor– are edge rushers. What Donald is doing between the tackles is unprecedented. 

Look, Tom Brady is going to be regarded as football’s GOAT. I have no problem with that. He’s earned it, given all that he has accomplished individually and the success of the Patriots dynasty.

However, Brady is not one of the most dominant players in league history. That’s a different calculation. In no particular order, here’s Donald’s competition in terms of all-time dominance:

Jim Brown, Larry Allen, John Elway, John Hannah, Reggie White, Deion Sanders, Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, Anthony Munoz, Lawrence Taylor, Jerry Rice, Dwight Stephenson, Barry Sanders, Earl Campbell, O.J. Simpson and Eric Dickerson.

There are some great names left off this list, especially the quarterbacks. Joe Montana, Steve Young, Johnny Unitas, Roger Staubach and Dan Marino could be added. I love Brady, Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers. But NFL rule changes have made QB play way too easy the last 20 years. Mean Joe Greene, Bruce Smith, Bob Lilly and Dick Butkus could be added to my list. Randy Moss? Didn’t play hard enough all the time. People will be irate I left off Walter Payton. Sweetness is the Tom Brady of running backs. His body of work is second to none. He led the league in rushing only one time. 

Look, my list is my list. I might have a slight bias for offensive linemen. Allen, Hannah, Munoz and Stephenson are guys I idolized.   

Here are my first three picks: Elway, Reggie and Deion. Just unique talents. Stephenson would be my fourth pick. And then I’d consider taking Aaron Donald.

Dude is incredible. 

6) Best performance this weekend that no one will discuss: Carson Wentz.

People who don’t watch Wentz think he’s a bust. If you just read the stat line, you’ll think he’s struggling. 

Wentz was the NFL’s best quarterback on Sunday. He and practice-squad receiver Travis Fulgham kept Philly in the game with Pittsburgh. Their performance was magical. 

Pittsburgh’s pass rush harassed Wentz all afternoon. He connected with Fulgham on 10 passes for 152 yards. Two weeks ago, Fulgham was on the practice squad. 

If Philly is dumb enough to unload Wentz this offseason, the Indianapolis Colts better trade guard Quenton Nelson to get him. Yes, Quenton Nelson, arguably the best offensive lineman in football. 

5) Indy would’ve been better off acquiring Andy Dalton for cheap rather than paying Philip Rivers $25 million.

Rivers remains the NFL’s worst offseason acquisition. Rivers tossed two interceptions Sunday and cost the Colts a chance to upset the Browns. So far this season, Rivers has thrown four TDs and five INTs.

The Cowboys signed Dalton as a backup for $3 to $7 million, depending on incentives. At this point in their careers, Dalton is a much better quarterback than Rivers.  

Indy would be a Super Bowl threat with Dalton. They’re a wildcard threat with Rivers. 

4) I’m not heartless. I’m logical. Dak Prescott should’ve taken the $32-million-a-year contract Jerry Jones and the Cowboys offered before hitting him with the franchise tag.

That’s not 2020 hindsight. I’ve been saying for two years that Dak has an inflated sense of value. His agent, Todd France, talked him into a bad negotiation strategy. 

Dak needlessly gambled and lost. The season-ending ankle injury puts him in a very precarious contract situation. What if Andy Dalton plays well and the Cowboys win the putrid NFC East? How much money can Dak command from Dallas in that scenario? 

All the people expressing sympathy for Dak now were singing a different tune last season when Jerry had good money on the table for a solid NFL starter.

Dak is not on the same level as Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson or Aaron Rodgers. It’s unlikely that Dak will ever be a real MVP candidate. Bad advice and greed have placed Dak in a tough contract situation. 

The advice I was publicly offering Dak wasn’t “hate.” It was love and respect  laced with logic and reason.

3) Odell Beckham, Jr. and the Browns should pray the COVID-19 shutdown never ends. 

Odell without distractions is a beautiful thing to watch. Last week, after his three-TD performance, I commented that the lack of in-stadium crowds is benefitting Odell’s professionalism and performance. 

COVID has also pretty much eliminated parties and social events. OBJ isn’t being asked to attend red carpet events or hang out in clubs until the wee hours. All he has is football. 

I love this OBJ. He’s fun to watch. 

Would the Browns be 4-1 without the COVID shutdown? I don’t think so.

2) The penalty for breaking COVID protocols should be points on the scoreboard, not suspensions, fines or forfeitures

The Tennessee Titans should start their Tuesday game with the Bills trailing 7-0. That type of penalty would stop teams from breaking the protocols. 

The Buffalo Bills deserve some sort of advantage for the irresponsible behavior of the Titans. Buffalo is being punished for Tennessee’s irresponsibility. Makes no sense.

1*) Despite the flashy statistics, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is off to a slow start. 

No one should be surprised Kansas City lost to the Raiders. The most misleading stat in football heading into Sunday was Mahomes’ zero interceptions. 

During the first month of the season, Mahomes tossed at least five passes that should’ve been intercepted. The Chiefs were due for a bad performance and a loss. 

At the moment, Buffalo is the best team in the AFC.

If you want Jason Whitlock for your TV or radio show or podcast, contact

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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  1. #8 is pure gold! When even your college coach is telling others that you’re not all that, as Meyer did questioning Haskins’ maturity when he declared for the draft, you’re probably crap. The only other time I’ve heard of a coach badmouthing one of his players was…also Meyer, when he straight up was telling NFL teams not to draft Aaron Hernandez. Haskins is DONE in the NFL.

  2. Wrong on Rivers, he had no pocket to throw from yesterday. Everyone knew going in that Rivers is only as good as his offensive line, and yesterday without their starting Left Tackle they could not give him a pocket to throw from. Even with non existent pass pro Rivers still kept them within 1 score at the end, and the Colts Defense, promptly gave up two big running plays to allow the time to run out.

    But I get it, if the Colts lose Rivers is a bum. That was always the case in San Diego as well.

  3. You are a smart fella, but in regards to #10…I know you always have an issue with this, but in the first 3 quarters, it seems as though this is a math decision not a game management decision. If there is a 96% chance you make the extra point and a 48% chance you make the two point conversion, then flip a coin. However, if there is a 96% chance you make the extra point and a 55% chance you make the two point conversion, you should be going with the two point conversion every time in the first 3 quarters regardless the score…I think.

  4. Loved seeing Hananh and Stephenson and Munoz correctly mentioned as all time dominant players. Confirms what I already knew about your appreciation for the history of the game I hold in the same reverence as you… You missed on Deacon though, unblockable in the 60’s.

  5. Dwayne Haskins removed all doubt and that he is an 8 year old child. I pulled this kind of crap at that age. His actions will not lead to him gaining respect of his teammates. More importantly for Haskins, other teams would rather have “losers” like Chase Daniels as their backup. Similarly, Kaep and his sycophants don’t understand that if you don’t engender respect from your teammates and coaches from either being really good or a good teammate, you won’t last.

    You are right about Quarterbacking. The numbers are so inflated now and rules have allowed for them to be dominate the field. Maybe the analytics people need to start analyzing QB performance by relative-statistics like baseballs Wins Above Replacement and the NBA’s plus/minus. Absolute statistics like yards, touchdowns and interceptions only show that the NFL game has changed.

  6. I love the Shawn Kemp take (“father of our country”), and Rivers has been done for a while. I saw Haskins in person in college, I thought it was a big reach. Welcome back Whitlock, after that Trump-LeBron Mulligan last week.

  7. If I were Washington I would have taken Tua over Chase Young in a heartbeat. They drafted CY with the expectation that Haskins would be “the guy” because they used a 1st rounder on him the year before. Even with the unknowns surrounding Tua’s injury it seemed like a bet they should have been willing to take. I think the Dolphins picked up a winner.

  8. I didn’t think he was a superstar by any means. When you play for a team with that much talent it can mask a lot of shortcomings. Not to say Haskins doesn’t have a lot of potential but I’d rather draft Tua (over Chase Young) and have 2 1st round QB’s on the roster. If Haskins turned out great you’d have Tua as a solid backup and also have him to potentially trade for draft capital later on. If Haskin busts (which looks to be the case at least on this team) you would then have Tua. Chase Young could be great but I’d rather have insurance at the QB position.

  9. Jason, I haven’t watched any sports at all since most of the players turned “woke”. But your truths columns have convinced me to give the NFL a chance. In particular, the theme of number 10 is one of the little things that makes watching NFL games so interesting. For me, the strategies and game situations that come up in NFL are so much more interesting than other sports (basketball was always most boring, most scripted, and most poorly officiated, even before Lebron ruined the league)…….Also, keeping with the theme of number 10, your column from last week caused me to look up that historic Seattle comeback against Green Bay in playoffs (the game from a few years ago).And I am sure I don’t need to tell you, Mike McCarthy made some horrible decisions in that one too!

  10. Alex Smith’s comeback story is incredible. Considering the mountain of obstacles he faced, making it back on the field shows what unwavering will and determination can do.
    In regards to all-time dominance I’d have to at least recognize (Purple People Eater) Alan Page.

  11. I’m glad to see Reggie White mentioned in these truths. I miss that guy. I think he would’ve been a great spokesman and leader for some of the confused athletes dealing with today’s issues.

    • Our country is crying out for black leadership. Not the self serving Revs (?) Al Sharpton and. Jesse Jackson. NFL players are being used by the left to perpetuate a nasty political agenda.
      The US is in desperate need of brave, assertive leadership. We need to honor and revere those like Robert Johnson, Tyler Perry, Jason Whitlock and….no, that should do it.

  12. I cannot in good conscience read anything positive about Carson Wentz or steady my gate Alex Smith. Don’t go there with Josh Allen either. There is not a white QB in the league worth a shit. Dwayne Haskins is being railroaded. This cat is John ElwayX2 except where he can’t really scramble and blows at the position but don’t try and get around what he does offer – Black. That alone should provide 10 years of secure starting QB work without a smidge of criticism. I am still boiling over Hue Jackson getting let go by the Browns. This grinder, this innovator gave you a 1-31 record and because of the color of his skin you fired him. It’s a disgrace. I hope the NFL if it has any decency in his collective heart awards the trophy to the 2020/2021 champion the Hue Jackson Trophy.

  13. Good point on Donald. He’s the strongest player I’ve ever seen maybe, only next to Larry Allen. For a guy who’s undersized for the position he plays, he overpowers men who outweigh him by 50 pounds. I agree he’s at least the best defensive player in the NFL today.

  14. Honestly, whenthe Dodgers, it is the “at bat” of the inning I savor most. (Sadly, not this evening.)
    Basketball – when watching UCLA it is our offense that draws my interest.
    Hockey: it’s all about the attack. Attacking the crease. Lightning goal scoring. And the fights of course.
    Same with martial arts. It is the “strike” not the “block” that really counts.
    For me, it is offense that rules the day. But, not on Sundays. When the the Los Angeles Rams are on display my laser focus is on 99 and 99 only.
    GOAT? This man is magical. Try isolating on him for entire game. He is unreal.
    So, this past Sunday he bull rushes a left tackle who outweighs him substantially.. He then dips his left shoulder, instantaneously slipping his arm behind the back of the blocker, grabs the quarterback with his left hand and then pulls himself onto back of the poor dude and rides him into the ground.. I think it was Alex Smith. Bummer. Oh well.
    Week after week this man defies the laws of physics.
    Aaron Donald was not born on the planet earth.

    • Well, in light of that, Aaron struck a blow for conservatives everywhere. But, can you really blame Alex for his dubious supporters. Barrack Obama will be written about in history books as the president who should have been impeached. Alex will not go down in history. He went down under the brawn of 99. That’s my point.

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