NFL storylines and I hate on Trey Lance

Posted: May 12, 2021 in Football, New entries, NFL

Post Draft Storylines

AFC Heavyweight Pittsburgh Steelers after being knocked out of the playoffs by AFC North little brother Cleveland Browns, did not draft or sign a quarterback to compete with Ben Roethlisberger. Roethlisberger struggled at the end of the 2020 regular season and in their loss to Cleveland in the playoffs. The Steelers have the toughest PROJECTED strength of schedule for 2021. This may be the first in a chain of events leading to a rearranging of the AFC North dominance hierarchy. Pittsburgh has been near or at the top of that division for decades.

Kansas City, who lost in the SuperBowl primarily because of injured offensive line issues, traded for Ravens offensive tackle Orlando Brown, signed All Pro guard Joe Thuney from New England, and drafted Oklahoma center Creed Humphrey. Kansas City will also be returning Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, a 2020 opt-out who may have played a pivotal role in the 2020 SuperBowl. I have Kansas City as my top overall team right now.

The Miami Dolphins will have one first round selection in 2022 (from the 49ers) and have thrown all of their chips into the Tua Tagovailoa basket. Tua looked promising, but was benched multiple times for veteran passer Ryan Fitzpatrick late in games. Seeing Justin Herbert have tremendous success, the pressure is on for Grier and Flores to make the Tua pick look like a smart move. Fitzpatrick is now the presumptive starter in Washington. Miami’s depth chart at wide receiver now includes first round Alabama standout Jaylen Waddle and former Texans speedster Will Fuller. Former offensive coordinator Chan Gailey is no longer with the organization, as Brian Flores has two co-offensive coordinators in George Godsey and Eric Studesville. While other clubs have a run game coordinator and a pass game coordinator in addition to an offensive coordinator, Miami is the only NFL team with two co-offensive coordinators.

The stars are beginning to align for Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys. With a healthy offensive line and Dak Prescott, Dallas looks to be substantially more competitive than they were in 2020. The Cowboys spent several draft picks on defensive players, including Penn State ‘backer Micah Parsons. This change along with bringing in Dan Quinn, a more veteran/proven defensive play-caller set Dallas up for a like 11+ win season in 2021. It’s worth mentioning Dallas has the easiest projected strength of schedule (just ahead of Philadelphia) which should help Dallas in the wins department.

Dallas drafted three cornerbacks, two of whom are 6’4″. It’s not clear whether Dan Quinn had input in these selections, Quinn having spent time in Seattle with tall corners Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner in their prime. Nahshon Wright of Oregon State and Israel Mukuamu of South Carolina were mid/late round selections who clearly stood out to Jerry for their size, should challenge for a starting role on a struggling defense.

The Houston Texans will have a first round pick in 2021, they have not had a first round selection in three of the past four seasons. A new head coach and a journeyman vet like Tyrod Taylor would provide Nick Caserio, David Culley and Houston with the perfect cover to soft tank for an elite QB in the ’22 draft. Right now Spencer Rattler and Sam Howell look like the two top prospects at the position, but Joe Burrow and Kyler Murray have taught us that a lot can change in only one season.

Houston may have found a gem in defensive coordinator hire Lovie Smith. It is my opinion that Lovie Smith was done wrong by the Chicago Bears after being fired in a season they went 10-6, and then being displaced for Dirk Koetter, who never accomplished much with his opportunity. Smith should really turn that defense around, albeit they are short on talent to do so. Texans OC Tim Kelly survived regime changes, so one would expect the Texans’ style of offense to remain the same overall. Culley spent time in Baltimore and may want Houston to run the football more as a result.

OPINION: Trey Lance is NOT pro ready, but has exciting potential

I’ve changed my tune on Trey Lance. After watching his dropbacks against 4 teams (Montana State, Illinois State, James Madison and Central Arkansas) I am less confident in Trey Lance’s future in the NFL. Trey Lance threw ten passes in North Dakota State’s championship game against James Madison, winning 28-20. The 49ers will not provide him the luxury of throwing ten passes and barreling down the middle for 5 yard gains against 1-AA talent in the NFC West. He has a high completion percentage, but many of his passes are quick, high percentage passes that would be very difficult for an NFL backup to not complete. He also had the benefit of having a 6’4″ wide receiver in Christian Watson who often found himself wide open from the games I watched.

Lance does have some likeable qualities. He has a cannon arm and will sometimes complete a beautiful deep ball on the run. Lance occasionally made what I would consider a “tight window” throw. It is clear Lance is being drafted based on his potential and not on his current passing prowess. Unless the 49ers plan on switching to some kind of Mike McCoy/Tim Tebow offense like the Broncos ran in 2011, their best bet is to hope Jimmy can stay healthy and to keep him on the roster unless Lance proves he is ready. Lance is an exciting player to watch, it is my opinion that Mac Jones was more accurate in actual downfield, air yards throws, played against NFL caliber defensive players and even threw more often than Tua did with Alabama in previous seasons.

I understand Lance’s supporters will point to his pre snap calling of protections and calling audibles as evidence for his pro readiness. I fully believe Trey Lance is a smart person, lots of smart people have failed at the professional level. Ryan Fitzpatrick graduated from Harvard and didn’t become relevant in the NFL scene until 12 years into his career. Kellen Moore was a super smart quarterback who couldn’t PLAY quarterback, Dallas found more use out of him as a coach, where he is now one of the league’s top offensive coordinators. Young quarterbacks fail not because they are not smart, they fail because their work ethic, discipline, and determination do not matchup with the extremely high bar set from the likes of Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes, and Russell Wilson.

As a 49ers fan I hope Lance becomes the player John Lynch and company envision him being, I feel we’re a long way from that day.

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