The NFL’s second Super Wild Card Weekend was even better than the first, here are five things we learned in the first round of the playoffs.
1. The Los Angeles Chargers are poorly coached
Saturday night saw the Chargers blow a 27-point lead in spectacular fashion. Their opponent, the Jacksonville Jaguars pulled the score back to 27-7 to close out the first half, before going on to win 31-30.
Awful clock management from the Chargers’ coaching staff after halftime contributed to the loss, only choosing to run a baffling eight times. That allowed the Jags to come back and steal a game that looked so one-sided.
Brandon Staley has since fired his offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, and QB coach Shane Day. Perhaps these moves are intended to divert attention away from a head coach who has made a number of questionable decisions over the last two years.
2. Josh Allen’s turnovers are a big problem
Allen’s Buffalo Bills were fortunate not to lose to the Miami Dolphins and their third-string quarterback, Skylar Thompson, in the early game on Sunday. Allen’s three turnover-worthy plays brought the Fins back into a game that had previously been out of reach.
Interceptions by Dolphins defensive backs Xavien Howard and Jevon Holland resulted in scoring drives, while defensive tackle Zach Sieler recovered a fumble for a touchdown.
There’s no denying he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the game, but his risk-or-reward treatment of the football almost proved costly on Sunday. During the regular season, Allen not only had the most big-time throws (44), but he also tied for the most TWPs with Geno Smith (29).
3. Brian Daboll is the Coach of the Year
The NFL Coach of the Year for the 2022 season has to be Brian Daboll. His Giants team has showed so much fight this season, winning multiple games they shouldn’t have been talented enough to do so.
Daniel Jones has been very impressive this season, looking like a top-15 quarterback whilst having a set of practice squad receivers. Not bad for a man whose fifth-year option was declined in the offseason. By all accounts, he’s earned a new deal. That’s down to Daboll.
Wink Martindale was an excellent hire this off-season. He put out an excellent defensive plan to stop Justin Jefferson and the rest of the Vikings’ high-powered offense.
4. Cincinnati has real offensive line problems
The Cincinnati Bengals are right back to where they were at the start of this season, just a big hit away from their franchise quarterback, Joe Burrow, getting hurt again.
Injuries have decimated the unit after Jonah Williams (knee) added to the growing injury list of La’el Collins (ACL) and Alex Cappa (ankle) on Sunday night.
Ted Karras is the only offensive lineman with a PFF grade of over 60, and one of only two lineman with enough snaps to be ranked by the stats company this season. Look for the Bills defensive line to have a field day on Sunday, similar to what Pittsburgh did in Week One.
5. Tom Brady is done in Tampa Bay
After his team’s 31-14 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, Brady thanked reporters for their hard work over the season, almost as if he was signalling it was time for a change. He is a free agent this coming offseason.
With how the last 12 months have played out for TB12 and the Buccaneers, it makes sense to move on. Whether or not the greatest player in history retries is a different question; prior to the loss, the general consensus was that he’d return for one more year.
Over the past 24 hours that looks slightly less likely, especially with the signs of decline he showed on Monday night, making multiple odd decisions in the first half. Whatever happens, I believe it is safe to say Tom Brady will not be in Tampa Bay next season.