The Eagles play the Jets at 4:25 as Fox’s Game of the Week because the schedule makers thought we’d see Aaron Rodgers. Instead we get Zach Wilson. And it’s because of Zach Wilson that the Jets got Aaron Rodgers. Football can be brutal.
Zach Wilson and the 2020 season that wrecked football
One day, and it won’t even have to be too far from now, a network or streaming service should make a multi-part documentary about the long term effects of the 2020 college football season. We’re still feeling the repercussions.
An entire episode could be about how the extra year of eligibility altered programs. TCU’s miracle run to the title game last season had several key contributors as “super” seniors, including their #2 and #3 WRs, their #2 RB who started the title game, and their top pass rusher. The biggest college game this weekend is between two high profile QBs who are “super seniors”.
An entire episode could be devoted to the draft. Specifically, the quarterbacks in it. The 49ers traded up well before the draft to 3rd overall, and reportedly then decided on which QB they wanted to take, settling on a FCS QB who started for one season, a year before. Kyle Trask was a 2nd round draft pick. The additional year gave us Kenny Pickett: 1st round pick in 2022.
And it gave us Zach Wilson, 2nd overall draft pick in 2021. NFL executives fell in love with Wilson. Why? Wilson was a low level, big armed prospect who “broke out” in 2020 dropping bombs against a schedule so watered down it completely lacked flavor.
The 2020 college season was chaotic, and Wilson’s BYU Cougars experienced it all of it. BYU had games against Arizona State, Michigan State, Minnesota, Missouri, Northern Illinois, Stanford, and Utah State canceled by those team’s conferences for either travel concerns or because the conference simply suspended the season. Games against Boise State and San Diego State were originally canceled, then reinstated a month later.
BYU scrambled to find someone, anyone, who could and would play them. Army agreed to be a substitute game but a week before Army pulled out and the schools never rescheduled. BYU wound up with bye weeks in weeks 2, 3, 11, and 13. Replacement schools were able to be found, but they were generally weak opponents or put together with no preparation: Navy (4-12 the previous two seasons and 3-7 that season), Troy (15-10/5-6), Louisiana Tech (18-8/5-5), UT-San Antonio (7-17/7-5), Texas State (6-18/2-10), Western Kentucky (9-16/5-7), and Coastal Carolina (10-14/11-1). They played the Boca Raton Bowl on December 22nd against UCF (22-4/6-4), who had double digit players opt out of the season, and then reportedly were in discussions to play in another bowl game. The Cougars finished 11-1, their sole loss against the only good team they faced, Coastal Carolina, was scheduled on just two days notice after Coastal Carolina’s original opponent, Liberty, canceled.
Against this level of competition–only seven players on opposition defenses Wilson faced were drafted in April (one of them being Milton Williams) while four of Wilson’s teammates were—the brain geniuses in the NFL decided that Zach Wilson was the second best QB in the draft. His out of nowhere jump was compared to Joe Burrow’s the year before, completely overlooking that Burrow did that in the SEC and put up mind boggling production, Burrow averaged 378 yards and 4 TDs a game with his career best game against Oklahoma in the playoffs, while Wilson eclipsed that yardage just three times (against UCF, Houston, and Troy) and threw 4 TDs just three times as well (against Houston, Texas State, and FCS program North Alabama).
2020 broke everyone’s brain. Football is still in surgery to repair it.
Twelve and oh dear
The Eagles have never lost to the Jets. Ever. In 12 games they are 12-0, and average winning 28-16… a fittingly 12 point margin of victory. This matchup is so lopsided that even some of the most infuriating Eagles teams have beat them up. The 2011 Eagles were 5-8 when they hosted the 8-5 Jets, the Eagles won 45-19. The 2015 Eagles started 0-2, then faced the 2-0 Jets in Week 3 and won 24-17, scoring 21 points in the 2nd quarter and getting shut out in the second half.
Nate Gerry, Orlando Scandrick, Juqua Parker, and Eric Allen have scored TDs against the Jets. Dallas Goedert, Darren Sproles, LeSean McCoy, Correll Buckhalter, Irving Fryar, Mike Quick, Harold Carmichael, and Wilbert Montgomery had 2+ TD games against the Jets. Jake Elliott and David Akers have had 3+ FG games against the Jets.
Who will add to the list on Sunday?
The punter dream is over
When the Eagles cut Arryn Siposs and then signed him to the practice squad, they opened up the possibility of revolutionizing roster construction. A team could, if it wanted to, churn through punters on their practice squad, using them for their three allowed call ups to the active roster and then moving on to a new one. This would free up a 53 man roster spot to keep a player who wouldn’t clear waivers, allowing a team to keep a bonus offensive or defensive player. The Eagles averaged three punts a game under Nick Sirianni entering the season, is that worth a roster spot when you could get creative and take advantage of practice squad rules?
Alas, it was not to be. Braden Mann, the next man up in the punter carousel, was signed to the 53 man roster this week. There goes that. It was nice to dream.
College Football Watch List Week 7
Early - Channel surfing
Late - Oregon vs Washington
On paper, this is the game of the week.
Washington is loaded, particularly on offense, with QB Michael Penix #9, WRs Rome Odunze #1, Jalen McMillian #11, Ja’Lynn Polk #2, LT Troy Fautanu #55, RT Roger Rosengarten #73 EDGEs Bralen Trice #8, Zion Tupuola-Fetui #4 and LB Edefuan Ulofoshio #5 future draft picks, with TEs Devin Culp #83 and Jack Westover #37, and S Dominique Hampton #7 at least worth a look.
Oregon isn’t lacking either with QB Bo Nix #10, RT Ajani Cornelius #65, RB Bucky Irving #0, WR Tony Franklin #11, TE Terrance Ferguson #3, DT Jordan Burch #1, DT Brandon Dorlus #3, and CB Khyree Jackson #5 all drawing varying degrees of attention.
This should be a good game for October, and for April.
Chip Kelly has one of the best defenses in the country. Offense? Not so much. What a world.
EDGE Laiatu Latu #15, Gabriel #11 and Grayson #12 Murphy, and LB Darius Muasau #53 lead the way for the Bruins, who are 8th in scoring defense and 3rd in stop rate. Oregon State isn’t the toughest test, but I need something to keep an eye on until Marcus Freeman or Lincoln Riley’s defense blow their game.