White is one of the team’s best defensive players and is a significant loss for a unit that was almost back to full health. Backup Dane Jackson replaced him with Buffalo up 10-0.
When White is the nearest defender this season, the All-Pro corner is allowing a 50.8% completion percentage and 58.9 passer rating, both fourth-best among defensive backs with 50-plus targets this season, per NFL Next Gen Stats.
In a quarter and a half against the Saints, White was targeted once, allowing zero receptions. The injury occurred while he was covering wide receiver Marquez Callaway. After walking off the field with a limp, he was visibly frustrated on the sideline before being examined in the team’s medical tent and then heading to the locker room.
Patrick Mahomes and the evolving NFL draft quarterback evaluation
Patrick Mahomes‘ tape in the lead-up to the 2017 NFL draft was scary. It was littered with off-balance passes, sidearm deliveries, leaning throws, backward drifts and lots of improvisation. His footwork was frantic, he didn’t consistently step through to his target and he looked more like shortstop hurling a baseball across the diamond on the move than a potential first-round franchise quarterback.
You can typically tell when a ball is going to be a completion just by watching what happens before it leaves the quarterback’s hand. And so much of Mahomes’ tape from his Texas Tech days featured the mechanics you’d usually see on an incompletion. But here’s the thing: He was still consistently completing these passes. I’ve been scouting quarterbacks for the NFL draft since 1999, and I’ve never seen such tremendous results on a consistent basis for a quarterback with such messy mechanics. And I can confidently say I’ve never had a more difficult QB evaluation than Mahomes’ 2017 scouting report because of that vast difference.
Mahomes’ evaluation and his greatness in spite of the mechanics still carries significance for me today. Why? Because it fundamentally changed the way I scout quarterbacks for the draft.
If you’ve been watching the NFL for the past four years — or if you just happened to tune in Sunday night for the Kansas City Chiefs‘ wild overtime win versus the Buffalo Bills in the divisional round of the playoffs — you know not much has changed with Mahomes. He is among the league’s best quarterbacks despite the fact we rarely see him throw with the kind of mechanics traditionally thought to bring pro success. He makes incredible throws that just don’t seem possible, and he does it all the time. Mahomes has proved to me that the result is ultimately what matters, regardless of whether the prototypical quarterback mechanics are there.
Mahomes’ 2017 tape
Until Mahomes came along, I’d say about 90% of what I was looking for on a QB’s tape was what happened before the ball left his hand, and I was pretty rigid on that. Proper footwork in the pocket. Clean drops from center. Stepping to and through the target. Driving hips and following-through. Typically an over-the-top delivery. Successful NFL quarterbacks were the ones who threw from a solid base, married their eyes to their feet and pulled the trigger on throws with a clean release. Everything was about that process, and it was drilled home by coaches, scouts, QB evaluators and, well, the best quarterbacks in the league. The top-graded QBs were all pocket passers with excellent mechanics.
I distinctly remember starting Mahomes’ final evaluation and watching three games on tape right before the combine. His tape was unlike anything I had ever seen. He’d take the snap and immediately drift backward for no particular reason and sling sidearm and off balance. And you’d cringe until you saw the throw connect for a perfectly placed vertical shot.
Todd McShay explains why former Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes II reminds him both positively and negatively of Brett Favre and Johnny Manziel.
Regarding accuracy, I wrote in my pre-draft scouting report: “[Mahomes] shows excellent touch, trajectory and ball placement on vertical throws. One of the best deep-ball passers in this class. He completes a bunch of throws from … off-balance launch points. But he also misses entirely on too many open targets because his mechanics are all over the place. Rarely throws from a balanced base, steps to his target and transfers his weight from back to front.”
In terms of arm strength and release, my report read, “He can snap his wrist and deliver the deep out on a rope (and can do the same 50-plus yards downfield). Fits the ball into some ridiculously tight windows. Delivery and release point are all over the place, which can be both good and bad. He’s very comfortable throwing off-platform and from different arm angles, but he can also get unnecessarily sloppy with his mechanics. His natural delivery is over-the-top, but he frequently throws sidearm (and occasionally even mixes in a submarine-style throw).”
And finally, looking at his pocket presence: “He extends a lot of plays with his feet, and he thrives after the initial play breaks down. … He shows a natural feel for sensing pressure, but his pocket discipline is poor at this point. He frequently bails too early and has a strong tendency to drift (even when there’s no pressure). He needs to be more consistent climbing the pocket versus perimeter pressure.”
You’ll notice there are a lot of “buts” in there. And that’s what the evaluation was: a lot of weighing poor mechanics from a traditional standpoint with unbelievable results. In his 2016 season at Texas Tech, Mahomes threw for north of 5,000 yards, completed 65.7% of his throws, tossed 41 touchdown passes and had 10 interceptions — and he added another 12 rushing scores. He also had an 82.5 Total QBR and led college football in expected points added.
Early on in the process, I had a second- or third-round grade on Mahomes. I didn’t think he was ready, and I couldn’t push the flawed mechanics aside. But I came around slowly as I started focusing more and more on the results of the throws rather than the throws themselves. It was a foreign premise, but Mahomes was different. Ultimately, he earned an 85 grade and closed at No. 44 on my board (QB3 behind Mitchell Trubisky and Deshaun Watson). And yes, most of the industry also had its concerns about Mahomes, but the Chiefs ultimately liked what they saw enough to trade up to No. 10 in the draft and take him as their future starter.
That, of course, was another big part of it: Mahomes went to the right spot. You can’t count on that happening, but it worked out ideally for him — and Kansas City. My scouting report went into that too, stating, “It would be in his best interest to sit and learn as a rookie while making a sizeable transition from an offense [at Texas Tech] that features a small playbook, limited playcalling verbiage and minimal pre-snap responsibility for the QB.” I remember talking to Mahomes during the preseason of his rookie year about my evaluation of him, and he recognized how perfectly things fell together. He had the chance to learn behind coach Andy Reid and veteran QB Alex Smith for a year, and it paid off.
How have things changed?
Mahomes has gone on to four seasons of elite-tier QB play after sitting out that rookie year. He won MVP in 2018 after throwing for 5,097 yards and 50 touchdown passes. He then won Super Bowl MVP for the champion Chiefs following the 2019 campaign and led Kansas City back to the Super Bowl (a loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) last season.
And finally, he threw for 4,839 yards and 37 touchdown passes this season, even though we all wondered if the NFL had figured him out at midseason. Kansas City started 3-4, and Mahomes wasn’t able to hit the downfield shots with as much ease against defensive coverages that kept two safeties high. No problem. Mahomes adapted, finishing in the top five in Total QBR for a fourth straight year and leading the Chiefs to the AFC Championship Game (and they might not stop there).
The continued success and the ability to hit those nonstandard throws on a consistent basis made me reconsider how I evaluate the position, and my scouting mentality absolutely shifted. Yes, I still look for the tried and true footwork and delivery that typically leads to success at the next level, and that’s still the biggest thing. But I also know that can’t and shouldn’t be all of it. Mahomes was an eye-opener in that respect.
Todd McShay, Mel Kiper Jr. and Phil Savage evaluate the pros and cons of former Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes II’s game.
In fact, what was seen as a potential problem in his scouting report is actually now his strength. Yes, Mahomes still has poor pocket discipline. He still drifts, weaves and bails out. And he still at times throws off balance, leaning away and from different arm slots. But he can do so many amazing things while facing irregular situations and with his body contorted. Which way he is leaning or what his arm angle is doesn’t matter. Mahomes has the unique ability to still place the ball where it needs to go, despite the mess. So many others can’t do that, and Mahomes does things better in chaos than anyone else in the NFL.
And so, I’ve tweaked the way I scout QBs in the years since, looking at the final result of a throw a little bit more than I had in the past. Footwork, pocket presence and a tidy throwing motion all matter a great deal, but a quarterback’s ability to find success even when the process isn’t right is extremely important.
Who has followed — and who fits the bill in 2022?
It didn’t take long for another quarterback to come along with similar traits. The Arizona Cardinals‘ Kyler Murray was from a similar college system (Oklahoma) and had that same baseball background. He similarly moved around behind the line of scrimmage, threw off balance and from different arm angles, and didn’t always set his feet. In his 2019 scouting report, I wrote, “He displays natural touch and timing as a passer, throwing accurately from a variety of different arm angles. He really excels at off-balance throws, but he gets into trouble when he falls off of throws, typically when the pocket is collapsing.”
Murray finished with a 90 grade for me in 2019 (five points higher than Mahomes had been in 2017) and was my top-ranked QB in the class at No. 9 overall. His game had a lot of improv and wasn’t always pretty, but like Mahomes, he had results. Murray was the first pick overall that year, and he has since been one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL when healthy.
Then there was Jordan Love in 2020, who wound up the Green Bay Packers‘ selection at No. 26 after a trade up the board. I had a 90 grade on him, and he was No. 20 in my final rankings. That was higher than most had him, and I’m not sure I would have been as high on him prior to Mahomes’ draft year. Love’s report read, “Inconsistent footwork leads to some missed throws. That said, he has a very high ceiling and flashes outstanding potential on tape. He creates and throws off platform as well as anyone in this class. He can drop his arm angle and adjust his release point to avoid pressure. And he has the arm strength to throw into tight windows.” It remains to be seen what Love can do at the pro level, but lessons from Mahomes’ evaluation played a part in how I looked at Love’s game when he came out of Utah State.
Most recently, Zach Wilson‘s tape from BYU shared traits with that of Mahomes, though maybe not on the same scale as Murray and even Love did. Wilson’s evaluation stated, “One of his best traits is his ability to extend plays. He has the instincts and agility to create after the initial play breaks down, and he also does a very good job of adjusting his arm angles to generate throwing windows. His ability to throw receivers open also stands out, as Wilson shows above-average touch against zone looks.” Wilson was the No. 2 pick for the New York Jets in 2021, and he was my No. 4 prospect.
As far as the 2022 class goes, no one really fits the mold. I have extensively studied the top seven guys — Kenny Pickett (Pittsburgh), Matt Corral (Ole Miss), Malik Willis (Liberty), Desmond Ridder (Cincinnati), Sam Howell (UNC), Carson Strong (Nevada) and Bailey Zappe (Western Kentucky) — and I don’t even see a neighborhood comparison. Howell has some similar traits; he throws off balance with good trajectory and has the arm strength to deliver the ball downfield despite not a lot of weight transfer, but he lacks Mahomes’ anticipation. Willis is maybe a little bit closer to what we’re talking about here — his off-platform throws have some “wow” factor — but the results haven’t always been there (albeit with a lesser supporting cast at Liberty).
Todd McShay isn’t projecting any quarterbacks to be among the top 10 picks in the draft, but he believes there is plenty of first-round talent at the position.
Mahomes is ultimately in a class of his own, and quarterbacks like him don’t come around often. But he is a reminder that they can come along — and that the position has changed so much in the past decade. He creates magic in the pocket, feeling and eluding pressure with outstanding short-area agility, locating a receiver while keeping his eyes downfield then delivering the ball with the right trajectory and velocity regardless of the arm angle. His unique trait is the ability to stay under control when it breaks down around him and place the ball perfectly, regardless of what position he is in. It’s remarkable.
This Sunday, he will try to punch his third ticket to the Super Bowl in four seasons, and hopefully we get to see some more incredible throws from him in the AFC Championship Game against the visiting Cincinnati Bengals. They likely won’t be textbook dropbacks and over-the-top passes, and I’m sure we will see plenty of technically imperfect throws. But I’m also sure he will hit his mark more often than not and he will make some throws that most NFL quarterbacks can’t.
Most of the time poor mechanics mean red flags. But the scouting lesson is they don’t always mean that.
Why Sean Payton’s shadow will loom over Cowboys’ Mike McCarthy – Dallas Cowboys Blog
FRISCO, Texas — Sean Payton has opted to walk away from coaching the New Orleans Saints. Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones deferred when asked if Mike McCarthy would be his team’s coach in 2022.
You don’t have to connect many dots to see Payton coaching the Cowboys, which is something Jones has thought long and hard about numerous times since losing Payton to New Orleans in 2006.
If Jones is going to be fundamentally fair to Mike McCarthy, he needs to make a trade for Payton — since the Saints still own his contractual rights — or come out and say McCarthy is his coach. That won’t end speculation, of course. But at least it squelches some of the talk between now and when the regular season starts.
(A quick aside: If McCarthy gets ripped by some for winning just one Super Bowl with Aaron Rodgers, why doesn’t Payton get knocked for winning just one Super Bowl with Drew Brees?
McCarthy went to the playoffs nine times with the Green Bay Packers, including four NFC Championship Games and a Super Bowl. Payton went to the playoffs nine times, including three NFC Championship Games and one Super Bowl.)
Once the season starts, McCarthy will be looking over his shoulder the entire time. Every loss will be dissected through the Payton prism. Dak Prescott‘s development will be evaluated through the Payton prism.
Everything in 2022 will be WWSPD: What would Sean Payton do?
Before Payton arrived in New Orleans, the Saints had a .403 winning percentage, five 10-win seasons and one playoff win from 1967 to 2005. From 2006 to 2021, the Saints had a .617 winning percentage, nine 10-win seasons and nine playoff victories.
Payton is just 58 years old. He admitted to being exhausted following a season in which his team relocated to Fort Worth for a stretch because of a hurricane, saw Brees’ replacement Jameis Winston get hurt and withstood a number of injuries and COVID-19 absences.
The Saints had a chance to make the playoffs until the final week of the season and fell short.
The affinity between Jones and Payton is well known.
“He’s done so many things for our game not only for the Dallas Cowboys,” Payton said when Jones was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. “If you began to put together a highlight and say ‘Jerry,’ after whatever topic, we would say Jerry a lot. The network, Jerry. Growing the game, Jerry. That’s how he thinks.”
Payton spent three seasons with the Cowboys under Bill Parcells. He nearly left after the 2004 season for the Raiders until Jones and Parcells talked him into staying, in part thanks to a pay raise.
“Sean gets it,” Parcells said when he was Dallas’ coach. “He really gets it. … And he knows what’s important, and he’s absolutely a terrific listener. He’s very bright, creative and I have a high regard for him. I really do.”
At the NFL combine in Indianapolis after the Saints’ Super Bowl win, Payton intercepted a bottle of 2007 Caymus Special Selection cabernet sauvignon that Jones put on reserve for his yearly staff dinner at St. Elmo Steakhouse.
Payton signed the empty bottle, which was delivered to Jones the next night.
A good laugh was had by all and they laughed even harder after a server knocked the bottle over and saw it break into pieces.
There have been countless rumors of Payton’s eventual return to Dallas.
Adam Schefter discusses Sean Payton’s legacy and how he doubts Sean Payton will be an NFL head coach elsewhere in 2022.
For years, he maintained a house in a Dallas suburb. In the year he was suspended by the NFL (he missed the 2012 season as punishment for the Saints’ bounty scandal) he helped coach at Liberty Christian in Argyle, Texas. Depending on who you talk to, the Cowboys and Saints had discussions regarding Payton returning to the Cowboys at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, not long into Jason Garrett’s tenure as Dallas’ head coach (2010-19).
Payton made reference to the number of times he was linked to the Cowboys during the 2021 regular season, specifically if he could have waited to be Parcells’ eventual replacement.
“Look, there was no time frame. So, some of you guys (in the media), you guys have been here, was it like eight years finally when, ‘He’s not going to the Cowboys.’ Or Year 9, ‘Is he not going?'” Payton said.
If it ever stopped, it has started again.
Antonio Brown says he’ll pursue lawsuit against Tampa Bay Buccaneers over release
TAMPA, Fla. — Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown and his attorney, Sean Burstyn, said Tuesday they intend to pursue legal action against the Bucs for releasing him after he said he was too injured to continue playing against the New York Jets earlier this month and claimed coach Bruce Arians ignored his pleas to not reenter the game.
Appearing on HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel,” Burstyn said they not only will pursue money for Brown’s ankle surgery and money they feel he is owed by the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement, but they also are looking into a possible civil lawsuit in the form of defamation for the Bucs claiming he had a spontaneous mental health episode.
“Tony [Brown] was defamed by this spin that he had a mental health episode that makes him someone who’s not reliable to do a good job on the field,” Burstyn said. “So we’re pursuing internally all of our rights under the CBA and considering them and maybe stepping outside of the CBA.
“All of our options are on the table. We’re going to hold to account the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Bruce Arians, the general manager to the extent anyone who’s responsible for this spin that Antonio isn’t reliable to do a good job playing football because he doesn’t have the mental fortitude to do it. They’ll be held to account.”
Brown and his attorney would not provide a monetary figure on how much they’re seeking.
“A whole lot of money. A whole lot,” Brown said, adding that he was shown disrespect with the team questioning his mental health.
“So to drag people along and play on people’s mental health, you know, is so unfair and unfortunate,” he said.
Burstyn said he has evidence that general manager Jason Licht texted him after the game. He said he had spoken with Bruce Arians and that Arians told him Brown did say his ankle was injured, which conflicts with Arians’ version of events; Arians had said he was unaware that Brown felt he was too hurt to continue.
When asked if he knew Brown was hurt, Arians said, “I don’t know that he was.”
Brown disputed Arians’ claim that he was upset about his lack of targets at halftime and needed to be calmed down by teammates.
“I’m not worried about the ball,” Brown said. “Tom Brady is my guy. He’s the reason I’m on Tampa Bay, so I know I’m gonna get the ball.”
Gumbel attempted to interject, but Brown continued: “I’m gonna get the ball. Now. I’m Antonio Brown. You know, I’m a receiver. I get the ball. I got a million dollars on the line that I had to reach, sir.”
Gumbel said, “Well, that’s what I’m asking you. Could you have potentially earned bonus money if you had been targeted more and had more catches and more yardage in the Jets game?”
Burstyn stepped in, “Under the contract? Yes. If he was physically able to continue playing.”
When Arians was told that Brown denied he was upset about targets, Arians said, “The players know the truth.”
Brown claimed that the Bucs offered him $200,000 to sit on the sideline and commit himself to mental health treatment, which Brown refused to do.
“These guys at the Tampa Bay Bucs tried to make an agreement with me to give me $200,000 to go to the crazy house so these guys could look like they know what they were talking about,” Brown said.
Burstyn said Licht told him in writing twice, “Do not spin this any other way.”
When asked if he believed he needed mental help of any kind, Brown said, “I have mental wealth, man. I know a lot of people may not understand me, know how I look at things or don’t know how I react [to] emotional things, but it’s not for them to understand me. I’ve got a beautiful family, kids and people all across the world that look up to me, and it’s no reason I’m in this position at this point.”
Arians did not specifically use the words “mental health” in discussing Brown’s incident. When Arians was asked about Brown leaving the field, he said, “Yeah, it was very hard. I wish him well. I hope, if he needs help, [that he] gets some. It’s very hard because I do care about him.”
Brown and his attorney said he was injected with the painkiller Toradol right before the Bucs’ Week 16 game at the Carolina Panthers and before the Jets game in Week 17 and that he was regularly injected with it. While Toradol is still allowed in the league, the NFL did send out a memo in June urging teams to limit use of the painkiller by players due to the risk of causing major bleeding.
The memo stated, “Toradol should not be used prior to, during, or after NFL games or practices as a means of reducing anticipated pain.” The memo also stated that Toradol should be used “following an acute, game-related injury where visceral or central nervous system bleeding is not expected and where other oral or intranasal pain medications are inadequate or not tolerated.”
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