The NFL Is Changing, Adapt Or Die
If we think like the Yankees in here, we will lose to the Yankees out there. Once upon a time, a stubborn baseball executive decided he wasn’t going to be so stubborn anymore. He changed the game forever. Baseball has never been smarter than it is today. Adapt or die.
The NFL has changed over time but it hasn’t had its real analytical revolution. When I say analytics, I don’t mean like the goofs over at PFF that couldn’t tell the difference between an apple and a steak. I’m talking about the real stuff that actually matters.
Today, people got mad at me because I called the Steelers a poverty franchise for signing Mitch Trubisky. I genuinely believe that to be true despite the fact that the Steelers have arguably been the model of consistency in the NFL. Once upon a time, the Giants were a blue blood franchise too. Now they’re a joke. The old guy who fails to change becomes the old guy that yells at clouds real quick.
In the year 2022, you can’t sell me on Mitch Trubisky. Grab your click remote from the Adam Sandler movie and just fast forwarded the entire season. You’re wasting both of our times. Light me on fire. Stab both of my eyeballs. You signed up for mediocrity and the Steelers don’t do that.
Football is changing. It will never be the same. Smart Air Raid guys in the Big 12 changed football forever and there is no coming back from it. Penalties and rule changes that have been implemented now have only progressed that wave to the point of no return.
I just watched the Chiefs win a playoff game 42-36 with 13 seconds left down 3 in a playoff game starting from their own 25 yard line. If that wasn’t the moment that told you that football was changing, you need more help seeing signs.
You can’t sell me on Mitch Trubisky in 2022. It screams defensive head coach that doesn’t have a feel for offense. It screams dinosaur. It screams Grampa Simpson. It screams Blockbuster. Why would I waste my time on that? Why bother showing up to the stadium for 9-8?
I just watched Joe Burrow get sacked eight times in a playoff game that he won. If that wasn’t the moment that told you football was changing, you can’t be helped. If you’re not getting it now, it’s already too late.
I need a dude over on my left side like Ja’Marr Chase who’s just going to win all the time. I need a dude on my right that’s maybe a little bit taller like Tee Higgins who can just win 50-50 balls. I need another dude in the backfield that’s like Deebo Samuel that can do a little bit of everything. But also more importantly catch. I need a tight end that’s not a cancer in the run game so he doesn’t ruin my predictability from a play calling perspective. He also needs to catch like George Kittle too.
Oh… I also need a quarterback with big balls that looks like Josh Allen throwing darts all over the field while also being able to run faster than the tight ends in the 90s like Jay Novacek.
That’s football now. Better get used to it. You can’t sell me on Mitch Trubisky in 2022. We’re going to play good defense, run the ball, and limited the mistakes of our quarterback! You can fuck right off with that. I’m out. I have no interest in being mediocre. If you’re not first, you’re last.
I believe a time will come when NFL teams decide they should operate more like the Tampa Bay Rays do. If you don’t have a quarterback, it’s time to say goodbye to the season. If the Rays can trade Evan Longoria, the Steelers can trade Cam Heyward. Instead, they will waste a potential asset that could be turned into 6-7 assets that help you win in order to build a proper roster foundation. The Steelers have no Super Bowl window. They’re okay being the Marvin Lewis Bengals.
If I don’t have a quarterback, I don’t have a starting point. I’d love to be in Jacksonville at the start of the year. I can’t do worse than Urban. I have the first pick in the draft that could be turned into 10 players by simply trading down. I have one of these super robots at quarterback (Yes, Lawrence is going to be awesome). I have the flexibility and a reset button.
The Steelers have none of those things. The Steelers have expectations and a false promise. The Giants had that too with Eli Manning. Then they decided Daniel Jones was good enough for a blue blood franchise. Weird, Daniel Jones kinda looks like Trubisky too huh? A plus athlete that can’t really throw the ball to compete in the modern NFL. They convince their fan base that’s enough because culture and defense matters! Good luck. I’ll pass.
Brian Flores can no longer be my head coach. He fires all of his offensive coordinators and has no feel for that side of the ball. He can’t be your coach today. Neither can Mike Zimmer, or Vic Fangio, or Chuck Pagano, OR… Mike Tomlin. What Tomlin told me today is that he doesn’t get it. Dinosaur. Soon to be extinct.
I believe there will become a time when wide receivers become the new bullpen in baseball. I need like six or seven guys on my staff like Garrett Whitlock and Tanner Houck that shove 98 MPH with sick off speed stuff. I only need them to cover two to three innings at a time. I just need an endless supply of guys in the pen that throw 98 MPH.
Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, and Van Jefferson weren’t enough. I also have to draft two more and jump at the opportunity to snag Odell Beckham. Ohio State is like 10 deep at receiver right now and already have two prospects in the draft. College is only producing more guys like Justin Jefferson. You better get six on them on your team.
Playing running back isn’t cool anymore. We don’t get draft prospects like Adrian Peterson or LaDainian Tomlinson anymore. We get Jaylen Waddle because growing up, being like Chad Johnson must have been fucking awesome. Plus I don’t get hit over the middle now? Bet!
Andrew Friedman gets it. James Click gets it. Chaim Bloom gets it. Erik Neander gets it. Dodgers, Astros, Red Sox, Dodgers. You know, only the most successful clubs in the sport right now. Their general managers are ahead of the game. They trade Mookie Betts to fix a bad foundation because it’s the right thing to do.
If your process doesn’t start quarterback, your process sucks. Does my guy give me a chance to win a Super Bowl? If the answer is no, it’s time to blow your team up to make sure you have one. If I don’t have a quarterback, I’m in sell mode to make sure I can get one. OR on the rare circumstance, I can trade for a star veteran option, but only if I have a Super Bowl roster already in place.
I have to create an endless supply of quarterback and wide receiver talent in order to create the most flexibility on my roster. I have to keep producing guys like Cedrick Wilson. Even when they leave, they’re creating compensatory picks so they’re automatically replacing themselves. Eventually, I can get to the point where I can start trading those assets, for better assets because every team will need them in order to win.
The NFL is going to turn into a 7-on-7 league. That’s how these kids are growing up. Quarterbacks are too good now. They have too many snaps under their belt starting from a younger age. Picking up chunk yards with a receiver you trust means everything.
I just watched Ja’Marr Chase take a 4 win team to the Super Bowl. Old timers told you about how it was a bad idea to pass on a generational receiver for an offensive lineman. They were all wrong. If that wasn’t a moment that told you football was changing, seek help.
If your process starts with defense wins championships, your process sucks. Nobody can stop anybody anymore. Even Jalen Ramsey gives up big plays and I’m not sure anybody is better at corner. I want Trevon Diggs on my side. Who cares if he gets burned? He creates 11 extra possessions for my offense in a league where nobody can stop anybody anymore.
I believe we need to stay ahead of the curve to achieve optimal success. Having a quarterback like Josh Allen is already a prerequisite. Providing him a target like Stefon Diggs is already a prerequisite. The new trends are coming before we know them.
I now need all of my corners to catch. I need both of my safeties to catch. I need all of my linebackers to run like Devin White and cover like Eric Kendricks. I believe that’s the next trend to come. All of my defensive backs need to be like Honey Badger. Ball hawks.
Chris Ballard doesn’t seem to understand why Blake Bortles has won the AFC South more times than he has. He showed up to the party with Jack Doyle and TY Hilton and wondered why he couldn’t make the playoffs? Check your weapons at the door. They’re water pistols. Can’t win with water pistols. I need horses like AJ Brown.
My best running back has to be able to catch. It’s not optional anymore. I need Dalvin Cook to affect the game in the screen game. Deebo Samuel has to be an extra weapon out of the backfield. Austin Ekeler has to win in the passing game. Adrian Peterson isn’t as useful for today’s NFL and that’s okay.
Good times create weak people. Weak people create bad times. The Steelers have been successful for a long time. Eventually, when a successful person refuses to change, they become a weak person that creates bad times. Mitch Trubisky creates bad times. Just ask Bears fans. The Steeler fans just seem to be okay with that part.
Hell… you can sell me on what the Pirates are doing compared to the Steelers (and that’s saying something). At least the hire of Ben Cherington at least signals they’re attempting to adapt. Beats whatever the Steelers are doing right now. Darko seems like a blast.
I’ve learned that all humans are inherently wrong to some degree. I’ve also learned that we are more than our thoughts. That really your goal should be to be less wrong than everybody else. Additionally, I’ve learned to trust my instincts because I’m really fucking smart. Why would you listen to me? I’m just the only person on the planet that’s ever been right about Trubisky from the beginning. Why would you ever listen to that guy?
If your process tells you Mitch Trubisky. It’s time to get a new process. The NFL is changing. Adapt or die.