College News & Analysis

NFL Week 12 Mailbag: The best option for the New York Jets' head coaching job, Trevor Lawrence to the Cowboys and more

Oct 3, 2020; Clemson, South Carolina, USA; Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) looks to make a pass during their game against Virginia at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

This will be an abbreviated version of the weekly mailbag, as I'm sure everyone — including myself — is either too hungover and/or still too full from Thanksgiving to think deeply about the game of football at the moment.

Nevertheless, I’m powering through for you guys because that’s how much I care. This year, I’m thankful for you, the loyal reader. Without you all, I wouldn’t get to do what I do and have so much fun doing it.

Let’s enjoy the full weekend of ball!

First off, I never root for someone to lose their job (although it is technically a zero-sum game in the NFL). God forbid if that were to happen to New York Jets head coach Adam Gase, here is what I would do: think big.

They have an opportunity here for a decade or so of prosperity with how talented Trevor Lawrence is as a prospect. They could, and should, have talented offensive minds lining up to work with Lawrence.

In my opinion, there’s no reason they should go with the new OC du jour at the NFL level — a Joe Brady, Eric Bienemy or Brian Daboll. They can catch a bigger fish. Everyone has a price, and I’d try to find out what that is for Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley. He’s the preeminent offensive mind in college football, and those same concepts are taking over the NFL. While he’s got a cushy gig in Oklahoma, I’m not sure he’d be able to pass up what the Jets could offer.

Now we’re really cooking down the Lawrence rabbit hole! The 49ers would obviously be amazing with Kyle Shanahan and their young receivers, but I’m going to stick to teams within realistic trade territory if Lawrence forces the Jets' hand (that also eliminates the Patriots). With that in mind, there’s only one answer here, and it’s the Dallas Cowboys.

The Cowboys will have both starting tackles back next season. They'll have the best receiving corps in the NFL. And with how south things have gone, maybe they'll even have a different head coach. Dallas is currently sitting at the No. 4 overall pick, so they have the draft slot to make it happen. And Jerry Jones would be just crazy enough to sell the farm for it.

There are two big reasons in my mind why the Pac-12 really has no shot at getting into the playoff.

1. They simply don’t play enough games

7-0. That’s the best record anyone in the conference can get to. Notre Dame (No. 2) and Cincinnati (No. 7) are already 8-0 and ahead of Oregon (No. 9) and USC (No. 19) in the College Football Playoff rankings. In any normal year, I hate the argument of putting one-loss teams above undefeated teams, but going undefeated over half the schedule of everyone else is not an argument for inclusion.

2. No team is that good

You could have convinced me Oregon was deserving if they blew through the Pac-12 before damn near their entire secondary (Brady Breeze, Thomas Graham and Jevon Holland) and stud left tackle Penei Sewell opted out. The draftable talent now on that roster is slim. USC snuck by Arizona State and Arizona on prayers; they won’t play a single ranked team besides the title game. That’s nowhere near enough to jump a one-loss Clemson/Florida/Texas A&M or an undefeated Cincinnati/BYU.

I’ve been an Xbox guy my entire life. Nothing against Playstation, but the Halo franchise got me hooked. One of my biggest regrets in life was getting to a 49 in Halo 3 but never 50. It kind of ruined my college GPA, but it saved me from being an accountant, so I can’t complain. I can’t tell you my gamer tag because it’s not quite kosher for a family website like PFF.com.

If you’re not following Big Dave, a.k.a. D.J. Uiagalelei’s dad, on Twitter, go change that now. He’s electric. We're hoping to get him on the podcast. You got the wrong position for Big Dave, though, as D.J. did a stellar job with what he was given. They need Big Dave along the interior of that offensive line at Clemson. They couldn’t block up Notre Dame’s front seven to save their lives.

I remember talking to some old man at the gym who was an Alabama fan before that National Championship Game about how that Notre Dame defense was different and it would be a close, low-scoring game. I’d like to think I know a little more about football now than I did back then, but I’m still an unabashed homer, so I’ll just say this: this Notre Dame defense is different, and it would be a close, low scoring game.

I think so because of what each team is throwing out up front. Notre Dame has multiple NFL players in their front seven while North Carolina decidedly does not along their offensive line. Even with all their offensive success, they rank 30th in pass-blocking grade and 40th in run-blocking grade among Power 5 offensive lines (64 schools).

Now, North Carolina has far too many playmakers in Javonte Williams and Michael Carter at running back along with Dyami Brown and Dazz Newsome at receiver to completely shut down with Sam Howell at the helm. I just don’t see it being a complete shootout like most of the Tar Heels' games this season.

No player is above further evaluation, and it’s concerning we still see the same issues with Fields on tape this year that were present in 2019. The play below is quite easily the biggest difference between him and Trevor Lawrence. It's why there’s a sizable gap in my eyes.

It’s not only the fact that he’s heaving up a prayer in the grasp, but also the reason he got there in the first place. He’s late to recognize the slot blitz from the field, and instead of realizing that it means the dig route is going to be wide open behind it, Fields panics when he sees it. The protection picks it up perfectly, meaning there’s no reason for Fields to bail on the play out of the pocket, but he does anyway. While his talent level is absurd, his ability to process quickly and react accordingly within the offense hasn’t seen a noticeable uptick from last year.

Know tomorrow, today. Western Southern Financial Group.
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