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Injury Analytics & The 2023 NFL Playoffs

In this week's podcast, Mike Lewis explores the role injuries play in NFL personnel decisions and how analytics can better inform which players a team builds around.

This episode also breaks down QB storylines from a wild NFL Wild Card Weekend and ramifications for the upcoming QB free agent market.

Watch/listen here:


Mike Lewis 0:08

Hey welcome, everyone. Welcome to the Fanalytics Podcast with Mike Lewis and Doug Battle brought to you from Emory University. Doug, we've been talking about your college football fandom for quite a while. But you know what? College football is over for the year? Well, you know, football seasons never end anymore. Right. But we have switched to I don't know if it's the big story of the weekend. But the New York football Giants. Wow. So

Doug Battle 0:37

we're sticking with my relevance. Again? Yeah. Yeah. You know, I've, I haven't felt like the Giants have the horses this year to win a Super Bowl, but I gotta say I didn't necessarily feel that way in 2007 or 2011. So sometimes it's like the Giants teams that you least expect to have playoff success are the ones that do. But that said, I think it's just exciting for Giants fans to see Daniel Jones and Brian De ball, win that first playoff game, build some momentum. Regardless of what happens the rest of the way.

Mike Lewis 1:09

Let me ask it. You know that and we got to be honest, you know, Trevor Lawrence is probably the winner. We're taping before Dak Prescott versus Tom Brady, sort of probably the two best quarterback narratives going into the playoffs. Trevor Lawrence probably won the weekend and we'll get to him in a in a second. But was Daniel Jones was this a coming of coming of age kind of a moment say Quan, Barkley said he's an elite quarterback. I think the numbers were very, let me check the numbers here. The numbers were good. Right. So 300 yards, two touchdowns. Zero interceptions. took three sacks but in general. He's at the top of the list for the playoff performances so far. So was this. You know, did this did this myth resonate with you as a fan? Are you feeling feeling really good about this? Because we talked about Joe Jones is right about at the end of that rookie deal, right? So this guy,

Doug Battle 2:10

yeah. This was he didn't get that extension last year. So this year was make or break for him. big year for him. I've long been of the opinion. And if anyone's listen to the podcast consistently over the years, that Daniel Jones just hasn't had the right pieces around him. And I've been impressed with what he's done with what he's had to work with. I think Brian table has done a tremendous job with Jones and getting the best out of him and really building confidence in him. But going into the season, I think a lot of Giants fans are saying the Giants need to move on after the season. You know, maybe we can tank and get Bryce young or CJ Stroud, maybe we can be the big winners of the offseason and acquire Lamar Jackson. And I saw recently I believe it was ESPN put out, you know, who would you rather build your franchise around this offseason? And it was Lamar Jackson for I don't know what it is $65 million, or whatever. And Daniel Jones for 35, or whatever his price tag is going to be. And the majority of people are saying Daniel Jones. And so I personally was of that opinion, prior simply because of the reasons. You know, with Jackson being a dual threat with the price tag and how much cap space he ties up. And with the trajectory typically of dual threat quarterbacks tending to decrease in productivity as they get older. With that said, you know, Lamar Jackson's clearly playing at a high level when he is playing. And I think it's more of an injury concern and the fact that Daniel Jones is young quarterback and like I've said for a while, I think if you take the same kid and you put them in that LSU offense that Joe burrow was in, he might have gotten the hype that Joe burrow got, and if you put them in that Bengals offense with, you know, Chase at wide receiver and T Higgins and company, Joe Mixon and runningback I think he might have had that kind of success as well. And so he's a guy that, you know, I think the ceiling is there, I was not a fan of Daniel Jones when the Giants drafted him. I think that was a pic that a lot of people were scratching their heads on. But he earned as a fan, he earned my respect pretty early in his career, even when the Giants weren't winning. And so you love to see a guy like that kind of start to get recognition on a global scale or on a national scale, at the very least, where people are starting to say, hey, this guy's legit, hey, you know, the Giants might have something to build around something to be excited about.

Mike Lewis 4:33

Well, look, and I don't know maybe our preparation my preparation could have been a little bit better on this. I just, you know asked to the Google machine and and I looked up the contract and it looks like the Giants have declined the fifth year option and so Jones is officially an unrestricted free agent going into this offseason. So what has been the buzz around the New York Giants like still interested still a possibility or, you know, I mean, you mentioned Lamar Jackson and again, another kind of interest, a really interesting quarterback story for the playoffs, even though he did not participate. So, you know, we'll circle we'll come back to Lamar in a second. So what's the relationship between Daniel Jones on the Giants? At least from the perspective?

Doug Battle 5:22

Yeah, from a fan perspective? I mean, my understanding is that, you know, first off the fans have not. It's funny that, you know, I'm a Georgia fan, too, because it was a lot like this was Stetson Bennett, where the fans didn't want him they want him

Mike Lewis 5:37

even after older Stetson Bennett or Daniel Jones,

Doug Battle 5:41

probably Stetson Bennett. Probably, Stetson Bennett. But you gotta guide that the fans, you know, aren't sold on and don't believe in until he has a level of success. And I remember last year was Stetson Bennett where there was a chance I think he was open to transferring if he wasn't going to be the starting quarterback at Georgia the next season. And then all of a sudden, there were all these fans that wanted him and, and, you know, it's like, now that Daniel Jones a lot of these fans who have been slandering him for years, and every time we thought it's an interception, saying, I told you, you know, I knew I was right about him. Now that he's having a little bit of success, particularly in the playoffs where it's so hard, you know, where he now has as many playoff wins as Dak Prescott has been in the NFL for a much longer time and played on much better teams. You know, I think that the fans are warming up as New York fans do. I think New York Giants fans are infamous for being very passionate and their emotions one way or another with Eli Manning, he was the type of personality that handled it pretty well because he didn't let it get to him. But it's like one year, he's the most loathe person, and Manhattan. And the next year, he's the Super Bowl MVP. And, you know, people want him to be in the Hall of Fame. And so, you know, Daniel Jones is somewhere in the middle still. And it's like, if he has a bad performance on Sunday, those those same people will say he's still not the guy, you know, he's, he's Kirk Cousins, he's never gonna get us over the hump like we can't be married to him, we need to just, you know, cut bait. Now, there's still going to be those fans. But I think as a whole, the fan base is warmed up this year, particularly seeing you talk a lot about the pairings of quarterbacks with head coaches, and Brian Gable. He believes in Daniel Jones and Daniel Jones seems to have a lot of confidence playing under him. So that marriage right there, I think I think fans are more excited about that than Daniel Jones in and of itself in and of himself, if that makes sense. And we'll

Mike Lewis 7:39

look at this. I mean, Doug, this is going to be a it's gonna be a really interesting offseason for Jones. I mean, the you know, the the quarterback market has become, I think it's become crazy. And it's not crazy in that it's, it's very predictable. But I don't think it has a lot of logic to it. Right? In general, it's been that if you're recognized as a legitimate quarterback, a top tennis player or top 15. If your top 15 player, someone's going to make the argument, they're gonna find a stat that says you're a top 10 guy, and then a team's going to pay you $40 million. And so if Daniel Jones continues with a playoff run, what has he looked like in the free agent market is suddenly he getting 30,000,030 $5 million a year it's almost like one of these it's almost like one of these guys that has a couple of games for the Patriots when Brady would be injured back in the day and castle. And suddenly everyone needs needs the guy. It's, he's gonna be this is going to be a great offseason for watching the quarterback marketplace.

Doug Battle 8:44

Absolutely. And I'll tell you what, Daniel Jones, I mean, he, he went salary wise, like I think he went from backup quarterback salary to legitimate starting quarterback, so maybe top 20 quarterback salary just with his performance.

Mike Lewis 8:58

He went from Mitch Trubisky. Right to Kirk Cousins.

Doug Battle 9:03

Right? Okay, perhaps and during the regular season, but winning a playoff game. You know, I think that could be a little bit overvalued because it's a team effort. But with that said Daniel Jones. I mean, he played a huge role. He really cared the team yesterday, and winning a playoff game I think solidifies in people's minds. Okay, he's legit like that legitimizes I remember if Lamar Jackson for the longest time, he would do great in the in the regular season. And then he would go and lose in the first round the playoffs and people would act like the regular seasons of Fluke like those games don't count. These are the games that count and he doesn't have it. He doesn't have that gene. You know, LeBron James for the longest time losing in the finals, you know, until he finally won one. There was this perception that he doesn't have it now that Daniel Jones is one just one playoff game. It's like people have legitimized him. I've heard people say he's a top 10 quarterback this week and again, overreactions happen all the time in the NFL, very well, maybe that, but nonetheless, we're looking at perception here. And right now that's the perception if And somehow, I mean, the Giants haven't won very many divisional games, and Daniel Jones has tenure, and they've got the Eagles Next, if they're able to beat the Philadelphia Eagles who, you know, are highly favored in the NFC,

Mike Lewis 10:13

eagles games this year. Yeah.

Doug Battle 10:16

Daniel Jones is his value, his value is gonna skyrocket. And

Mike Lewis 10:22

it's hard to beat a team three times in one year, right? I mean, that's right.

Doug Battle 10:24

And but for for Daniel Jones, I don't know if there's ever been a single game where a player could increase their value going into a contract year more than this game, like, if he loses, he'll be fine. You know, he's still doing a lot better than he would have done last year. But if he if they win that game, if the Giants win two playoff games, including the Vikings, and the Eagles, two teams that were pretty dominant in the NFC, throughout the season this year, you know, his value is going to skyrocket. And I think that, you know, will probably be, I don't know, it's gonna drive up the whole market. And so we'll, we'll see what happens. But I think as like Daniel Jones being, you know, Daniel Jones, being a free agent probably doesn't help Lamar Jackson, in his case, because I do think teams look and see a younger guy, who's, you know, thought of as a more traditional quarterback in terms of like his longevity in the league. He hasn't had the injury issues. And he's when he playoff games are won a playoff game and so early in his career, and so I think that, you know, we've talked about Lamar Jackson all year long, and how he's been driving up his value and setting you know, positioning himself, I got some eye positioning himself for a record deal. But, you know, this this whole Daniel Jones evolution might might be a problem.

Mike Lewis 11:41

I don't know, you know, it's erase some good points. And it really will be interesting, because, you know, of course, if he comes out next weekend throws four interceptions. And the Giants get bounced from the playoffs, it's going to back down, but if he's, if he's competitive, he throws for 300 yards, coupled to three touchdowns, if it's competitive, even if he doesn't win. You know, we haven't had the situation of truly these UF A's on the quarterback market. It's always been it's always been locked up. You mentioned, you know, Lamar Jackson. Lamar Jackson is a funny one. And look, I don't know where to sort of, I don't know, sort of the logical progression for talking about the quarterbacks in the playoffs or surrounding the playoffs. I mean, you raise the right issues when you're talking about Lamar Jackson. And when you start to run the numbers, Jackson's a funny one. And it's almost like there's there needs to be an additional analytic meet him. I'm not I'm not advocating that I create it. But an expected number of games played per year. Right. And so I think Lamar Jackson missed what the last five, six games of the season. You know, he his contract negotiating style has been really kind of fascinating, in terms of, you know, representing himself, not signing the awkward extension, not showing up to the Ravens playoff game, I think was a really bad look. But I can't remember a offseason where you've got sort of multiple potential. And again, this is the funny thing, top 20 quarterbacks top 10, quarterbacks, top 15 quarterbacks. I'll give you one, you know, because you mentioned that some people are talking about Daniel Jones being a top 10 quarterback. I've started to look at some of the numbers from this year. You know, who might be a top 10 quarterback? This kid down in Jacksonville, Trevor Lawrence. When you look at the numbers throughout the season, you look at what he threw the yardage he threw for the touchdown to interception ratio. All his numbers got better from year one to year two. And if history holds, you know that that two two year three year jump is tends to be a big one. Trevor Lawrence. And again, little bit of hero ball there two disasters first half epic second half.

Doug Battle 14:10

Yeah, you know, I mentioned earlier overreactions? That first half some of the stuff that was flying out there on Twitter, I saw that this is a worse playoff performance than TCU that, you know, Trevor Lawrence, you know, we jumped the gun on Trevor Lawrence being better than Zach Wilson or whatever, you know, people were just throwing him under the bus. And I thought he, you know, I was really impressed the way he handled it. He was kind of making light of it after the game, you know, almost set a record and the first step for interceptions thrown or might have set a record but you know, hung in there and kept chopping and, you know, got the win. I you know, watching him this year, I had a chance to see him in person this year. And I was like, what happened? You know, when did this happen? When did he become he looks like the veteran and a lot of the games I've watched and, you know, throwing the interceptions is you That's a young guy mistake. Like he looks like a rookie sometimes when he's throwing those picks, but having the composure to keep playing and keep fighting and lead his team to come back under that kind of adversity under that kind of scrutiny goes to show the caliber of leader that Trevor Lawrence is, and I think those intangibles are part, you know, a small part of why people are so excited about him coming into the league. And so I think, you know, I'm going to take a flyer on him and fantasy next year, if I can, I think he's maybe not had the first two years that Justin Herbert did, but he might have a better three and four year than Herbert did. And so I mean, he's on he's on trajectory to, you know, to really do some special, it seems, and it seems like Doug Peterson, and here good coach player match, which might be all the difference. And you've mentioned this a million times, it seems like finding the right marriage between a coach and a quarterback seems to be the magic in the NFL.

Mike Lewis 15:52

Well, and to be honest with you, I'm not even, you know, maybe it is a marriage. I mean, you're almost giving me a little more credit than I deserve. Part of my thinking has always been that it is the kind of the coach right that the coach is the key. But you know, the the coach quarterback, marriage was gonna word as Annie, you know, that that might actually be the way to look at this. But again, boy, if you're, again, if you're interested in sports analytics, and you want to do quarterback analytics. Now, we're talking about marriages between coaches and quarterbacks. You know, it is, again, highlights just how murky, all this stuff get.

Doug Battle 16:28

Yeah. Can we can I? Can I talk for a second about, you mentioned players in their longevity in a season or how many games they play? I think that, you know, I think you're tapping into something that is not really often analyzed in the NFL. People will say things like injury concern during the draft, if a player drops, a Justin fields, for example, dropped and people were saying, well, he's got some medical issues, and he's got some, but there's no tangible number to identify, you know, how valuable that is? Or is not how much it might cost your team. When I think you know, going back to my giants fandom, Eli Manning, if you look at his statistics for his career, Hall of Fame, numbers, Hall of Fame yards, I mean, he's, he's top 10 in so many categories. It's ridiculous. For a guy that largely during his career, was kind of the butt of all jokes. People made fun of Eli, he threw a lot of interceptions he, you know, he breathed with his mouth open a lot. And so he became a lot of memes. I get paired compared to looking like Eli, sometimes I did yesterday, people always say look like a Giants quarterback, either Daniel Jones, or Eli get compared to all the time. I don't really, I don't know. But I have a jersey, though, for Eli. But all that to say is that Eli, you know, for his career, he put up top 10 quarterback numbers, by a lot of metrics. And yet he was the butt of all jokes while he was playing. It's because he didn't miss any games he played for like, I don't know, 13 years without missing a game, something along those lines. He it's not because he was just tough, you didn't get injured, he didn't get injured. And when he had injuries, they were minor. And he was tough. And so and that's valuable. And he won two Super Bowls. You know, he wasn't missing playoff games, not to use injury against Lamar Jackson, but just to say when you're evaluating a free agent like that, and like how many games are they really going to play? I know in the NBA, like Anthony Davis pairing up with LeBron was the biggest deal in the world. But the problem is, if any Davis is never available for important games, and he hasn't been over the years, the one year he was they won the NBA Finals. But since then, you know, it's it's you can never count on him to be available. And that would be my concern with a guy like Lamar Jackson. But I do think that's something where, you know, it's probably undervalued right now. And I think that there's an opportunity for the sports analysts out there to find their their Moneyball metric.

Mike Lewis 18:52

Well, it's almost like you need to two metrics, right? So the the metric I've been playing around with is this contribution of quarterback wins by you probably have to multiply that by the expected number of games. So you know, I pulled up, I pulled up Lamar Jackson and as a rookie, 16 games and 15 games, 15 games, then 12 games and 12 games. So you know, missed four games, and then Miss five games. You know, I mean, look, this is always gonna be the problem in sports. Like, it's very easy to look at that data and go, Wow, there's a there's a clear trend. And then the counter argument is very quick. Well, this is really just a small sample size. Yeah, too. But, you know, I suspect if you ask people just kind of gut feel people around sports don't even have to be around NFL. Is Lamar Jackson going to have increasing injuries as the career goes on. I think the answer is going to be unambiguously Yes. Right? I mean, he's taking a you know, he's gonna take a ton of hits. He's just the the nature of the way he plays and so He's not going to get healthier, right? And so if you're looking at a guy that is going to play three quarters, I mean, so let's say he's a plus, he's a plus three quarterback, but he's only gonna play two thirds of the season on average, then certainly he's a plus two quarterback. And then you got to have a backup built into

Doug Battle 20:18

that. Right. And we saw that with Deshaun. Watson this year, the, and obviously, the Browns were viewing

Mike Lewis 20:24

him as the one I missed on.

Doug Battle 20:28

Browns reviewing him, as I don't know, plus four plus five win kind of quarterback. But we were saying at the beginning, the question with Deshaun Watson isn't whether he's a good football player or not, it's if he's going to be on the field. And so, seeing that, you know, he's a difference in four wins in a season, but he only plays in four games. And then you know, that's he's not gonna be the difference in four wins and four games, that's over 16 game periods. So I think that adds a variable in sports that often gets overlooked. But on the flip side, I can see how it's tough to weigh it into decision making when you've got guys like Frank Gore, for example, tore his ACL twice at Miami, in college, and had maybe the longest NFL career of running back, definitely the most productive, like post 30. Like pass being the age of 30 career. And there's guys like that, where, you know, sometimes injuries are just Fluke things, ACLs noncontact, tears, and guys come back. And they're, they never get hurt again, or they're tough as nails and they're built like a tank and think Frank Gore is the perfect example for that. But if someone's like Lamar Jackson, you do get the feeling that he's going to keep getting hurt. But again, like Flipside again, and going back to basketball, Stephon curry, early in his basketball career, I remember thinking, he's a great shooter. And he's a great player, but he can never stay healthy. He's never going to be healthy enough to have an all time great type career, he had ankle problems he had, you know, it was always lower body. And it was like every game and he was missing every other game, or he's missing weeks at a time. And he would go score 50 points, but then he would be out for three weeks with a high ankle sprain. And that was early in his career, and it was kind of like looking at it, you're thinking he's not going to get healthier, he's not going to become less inclined to sprained his ankle as you get, you know, as he gets into his 30s. But he's had a very healthy later half of his career, and obviously an all time great type career. And so it is hard to predict these injuries.

Mike Lewis 22:28

Yeah, and but, you know, this is kind of a good kind of conversation point for the role of analytics and sports because it's so easy to sort of fall play to biases on both sides of this equation. Right. And so, you have this, you know, let's call it a stereotype. You know, so the, the running quarterback, well, these guys always kind of break down quickly, and they're, they deteriorate. But I think there's also this danger on the other side that you know, people get, they get fixated on the heroic performances. It's like, well, Lamar Jackson, he's this guy's pretty much Superman. Right? And in the Baltimore community, he Lamar Jackson is probably the biggest star in Baltimore sports, right? I can't think of who else is probably the might be the whole DC metro area at this point. Ray Lewis Yeah. And so then you've got this other kind of the fans love this guy, you know, these kinds of forces pushing you to pushing you to make the mistake, it's almost like the analytics are trying to, they're trying to save you, I think on some of these things, right? It's like, you just can't, there's always gonna be this tendency to look at the human side, because it's a person person, you might like a person who's had these great performances, you know, really important to the fan base. But yeah, but it's just LA, like, if I'm reading the numbers, and I'm looking at this and I look at a, you know, frankly, and again, we'll talk a lot about quarterbacks in the offseason. But you know, if Daniel Jones ends up being a, let's say, a plus two quarterback, and, or more realistically, let's say Jones ends up being a plus one and a half quarterback, and Jackson ends up being a plus two quarterback. And then I look at this and go, well, Jackson is only going to play three quarters of the games for the most part. And in general, he's probably going to be hurt more often at the end of the season than at the beginning of the season. And Daniel Jones might be a guy that I could get for 10 or $15 million less. I could very easily see that if you started to put the numbers together that Daniel Jones would be the guy to pursue?

Doug Battle 24:43

Absolutely. And I would imagine the Giants front office is starting to get a little bit nervous about that. And you know, the price that might be driven up by other teams, seeing the value in Daniel Jones and starting to bid for him and so It will be a very interesting offseason in the NFL, not just in free agency with Lamar Jackson and with Daniel Jones and the rest of the free agents, but also in the draft. We've got CJ Stroud recently declared Bryce young projected by many to go number one overall. And yet the team with the number one overall pick the Chicago Bears. They have their guy right, right. Do that.

Mike Lewis 25:28

Yeah, in love that is a great, I think that's a great conversation that reveals how fans probably don't most fans don't truly think about the realities of NFL contracts. I saw the I forget who was it was one of the ESPN talking heads I think the former front office guy put that out there the the idea that the bears should trade Justin fields for a number one and a number three, then draft Bryce Young from Alabama. And essentially Reese reset it with maybe a higher and again, this is where it gets interesting, right? And Doug, you tell me if I'm you feel free to react to this, a potentially higher level passer ease in Bryce young, a better prospect. But I think the thing that's overlooked is two more years of cost control. And you look at these contracts, and these guys are making, you know, 3 million, 4 million, 5 million blah, blah, blah. And then a bumped up to 40 million. So a couple of years at a cost controlled quarterback is is an incredibly valuable thing. Now the fan reaction, the stuff I've seen on Twitter, and Instagram says No way, this guy, guy, you got to know invest around him. He's at the worst receivers. It's always this litany of things. But Doug, the thing that I haven't seen anyone address what is love? What is fields actual trade value in the NFL? Are there general managers that are going to give up a number one in a number three for Justin fields?

Doug Battle 27:06

It's funny, you asked that because I know almost for a fact two years ago when he was in the draft, certainly there were teams that would give up at first round pick and a third round pick. For Justin fields franchise quarterback, you know, it's like when these guys are completely green, they are more valuable than they are once they've got their worst two years behind them and are now probably entering their prime. Because now there's bad tape on Justin fields. And we've seen the mistakes that he can make. And we've seen him not be successful, just like we did with Trevor Lawrence his first year and any of these young quarterbacks and so with the exception of like Justin Herbert, for example, who just lit it up from day one. And so it's like, you know, to me there's I almost feel like with Bryce young vers Justin fields, if you took both of them as prospects coming into the NFL at the same time, I would think they would be valued pretty equally. But feels been two years older. And now it's like, okay, he wasn't he's not Tom Brady yet. And there's, it's up for debate. And with Bryce young, it's like, we haven't seen him do anything bad ever. He's just awesome. at Alabama. He's got the best receivers the best line, you know, competitions, always inferior, just like Fields was at Ohio State.

Mike Lewis 28:20

Oh, hold on. It's inferior, except for one game a year if they play Georgia. And then No, seriously, then it's a game that Bryce young ever plays where the talent level is equal to Georgia.

Doug Battle 28:33

Yeah, right. Yeah. And so you know, I just feel like with fields, I don't know, I don't know if I'd rather have fields or Bryce young. And I think it's a tough decision for that front office. Because you're right on the financial side, it's like, we could probably get a quarterback who's just as good, who's going to be is going to cost us a lot less these next three years. And, you know, we can also get another draft pick, and get a great receiver for them. And we'd rather have a great quarterback and a great receiver than just a quarterback who might become great.

Mike Lewis 29:06

A couple of stats on fields. And again, analytics are proud maybe the theme for today is analytics is not what tells you what to do. It's what saves you from doing what you shouldn't you know, maybe that I don't know how to get a phrase that more succinct, succinct link that is like analytics just causes you not to essentially f up badly so you know, fields had it was really those two games, right? So it was against was a Miami and Detroit where he gained 178 on the ground and then 147 on the ground. That people are like, wow, superstar, right?

Doug Battle 29:46

Yeah. Look, you watched it and you're like, is that Cam Newton on a stock form? Right. But yeah. Right. Future MVP of the league. Yeah. But

Mike Lewis 29:56

he also threw for more than two 100 yards, eyeballing this twice last year.

Doug Battle 30:11

And that's a second coach.

Mike Lewis 30:12

I think that's three times last year he threw for more than 200 yards. But again, 200 yards. Yeah.

Doug Battle 30:18

That's pretty dismal. And today's NFL where Daniel Jones get 300 yards casually?

Mike Lewis 30:25

Yeah, it's there the evidence for the Bears fans, and I've had this discussion with some Bears fans in my family. They are all convinced. And they're convinced that you know, again, bad offensive line, bad receivers, bad running backs, coach.

Doug Battle 30:39

Yeah, I always hear it's like, well, you don't have the right play card, but then they switch it. And they have the same problem.

Mike Lewis 30:44

But there's no evidence. And again, maybe this is the this is gonna sound tough, but there's no evidence out there that he's an NFL quality passer. And I mean, I can almost hear the Bears fans saying, you know, I, again, professor doesn't know what he's talking about, blah, blah. But all I'm saying is, again, the analytics can potentially save you something, there's no evidence that he can pass at a high level, maybe he can, you know, time Time will tell. You know, they like they traded for clay pool from Pittsburgh, you know, for a second round pick clay pools in a nice receiver didn't make a connection with fields. You know, maybe they can draft some other guys around them. But as an NFL General Manager with essentially two years left on the rookie deal before you just have to start paying the guy $20 million a year, you're gonna give up a number one and a number three, or something along those lines for a guy that passed for 200 More than 200 yards to three times last year, and led his team to a I don't know, a three win season,

Doug Battle 31:48

in a market where you can sign Daniel Jones or Lamar Jackson and free agency? Yeah, that's tough. So I think it'll be interesting to see what his trade value is. Because if it's a second and a third instead of a first and a third, I don't know. I mean, that's, that's a significantly different scenario for the bears. I think if the bears could get a first and a third for Justin fields, and start over with Bryce young or CJ Stroud, and use that third pick to help build the offensive line or receiving Corps, I think you do it because it's because it's fields as a guy with a lot of potential, who we're not sure if he's a long term fix at quarterback, so as Bryce young, but Bryce Young is going to be cheaper, you're going to have them on a cheaper contract for longer, and you're going to get a bonus player with it, where you can get another starter potentially for your team. And so if you're looking at that, you know, I think if it's the first in the third, I think they do it but like you said, is a first and a third feasible for fields at this point in his career. We've seen you know, kind of the opposite situation would be like Josh Rosen, two years in getting traded for. I don't know, I don't remember what round picks certainly not as high of a pick as what he was drafted at. And sometimes these teams just cut their losses on those players, especially particularly quarterbacks.

Mike Lewis 33:08

The Arizona Cardinals are continually cutting losses, it seems.

Doug Battle 33:14

But yeah, I don't know what fields it's worth. It'll be I do know this. And this is just me echoing things you've said a million times. With Justin fields, it's not going to just be a boring story, and there's gonna be some drama. There's gonna be it's just, I don't know that it's who he is. But it's what surrounds him constantly. And it seems as though you know, why not train them to the Green Bay Packers and replace Aeron chairs like something crazy, I don't know. It's, it's Justin fields, it's not going to he's not going to just quietly have a good NFL career, it's gonna there's gonna be fun drama,

Mike Lewis 33:48

the criticism of the field are and again, I've been talking about this for years now, for some reason that the criticisms of field are very there, it's almost like people hesitate. They almost always start off by saying great player, great player, and then throw out a couple like the stats I threw out about not throwing for more than, you know, 200 yards or you know, getting sacked constantly. Yeah, it's absolutely fascinating to watch you know, that media darling. And again, you know, then those two those two get those two games were rushed for a, you know, over 100 yards and 178 yards, I think and one of those games, man that cemented his status as this kind of legendary media figure. But again, I don't know that there's any I don't know that the NFL professionals are anywhere near as in love with Justin fields. Then the fans in the media are if I'm a Chicago Bears General Manager or coach. I might like the kids talent, but I might also be going this guy's would get me fired. It's just you know, they're getting rid of maybe for him.

Doug Battle 34:51

Yeah, it's, I don't know. I don't know. We'll see what happens but it it is a precarious situation in Chicago. number one pick, hey, why not just get Bryce young and compete with Justin fields? Justin fields? He does great and quarterback battles.

Mike Lewis 35:09

Like it just, you know, a couple of guys. And you know, it's very well, people. People would say that's a ridiculous idea. But the Chicago Bears would still probably have one of the, one of the cheapest quarterback rooms in the NFL conference. Yeah, they're

Doug Battle 35:24

paying less than, than the, than the saints are paying for Taysom Hill. So and you got you got two potential, hey, you could do a two quarterback system where they're both out there at the same time really innovating and changing the game out there. So I don't know. But with fields, like I said, I just can't imagine it being

Mike Lewis 35:44

you know what's remarkable and all this. The Georgia coaching staff has obviously they know what they've won, you know, what, what are they at 29 for the last 30 games or something? Yeah. They know how to run a program. But can you imagine the havoc that Justin fields would have caused in college football if they had turned him loose as a running quarterback? Yeah. I mean, that might have been something for the ages.

Doug Battle 36:15

Georgia, Georgia fans, I think they've let go of that. Now, but for like until Georgia won a national championship. There was always that we would have been absolutely dominant had we kept fields because he was dominant as a pastor. People forget what a great pastor he was in college. Like he was threading the needle. I remember that game against I think it was Clemson he was getting crushed every play. But he played his heart out. That's when he kind of won me over as like an NFL prospect. But I mean, Justin field set loose. I think if Georgia had had the coordinator that they have now on offense, it would have happened they had a very conservative mindset offensively. And with the coaching change came a you know, kind of a more gunslinger mentality and, you know, use that the strengths of all your players, including running the football with the quarterback. So I think with the right staff, it would have happened and if he had been there later, but at the time, he probably made the best move for himself, given his strengths and given what Georgia was trying to do with him. And I think a lot of Georgia people understand that they just sort of wish it hadn't. I wish it had been different because that he would have I mean, he would have won the Heisman he would have won national championships, it would have been something to see and, you know, as much as Georgia is gonna regret letting him go. I always think about Ohio State and passing on burrow, letting him walk so that they could have CJ, not CJ Stroud, Dwayne Haskins. And then later, Justin fields, neither of whom won a national championship while burrow won his at LSU and put up one of the best seasons in college football history. So it's, I don't know, everybody kind of lost something in those trades is

Mike Lewis 37:52

quarterback evaluation seems to be, you know, seems to be a real challenge. A lot of the A lot of times I mean, and you know, we go through every year, when you look back on drafts, you see that it is absolutely fascinating where some of these guys were you look at and go, How did you miss them that right? And yeah, Joe burrow. You know, who, you know, maybe the swagger was too much in the locker room. Maybe the coach didn't want to have part of that. But it's kind of it's truly, it's truly remarkable. Because Doug, I'll be honest with you, as the playoffs keep going. Makes me happy that Jerry, Joe burrow was there. Oh, yeah. And I'm rooting for the Bengals. Because I want him back on the microphone. And those press conferences, I want him center stage. And it's

Doug Battle 38:38

already reminding me of Brady in the sense that like they're playing the Ravens this last week, and the Ravens had a shot technically to win even at the end of the game. But it's like, it's Joe burrow like he's gonna shake hands at the end of the game as the winner that's just what's gonna happen. And that's how, that's how the story ends. We just have to we're gonna watch and see what happens before that. But we already know how it ends in a game like that against a young quarterback who doesn't have any playoff experience. And so and I you know, I would have felt the same way if it was against Lamar Jackson to be frank even though I think a lot of people watch that game and would say, Florida played if the Ravens win that ballgame, but it's still Bursley he was gonna win he was gonna find a way against and now who's he got next you have Josh Allen and the bills I think, which is gonna be must watch TV for anyone who's ever liked football to any extent, two great young quarterbacks to relatively young teams that are have been on the rise over the last few years that feels like an AFC Championship.

Mike Lewis 39:38

But those narratives change so rapidly, right? I mean, I almost feel like the takeaway from the bills game was that yeah, Josh Allen is a great quarterback but he gets a little AMC in the playoffs and starts throwing some interceptions. Okay. And you know, sort of the foolishness of this in terms of right, how quickly the the storyline spread for essentially next day sports center right,

Doug Battle 39:59

my my take away from watching burrow in the Bengals is that that offensive line is still not there. And he is, every time I watch him and have watched him in the NFL. I'm just like, hoping he gets up every play because he takes so many hits. And of course, he tore his ACL year one has stayed healthy since then somehow, but man, he is not have the best offensive line situation. I know the Bengals did a lot to try to improve it over the offseason didn't work very well. And I think that's going to be what handicaps the Bengals moving forward. But last year, they made it to the Super Bowl with a bad offensive line, as did the Chiefs the year before. So

Mike Lewis 40:36

any other I mean, you know, as we go into the playoffs, the narratives will the storylines will start to really kind of solidify and in the drama will build naturally like and, and like I said All we can hope for you know, I'm sorry. And again, this is this is a little bit of a fanboy kind of hope, man, I root for burrow over Patrick mahomes. And you know, in some ways, it's like, and like we're taping this on Monday before the final game of the wildcard weekend, which is Tom Brady and the Buccaneers versus Dak Prescott in the Cowboys. The boys are talking about narratives that just kind of write them so we could almost take two minutes on either direction in terms of how that goes. But we won't speculate any other quarterbacks you want to talk about. I mean, tua is an interesting one. Aaron Rodgers another interesting one, I mean, it's always this compelling these compelling dramas.

Doug Battle 41:38

Yeah, with two. I am actually concerned for two when I played football, I'm pretty sure they told us like if you have three concussions, you're done. Like no more football for you. That's one too many. And I'm pretty sure he said that many this year. I could be wrong. But I swear I've seen too I have like eight concussions in his career between college and the NFL. He that is an injury prone dude and was coming into the league. I thought he was gonna have a RG three like career where he would light it up when he was healthy, but not say healthy long enough. He he stays healthy for longer stints than I thought he would. But

Mike Lewis 42:08

can we can we highlight one of those words at the first of the second concussion? When he had spasms on the field and the fingers were doing the weird thing. It's scary. Maybe it was three concussions, but it seems like it was more than three concussions. That one was very, I

Doug Battle 42:24

think the year after I mean, of course, the Damar Hamlin injury was not a head injury. But that kind of situation just I look at a guy like to who's the seems like a great kid, obviously a great competitor. And you know, you just hope you just hope he stays healthy. And that is you know, he's able to avoid some of the serious repercussions that can come from playing this game at this level. And you know, I gotta say, I think a lot of

Mike Lewis 42:50

fun if you're Miami. Are you thinking about Daniel Jones and Lamar Jackson? I'd rather have DJ, this is a this is a cold business on some level. Right. And you know, who was the starting quarterback for the San Francisco 40 Niners at the beginning of the year?

Doug Battle 43:07

Yeah, that's right, Lance.

Mike Lewis 43:09

You know, these heroes, these kinds of Legends rapidly fade from memory when you know when that league is when that league is brutal sport and when the league is done with it. So who would you say you would go with if you if you're Miami to

Doug Battle 43:22

us? No, I said, I'll go with DJ Daniel Jones, just just because of not because he has a higher, you know, he's going to play better on any given Sunday, more so that I feel like it's better chance we'll be playing in five years, too. I just really am concerned that, you know, like, if I were his family, I would I would talk to him and maybe consider retiring because of you know, an Andrew Luck did I know that sounds far fetched Andrew Luck did it. And you know, this last week, I was gonna say I think Lamar Jackson took a lot of criticism for not playing because of his injury. And I think that it's easy to put a story together and you can see how you know, he doesn't want to ruin his payday. He's about to get it you know, he don't want to risk injury in that last game. And, and, and RG three came out and tweeted like, he did the right thing for himself. And I wish I had done that I was such a competitor. And I didn't have people around me telling me hey, like, think about what's best for your long term. You don't want to ruin your career over this one game even if it is in the playoffs. And so RG three came out and supported him on Twitter. I remember watching that Arthur RG three game and just thinking take them out of the game, please take them out before he gets hurt worse. And then it happened and that was his whole career and what to it's like almost every time I watched him I feel that same way. And so he's he's a guy that you just want to see him stay healthy and and, you know, not taking any more shots to the head. But I also wonder like scientifically, it seemed beyond the point of where you're supposed to hang it up as far as concussions specifically and I don't know I don't know if that was just a number they threw out at us as kids like oh, if you get that third one If that's just totally arbitrary if there's any, but I mean, I know it kind of be good for you to continually take the kind of shots and have the kind of injuries he's had.

Mike Lewis 45:08

Yeah, I mean, when you think back on this season, those might be the two, the two incidents that I will remember going forward, the Hamlin I'll never forget that injury. I mean, I don't I don't know what you'd call that. Yeah, Hamlin

Doug Battle 45:25

injury recitation field, and the two

Mike Lewis 45:29

concussion with the spasms going on. It's, you know, that might be the thing that's most remember from this NFL season? And that's a tough thing for the NFL. But yeah, and it's,

Doug Battle 45:41

I think it's scary for the players. I think that, you know, I think but for you're talking about the NFL, they've got to find a solution that that is safer for these players, because it I mean, they were, they were so close to some to the worst thing imaginable happening. And it feels it feels I hate to say it, but it feels inevitable, it feels as though it's a matter of time, the way things are trending the way they play, I know they've made some rule changes as far as when they throw flags or whatnot, to try to protect players, but it's inevitable there are collisions on the field, and things are happening. And and it's just like, at some point, you know, if technology doesn't develop, whether it's the helmet technology, or, or whatnot, you know, the NFL has got to be thinking about that and think about the long term future of the sport, as well as its fandom and fan base and the ethical side of what they're doing. Because I think I've heard, you know, you and I both heard criticisms of, we've got rich people, using these athletes to get richer, at their own at the athletes expense as far as their livelihood, you know, their ability to live healthily as far as CTE or an injury like Damar, Hamlins, or something of that nature. And I think that that's, I mean, the NFL has got to consider that how that's perceived and what the right thing to do is and how, I mean, I wouldn't want to be the one making those decisions. I'll say that,

Mike Lewis 47:06

and I don't think there's any solution is the problem, right? I mean, right. I mean, obviously, you know, it's a continuing story that youth participation in football drops every year, you know, obviously, I've looked at, you know, I spent a lot of time looking at youth fandom, and, you know, sports fandom is cratering among, amongst the youth. I don't know what the answer is, though, because I like I'm old enough to sort of have a little bit of a different perspective on it in that, you know, I remember Darrell Stingley, the the Patriots wide receiver in the 70s, who ended up paralyzed by was one of the one of the Oakland Raiders players that, you know, we've had all this these movements to protect the quarterbacks to, you know, eliminate targeting and spearing. I don't know that it makes any difference, right? I mean, the game is just so inherently violent. Players are so unlucky. It's one of these paradoxes, right? That the more safety equipment you put on people, the more reckless they're going to behave. And the more dangerous becomes

Doug Battle 48:16

it's for rugby fans will look at it and they'll say, just don't wear pads. That's the that's the key, because guys aren't going to start hitting, they're not going to be hitting themselves in the head. If they're not wearing pads and in football, then I think you're ready to,

Mike Lewis 48:29

I mean, it's literally everything right? I'm not going to hit you with my shoulder in the same way, it's gonna be more of wrapping people up. Yeah,

Doug Battle 48:36

I think you raise a good point about just the inherent violence of the sport. I remember playing football, and kind of looking at targeting now. And it's an interesting rule to me, because they'll throw a flag if there's an isolated incident of helmet to helmet somewhere in open field. If it's a quarterback in a defensive end, if it's a receiver and a safety, there's helmet to helmet contact by at least 10 players on the field, every single play. If you're if you're alignment, you're going head on into somebody, there's a fullback come in your defensive end, you come off, you're getting smacked in the head. I mean, it is it has constant helmet to helmet contact for most of the players on the field. And it's only when it's an open field, that it's a penalty or when it's viewed as dangerous. But you know, obviously with some of the science in recent years that have raised concerns, I think with a lot of parents not wanting their kids to play football part of the lack of or the drop out in interest. You know, there's, there's so much of it all over the field. It's like how are you going to keep all of that from happening in this day, the same spores, they're gonna become flag football today. I know in practice, they were those like, kind of gloves over their helmets that have little pads on them like are they gonna are they gonna start wearing those for the actual games? I don't know. I don't know what they do. I don't have a recommendation. I just simply make an observation that you know it. It's kind of the the elephant in the room I think for the NFL with Like with Damar Hamlin situation with to a tongue of ILO, a situation with when those are the two things that come to your mind when you think of the 2022 NFL season. The NFL, they've got, you know, they've got a lot of pressure as far as player safety is concerned, and they've got to find some solutions, or they're just always going to be the center of controversy, which is not where they want to be.

Mike Lewis 50:21

Or a guy like Trey Lance. I mean, it's, it's always remarkable how quickly fans forget how quickly you forget about a player. I mean, it's the very rare player that isn't almost immediately forgotten when they're carted off in an injury if they never come back again. Yeah, I

Doug Battle 50:39

think I think Brock party has kind of stolen if Trey Lance were having the career slash postseason that Brock party has had he would be on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week. You know, he'd be the talk of the town, particularly in San Francisco they'd be so fired up about him and Brock party. I have the feeling of course this is going to Aaron tomorrow so if if Brady loses tonight I'll look like an idiot but whatever you've got to you got to do that sometimes. I've got a feeling we're gonna see Brady versus party and the storyline is going to be you know, could he be the next Brady Could he be the next late drafted quarterback overlooked his whole life who becomes a star once he's at the highest level and going up against the guy who is that and has been that and has been that you know, has been the greatest. I see that being the storyline the stories always right themselves in the NFL, it'll, it'll be you know, there's always a great story no matter what happens whether it's the Cowboys or the Bucs tonight, but Tom Brady seven and o against the Bucs I mean against the boys and cowboys haven't had the best playoff record in my lifetime. So I'm predicting the Brock Purdy versus Tom Brady and and Brock Purdy kind of being a bigger storyline moving forward but man we talked about offseason, quarterbacks free agency. What a situation in San Francisco where you're gonna have Trey Lance, hopefully coming back from an injury. Brock Purdy coming off at least one playoff when Jimmy Garoppolo coming off of a playoff leading he led the team in the playoffs and the season inherited a tough situation and you know a year where he was supposed to leave already and lead them pretty far and Brock parties picked up where he left off and everyone forgot about Jimmy G again what's tends to happen with him

Mike Lewis 52:30

okay, I don't know exactly what I don't know how legitimate any of this is as you're talking about that I just typed in Trey Lance and the top story that came up 40 Niners interested in signing Tom Brady commanders trade trade lands. So I you know, I'm not gonna get into the validity or seriousness of any of that. But every year the NFL wins right wins. And you just sort of go through the you go through the sort of quickly go through a lot of these narratives already and they're gonna just gonna give increase as the playoff goes on. Is Aaron Rodgers so mad at the Packers that they need to move him despite also owing him $58 million you know, are we good? Are they going to trade Justin fields is to a tag elope is to again I always use the lead you say the last name is to yes to a gun to retire it's and you're right that San Francisco. That's an amazing quarterback room to see how this shakes out right that you know, it is almost like I want to make a prediction that their quarterback starting opening day next year will be Jimmy G.

Doug Battle 53:43

I kind of see Jimmy G for like the dolphins or something. Also what happens with Baker Mayfield dude came in the rams are already done for the year and came in and played lights out and put on a show for everyone and reminded everyone why they want to overvalued him. And I think he's on contract there. But I'd imagine he's got some trade value for the rams and a league where there's probably not 30 quarterbacks better than him and a lot of teams looking for a starter. That's another interesting situation. But it really I mean, there's there's almost infinite quarterback stories you go across the league right now and particularly this time of year where the good ones are in the playoffs. And the bad ones are the ones that haven't been successful. You're figuring out where they're going to be moving on to or who they're going to be competing with. So the NFL, they don't have to I saw thing after there was a conspiracy theory after the Jaguars win, that it was scripted because Trevor Lawrence and his press are not in on his on field interview. He said you couldn't have written a better script and some fans of the opposing team took that and said the NFL wrote a script. And it was the perfect script. And that's what he's saying is that the NFL wrote the perfect script. But I mean, the bottom line is they don't have Have to script anything they want to need to. Because no matter what happens, it ends up being a great story. I think that the college football playoff marketing this year was pretty smart doing like the greatest story ever told, and having a storybook for their opening and you're seeing these games and you're seeing and then they're turning what's going to happen in the next chapter is like we don't know. It's a story we're watching in real time. And of course, that ties back to your J. Busby podcast, which I highly recommend for those of you interested in storytelling and analytics, but but the NFL, it's it's real time stories. They don't have to script.

Mike Lewis 55:34

No, I mean, they've said, and again, that's the beauty of how they've set things up, right? They've designed it, or evolved to be something where the stories just come out in a beautiful fashion. Okay, Doug, I'm looking at the clock. So we will obviously be talking more about the NFL quarterbacks in the playoffs over the next few weeks leading into the Super Bowl. In terms of pop culture, you gotta be excited. The Mandalorian trailer is dropping night during the movie I'm dropping yesterday you excited?

Doug Battle 56:09

Yeah, man, I any any new Star Wars. Like, it's kind of funny because they've let me down over and over and over and over and over again with Disney. And I can't help it like I I haven't had a Disney subscription since and or, but I saw the the animated show Bad Batch as a new season. And I couldn't help myself, I got that subscription. I started watching it because it's like I have FOMO when it comes to that whole universe. And I think a lot of fans are this way. And I think people like Marvel and Star Wars and these huge properties, monetize that very well, where they're just constantly putting out stuff and you feel like you have to watch it even if you probably aren't gonna like it. I've enjoyed Bad Batch. I always enjoy the animated side of what they're doing. But Mandalorian Of course, being the probably most successful, original thing that Disney has done with Star Wars with a third and conclusive maybe.

Mike Lewis 57:09

Yeah, I wonder if that's kind of a key point that they did something original. Right. Kind of that it didn't, you know, because, look, I'm looking forward to the Mandalorian coming out. That's I agree. I think that's been the strongest thing that Disney has done with Star Wars. Yeah. You know, in contrast, I doubt that you've watched this, you know, as watching the Scooby Doo reboot on HBO, Velma, perhaps the worst thing I've ever seen in term, and so bad. And I think you just ask yourself the question of why are they destroying someone else's intellectual property? Why, you know, why not create some new

Doug Battle 57:50

intellectual vandalism, Mike? Yeah,

Mike Lewis 57:52

no, I It's like cultural vandalism. It's just it's struction. Alex, it's a silly kind of Saturday morning cartoon. But the destruction of it, I think has been viewed as incredibly almost offensive across the board. It has the lowest ratings I've ever seen on places like Rotten Tomatoes. So

Doug Battle 58:12

I gotta I gotta rant for just a SEC, on the same subject. So it bothers me that there are stories that are good stories that have lead characters, you know, protagonists, antagonists, as well as supporting characters. And then nowadays, it's like we decided, okay, all the good stories have already been told. And all that's left is to just tell the lesser stories of those supporting actors who were never meant to be the lead, because their character doesn't have that much to them other than being a supporting character. And so it's like, let's make a movie about Han Solo. Let's make they're doing a TV show about penguin and Batman. It's like we want to see Batman. We, you know, why are we doing penguin? Why are we doing Velma instead of Shaggy and Scooby Doo and the whole group? Why are we doing like every single. I mean, of course, we've seen this with the Avengers, and it turning into everybody there's ever been a comic book about and then their sidekick gets their own movie. And then there's their special significant other gets their own show and then it and it's like we're watching these like minor minor stories in this much bigger, grand scheme of things. And it feels so minor it feels it feels like that with Lord of the Rings, TV Rings of Power, or like we've already seen the ultimate story. And this is just like, maybe one page out of like, a Appendix for the grand scheme of that story. And that's how everything is now. It's exhausting. As a consumer, when you want to you want something to feel grant I remember going to see Revenge of the Sith and feeling like this is the ultimate conclusion to this huge story are watching for the first time, the last Lord of the Rings film Return to the king and fill it feeling so ultimate. And now it's like, well, you might have thought that was cool, but remember that one elf from that movie will 30 years before that. He was in an elvish village and he was flirting with women. And that could get its own show. That would be pretty cool. I it's exhausting.

Mike Lewis 1:00:24

There's a lot of truth to what you're saying. I remember upside down. Well, they were really the hero in their own mind. It's just brutal, brutal, brutal stuff. Yeah. Let's wrap it up with Let's wrap it up there. You know, as always more competition

Doug Battle 1:00:38

vandalism. Yeah.

Mike Lewis 1:00:40 Till next time. Thanks.



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