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Do Zach Wilson and the Jets need outside help to fix their slow starts?

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Heading into their bye week at 1-4, the New York Jets and QB Zach Wilson need to find a way to fix their slow starts to NFL games and do so quickly. With the Jets yet to score a single point in the first quarter, they are finding themselves in a hole early and putting more pressure on Wilson and the offense to chase the game.

Zach Wilson has led this offense to just 13 first-half points in 2021

New York’s issues are not just limited to the first quarter — the entire first half has been a problem. Just 13 of their league-worst 67 points have come in the first 30 minutes. If we total up all their first-half performances, this is the line we are left with: 124 plays, 396 yards (3.2 yards per play), 14 punts, 1 touchdown, 2 field goals, and 6 interceptions.

There is no way to sugarcoat it — those numbers are a major problem for the Jets’ offense heading into their bye week. Only one of those interceptions has come when the Jets are trailing by more than a touchdown. Therefore, it is not as if Wilson is desperately trying to make plays chasing the game. He is just making bad decisions, as well as getting some bad luck along the way.

Against the Falcons in London, you could feel the desperation when Wilson turned the ball over. Once again shut out on two first-quarter drives and having gone down 10-0, Wilson tried to force the ball to Keelan Cole and was picked off by Jaylinn Hawkins. Fortunately, Wilson’s defense bailed him out by forcing a fumble, but it was a clear sign of frustration from the young QB.

Both Robert Saleh and Wilson acknowledged the issue in the postgame press conference

Unsurprisingly, the first-half struggles were a big feature of the postgame press conference for both Saleh and Wilson. When questioned about the play-calling in the first half, Saleh pointed towards the game situation more than the plays being called.

“There are some shots down the field, but you can only take what the defense is giving you, which leads to checkdowns which leads to the intermediate stuff.

“Credit to their defense,” Saleh said. “They play a lot of two-high, which does not warrant shots over two-high safeties. But when they got a little bit more aggressive in nine coverage, the shot allowed you more. It’s all based on what the defense is willing to give you and I thought we did a good job.

“We just couldn’t get momentum going and we couldn’t convert on some third-and-shorts, and defensively we just couldn’t get off the field. So there was no chance for anyone to get into a rhythm in the first half, and then the second half it started to pick up. Defense gets the stop and offense starts moving the ball, and too little, too late.”

Signs of encouragement for the Jets’ offense once again in the second half

Wilson also acknowledged the concerns and pointed to how the offense needs to take encouragement from what they have been doing in the second half.

“I really think it’s the way we’re starting. I don’t know what it is. We have got to figure that out over this bye week, how to fix that. I’ve got to play better at the start as well.

“It’s interesting, in the second half, right, every single game, we have looked really good and we know what we’re capable of and we were able to show it there at the end. I just think we have to get a good rhythm going, some flow. Starting three-and-out isn’t the way to do it, sitting on the sideline.”

Wilson also defended the offensive play-calling and the preparation that they are getting with the coaches.

“So I’d say that’s what we have to get better at, because we have the tools. Coaches are putting us in a good position and obviously we’re able to move the ball down the field. And it’s interesting because in those two-minute drives, I feel like confidence for everybody is higher than ever so we have to start the game that way.”

Could the Jets look outside the organization to kick-start their offense?

While Wilson defended the coaches and Saleh defended the play-calling, the Jets may need to start self-scouting their offensive coordinator. Mike LaFleur has spent time working under Kyle Shanahan since their time together in 2014.

In San Francisco, LaFleur was the passing game coordinator for four years. He was also the wide receivers coach for two seasons. However, Shanahan always retained the play-calling duties in San Francisco. Therefore, this is really LaFleur’s first exposure to making calls on the field during a game. That responsibility could be part of the problem for the first-time offensive coordinator.

The scripted plays have simply not worked. Interestingly, that is the element that LaFleur probably did have a hand in with San Francisco. However, once the Jets get deeper into the game, the flow seems to improve. The solution might be as simple as LaFleur needing to trust himself more to move away from the script earlier.

If there are concerns around LaFleur’s game management, the Jets may need to turn to an experienced offensive coach to help them. For example, we saw Gary Kubiak step into an offensive advisor role in 2019 to support Kevin Stefanski in his first year as Vikings OC.

Could the Jets turn to a somewhat familiar face to help LaFleur and Wilson?

The Jets might be wise to look at something similar themselves. The most obvious name would be Mike Shanahan. Having worked with Kyle in San Francisco, LaFleur would have plenty of concepts Mike Shanahan is familiar with.

At the age of 69, could the Jets talk Shanahan into providing some mentorship to their young OC? It would be an intriguing move to make during the season. Nonetheless, with a young QB in his first year in the NFL, New York’s front office should at least consider proposing the idea to Saleh and LaFleur.

The problems are not all on the play-caller, to be sure. Per Next Gen Stats, Wilson has the third-worst differential between expected completion rate and actual completion rate this season at 7.3%. He is making mistakes and they are costing his team.

However, that comes back to the experience of the coaching staff. Do they have a person on staff to help them develop Wilson’s skills? If not, someone with that experience could be the difference between Wilson succeeding or turning into yet another failed Jets QB prospect.



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Would the Dolphins really trade him?

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Following internet reports that the Miami Dolphins may be set to trade for Deshaun Watson, additional internet reports — or more specifically, rumors — have emerged. The second set of trade rumors revolves around current Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and his future in Miami.

Would the Dolphins really trade him, even if they made a deal for Watson? Back in September, PFN Analyst and Insider Adam Beasley reported that the Dolphins could keep both Tua and Watson on the roster. But have things changed? We’re not sure. If they have, where could Tua land if a trade was completed between the Dolphins and another team?

Tua Tagovailoa Trade Rumors: Potential landing spots

Which teams might be interested in acquiring Tua during just his second year in the league if the Dolphins do, in fact, trade him? There has been lots of speculation around several teams, including the Washington Football Team, Denver Broncos, and the Houston Texans. But are any of them even interested in the second-year quarterback?

Denver Broncos

The Broncos certainly do not have a stable situation at QB. Between Drew Lock’s inconsistent play and Teddy Bridgewater’s one-year prove-it contract, Tua would provide the Broncos another shot at finding their franchise QB. Given the precarious 2022 NFL Draft QB class, the Broncos may feel that the relatively known quantity of Tua is worth the risk.

While the rumors have swirled, there have also been reports that the Broncos are not interested. Given that there is currently uncertainty surrounding the future of the coaching staff in Denver, it would seem odd to throw another QB into an already confusing mix.

Another team with uncertainty at the QB position is Washington. After they lost Ryan Fitzpatrick to a hip injury, Washington has been starting Taylor Heinicke. Heinicke has provided a spark for Washington. However, he’s produced mixed results on the field with 9 touchdowns and 6 interceptions in 2021.

If Washington were to make the move for Tua, he would almost certainly replace Heinicke as the starter when up to speed with the offense. The problem for Washington is that a trade for Tua might signal to the fanbase the team is giving up on the 2021 season at 2-4. Sitting just a game out of a Wild Card spot in the NFC, it’s too early for Washington to throw in the towel.

However, much like with Denver, sources close to the situation are saying that Washington has not been in discussions with Miami or Houston regarding a trade.

Interestingly, the Dolphins and Washington made a similar trade nearly 50 years ago. In 1974, Washington traded a first-round pick in the 1976 NFL Draft to obtain the rights to Joe Theismann from Miami. Theismann would not start at QB for Washington until 1978 but would go on to win a Super Bowl and be named NFL MVP in 1983.

Houston Texans

Naturally, the Houston Texans have to be listed as a potential landing spot. Davis Mills and Tyrod Taylor are unlikely to be the long-term futures of the franchise. And if Watson is leaving, taking a flyer on Tua would make sense. The problem is that acquiring Tua would reduce the draft pick package the Texans would receive for Watson.

If Tua then turns out not to be the answer, the Texans would likely have cost themselves a reasonably high-value draft pick by acquiring Tua. If they were to make the move, Houston would need to feel confident that they could maximize Tua’s value on his rookie contract. Looking at their roster, the Texans do not appear to be in the situation to do that right now.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The end of Ben Roethlisberger’s time in Pittsburgh is not far away. The veteran QB is in clear decline, and the Steelers need a plan for the future. That plan does not appear to be on their roster at the moment, and Pittsburgh will likely have to use significant draft capital to acquire its QB of the future. A trade for Tua could be the quickest answer to preventing an entire rebuild.

New Orleans Saints

The Saints are still looking for a replacement for Drew Brees. They have a QB-friendly offense that has been built on a short, sharp passing game. That is exactly what Tua has been running in Miami. Sean Payton and the Saints simply do it better. Imagine the parallel if the Dolphins trade Tua to be Brees’ replacement, only for Tua to be the long-term answer for that franchise?

What would a trade package look like for Tua?

We rarely witness a situation quite like this one. A top college player who was selected as a top-five pick in his draft is seemingly available within two years of being selected — and during the season, to boot. We rarely see top-tier quarterbacks traded, and when we do, it’s usually later in their careers.

This past offseason, Matthew Stafford was traded for two first-round picks, a third-round pick, and Jared Goff. Some of that cost seemed to account for Detroit taking on Goff’s huge contract, but a fair chunk was just the price of acquiring Stafford.

Now, by no means is Tua as good as Stafford. However, the potential that Tua carries is the key to any valuation. If a team believes Tua still has the potential to be a top-10 quarterback, they might be willing to pay a little more than many expect.

Valuing Tua right now is almost impossible. He has started just 12 games in his career and spent his first season recovering from an extremely serious hip injury that he suffered in his final year at college. Through those 12 games, Tua has 14 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, a 64.1% completion rate while averaging 181.4 yards per game and 6.4 yards per attempt. Not exactly world-beating numbers, but not horrific either.

The Josh Rosen trade could give us a blueprint for Tua’s asking price

The trade for Josh Rosen is a pretty close example. The biggest difference is that Rosen was traded in the offseason, during the 2019 NFL Draft. Interestingly, it was the Dolphins that acquired Rosen in that deal.

When that trade was made in April 2019, Rosen had started 13 games. He’d thrown 11 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, had a completion rate of 55.2%, and was averaging 162.7 yards per game and 5.8 yards per attempt. The Cardinals dealt Rosen for a 2019 second-round pick and 2020 fifth-round choice after selecting Kyler Murray first overall in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Tua’s numbers are clearly better than Rosen’s. However, the situation is similar in that Miami might trade Tua because they are acquiring another QB. Therefore, while Miami might not have the leverage to command a significantly higher price, it should be at least somewhat more favorable.

Based on the Rosen and Stafford trades, a reasonable package for Tua would be along the lines of a first- and third/fourth-round selection. The intriguing element will be whether the Dolphins trade first Tua away to gain capital to acquire Watson, or if we see him dealt as part of a three-team deal that nets Watson.





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Saints vs. Seahawks prediction, pick, odds, and how to watch the Week 7 game

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This New Orleans Saints vs. Seattle Seahawks matchup is a little bit less intriguing than the NFL had originally planned, with Seattle rolling with Geno Smith under center while Russell Wilson is injured. With Seattle hanging onto a thread in the NFC West, will a home game against Jameis Winston be enough to save their season? Here are the TV channels and ways to listen, the current NFL odds, and our pick and prediction for the Saints vs. Seahawks game.

New Orleans Saints vs. Seattle Seahawks prediction and odds | Week 7

  • Spread: Saints -5
  • Moneyline: Saints -226, Seahawks +188
  • Over/Under: 43.5 (Over -110, Under -110)

Odds from DraftKings sportsbook

Saints vs. Seahawks prediction

For the past several years, a Saints vs. Seahawks game would have been a marquee matchup of future Hall of Fame quarterbacks Drew Brees and Russell Wilson. That is far from what we are going to get in this one. Brees retired this offseason, and Wilson is out until at least Week 10 with a finger injury. So instead, we will be getting Geno Smith and Jameis Winston.

After stepping in for Wilson after the injury, Smith looked good and almost led the team to a comeback victory against the Rams. Unfortunately, the next week they lost to the Steelers in overtime. It was a good effort, but the Seahawks are now below .500.

The Saints, meanwhile, have been up and down all year. During their tour of the NFC East, they lost to the lowly New York Giants but then followed that up with a win against the Washington Football Team. You just never know which version of Winston you are going to get.

Injuries clouding the picture for both Seattle and New Orleans

It’s not only Wilson out for Seattle — there are also question marks surrounding their running back corps. Chris Carson is on IR with a neck injury, and his replacement Alex Collins, who played well last week, will also miss this matchup. That means Rashaad Penny will likely get the bulk of the carries for the Seahawks.

Things are not much better for New Orleans. Their injury report includes offensive linemen Erik McCoy and Terron Armstead, defensive end Marcus Davenport, linebacker Kwon Alexander, and others.

With both teams beat up, I think the play is to the under 43.5. Both offenses will struggle, and I have little faith that Smith will be able to accomplish much this time around.

Saints vs. Seahawks Prediction: Saints 17, Seattle 10

How to watch and listen to Saints vs. Seahawks this week

  • Start time: 8:15 PM ET
  • Channel: ESPN
  • Live stream:
    • Hulu + Live TV
    • fuboTV
    • YouTube TV
    • DirecTV NFL Sunday Ticket
    • NFL Mobile App
    • NFL GamePass
  • Listen:
    • Local Seattle: 710 ESPN Seattle, KIRO Radio 97.3, & Westwood One
    • Local New Orleans: WWL 870 AM/105.3 FM
    • TuneIn Radio
    • Sirius XM Radio



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Colts vs. 49ers prediction, pick, odds, and how to watch the Week 7 game

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The Colts vs. 49ers is a battle between two very different teams. On one side, you have the Colts, who are coming off a dominant performance against the Texans. On the other, you have the 49ers, who still have questions at the QB position and are now coming off a bye. Here’s the channel for the Week 7 contest, the current NFL odds, and a pick and prediction.

Indianapolis Colts vs. San Francisco 49ers prediction and odds | Week 7

  • Spread: San Francisco 49ers -3.5
  • Moneyline: 49ers -210, Colts +175
  • Over/Under: 45 (Over -110, Under -110)
  • Odds from DraftKings sportsbook.

The Indianapolis Colts come into this game looking to build off their 31-3 win over the Houston Texans last week. They are still a long way from the top of the AFC South at 2-4, but a somewhat easy schedule in the coming weeks could put them back in contention.

Carson Wentz has thrown for 1,545 yards, 9 touchdowns, and an interception on 64.2% passing so far this year, and he looks more and more comfortable in the Indianapolis’ offense as the season progresses. Meanwhile, Jonathan Taylor has rushed for a team-high 472 yards and 4 touchdowns. His game against Houston was his best of the year, and he is finally falling into the RB1 role that everyone imagined for him.

The 49ers are coming off a bye but suffered a tough 17-10 loss to the Cardinals the week before. They played Arizona well, and in hindsight, a one-TD loss to the only undefeated team in the NFL is not a bad thing. The bigger problem is that they’re dealing with two banged-up QBs in Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance and a mess at the RB position. It still isn’t clear who their lead back will be in this contest.

Colts vs. 49ers prediction

If you had asked me this question at the beginning of the season, I never would have thought of predicting a possible upset for the Colts on the road against San Francisco. However, here we are. Indianapolis is 7-2 ATS in their last nine road games and 4-1 ATS in their last five contests overall. Wentz is playing like the best QB in this matchup, and as great as the 49ers’ coaching staff is, they have their hands tied behind their backs due to injuries.

Colts vs. 49ers prediction: Colts 24, 49ers 21

How to watch and listen to Colts vs. 49ers this week

  • Start time: 8:20 PM ET
  • Channel: NBC
  • Live stream: 
    • Sling
    • NBC App
    • Hulu + Live TV
    • fuboTV
    • YouTube TV
    • DirecTV NFL Sunday Ticket
  • Listen:
    • Local Indianapolis: Indianapolis on 93.5 & 107.5 The Fan and 97.1 HANK FM.
    • Local San Francisco: KGO 810 AM and KSAN 107.7 FM The Bone
    • TuneIn Radio
    • Sirius XM Radio

Ryan Gosling is the Chief Written Content Officer for Pro Football Network. Follow him on Twitter @ryangoslingPFN.





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