Darnold, Wentz, Stafford 2021 outlooks: Week 14 NFL Mailbag

Last Updated: Jan 9, 2021

Darnold, Wentz, Stafford 2021 outlooks: Welcome to the Week 14 NFL Mailbag! Here are your best questions from Twitter about the NFL, which included answers from me about the future for several quarterbacks and candidates for 2021 head-coaching jobs.

Darnold, Wentz, Stafford 2021 outlooks: Week 14 Mailbag

If you were to take a guess, what teams are Carson Wentz, Matthew Stafford, and Sam Darnold on next season?

Carson Wentz will stick with the Philadelphia Eagles. I just don’t see any way that another team will take on his salary. Philadelphia will likely hope that an offseason can fix him. If the Eagles can improve their offensive line and get better at receiver, maybe we’ll see Carson Wentz return to his 2017 level of play. It just doesn’t feel like the Eagles are quite ready to give up on him despite his recent benching.

Matthew Stafford will remain with the Detroit Lions. The Lions have a bunch of problems, but Matthew Stafford isn’t one of them. While his play can be a little frustrating from week to week, he’s one of the few good things that roster has going for them right now. The Lions might sniff around the 2021 draft for a future quarterback, but expect Stafford to be back in Detroit with an innovative head coach running the show.

Sam Darnold could wind up with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Jets are going to select their new starting quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft, meaning Sam Darnold will likely be moved via trade. A smart team that is picking outside the top 20 will probably take a chance on him in hopes that a new organization can revive him. I like the Steelers as a possibility, given Ben Roethlisberger’s age and injury history. Look for a playoff team with an established and proven roster to take a shot on Darnold on the cheap. (Question from @PolishFilipino)

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Is the problem with the Jets really Sam Darnold? Can he have success elsewhere?

Coming out of USC, Sam Darnold had the talent to be one of the league’s best quarterbacks. But the Jets are a cautionary tale of what happens when you don’t protect your asset.

Because of his unreal playmaking ability, the Jets believed he could survive and overcome a bad offensive line. They didn’t invest in their wide receiver position and didn’t surround him with talent.

Now, Darnold is pressing, and he clearly doesn’t have any confidence. After numerous injuries, it’s fair to wonder if we will ever see the USC version of Darnold again.

But is Darnold the Jets’ biggest problem? Absolutely not. The roster is devoid of talent and they have a coach that can’t elevate the talent on the field.

Will Trevor Lawrence (or Justin Fields) help in 2021? Maybe. But if they continue to struggle to put talent around him too, they might just ruin another great quarterback prospect. (Question from @83OchoTres)


Who are some of your favorite 2021 coaching candidates?

The easy answer is Eric Bieniemy in Kansas City. He’s been the offensive coordinator three-straight seasons in Kansas City and has a ton of experience as a running back coach since 2001 in Colorado. The players clearly love him, and with the league always looking for creative offensive minds, he’s going to be involved in a ton of interviews come January.

Another offensive mind that is going to get interviewed is Joe Brady of the Carolina Panthers. We’ve seen how he transformed LSU’s offense, and he is doing the same in Carolina. He’s young and might need another year or two in the NFL to gain experience, but you can bet that teams are going to reach out.

Darnold, Wentz, Stafford 2021 outlooks: Week 14 NFL Mailbag also looks at possible new head coaches in 2021, including current Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy.
Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy​ reacts after beating the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium. (Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports)

If you are looking for a culture builder and a technician, teams should consider Matt Eberflus of the Indianapolis Colts. He has a ton of experience coaching linebackers and is now the coach of one of the best defenses in the NFL. For a team that needs defensive help, Eberflus is a name worth considering.

San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh (49ers) is another name that will surely garner some attention considering what he’s done there over the last few years.

Both these defensive minds should find a head coaching job in 2021.

One underrated name to consider is Arthur Smith in Tennessee. He’s been the Titans’ offensive coordinator for a few years now and has resurrected Ryan Tannehill‘s career. He’s designed one of the league’s most creative offenses despite not having a consensus top-10 quarterback.

And then are your candidates every year that always say no to NFL jobs, such as Urban Meyer and Lincoln Riley. I think some of Riley’s shine has worn off, but he is someone I would interview if I were running a head coaching search. (Question from @Arguing_Cowboys)


Dak Prescott or Lamar Jackson for the next five years?

This is an excellent question because the answer isn’t obvious. Lamar Jackson already has an MVP under his belt and has proven to be one of the league’s most exciting players. He’s dynamic and their offense is among the league’s most challenging to stop.

However, the answer is Dak Prescott. Prescott has improved as a pocket passer each year and is now among the league’s most accurate quarterbacks.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oXQP8_ebAaY

While he is coming off a severe leg injury, his ability to win from the pocket makes me feel the best about his ability to age in the NFL.

Both are great quarterbacks that are going to define the NFL for the next half-decade, but I think it’s easier to build an elite offense with Prescott under center. (Question from @DouglasRowan)

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Should Mike Nolan get a chance to return to the Cowboys next season at defensive coordinator?

Everything that could go wrong for Mike Nolan and his defense this season did.

He has a complex defense that takes years to learn. But with a shortened offseason and no real training camp, he didn’t get time to implement his scheme.

And then injuries hit at cornerback and defensive tackle, and the Cowboys have had to pull players off the street to play meaningful snaps.

Then, there is the Dak Prescott injury that put more stress on his defense as the offense could no longer cover up their faults.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aX5dJB0-M0Y

Having said that, it’s pretty clear that the players aren’t responding to Nolan. After 12 games, there is still a ton of confusion, and the hesitation from the linebackers is constant.

It’s probably better for both parties to move on and for the Cowboys to go with a simpler, traditional 3-4 defense next season. Wade Phillips, anyone? (Question from @Dml0816)

Thanks for reading the Week 14 NFL Mailbag! Please make sure to follow me and The Game Day on Twitter.

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Author

Marcus Mosher

Marcus Mosher is an NFL analyst at The Game Day, residing in Erie, PA. He covers the NFL from a betting and fantasy perspective, producing written and video content. Marcus currently hosts multiple football-related podcasts and is a managing editor at USA Today’s Sports Media Group covering the Las Vegas Raiders. He has previously worked at The Athletic and Bleacher Report.

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