This week’s 5 questions come to us from Scott Barzilla of Battle Red Blog. You can follow Scott on Twitter @sbarzilla.
1) Is Davis Mills the answer?
That depends on what the question is. I personally don’t think he’s a bad quarterback, but outside of the top 10-15 quarterbacks there isn’t much to differentiate him from the rest of the quarterbacks in the league. If you surround him with a good defense, good running game, and good receivers he can win football games for you. Of course, that describes most starting quarterbacks. He is probably on par with where Andy Dalton was as a rookie. If he had a more imaginative offense he could probably throw 25-30 touchdowns and maybe 10-15 interceptions. That’s not terrible, but it isn’t particularly good either. He just doesn't have any elite skills. He is decently athletic. He has a decent arm. He processes things decently. Add all that up and you have a solid backup quarterback. If that’s the question then he’s definitely the answer.
2) How has the start of the Lovie Smith era gone? Is he the long-term answer?
The season has gone about as most people have expected. We have been in more games than we were last year. He doesn’t make the same stupid mistakes that David Culley made in terms of managing the clock and making decisions. The team has been in every game going into the fourth quarter and has only won one of them. Simply put, he’s another stopgap. I can’t really blame him as he was the last guy standing in a coaching search that went horribly wrong for a number of reasons. The question will be how long he stays around. If they draft a quarterback in the top five in the draft will they let him and Pep Hamilton develop him? Clearly, there isn’t a ton of imagination on either side of the ball and that’s a huge problem in a league where coaches are getting younger and more imaginative.
3) The Tennessee Titans are favored by 3.5. Which side are you taking?
That depends on whether we see Malik Willis or Ryan Tannehill. I see the Titans winning either way simply because we cannot stop the run. However, a Tannehill led team likely wins this thing by a touchdown where Willis might make a rookie mistake or two that could keep the Texans in the game. We are good at creating turnovers as we are ahead in the +/- despite our 1-4-1 record. Going into the Raiders game our points differential was actually in the top 20. I predict a one score game but will wait until I see the injury report before making a play.
*You can get in on that action over at DraftKings Sportsbook here.
4) Give us a player on offense that will make a significant impact that we haven’t heard of.
You mentioned Dameon Pierce, so I will throw out Nico Collins. Collins isn’t a speed threat, but he is a big, physical target that has shown that he can win 50/50 battles for the ball. He’s averaged three to four catches per game and is in the top ten in yards per reception. That might translate to four catches and 60 yards. He won’t make anyone forget Randy Moss or Terrell Owens, but he is turning into a very interesting second receiver in an offense that needs more playmakers.
5) How equipped is your defense to stop Derrick Henry?
It’s not. I don’t know how to sugarcoat that. Nearly every team they’ve played has had a 100-yard rusher against them. This doesn’t even mention Henry’s recent history against this team. If I were a betting guy I would bet the over on rushing yards for Henry no matter where Vegas puts it. 150 yards? Give me the over/ 200 yards? I might even take the over there if the odds were profitable enough. This team just gets gashed repeatedly on the ground because they don’t have the interior defenders to stop it. Plus, the linebackers have been ordinary at best. Our safety (Jonathan Stewart) leads the team in tackles. That should tell you everything you need to know going in.
A huge thanks to Scott for taking the time to answer my questions. You can see his questions and my answers on Saturday at Battle Red Blog.