NFL Notes: 17-Game Schedule, Mac Jones, Russell Wilson

17-Game Schedule

  • NBC Sports’ Peter King reports the league is likely to move to a 17-game regular season this coming year in 2021, with TV networks and the schedule-makers operating under that assumption. 
  • King notes that the league will start at the same time and not add an extra bye week, meaning the Super Bowl will be pushed to the second week in February, which would be the 13th in 2022. 
  • The format for the 17th game will be a cross-conference matchup based on the rotation from two seasons ago and the 2020 standings. For instance, the AFC West played the NFC North in 2019. In 2020, the Chiefs and Packers won those divisions and so will face off in 2021. All AFC teams will be the home teams this year to make the odd-numbered game fair within each conference, with the NFC swapping to the home side next season. 
  • King also thinks there’s a strong chance the NFL schedules a Monday night wildcard game this coming season. 

Mac Jones

Like always, the quarterbacks are driving a lot of the discussion surrounding the draft and there seems to be a strong class of prospects in 2021 worthy of discussion. Five quarterbacks are looking like safe bets to go in the first round and all five could go in the first half of the round if the recent buzz around Alabama QB Mac Jones has real substance to it. He’s made an appearance in the top ten of some mock drafts recently and ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper invoked a Tom Brady comparison. 

“I hate to say, but he kind of has a little bit of Brady in him,” Kiper said via ESPN’s Mike Reiss. “I’m not saying he’s ever going to be Tom Brady. He wouldn’t be close, probably. But he has that competitiveness, and he’s so smart — he picked that offense up [at the Senior Bowl] like it was nothing. Other quarterbacks were struggling with the verbiage and — ‘boom!’ — he was in and out of the huddle quicker than anybody I’ve ever seen.

“Then he sees the field. He’s tremendously accurate to all levels. He doesn’t have the ‘wow’ arm, like Brady didn’t either coming into the league. And like Brady, he’s not real mobile, not a runner. But biding time, slipping and sliding, he did it in the championship game. So there are some similarities there.”

  • NBC Sports’ Peter King wouldn’t be surprised if Jones passes North Dakota State QB Trey Lance by the time the draft rolls around. 
  • Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa also invoked Brady in a comparison to Jones, his former teammate: “I would say he’s a sly kind of athletic person. He’s a more mobile Tom Brady.” (Ryan Dunleavy)

Russell Wilson

  • Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer says after the Seahawks’ 2020 season ended, QB Russell Wilson met with both the front office and HC Pete Carroll and articulated a desire to take more control over the second half of his career and have a team truly built around him. 
  • Wilson specifically asked Carroll for a different offensive philosophy that would maximize him as a player — a box Breer notes was checked with the Wilson-approved hire of OC Shane Waldron who will bring a version of the Rams’ offense to Seattle — an effort to upgrade the offensive line with a real investment and clear communication and agreement on the direction of the franchise. 
  • Breer adds Wilson took note of how Packers QB Aaron Rodgers applied public pressure on the team with his end-of-season presser and took a similar tack with his media tour to create a sense of urgency for the team. 
  • According to Breer, there’s a sense that Wilson is becoming too much of a celebrity quarterback, and the talk of his legacy and comparisons to other teams and quarterbacks is growing old to some. 
  • Breer points out that the Seahawks have not done as poor a job as you would think surrounding Wilson with talent, including trades for guys like WR Percy Harvin, TE Jimmy Graham and LT Duane Brown. He adds there’s a subtext to the situation involving past controversies over how teammates felt the team coddled and protected Wilson. 
  • As to whether a trade actually happens, Breer writes Wilson isn’t actively pushing his way out of Seattle right now, but it’s clear he doesn’t fear a trade. Meanwhile, the Seahawks have to decide if they can repair things with Wilson or if the best thing for their organizational culture is to move on now. 
  • NBC Sports’ Peter King writes that for now, he hears Wilson is pretty dug-in on the four teams he listed as trade destinations — Saints, Cowboys, Raiders, Bears — and any other team that’s interested would have to do a heck of a sales job. 

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