B/R Staff NFL Weekly Report Card for End of Regular Season

NFL StaffContributor IDecember 31, 2019

B/R Staff NFL Weekly Report Card for End of Regular Season

0 of 10

    Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

    The 2019 NFL regular season came to a close Sunday with everything happening like everyone expected.

    Wait...no it didn't.

    Nothing ever goes according to plan.

    The Cleveland Browns aren't Super Bowl contenders, and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. didn't make much of a difference. The Miami Dolphins won multiple games instead of going 0-16 during their supposed tank job. The Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers found themselves outside of the playoff picture.

    A few things went better than expected, though.

    The Baltimore Ravens offense revolutionized the NFL, and first-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury didn't flop in the desert.

    All year long, Bleacher Report's NFL writers reacted to the league's hottest weekly topics. Now, they do the same with a bigger-picture look at what went right and wrong throughout the entire campaign, starting with a couple of big trades and ending with the possible demise of a legend.

Odell Beckham Trade

1 of 10

    Ron Schwane/Associated Press

    On March 13, the Cleveland Browns and New York Giants completed a megadeal that included superstar wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and defensive end Olivier Vernon. The pair went to the AFC squad in return for safety Jabrill Peppers, guard Kevin Zeitler and the Browns' first- and third-round picks in the 2019 NFL draft.

    Originally, the teams reached an agreement on two deals they lumped into one significant transaction. In essence, the Browns gave up Peppers as well as first- and third-round picks for Beckham. Those selections turned into defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence and outside linebacker Oshane Ximines.

    As the centerpiece, Beckham was supposed to be a game-changer for the Browns. In the end, he failed to establish a rapport with quarterback Baker Mayfield, though he managed 74 receptions for 1,035 yards and four touchdowns.

    The season was also plagued by insinuations Beckham wanted out of Cleveland even though the receiver stated he'll be there next year.

    Did either team emerge as a winner of the deal?

                     

    Ty Dunne: Browns, D; Giants, D

    The rare lose-lose. Beckham never transformed the Browns offense as we all expected. Time missed through OTAs and training camp ended up short-circuiting his chemistry with Mayfield. And in New York, rookie Daniel Jones could've used another threat out wide with what turned out to be a better-than-expected passing game. The Giants didn't exactly get a huge haul here either.

    Mike Freeman: Incomplete

    We still don't know who won this trade. The Giants clearly missed him, and the Browns misused him. The true answer will come next year when the Browns have a real coach.

    Mike Tanier: Browns, C-; Giants, C

    OBJ could help a great team, or he could help ruin a team that's going out of its way to be ruined. It's not his fault that the Browns chose the latter route. It wasn't a triumphant move, but if the Giants didn't trade him last offseason, they would've probably ended up trading him this offseason and possibly getting less in return.

    Brent Sobleski: Browns, C; Giants, D

    Beckham still topped 1,000 yards despite dealing with a sports hernia throughout the regular season. The offense never clicked with any regularity, but the biggest issue didn't fall on any particular player. The Browns' faults were exacerbated by inept head coach Freddie Kitchens and his staff. The Giants didn't gain any difference-making talent in the deal.

    Brad Gagnon: Browns, C; Giants, B

    My only criticism for the Giants is that they made the trade after giving the guy a record-breaking, five-year, $95 million contract. It was an indictment on the team's direction. But Beckham himself is becoming more of a distraction each year, and that was certainly the case in 2019. I'm not sure I'd want to try to build a competitive team with a guy like him.

    Gary Davenport: Browns, B; Giants, C

    I'm not ready to trash this trade after one meh season—the Browns saw a chance to add an elite playmaker and took it. But after watching Peppers have a career year and Lawrence show flashes of being at least a quality starter, I don't hate it as much for New York as I originally did.

Steelers' 1st-Round Acquisition of Minkah Fitzpatrick

2 of 10

    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    On the same day the Pittsburgh Steelers found out Ben Roethlisberger would miss the entire season with an elbow injury, the organization traded its 2020 first-round pick to the Miami Dolphins for defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick.

    Fitzpatrick proved to be the perfect catalyst within the Steelers defense. The 2018 first-round pick finished with 57 combined tackles, nine passes defended, five interceptions, two fumble recoveries and a pair of defensive touchdowns. His ability to play near the line of scrimmage, over the slot or the deep half/third completed Pittsburgh's scheme.

    "He's living right," cornerback Joe Haden said of Fitzpatrick, per ESPN's Brooke Pryor. "He's always in the right position. It's something to say that the ball just don't hit the ground. He's always around there being able to get them."

    Now knowing how Fitzpatrick fits in the Steel City, did Pittsburgh make the right move by trading a significant draft asset for his services?

                                        

    Ty Dunne: A

    The Steelers pick at the bottom of the first round year after year and miss out on blue-chip talents like Fitzpatrick. By trading up for Devin Bush and then shipping off a first-rounder for Fitzpatrick, they acquired two massive building blocks. Fitzpatrick, especially, was a turnover-waiting-to-happen for a good two-month stretch. The future's bright.

    Mike Freeman: A

    It was worth the investment, and he was a huge reason the undermanned Steelers had a legit playoff shot to begin with.

    Mike Tanier: B+

    Gosh, people keep going around and around on this. The Steelers got a first-round talent in exchange for a first-round pick! And that first-round talent helped keep them in the playoff race until Sunday. That's a good deal, no matter how many Moneyball pseudo-scientists try to argue otherwise.

    Brent Sobleski: C

    An incomplete is almost required here. Fitzpatrick's impact can't be denied, yet his value depends on who might be available with the 18th overall pick the Dolphins now own and how Roethlisberger bounces back. If the Steelers are stuck in neutral at the quarterback position, it's a horrible deal. If Big Ben regains his form, the trade is far more favorable.

    Brad Gagnon: A+

    They essentially used next year's No. 18 overall pick on Fitzpatrick, who is playing like a top-10 selection in his prime. They took a lot of heat at the time (from yours truly as well), but they obviously saw something there. And now it looks like a genius deal—especially because they didn't give up a high pick. I'd rather have Fitzpatrick than a roll of the dice in the middle of the first round.

    Gary Davenport: D

    Didn't like this trade when it was made, and I don't like it now. It's not about Fitzpatrick, who got off to a great start in Pittsburgh before fading statistically down the stretch. But using a first-rounder to acquire any deep safety is an overpay.

Antonio Brown's Chances of Playing in the NFL Again

3 of 10

    Steven Senne/Associated Press

    Antonio Brown's 2019 season—or lack thereof—may be the wildest anyone has ever seen.

    The Pittsburgh Steelers traded the franchise's second all-time leading receiver to the Oakland Raiders in March for third- and fifth-round 2019 draft picks. 

    Brown then missed the start of training camp after he suffered frostbitten feet from a cryotherapy mishap. He filed multiple grievances against the NFL in an attempt to use his old helmet, which no longer met league standards. He reportedly got into an altercation over a fine with general manager Mike Mayock.

    Even after all of that, Brown was ready for the start of the regular season. But the Raiders were fed up with the receiver and released him before he played a down.

    The New England Patriots signed Brown less than a day later. 

    On Sept. 10, Britney Taylor, Brown's former trainer, filed a federal lawsuit that said Brown sexually assaulted her three separate times and raped her in one of those instances. Less than a week later, a sexual misconduct allegation from another woman came to light. Brown has denied the allegations. The Patriots ultimately released him after Robert Klemko of Sports Illustrated reported Brown had sent the second woman threatening text messages.

    He played one game and recorded four receptions and 56 yards with a touchdown in New England.

    The NFL has yet to to determine whether Brown will face disciplinary actions. Will he ever play in the league again?

                       

    Ty Dunne: F

    A team would have to stoop unbelievably low to make this happen. Can't see it. Even with all the talent. His issues have been way, way, way too clear for everyone to see.

    Mike Freeman: A

    No matter how much of a turd Brown is, no matter how self-destructive he is, no matter how many bridges he incinerates, he will play next season. Teams simply can't help themselves. He's too talented, and every team will think they are the ones who can finally tame him. Spoiler alert: They can't.

    Mike Tanier: A

    He'll be back. The NFL will suspend him for [rolls two dice] eight games, and then some team will take a chance on him. He'll play for four of five games and then either tick off the coach/quarterback or get into off-field trouble again. We'll be doing this dance for another six years, which stinks, because I am already tired of it.

    Brent Sobleski: B

    He'd probably be on a team right now if organizations had any clarity on his pending legal matters and league clearance. The New Orleans Saints were smart to work him out and set up the possibility of signing him for their playoff run. If clarity comes to his off-field situation, the team can swoop in and add him to an already impressive roster. One thing we know for sure: The more talented you are, the more opportunities you will receive.

    Brad Gagnon: A

    Talent is talent. Somebody will give him a shot once he has clarity from the league office on his status.

    Gary Davenport: D-

    I want badly to give this a Z-minus and proclaim Brown's NFL career is over. But for all he's allegedly done and all he most assuredly said, if he's eligible to play, some team will talk itself into believing that he can be an asset and produce.

Decision to Give Ezekiel Elliott an Extension, Hold Off with Dak Prescott

4 of 10

    Winslow Townson/Associated Press

    The Dallas Cowboys had plenty of financial decisions to make regarding the team's core of young players.

    Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, linebacker Jaylon Smith, right tackle La'el Collins and running back Ezekiel Elliott (in that order) signed significant contract extensions before the start of the regular season. Elliott became the NFL's highest-paid running back.

    One significant name remains absent from that list. Quarterback Dak Prescott has yet to sign an extension despite being a pending free agent.

    "We've never blinked on [paying Prescott]," Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said last week on 105.3 The Fan (via 247Sports' Brad Crawford). "We’ve had a very aggressive offer out there every step of the way. ... I think Dak has given us every opportunity to have success this year. I'm as bullish about Dak as I've ever been."

    Did the Cowboys make the right moves by extending others players, specifically Elliott, before completing a deal with Prescott?

                                    

    Ty Dunne: C

    I guess Dallas got the deal done with Zeke, but all of the drama here couldn't have helped on the eve of the regular season. Even with all this talent, the Cowboys went 8-8. Maybe a coaching change maximizes this roster.

    Mike Freeman: B

    Taking care of Elliott first wasn't the issue. The issue is making Prescott wait until the offseason. Because Prescott is a class act, he won't make the Cowboys sweat. But making your franchise quarterback wait for longer than you should isn't smart.

    Mike Tanier: D

    That's a "C" for extending Zeke (bad but not catastrophic) and an "F" for painting themselves into a corner. I cannot wait to watch the Cowboys max out the salary cap for years to come to keep this 8-8 nucleus together!

    Brent Sobleski: F

    Always pay the quarterback first. The Cowboys will now pay more than they might have months ago, when this deal should have been done, since Prescott nearly set a franchise single-season record with 4,902 passing yards. Elliott is a fantastic player, but he should have never been the priority.

    Brad Gagnon: Elliott, F; Prescott, A

    No running back should be paid like Zeke was. Not in this pass-happy era. That was a bad decision at the time, and it looks worse now. But I'm OK with them waiting on Dak, who might not be the long-term answer either. Seriously, I'm still not convinced.

    Gary Davenport: B-

    Given today's marketplace, investing that much cheddar in any tailback is something of a risky move. But the Cowboys are masters of the salary-cap shell game, and the franchise tag is in play. The bigger question might be what it all means for Amari Cooper. Gonna be quite the offseason at Jerruh World.

The Ravens' Building Plan

5 of 10

    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    The Baltimore Ravens coaching staff had an inkling the team was going to revolutionize offensive football with Lamar Jackson.

    "We have a whole new idea," head coach John Harbaugh said in August, per ESPN's Jamison Hensley. "It's not that there is anything new in there, concept-wise, that has never been done in football before. But the way we put it together, to me, is unique and different."

    Harbaugh wasn't joking. Jackson smashed the NFL record for a quarterback with 1,206 rushing yards. The Ravens set the league's single-season rushing record with 3,296 yards.

    A 14-2 mark after being knocked out of last year's Wild Card Round is big jump. Jackson, meanwhile, is well on his way to being named MVP. Baltimore became the league's best team by building upon its vision for Jackson's skill set and getting the right players on offense and defense.

    How should Baltimore's building plan be viewed after an exceptional regular season?

                                                        

    Ty Dunne: A+

    Jackson is special, unlike anyone we've ever seen, and the Marcus Peters trade was robbery. The Ravens are constructed to compete for years...as long as Jackson can stay healthy. Good on Baltimore for accentuating what he does best and not living in fear of that.

    Mike Freeman: A+

    The way the Ravens handled Jackson is in itself remarkable. They let Jackson be Jackson. They didn't try to change him or make him change positions. They morphed the entire offense around him. In many ways, the entire franchise. It was brilliant.

    Mike Tanier: A+

    What the Ravens did was remarkable. It will also be hard to replicate for teams that have not maintained the same coaching/scouting/front-office structure for over a decade. I'm looking forward to teams trying to copy it and then deciding that they don't need to scout or prioritize tight ends differently, practice option meshes from the start of OTAs and so on. There are going to be some great imitators in the future and a lot of disasters.

    Brent Sobleski: A+

    The Ravens' offseason will be studied and dissected, even though the approach was simplistic. For some reason, a team building around its quarterback's skill set is a novel approach. But Baltimore emphasized getting a hammer in the running game (Mark Ingram II) and speed on the outside (Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin) while relying on a physical offensive line and multiple tight ends.

    Brad Gagnon: A+

    How can this not be a top grade? This is the new model for how to rebuild quickly and effectively. You always need some luck, but the Ravens have done nearly everything right.

    Gary Davenport: A+

    Baltimore built an offense around what Jackson does best, added veteran difference-makers on both sides of the ball (Ingram, Peters and Earl Thomas) and then reaped the rewards. What's not to like?

Tanking in the NFL

6 of 10

    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    The Miami Dolphins appeared as though they were doing everything in their power to tank the 2019 campaign. They weren't even going to win a single game. Or, so everyone thought.

    Yes, the front office traded away young and talented pieces such as offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, wide receiver Kenny Stills, safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and running back Kenyan Drake to gain draft assets. But the remaining players never seemed to buy into a lost season. New head coach Brian Flores led the squad to an impressive (yes, impressive) 5-11 record despite deficiencies throughout the roster.

    "People can say whatever they want about not making the playoffs and our record, but to me, this was such a successful, great season," quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said after Sunday's 27-24 win over the New England Patriots, per ESPN's Cameron Wolfe. "We had so much adversity and overcame it and stuck together."

    Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Bengals had no intention of tanking yet easily finished as the worst team to earn the 2020 NFL draft's first overall pick.

    Is tanking—i.e., the stripping of assets which leads to intentional losses—a viable strategy for rebuilding franchises?

                                      

    Ty Dunne: C-

    Hey, if it gets you a QB like Joe Burrow, it's not necessarily terrible, but tanking, we've seen, can have a piercing effect on a team's culture. Players are well aware of every move the front office makes.

    Mike Freeman: F

    Good or bad, it stinks out loud.

    Mike Tanier: F

    There is no such thing as a good-faith argument in favor of tanking in the NFL anymore. Period.

    Brent Sobleski: F

    Don't tank. It's a stupid approach. Try to build a positive culture by winning as many games as possible. The Dolphins did the right thing, and they'll likely still be in a position to select Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Besides, No. 1 overall picks are far from a sure bet.

    Brad Gagnon: C+

    By no means is tanking a fool-proof strategy, and it depends on the circumstances. Logically, if you aren't going to compete, you're better off losing than winning in order to maximize draft capital. But then you look at what the Dolphins did this year, and it's hard to argue that those five victories didn't have a lot of value in terms of raising morale and attracting free agents.

    Gary Davenport: C

    Take a dive in order to secure the best possible pick. Just suck naturally. Whatever works. A team still has to make good use of draft capital and cap space. That said, I do think an argument can be made for a ground-up rebuild a la Miami in 2019. That team is poised for a significant step forward in 2020—if it hits on those three first-round picks.

NFL's New Pass-Interference Rule

7 of 10

    Mark Tenally/Associated Press

    Appropriately, the NFL's regular season ended with a non-call on pass interference despite the officials' capability to review the play because of a new rule adopted this season.

    The competition committee decided that coaches can challenge pass-interference calls, and the league can review those types of calls after the two-minute warning of each half. The intent was to prevent egregious oversights like the one during last season's NFC Championship Game.

    According to The Ringer's Danny Heifetz, officials overturned five of 54 challenges through the first 10 weeks of play.

    "I don't think any of us have a feel for what that looks like," Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, who serves on the competition committee, said in October, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Brian Batko. "... I'm just being honest. I don't have any idea what I'm going to do moving forward because it appears to be a moving target."

    How successful has the NFL's implementation of pass-interference challenges been during its first season of existence?

    Ty Dunne: F

    We're seeing a horrible trend. Now, every offseason, the league will overthink whatever folks on Twitter are complaining about and implement a rule that only makes it worse. Like this.

    Mike Freeman: F

    The refs still don't call pass interference correctly, and the new rule doesn't seem to add much, because even with replay, the refs still get the calls wrong.

    Mike Tanier: D

    On the one hand, I still have no idea what pass interference is or how that definition changes when a play is reviewed. On the other hand, it's been a few weeks since I saw a pass-interference call so bad that it upstaged all of Sunday's action. So...progress, I guess?

    Brent Sobleski: F

    Did the new rule make a legitimate difference? Nope. It just made games more annoying to watch when officials stubbornly refused to overturn calls.

    Brad Gagnon: B

    Great new initiative but terrible implementation and management. It's been applied pretty well in recent weeks, but it's probably too late. The policy will be gone in 2020.

    Gary Davenport: F

    I have hated this rule with a passion that burns like a thousand suns from the moment the league implemented it. For every "bad call" that's reversed, there are three that aren't and three more that aren't even looked at (a la Sunday night in Seattle). The whole thing is no less flawed and arbitrary than before.

Kliff Kingsbury Opening Door for More Collegiate Hires

8 of 10

    Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

    Plenty of uncertainty surrounded the hire of Kliff Kingsbury as the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals.

    After all, he finished his first collegiate coaching tenure with a 35-40 record at Texas Tech, a middling Big 12 school.

    But Cardinals brass saw the potential in the charismatic offensive mastermind, who is suited to today's pass-happy game in the same vein as up-and-comers like the Los Angeles Rams' Sean McVay.

    Kingsbury didn't disappoint. He brought offensive creativity, and this year's first overall pick, quarterback Kyler Murray, showed plenty of promise. In fact, the Arizona offense averaged 100.1 more yards per game.

    The Cardinals improved to 5-10-1 after winning three games in 2018 and remained competitive in nearly every contest.

    Will Kingsbury's success open more doors for collegiate coaches who are looking to make the jump to the professional ranks?

                                            

    Ty Dunne: B

    That Cardinals offense was a lot of fun to watch, and Murray is here to stay. There has to be another innovative mind out there worth gambling on.

    Mike Freeman: C

    His success may not lead to the hiring of more college coaches, but it will cause teams to look even harder at one coach in particular. Spoiler alert: Urban Meyer.

    Mike Tanier: B+

    It's not just Kingsbury who opened the door. Lamar Jackson also opened the door because teams will look to college coaches to create Ravens-style offenses. And don't forget that coaches like Jason Garrett open the door every time they lead 12-4 talent to an 8-8 record with 23-yard field goals and 4th-and-1 punts.

    Brent Sobleski: B

    Historically, the NFL has been far too arrogant in its belief that the professional level dictates how the game is played. That hasn't been the case for some time. Professional and collegiate football are now closer than ever schematically. As such, more coaches from the amateur ranks should be strongly considered for open positions, especially with Kingsbury's early success.

    Brad Gagnon: C+

    It's a copycat league, and Kingsbury's rookie season was encouraging. I just don't think it was so good that there'll be a full-out college-coach shopping spree. The Cardinals won only five games.

    Gary Davenport: C-

    Kingsbury has been better than I expected. But let's tap the brakes a tad—he won five games in his first season. I'm no more for or against hiring a college coach than I was at this point last year. It depends on the individual and the team.

Death of Los Angeles Rams' Super Bowl Window

9 of 10

    John McCoy/Getty Images

    The Los Angeles Rams felt like they were the next great franchise before everything started to fall apart.

    A year ago, they were on their way to a Super Bowl appearance with nearly everyone trying to emulate their success under general manager Les Snead and head coach Sean McVay.

    But cracks began to show during that playoff run. Todd Gurley's potential long-term knee issue came to light, and the Patriots befuddled the Rams' explosive offense in the title game.

    Over the last two years, Los Angeles pushed the boundaries of its financial capabilities by handing out massive contract extensions, including to Aaron Donald and Gurley, and by making big trades instead of relying on the draft to replenish the roster.

    "Like anything else, we'll take some time to be able to really reflect back on the year, look at what some of the things that we need to do as we are moving forward," McVay told reporters. "Part of that, is talking to each one of the staff members, talking to your players, and then being able to have a direction as we progress in to the next season."

    The Rams fell to 9-7 this season and didn't make the playoffs. Has their once-promising Super Bowl window already slammed shut?

                                    

    Ty Dunne: C

    The contracts in L.A. sure don't look good right now, but let's not write off McVay and quarterback Jared Goff yet. The two of them did get to the Super Bowl a year ago, and the Rams remained competitive against the powerhouses in their division.

    Mike Freeman: B

    I'm not sure the window is closed, but it's barely open, slightly cracked, and the Rams would like to shove Goff out of it. The window will keep closing until the team solves its Goff problem.

    Mike Tanier: B

    The Rams are the Cowboys with a slightly better coach in a much harder division. Yes, I said "slightly" better.

    Brent Sobleski: C

    It's far too early to give up on the Rams. Yes, changes are forthcoming. But the talent core is locked up, with Goff, Gurley, Donald, Brandin Cooks, Tyler Higbee and Rob Havenstein all signed through at least the 2022 campaign. Jalen Ramsey and Cooper Kupp will likely receive extensions as well. This core can make another push after some refiguring.

    Brad Gagnon: C+

    It'll get hard considering their cap and draft-pick situation, including no first-rounder in 2020, but the window should remain open for a team that has Donald, a brilliant coach, a deep receiving corps and a quarterback who still has plenty of room to grow.

    Gary Davenport: B

    The window isn't shut. But the Rams don't have much wiggle room to improve—their first-round pick is gone (again), and a massive percentage of their cap space is tied up in a handful of players. Snead gambled the future on the present in the hopes that L.A. would have won a Super Bowl by now. Instead, the Rams are trending in the wrong direction.

Aaron Rodgers No Longer Elite?

10 of 10

    Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

    All quarterbacks, even Tom Brady, face an inevitable decline. Aaron Rodgers is no different.

    In three of his last four seasons, Rodgers played all 16 contests—he suffered a fractured collarbone during the 2017 campaign. He posted a career low in that span in completion percentage (62.0) this season. His passing yardage (4,002), yards per attempt (7.0) and quarterback rating (95.4) were all near the bottom of his career numbers.

    Those stats are far from discouraging, and the 36-year-old signal-caller can still make the outstanding throws everyone grew accustomed to seeing. But the consistency of his play fluctuated.

    "Too many missed throws," Rodgers said of his performance Sunday in a 23-20 win over the Detroit Lions, per ESPN's Rob Demovsky. "Felt good about the throws—that's the crazy thing. Felt good about some of those I overthrew by a couple yards. Just a little bit off at times. But when we had to make some plays, we made some plays."

    At least one factor must be considered. Rodgers is still in his first year under head coach/play-caller Matt LaFleur. So he likely had an adjustment period.

    Overall, Rodgers finished top-10 among passers in only one category—he tied for eighth with 26 touchdown throws. Are we seeing the decline of Rodgers as an elite passer?

                                

    Ty Dunne: B

    Rodgers was an average quarterback this season with his 28 incompletions Sunday—the most for any quarterback in a game this season—slotting him right behind Mitchell Trubisky, Jared Goff and Mason Rudolph on the NFL's completion percentage leaders, 21st overall. Good on the Packers to anticipate this regression by loading up on defense and committing to the run to earn a bye week. Will that be enough in January?

    Mike Freeman: F

    Yes, yes he is. Stop it. Don't be silly.

    Mike Tanier: B

    I have no idea what "elite" means. If you are asking me whether I would rather have Patrick Mahomes or Lamar Jackson than Rodgers, well sure, because they are fresh and new, and dealing with Rodgers on a daily basis is (by all accounts) like getting your toenails removed. Would I rather have Carson Wentz, Dak Prescott, Kirk Cousins or Ryan Tannehill? With the Super Bowl a few wins away? No way. And neither would you. Now GET OFF MY LAWN.

    Brent Sobleski: C

    His tools remain elite. But Rodgers experienced growing pains for the first time in a long time while learning a new offensive scheme. That's OK. If the trend continues into next season, then this discussion can begin in earnest.

    Brad Gagnon: A

    We blamed Mike McCarthy, we blamed injuries and we blamed his supporting cast. There were plenty of scapegoats when Rodgers failed to consistently produce in 2017 and 2018. At some point, we have to wonder if the guy is just not the same. Aside from his strong touchdown-to-interception ratio (26-4), Rodgers was just average in 2019. At age 36, his best days appear to be well behind him.

    Gary Davenport: B

    Rodgers' numbers are down, no doubt. But the Packers are a 13-3 No. 2 seed, which seems to be, um, good. Green Bay will play a divisional-round game at home (where Rodgers rarely loses), and then it's on to the NFC championship. If Rodgers wins another Super Bowl this season, I'm 114 percent sure he won't give a crud what his stats look like. He probably already soothes his feelings in that regard by looking at his checking account balance.