Tua is going to the Pro Bowl (and the playoffs), Saints are at the bottom of the NFC South, and Derrick Henry will fall off a cliff (along with the Titans).
3 Bold Predictions
We're in the depths of the offseason, so it's time to start throwing shit at the wall and seeing what sticks. If I'm right, you'll be sure to hear it from me all season long. If I'm wrong, the article won't be mentioned at all.
Besides the Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots, and Seattle Seahawks, I think every team at least tried to get better. And, with everything outside the Factory of Sadness mostly settled, it's time to show everyone what a great guesser I am. So, let's make like Limp Bizkit and roll.
Tua Makes the Pro Bowl and the Dolphins make the Playoffs
This prediction has next to nothing to do with Tyreek Hill. I actually think the Miami Dolphins gave up too much for the controversial speedster. Instead, this pick has everything to do with an upgrade in coaching.
Tua Tagovailoa's tenure under Brian Flores was a disaster. Coming into the NFL with a bad hip, taking snaps behind a terrible offensive, playing under a coach who couldn't decide on his starter from week to week, then never choosing an offensive coordinator is "how to ruin your quarterback 101". It's negligent to draft a quarterback that high and then do what the Dolphins did. Flores' firing was only a surprise if you weren't paying attention (not that anyone should feel bad about ignoring Miami, it's not a sports city).
Even if new coach, Mike McDaniel, doesn't live up to the media hype, I'm sure he knows how to structure a coaching staff. He'll also know how to mount a decent rushing attack since he spent time working under Kyle Shanahan. That will open up the passing game through play-action. If Tua comes into this year healthy, we'll see him recapture the magic he had at Alabama and nail throws all over the field. Many smart people considered Tua a better prospect than Herbert; one just happened to land in the perfect situation while the other landing spot was trash.
Derrick Henry's Demise
This one doesn't even feel that bold, and I'd like to be wrong. But, when you run your running back into the ground, he stays there. Football Outsiders wrote decades ago that 370 carries is the magic number for running backs. In 2020 when Henry rushed for over 2000 yards, he lugged the rock 378 times. Last season started off promising, but he broke his foot anyway. That's a tough road ahead; running backs spend a lot of time on their feet... running.
With Derrick Henry, the Titans average 28 Points Per Game. After he went out with a foot injury, Tennessee only averaged 21 PPG. If that's not enough - Pro Football Focus gave Tannehill a 74.3 Rating during the eight games he played with Henry. Once King Henry left the lineup, his PFF Passing Rating dropped to 66.3. But wait, there's more! Tannehill is a fantastic play-action quarterback, posting an 88.2 Rating at PFF. Without the play-action? A measly 66.7. You know what becomes less effective without Tractorcito? Play-action.
Derrick Henry is as important as any skill player in the league (don't listen to running back naysayers), but one grueling season and a foot injury later, I doubt the Titan's offense can return to form.
New Orleans Saints Bottom Out the NFC South
You know what division isn't good, or even mediocre, outside of one team? The NFC South. It's a race to the bottom between the Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons, and New Orleans Saints. Coaching is more important in the NFL than in any other league. You don't win by accident... unless you're Barry Switzer.
I see too many people saying the Saints will be fine cause Jameis Winston will be an upgrade over their abysmal quarterback situation from last season. Crab Legs coming off an ACL isn't enough to compensate for the loss of Terron Armstead and Marcus Williams. He's definitely not enough to make up for the loss of Sean Payton. Payton was supposed to be his savior. Jameis Winston isn't going to be the guy the Saints are looking for sans Payton.
I'll feel incredibly confident about this prediction if the Panthers land Baker Mayfield. I already expect Desmond Ridder to be the best quarterback of the draft class, although if he can't beat out Marcus Mariota, that'll be concerning. Expect another spectacular interception number from Winston without one of the best offensive coaches of the past 20 years to rein him in.