A lot of players, coaches, general managers, and owners in the national Football League were actually quite thrilled and gratified by the ghastly WTF–Philadelphia Vomit Smear on Sunday night, and that’s because their own lousy Sundays are now mere afterthoughts. The national rage over what fans were given to watch provided cover for a lot of other players and teams who otherwise might have borne the brunt of their own disappointed fan bases, gamblers, and free-range idiots.
Nothing, you see, covers a bad day like a monumentally worse day, which is why Adam Gase, who got fired Sunday night by the New York Jets, had a better day than Philadelphia’s Doug Pederson, and Nate Sudfeld, the backup quarterback who Pederson thought should get some valuable playing time and performed so grimly that Mark Sanchez’s Buttfumble sued for copyright infringement. Sudfeld threw an interception on his third play and fumbled on his fifth, which relieved a number of quarterbacks whose performances were well short of endurable.
Cincinnati’s Brandon Allen completed 6-of-21 passes for quarterback rating of 0.0 in a 38-3 loss to Baltimore, but he’s Brandon Allen and he plays for the Cincinnati Bengals so what was he to do? Teddy Bridgewater and P.J. Walker combined for five picks and a quarterback rating of 33 in a loss to New Orleans, but again, the Panthers. Plus the Jets, and the Jaguars, and any number of any players and teams were bad while at least trying not to be. You know, just another Week 17.
Even Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was relieved of the full burden of a dreadful day against Buffalo that led to the Dolphins missing the playoffs despite having a 65 percent chance to get in when the day began. His three interceptions in successive second-half possessions turned a difficult situation into a rout, and his rookie year ended not as the first neophyte [Correction: since Dan Marino] to take Miami to the postseason but as a very hyped quarterback with a not very hypeable first year.
Not that this is any indication of future value, and most folks won’t even remember it at all, especially not after Pederson and Eagles general manager Howie Roseman told Sam Hinkie to hold everyone’s beer. The Tagovailoa story has become a fairly ordinary one after months of aggressive hype, and though it is still early in his development, his new-car smell is now gone, and it is at least conceivable that he might be an ordinary quarterback with ordinary highs and lows—rather like Jared Goff in some ways. He is hardly a Haskins in the making, but neither is he an instant Mahomes 2.0.
But he is safe from any extended grief because while his most important game revealed his worst, the Eagles took the bullet everyone else had coming for them. Failure is one thing, but naked graceless failure is three more things entirely—especially when the net gain is three draft slots.
And come the light of day, Tagovailoa will live in the comfort that he is not Nate Sudfeld, he does not play in Philadelphia, and he does not have those fans and their justifiably deployed middle fingers. All he did was look poor in an important game few people will either note nor long remember. By comparison, he had a hell of a day.