Anyone can look up the current NFL standings and identify who is winning and who is losing. However, there is a lot more to football than reading the standings. With week 10 and the NFL trade deadline in the rearview mirror, some teams are vigorously pressing forward with playoff aspirations, while others are already counting the days until the 2022 NFL Draft. It’s the same for players as some couldn’t love the situation more, while others can’t wait to say goodbye. This is how football, sports and quite frankly life has always been, somebody has to lose and somebody has to win. Let’s take a look at the biggest winners and losers as we sit halfway through the 2021 NFL season.
Winner: Aaron Rodgers
Did you watch Jordan Love and the Packers take on the Chiefs? If you did, you were reminded of how vital Rodgers is to the Packers success. Without heavily criticizing Love, it was apparent that a year and half of preparation was not enough for him to become a reliable starting quarterback in the NFL. Things do not look promising for the former first-round pick, making Rodgers’ value to the Packers greater than what it already was. Whether you view him as an underappreciated star or a diva, the Packers have no choice but to give Rodgers anything he desires to keep him in Green Bay. Love’s performance was everything Rodgers needed to gain complete leverage over the Green Bay front office, making him one of the biggest winners this season, thus far.
Loser: Carolina Panthers’ Quarterback Room
Everything has come full circle in Carolina, literally. The Panthers cut Cam Newton in March of 2020 and replaced him with Teddy Bridgewater. After a mediocre season, the Panthers dealt Bridgewater to the Broncos for a sixth-round pick before pulling the trigger on a deal that brought in Sam Darnold from New York. The Panthers showed a lot of faith in Darnold, trading three picks to acquire him and picking up his $18.9 million fifth-year option. After being benched and injured, it’s clear that was a regrettable decision by the Panther’s front office. In arguably the most ironic situations fans could have imagined, the Panthers announced they had signed Cam Newton days before their week 10 matchup against the Cardinals. Although Cam shined with a rushing and passing touchdown in a dominant win over Arizona, one must wonder if they should have never cut Newton in the first place. After all of that drama, their quarterback room is already back where it was two years ago. Zero quarterback improvement at the expense of millions of dollars, draft picks and opportunities to draft a new quarterback makes the Panthers quarterback room one of the biggest losers this season.
Winner: Von Miller and the L.A Rams
All good things must come to an end. Von Miller’s tenure as a Denver Bronco was nothing short of phenomenal. A gold-jacket level of dominance, with the shining moment being his dominant performance in Super Bowl 50 as the Broncos routed Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. However, those days are over. As difficult as this was for many Broncos fans to come to terms with, Miller’s contract was up at the end of this season and it did not look likely he would return to Mile High. The Broncos were able to make the best out of the situation by adding two picks from the Rams in the Miller trade. Those picks may help ease the pain of Broncos fans, but this situation is too great for Miller to not be thrilled for him. The last time Miller was at his best was when he was paired with Demarcus Ware. Miller now joins a Rams defensive line featuring Leonard Floyd and Aaron Donald, creating a nightmare for opposing offensive lines. It’s impossible to double-team all three of them, creating multiple potential one-on-one opportunities for each of the stars, including Miller. He will truly live a pass rushers’ dream, playing alongside other Pro Bowl talents while having a reliable offense, something Denver hasn’t offered Miller since Peyton Manning was in town. Whether or not he stays in Los Angeles beyond this season, Miller should make the trade well worth it for the Rams come playoff time.
Loser: Tua Tagovailoa
Yes, Tagovailoa and the Dolphins just upset Lamar Jackson and the Ravens, but do not let that distract you from the real storyline from South Beach. The Dolphins have sent mixed signals to Tagovailoa since his rookie season when he was frequently benched for Ryan Fitzpatick. When Fitzpatrick left for Washington, many assumed those days were over. Well, they’re not. Apparently Tagovailoa did not start over Jacoby Brissett due to a finger injury, but oddly, he still dressed and ended up finishing the game for the Dolphins. Keeping players healthy has to be a priority, but everything about this situation just seems fishy. Whether it was the Deshaun Watson rumors, Tagovailoa’s lackluster play, injuries or the playing time controversies with Fitzpatick and Brissett, the Dolphins don’t seem to believe in Tagovailoa. Although he may not deserve it, losing your team’s faith so quickly after being a top-five pick will put you on the loser list.
Winner: Chargers’ front office
Despite a week 10 loss to the Vikings, it’s clear the Chargers’ management has hit some home runs over the past couple of offseasons. First, they drafted Justin Herbert sixth overall in 2020. It will remain a mystery for years to come on how Herbert managed to be the third quarterback off of the draft board as he is developing into one of the league’s best talents. The Chargers doubled-down on great first round picks with the selection of Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater in the 2021 NFL Draft. Slater has been a stud from day one, unlike other franchises who fail to protect its young quarterbacks, the Chargers found Herbert’s bodyguard quicker than many could have imagined. The cherry on top to all of this was the addition of head coach Brandon Staley. Staley has brought life to the Chargers organization and has his young team competing for first place in arguably the toughest division in football. The Chargers have received plenty of praise and it is all deserved. The rebuild and turnaround over the past couple of seasons has been nothing short of impressive. Only one question remains, can they beat the Chiefs? We will have to wait and see, nevertheless, you can chalk the front office up as a winner in our book.
Loser: Dave Gettleman
The New York Giants are 17-38 under general manager Dave Gettleman since he was hired in December of 2017. Saquon Barkley cannot stay healthy, making the second overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft look like a regrettable one. The pick looks even worse when considering the Giants used their sixth-overall pick in the 2019 draft on quarterback Daniel Jones. It’s hard to defend the hiring of Joe Judge with the lack of winning surrounding the franchise combined with the teamwide fight breaking out before the start of this season. When considering the disappointment of free agent addition Kenny Golladay, it adds to an already greatly underwhelming tenure for Gettleman in New York. It’s hard to find any promising news coming from the Giants, and that’s not new. Times are tough for the Giants, that blame has to fall on Gettleman. In the end, a failure to be competitive in the worst division in football will help you secure a spot on the loser list.