Ten days into Go Long. A recap...
Here is a rundown of what we've posted so far at Go Long, from the pressure facing Bills QB Josh Allen to Mike Zimmer and the Vikings to the genius of the Green Bay Packers' master plan.
How’s it going, everyone?!
Hope you are all healthy and safe and enjoying this start to Go Long. Having one hell of a time here and pumped for all the features, profiles and Q&A’s we have on tap for you.
This Saturday, I just figured we’d do a quick heat check via email to catch up on everything posted so far in case you missed anything. You can click on the headline to read each story:
The Pressure is on Josh Allen, PART I The roster is talented. Tom Brady is gone. The opportunity is right there for the Buffalo Bills in 2020. It’s all on Allen to make it happen and, as we reported, the Bills were extremely close to making Patrick Mahomes their franchise quarterback. In Part I, ex-execs Doug Whaley and Jim Monos detail Bills owner Terry Pegula’s love for the player now taking over the NFL. And Bills players Mitch Morse, Devin Singletary and Zack Moss break down why Allen is their QB, why he’s the guy they want in their “bar fight.”
Here’s Whaley on Pegula/Mahomes:
“This was his guy. This was the guy he thought could define him as an owner and go back to the glory days of the Bills with Jim Kelly. So he’s like, ‘This is our next Jim Kelly.’”
The Pressure is on Josh Allen, PART 2 In our second part, Hall-of-Famer Kurt Warner meticulously breaks down Allen’s game and where he must take the next step. We all think of “ceiling” in terms of physical attributes but, as Warner explains, “ceiling” is more about the mental.
Pegula didn’t interfere in that Mahomes draft, either, because he no doubt knew just how bad things were under Rex Ryan. Now, with McDermott and Allen, the 8-3 Bills rev full steam ahead with a massive Monday Night Football game this week against the San Francisco 49ers.
Part I: Will the Minnesota Vikings finally "rise" under Mike Zimmer? They could’ve hit reset. They could’ve started over. Instead, the Vikings extended Kirk Cousins, Mike Zimmer and Rick Spielman, putting all of their faith in a head coach’s (ultra) old-school ways. In Part I, players forged in that fire explain the virtues of Zimmer’s hard-driving nature.
Here’s Terence Newman:
“He might yell at you. He might tell you you’re terrible. ‘You can’t do this. You can’t do that.’ But at the end of the day, you get in the game and not everything goes according to plan. So in the course of practice, he’s bad-mouthing you — Are you going to stop somebody today!? Now, you have to deal with him as well as doing your job. So you realize it elevates your game. You have to respond.
“You either go into the tank or you rise to what he’s telling you.”
Part II: Will the Minnesota Vikings finally “rise” under Mike Zimmer? Not everyone agrees Zimmer’s approach works. One former assistant calls him “an equal-opportunity asshole.” In 2018, right when the Vikings should’ve catapulted to a Super Bowl, they regressed. Multiple sources break down exactly what happened. Zimmer’s voice became white noise to several vets. He had enough of Stefon Diggs. Now, with a new wave of young players replacing those vets, can the Vikings “rise” as Newman says? With Kirk Cousins? They’re right in the NFC playoff hunt.
Here is what one source familiar with the Vikings’ thinking says:
“Everything is everyone else’s fault. Or the answer is always, ‘You have to work harder.’ Maybe it’s your scheme. Maybe it’s your stubbornness. Maybe it’s your inability to adjust. Maybe it’s your lack of communication. If you keep bringing Zimmer back and Spielman back and Cousins gets extended for $30 million a year, you’re going to lose the locker room because you’re losing some guys.”
Andy Janovich will kick your ass What a riot this conversation was with the Cleveland Browns fullback. From all those Busch Lattes to hunting “anything that moves” to building decks ‘n houses to running his $1,900 truck into the ground to blasting his body into harm’s way without giving a damn, Janovich is one of a kind. (And just what these Browns need if they’re going to make some noise.)
“I’ll tell ya, that’s why I pride myself in what I do. Being able to say ‘I kicked your ass. And there is nothing you can do about.’ There isn’t a better feeling, to say ‘We both had the same head start and I moved you out of the hole two or three yards. I kicked your ass.’ It’s a damn good feeling.
“Kicking somebody else’s ass makes you feel good about yourself.”
Every Monday morning, expect a recap of everything you saw on Sunday right here in “The Thread.” The first edition focused in on the Patrick Mahomes vs. Tom Brady match-up and how Mahomes closed that GOAT gap so quickly. I caught up with the one quarterback who knows Mahomes best: his back-up at Texas Tech, Nic Shimonek. It’s crazy to think about now but Mahomes wasn’t exactly known as an extremely hard worker early on in college. Far from it. Shimonek explains how film sessions studying Brady and adopting Kliff Kingsbury’s insane work ethic helped Mahomes get to this point. (Nobody’s calling him “fat” anymore.)
“Patrick wants to be the best ever. We talk about it pretty often.
“In order to be the best ever, you have to win championships. So that’s his No. 1 goal right now — to win another Super Bowl. If an MVP or a Super Bowl MVP come along with it, I think that’s great. I think he thinks that’s great. But as long as he’s holding a Lombardi Trophy at the end of the year.”
Our first Go Long Q&A is with former 49ers safety Donte Whitner. He’s had a wild life and career back to getting hit by a car at six years old and being told he’ll never walk again. Whitner is in TV now and has found a way to deal with his PTSD from the game through meditation and “fight-or-flight” hot yoga.
Whitner also didn’t hold back on where he believes the game is today despite the NFL’s best efforts to sell its safety:
“Nowadays, you can’t really trick these parents. It’s hard to trick them. We have the data and we know what this can do to our children so it’s going to get to a point where you sign something that says, “Hey, you’re signing up for the game of football. You understand the repercussions of your actions playing this. Are you willing to do this?” Because you can’t just take the physicality out of the game. You’re making it flag football. Football is a gladiator sport. That’s why so many people love it! Because everybody can’t do it and have the courage to do it. So, when you sign up, you understand the risk and you understand the reward. There is no middle ground for the game of football. It’s helmets and shoulder pads. It’s physicality. It’s grown men running at full speed into each other. You cannot prevent injury.”
The Green Bay Packers have a plan (it’s genius, too) I get it. It’s really easy to get caught up in the NOW, especially with a 37-year-old quarterback still playing very well. But the hysteria around the Packers’ decision to draft a quarterback and a running back was (and still is) mind-blowing.
This worked before, remember? Remember 2005?
And what if Jordan Love is… good?
In this feature, on just how unique the Packers’ vision is, I chatted with those who know Love best (his go-to receiver insists he’s another Mahomes, only better), as well as AJ Dillon, Allen Lazard and Jace Sternberger.
Dillon believes his body type and explosion is similar to Derrick Henry. (He could “feed a family of five” with one of his thighs.)
And Sternberger recalls an epic duel with Jadeveon Clowney in the playoffs last season. This is the kind of attitude you rarely saw through so much playoff disappointment the last decade. This team is tough enough to win in January now.
“He’s like ‘Rah, rah, rah, do that shit again and I’m going to F you up!’ Once it happens, you can’t back down. So, I’ll do this shit with Clowney. And I’m thinking, ‘F---. This dude? This is who I have to do this with? Are you serious? This is how I have to prove to everybody I’m not a (wussy)? Are you kidding me? This is who it’s against?’ So the whole game, here we are. Every time I’m blocking him, I’m bumping him and making sure my hand is on his hip. Touching his ribs. Just being a little pest. He keeps telling me how bad I suck and how I shouldn’t be out there.
“So I catch a pass and he’s coming to tackle me and I just hit the brakes and his whole body… his eight-foot arm just yanks the shit out of my helmet. Facemask and everything. I get up and say something like, ‘If I suck, you’re f------ trash.’”
Huge props to the great Jon Daly of Brave Buffalo for all logos and illustrations you see at Go Long. If you’re in need of art, hit him up.
And another thank you here to our first wave of subscribers for your support and trust. To all on the free email list, thank you for giving us a shot. I hope you enjoy these early, unlocked stories to get a feel for what you can expect long-term at Go Long. Subscribe any time at $7/month or $70/year right here.
Stay tuned Sunday for a podcast announcement as well. We’ll have some news there shortly.
As always, never hesitate to reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org for story tips, thoughts, concerns, anything at all. Love hearing from everyone.