National Football League
NFL Stock Watch: Young QBs on the rise; what's next for Cowboys after collapse?
National Football League

NFL Stock Watch: Young QBs on the rise; what's next for Cowboys after collapse?

Published Jan. 15, 2024 11:32 p.m. ET

The NFL's Super Wild Card Weekend has wrapped up. It featured quite a few stupendous performances and some extraordinary upsets. Here's how my opinion shifted — up and down — about a few of the players and teams involved.

Stock up:

Young gunslingers

C.J. Stroud and Jordan Love have arrived as their respective franchises' long-term quarterbacks after pulling off wild-card wins. Stroud is going to win Offensive Rookie of the Year after his sensational inaugural NFL season. He already entered the weekend as the Houston Texans' franchise quarterback, but his play in walloping the Cleveland Browns signaled that Houston can win big with him right now. The Texans have a two-year window where Stroud is cheap before he's due for his extension. They have a head coach whom players want to play for and a state without income tax. They should attract loads of talent to beef up the roster to make future postseason runs.


Love isn't a rookie but was given the reins to the Packers offense entering his fourth season after sitting behind Aaron Rodgers. Love started slowly this season but played some great football in the final two months. Then came Sunday in Dallas where Love arrived as a player the Packers know they can win big with. Love was exceptional. He made all the throws. He was calm under pressure. And he ripped apart a good Cowboys defense in a 48-32 walloping. He's the dude for the Packers moving forward. 

Kansas City Chiefs

The defending champions looked like a championship team once again in a win that felt bigger than the 19-point difference of Saturday's win over the Miami Dolphins. The Chiefs defense once again proved it is Super Bowl-caliber. But we already knew their defense was good enough to win a Super Bowl. The question was their offense, which looked the best it has in a while this weekend. 

After a few errant passes to start the game, something that might be expected in negative-5-degree weather, Patrick Mahomes was locked in. He "only" threw for 262 yards, which included two deep shots that should have been hauled in. The Chiefs offense is still struggling with mistakes that derail touchdown drives and not executing well enough in the red zone. However, they did enough to gain over 400 yards and get into the red zone over five times against the Dolphins. As I've said for months now, if the Chiefs can eliminate a few of these mistakes, they are heading back to the Super Bowl. I'm not entirely sure they can do that, but watch out if they do, because they should win the AFC. 

Are the Chiefs back in Super Bowl form?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

I don't believe even the most passionate Bucs fan would have predicted before the season that this team, with Baker Mayfield at QB, would beat the Eagles in the playoffs. But the Bucs did it. They dominated the Eagles in all phases of the game to advance to the divisional round. Baker Mayfield was far better than his stat line indicated, with multiple drops hurting his numbers. He was efficient and limited mistakes.

The Bucs defense played fast. They played violent. They were excellent at rushing the passer and forcing Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts into errors and sacks. It was just an impressive playoff win for the Bucs. They are going to Detroit with a chance to play in the NFC championship game. 

Stock down

Dallas Cowboys

I hope Bill Belichick likes Texas, because Cowboys owner Jerry Jones should call him soon to offer him the Dallas job if current head coach Mike McCarthy gets fired for the Cowboys' performance against the Packers. A close loss would have stung, but you can rationalize it. A play here or there could have changed the result. You cannot say that about the Cowboys' humiliating loss to the Packers on Sunday

The Cowboys were seven-point home favorites against the seventh-seed Packers, who needed a win on the final weekend of the regular season just to get into the dance. The Packers have the youngest offense in the NFL. They also own the fifth-youngest roster to make the playoffs since 1970. The Packers have almost no one who's played in a playoff game on the offensive side of the ball. The Packers have a defense that has made quarterbacks money this season. They even allowed 30 points to the Carolina Panthers three weeks ago. The Panthers proceeded to score ZERO points over their next eight quarters. 

On Sunday, the Packers scored five offensive touchdowns in the first three quarters, plus an additional defensive touchdown with an interception by Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott. The Cowboys' game plan against this Packers defense was bad. Too much rushing the ball and not enough passing against a Packers defense that doesn't stop the pass all that well. On the other side of the ball, the Packers offensive line pushed around the Cowboys front and eventually got them to tap out. 

This disaster of a performance falls squarely on McCarthy. His team was not prepared to play this game. Both physically and mentally. Dominated at home by a young coach and younger roster. Just not acceptable. I think he's gone.

Could Jim Harbaugh, Bill Belichick replace Mike McCarthy if Cowboys fire him?

Miami Dolphins offense

The Dolphins have a quarterback problem. The problem isn't that they don't have a quarterback. Tua Tagovailoa is the quarterback of the future. The Dolphins must pay him because he's earned it with his play this season. Also, the Dolphins have no better options unless they draft a younger quarterback. The problem is that Tua is a limited quarterback who isn't as good away from home in the cold. In the AFC, in no particular order, the Dolphins have to contend with cold-weather teams in Kansas City, Buffalo, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and so on. As the Dolphins offense is currently constructed, they can not win many of these road playoff games.

The Dolphins offense needs to be a bruising group that controls the line of scrimmage and keeps it simple for Tua. They need to use the tight end more often and just limit exposure to Tua's lack of arm strength. The offense also needs to help Tua with finding his second or third option. Too often he's locked into his first read and then when it's covered, the down is over for the offense. Mike McDaniel and Co. have some adjustments to make this offseason to win in the future. 

Geoff Schwartz is an NFL analyst for FOX Sports. He played eight seasons in the NFL for five different teams. He started at right tackle for the University of Oregon for three seasons and was a second-team All-Pac-12 selection his senior year. Follow him on Twitter @GeoffSchwartz.


Get more from National Football League Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more