Is Baker Mayfield Coachable On the NFL Level

A disappointing season ended in Cleveland with the firing of Head Coach Freddie Kitchens, however an undercurrent shrouded by the season’s finish rose to the surface. Not that of diva receiver Odell Beckham arguing in a demonstrative fashion with the aforementioned coach. Nor when it happened a few weeks before that with Jarvis Landry. It was the behavior of Baker Mayfield.

Lets take you back to the 15th game of the 2018 season when the Browns were putting the finishing touches on a 26-18 win over Cincinnati. Mayfield refused to shake the hand of former coach Hue Jackson who had been fired from Cleveland just 8 weeks before. Where he could have taken the high road he continued to act in the line of a tempestuous kid rather than a franchise QB.

Keep in mind he also had a disrespectful stare down with his old coach when he had completed a 66 yard TD to his TE Njoku. He jogged downfield staring down Hue Jackson as he went to celebrate with his teammates.

In a vacuum we didn’t know what had taken place behind closed doors between Jackson and Mayfield. Public reaction was mixed.

Fast forward to the last weeks of the season and we heard rumblings between he and Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry and interesting sound bites when it came to Coach Kitchens. At a time where Coach Kitchens could have benefitted from a vote of confidence from his franchise QB, he deferred to its a front office decision and out of his hands. Freddie was fired the night of the final Sunday and didn’t even make it to Black Monday.

Wasn’t Kitchens promoted from Interim Offensive Coordinator to Head Coach based on his work with Mayfield in ’18?? Why would he turn on the coach who believed in him?? Now make that 2 coaches in 2 years.

Uh oh… this just in: Browns GM John Dorsey just got fired! Make that 3 of 3!

Although Kitchens offense lacked creativity it was Mayfield who regressed on the field. Do you realize Baker’s quarterback rating sank from 93.7 as a rookie to 78.7 in year 2?? This is after acquiring RB Kareem Hunt and Odell Beckham. Take a look:

  • 2018 – 310 of 486 for 3,725 yards 27 TDs 14 Ints
  • 2019 – 317 of 534 for 3,827 yards 22 TDs 21 Ints

With all these offensive weapons he has not passed the eyeball test all year. Carson Wentz just went 4-0 with 3 receivers on IR to win the NFC East for the Philadelphia Eagles so Mayfield has no room for excuses. Where is he trending??

Baker Mayfield has gone into the offseason not wanting a QB coach. Now the GM that picked him 1st overall is gone. The 1st Head Coach in Hue Jackson with whom Dorsey conferred is gone along with hand picked 2nd coach in Kitchens. Attitude of Mayfield aside is this guy a coachable QB?? Will he backstab or undermine the next coach coming in?? The people who picked him are gone…

Baker Mayfield might go away as fast as his commercials. He has to become a student of the game and stay off Twitter downing beers. He is not maturing and may be out of the NFL in a little over a year.

He better as the new GM and Head Coach aren’t tied to him and there is a draft in April. A Jalen Hurts is available in round one. Remember former 1st round QB Josh Rosen in Arizona?? They got a new coach in Kliff Kingsbury and drafted Kyler Murray. You don’t think that can happen here?

Stay tuned…

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The NFL’s 100th Season: How Its a Passing League is a Misnomer

For years the battle has raged on the NFL has been called a passing league and the rule changes have been made for this to manifest itself. The league office has followed suit making sure the propaganda machines, NFL Network, FS1 and ESPN inundate viewers by saying it over and over. Yet here at Taylor Blitz Times we have told you this is and has been propaganda. When competing for a championship what plays out tells a different story…

Let’s take Drew Brees for instance…

For all the 5,000 passing yard seasons he’s had, do you realize when he won Super Bowl XLIV he threw for just 4,388 yards?? Even last year when his Saints were done in by a non pass interference call in the NFC Championship that kept him from the Super Bowl, Brees only threw for 3,992 yards? In the last 10 years these seasons rank as his 8th and 10th best in terms of yardage yet these are the seasons his team went the furthest. Imagine that.

Do you realize the 5 QBs with the most passing yards this season will watch the playoffs?

These are the “Pyrric Victory” QB…i.e. fantasy football guy: The QB that falls behind 24-7 with 80 or less yards passing during the competitive phase of a football game. Then with the opponent’s defense in vanilla zones protecting a 3 TD lead, the QB throws for a lot of yards as his team races to score 17 points throwing for 300 yards and a couple TDs in a 30-24 loss.
Hence a stat line that “looks” like he was in the game. Yet your eyes showed you when it was competitive he was completely ineffective. Since the stats look good its a “Pyrric Victory” although his team lost the war.

This is what plagues Dak Prescott, Jameis Winston and Phillip Rivers specifically. Just think, we just completed the last game of the season where Winston threw for more yards (5,109 yards) than Dan Marino’s great 1984 season. Stats can distort things and keep in mind this was a 7-9 team that has been out of the playoff race for months.

NFL Films once had a special that explained that teams that return an interception for a touchdown win the game over 75% of the time. Keep in mind Winston has thrown an NFL record 7 pick 6s which put his teams further behind…which forced him to pass more and… wait… this just in: The final pick 6 came in overtime and was the last play of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers season. Yikes!

Now Jameis wants $30 million per year after throwing 30 TDs & 30 ints….yet I digress

Football will always be a hitter’s game and until they turn this sport completely to lacrosse legislating against hitting, it’s principles still hold true.

The first is defense wins championships. Remember all the talk of the Rams and Sean McVay in last year’s Super Bowl? They ran into a Patriots team that played timely defense in a 13-3 win. Well it’s held true as 4 of the NFL’s top 5 defenses are all in the playoffs. Had the Steelers had any semblance of their offensive attack and Tomlin’s bunch would be in as well.

No question Mike Tomlin was Taylor Blitz Times NFL Coach of the Year.

The ability to come up with timely stops is where defenses win championships. Once you couple this with #2, a strong running attack, then you have a team that can power the football down their oponents throat and control the clock. You’ll also notice of the top 5 rushing teams 4 are in the playoffs. The only offset to this is the bubble screen teams are using as a replacement for high percentage running plays.

The name of the game in the NFL is balance with a high penchant for running and a competent passing game along with a steady defense. The recipe that has been rode to the Super Bowl has been a QB on a rookie QB with money spread along the team to a strong defense and running game. The Ravens rode this recipe to Super Bowl XLVII, Seattle to XLVIII and XLIX, the Eagles to LII & the Rams to LIII. It works.

chancellor.lombardiThe NFL has been around 100 years and The Chancellor of Football has been around for most of them and the axiom stands. Run it and play defense with a competent passing game and you have a chance to win it all. The playoffs start next week and the race to Super Bowl LIV begins.

The NFL is a balanced league… not a passing one.

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Taylor Blitz Times Coach of the Year: Mike Tomlin

No coach in the 2019 season has earned the tip of the cap for their coaching performance than Mike Tomlin. One interesting aspect was the respect earned once the season was underway with his former malcontent Antonio Brown. Believe it or not Brown deserves some of the credit.

Once AB’s antics tore at the fabric of the Oakland Raiders during the preseason, The Chancellor’s first thoughts were “What antics did Tomlin quell in the Steelers locker room over the last 5 years?”

We heard some of the rumblings and antics as his tenure was coming to an end there but nothing like his month long Oakland stay. Nor his few weeks in New England. Social media outbursts and squabbles with the collective front offices in less than 2 months. By October Brown was out of football.

Respect for Tomlin started to accrue then, even on the heels of public sentiment among many in Steeler nation who have called for his head. Even Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw chimed in late in 2016 on FS1’s Speak for Yourself:

Keep in mind this comes before his 1-4 start this year after losing potential Hall of Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for the season. Ben was to be the stabilizing on field leader to aid a rebuilding team from a tumultuous 2018 season. All World RB LeVeon Bell sat out and the aforementioned Brown’s leaving the team. The Steelers were even 0-2 when Ben was lost…. so Tomlin led a team missing these three skilled players who had a combined 16 Pro Bowls between them without a dedicated succession in place.

While the Stillers sit at 8-5 and may not catch the AFC North leading Ravens, his team is 7-2 after a 1-3 start since their last loss to Baltimore. Tomlin has kept his team hitting hard and having belief they can win any game. He’s won all 8 games with Devlin “Duck” Hodges (3-0) and Mason Rudolph (5-3) as starting quarterbacks making their first starts.

The Steelers have lost another 3 games to injury to stand in receiver Ju Ju Shuster and 5 more for fill in running back James Conner. Yet they have plugged in low round draft picks at RB, QB, and WR and haven’t skipped a beat. He has had to take some risks like today’s fake punt in Arizona but he has turned back the clock here in the NFL’s 100th season to a tried and true approach… lean on your defense.

Tomlin’s Stillers defensive ranks:

For all the talk of the Packers pass rush of “The Jones Bros” in Green Bay, TJ Watt (12.5 sacks) and Bud Dupree (9.5) have been more of a hurricane with 9 forced fumbles compared to the Packers duo with only 2. They only have 1 more sack combined 23 to 21 yet influenced their team’s outcome more over the last 2 months.

Dare we say they have revived the force coming off the edge reminiscent of Kevin Greene & Greg Lloyd??

One of the benefactors is midseason acquisition Minkah Fitzpatrick whose 5 interceptions and stellar play has solidified the back end of the defense. He has had an All Pro season and the voting should reflect it at the end of the season.

Ironically in a Facebook Steelers group when this team was 1-4 I joked how the Steelers saw this in 1976 when they had a defensive performance for the ages. Well Tomlin has taken his team back in time and has his team winning with brute force while infusing belief into a series of rookies on offense. This team will finish with an 11-5 record and no one will want any of this team as wildcard weekend approaches.

Next to Tom Flores taking the Oakland Raiders to the Super Bowl XV championship, Tomlin’s performance is one of the greatest single season coaching jobs in NFL history. To find a season remotely close to this you have to return to the 1991 Philadelphia Eagles when they lost Randall Cunningham in week 1 and fought to a 10-6 record. That season saw history’s last #1 defense against the run, #1 against the pass, and #1 overall… the trifecta while winning games with their 2nd, 3rd, & 4th string QBs.

Much like Tomlin has…

Will Pittsburgh win in a championship this year?? Time will tell but The Chancellor of Football has Mike Tomlin as Taylor Blitz Times Coach of the Year for 2019. In this historian’s eyes, Tomlin’s performance along with his Super Bowl XLIII season anoint him into the pantheon of great coaches no matter what Uncle Terry says.

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Enough With Joe Buck & Troy Aikman Announcing All These Games

America is suffering from Joe Buck and Troy Aikman announcing fatigue. Do they really have to ruin both Thursday Night and games on Sunday with these two?

Nothing is better than the break fans get when Joe Buck is off to announce the World Series and takes his non football sensibilities with him. He takes his hero worship with him and we get a week break from how great he thinks Tom Brady or Drew Brees are. Yet he talks down to and refers to the rank and file player with a disdain that grates people the wrong way.

It does with The Chancellor of Football and I know it does with a series of former players.

Joe Buck is the worst play by play announcer in NFL history and made it there due to nepotism. His father was legendary St Louis Cardinals announcer Jack Buck. Yet you can hear his elitist privlege ooze out of him as he drones on during a game. You can tell he’s never been in the fray playing sports or being in the heat of a battle to see both sides. He’s ultra conservative and shapes every narrative that way and it leads Aikman’s commentary down that path.

It has become so negative and off putting that Seattle Seahawk fans petitioned to have them removed from broadcasting their games. This was followed by Green Bay fans that became so popular Aikman addressed it in the Dallas Morning News. CBS Sports even ran a story covering it as Packer fans sought 15,000 signatures and wound up with a whopping 29,597. That is actual signatures of fans who believe Buck and Aikman were biased against their team.

I believe their bias doesnt stop there as Buck often shapes the nation’s narrative and can villify a player in the court of purlic opinion before millions.

Case and point this last Thursday Night when the brawl broke out between the Browns and Steelers with :05 left in the game. He reacted with utter disgust at Miles Garrett when he swung Mason Rudolph’s helmet striking him in the head. He completely villified Garrett while completely omitting Rudolph’s involvement starting the fight, trying to yank off Garrett’s helmet off first, and kicking Garrett in the unmentionables.

Not once did Buck even try to describe what happened from Garrett’s point as to why or how he overreacted. He turned Rudolph into some innocent man who was assaulted when clearly he was the aggressor even after his helmet had been taken off.

From that moment on the rest of the NFL Network commentary followed Buck’s suggestion of Garrett being thrown out the rest of the year. Finally from within the studio Willie McGinnest and James Jones restored sense there were two sides to this incident. Scott Hansen was adding to the narrative of Buck’s overreaction when he noticed how upset his studio mate Jones was and offered him the chance to express what he was feeling:

Those biases seemed to come out and crystalize down racial lines when it came from Buck’s point of view. Inside the studio this commentary touched off the firestorm that has become of this incident. Now it’s being talked about on every sports outlet as suspensions have come down now and ironically Garrett is suspended indefinitely while Rudolph is only subjected to an undisclosed fine. You can’t tell me Buck’s reaction and commentary didn’t help shape this from the very outset.

Listen to the round robin commentary from the Fox Sports commentary of Terry Bradshaw, Jimmy Johnson, Howie Long, Curt Menifee, and Michael Strahan who admits he hit a former teammate Scott Gragg with a helmet himself:

Amazing how once former players and not a preppy announcer talked about what they experienced and saw, all of their commentary was more understanding and empathetic to all parties involved. Or as Michael Strahan concluded his comment “…but if you haven’t been in that situation you don’t understand.” And that is what I’m saying about Joe Buck and his commentary in a nutshell which painted with a broad brush to the viewing audience that made Rudolph seem like an innocent victim and not a culpable antagonist.

Glad Jimmy Johnson addressed this…

To remove myself from Buck’s prejudices and biases during playoff games I’ll switch to Spanish audio. It would be great if Fox offered some of the Thursday Night games to other sets of announcers. How about a 2nd set of announcers for us to switch to that is more pro player in their commentary??

This isn’t new as Buck’s commentary was referenced against the great play by play commentary by the late Charlie Jones in a playoff retrospective on a 1989 playoff between Buffalo and Cleveland. This was one penned nearly 8 years ago.  It’s time to quit the love affair with the preppy commentator following in his father’s footsteps. It’s like a cruel practical joke as we have to hear commentary from someone most of us would last choose to talk football with. He ruins games for several teams and has shaped opinion negatively on many players over the years.

Thank goodness for NFL redzone and CBS football coverage….

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The Collateral Damage of Kyler Murray

A few weeks back the Cardinal franchise was celebrating a 34-33 win over the sinking 1-5 Atlanta Falcons. This on the heels of a 26-23 victory over the winless Bengals lent extreme optimism out here in the desert. Kliff Kingsbury’s crew went from an 0-3-1 record to 2-3-1 in a matter of 8 days and local media was waxing philosophically how this team had turned a corner.

Had they???

Murray led a last second drive in The Queen City that allowed the Cardinals to escape with a win over the NFL’s 31st ranked defense in Cincy.  Then came the nail biter as Murray & his offensive mates hung on for dear life as a 27-10 lead evaporated as Matt Bryant’s field goal sailed wide left preserving a 34-33 win. The Falcons came in with the 27th ranked defense.

Now follow that up with a surprising 27-21 win in New York where backup RB Chase Edmonds flashed in relief of starter David Johnson. Behind his 126 yards rushing and 3 TDs the offense didn’t have to depend on Murray (14 of 21 for 104 yards) throwing a wet ball too much in a driving rain.

This brought their record to 3-3-1 although it came at the expense of the Giants 28th rated defense. Arizona had fashioned a 3 game winning streak with improved play from Kyler Murray. He had thrown for 697 yards completing 61 of 90 throws and 3 TDs and no interceptions.

Just feet from the action you can tell how diminutive Murray is.

The Cardinals beat a few down on their luck teams and we knew we’d find out where this offense truly was once they played at New Orleans, host the 49ers and then go to Tampa then San Francisco before they make it to their bye. At the time these are the 5th, 1st, 23rd and 1st ranked defenses and all 3 have played lights out in recent weeks.

Now here we are halfway through that gauntlet and the Cardinals dropped 2 straight to the Saints 31-9, and the 49ers 28-25 on Halloween Night and are behind 10-6 on the road in Tampa.

One aspect of attending the Halloween matchup with San Fran is being close enough to get a sense of size. Or rather lack there of….  At the goal line awaiting an instant replay review, super rookie DE Nick Bosa was standing next to Kyler Murray and it looked like a big rother walking his little brother to school. Yes it’s great to cheer for the little guy but the NFL is the land of giants.

All night Murray was on the move amid the moving redwood forrest that was the 49er defensive line. He was sacked 3 times, hurried on 7 other attempts and on 3 occasions, Murray had to hookslide on scrambles in front of corners Richard Sherman & Emmanuel Moseley. Each corner even dwarfed him to the point he never tried to make either miss or power through an arm tackle and pick up a 1st down.

Keep in mind this is Murray at his quickest and most nimble. He can’t make the plays on the run a Lamar Jackson can do and he has to develop in the pocket. He has nice touch but as Defensive Coordinators really game plan against him, can he keep his touch over a complete football game. In today’s game the telecast announced that 31 times Murray and the Cardinals had been in the RedZone and come up with just 11 touchdowns. The worst in football. Defensive Coordinators are able to knock Murray off rhythm for a half as in most games the Cardinals are off kilter in the 1st half…only to scramble back in the 2nd and falling short in the games they lose.

So Murray picks up a lot of fantasy stats in garbage time…not stats that equal winning football. Huge difference!

Some of this is Kyler Murray’s fault but more of it is Kliff Kingsbury’s.

Murray shows tremendous flashes with great throws but there are too many sporadic 3 and out series. However Kingsbury never puts Murray under center where he could use his voice cadence to slow the pass rush. He also doesn’t put him under center where he can call half rollouts that can also slow the pass rush. In the Pistol you can’t run “Waggles” nor standard formation (2TE/1RB or 2RB/1TE) calls that brings 1 and possibly 2 additional Linebackers on the field and open up Murray’s throwing windows past 15 yards.

Yet that is too sophisticated for Kingsbury who is one of these analytic football coaches completely overcoaching the game and undercoaching situations. You’d think he was calling plays as though he is coaching football on Playstation or XBox Madden. Very few adjustments and shows why his hiring was questioned by those who never believed in him or his system when it never produced a winning record in the Big XII.

A collegiate conference that doesn’t play defense!

For The Chancellor of Football this all feels like “The Old Ball Coach II” when Steve Spurrier was supposed to revolutionize the NFL back in 2000 or The Run & Shoot offense only to fall flat on their faces when NFL Defensive Coordinators drew a bead on what they’re offenses couldn’t do.

Another is this penchant for hiring these “fast talking” young analytic football coaches a la Sean McVay who come in with a fancy Pistol formation and play call sheet and inability to react and make adustments in their offense when they face a defensive guru like a Bill Belichick. Or make adjustments to the elements or team’s defensive strengths. These guys are a thorn in the side of long time front line coordinators looking for head coaching jobs in the NFL. Same for many former black players who are not being afforded the chance to enter the coaching ranks with the “Rooney Rule” at these guys expense.

So teams are coming full bore on the Cardinals offense to chase Kingsbury back to college and Murray is the collateral damage. Remember in his 2nd preseason game showcased on HBO’s “Hard Knocks” when Murray, as the game concluded, asked several Raider defenders why the Raiders DC kept blitzing him when he expected a vanilla defensive game plan?? Its been relentless ever since.

Will Kingsbury adjust and learn the pro game?

Will Kingsbury alter his game plan away from the same formations and alter their plan of attack to protect Murray??

Will Murray be able to take the punishment before NFL defenses either beat the speed out of him or chase him back to baseball??

Interesting questions that history has shown direction but we have to let play out in real time. Asking “The Chancellor of Football?” We’ve seen this before and doesn’t think so. Kingsbury calls too cute a ball game just like Matt Nagy in Chicago. They’re too in love with playing to the point they are geniuses instead of adjusting to what will make their team’s successful. Then just like “The Old Ball Coach” they will be chased back to college.

This just in: The Arizona Cardinals just lost their 3rd straight, 30-27 to Tampa, and now drop to 3-6-1…and now travel to 8-0 (haven’t played this week yet) San Francisco with the NFL’s #1 defense. Yikes!! Kingsbury and Murray…your mission, should you choose to accept it…

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2019 NFC South Previews & Predictions: Chasing Ghosts

With the season underway it’s time to take a look at the NFC North where the most loaded division in the conference exists. In the last 10 years, 3 of the teams representing the NFC in the Super Bowl have come from here. The Saints in XLIV, the Panthers steamrolled to Super Bowl L and the Falcons are still reeling from the comeback they gave up in LI. Last January many felt the most egregious non call in NFL history prevented a 4th with seconds to go in the NFC Championship Game.

The Saints have said they have gotten over the debacle of the NFC Championship….have they?? What about the Minneapolis Miracle on the last play of the ’17 NFC Divisional loss to the Vikings?? Not since the Cleveland Browns of the late 80’s have we seen an NFL team so snake bitten with bitter endings in playoff games.??

2019 NFC North Predictions

  1. New Orleans Saints 11-5*
  2. Atlanta Falcons 10-6**
  3. Carolina Panthers 8-8
  4. Tampa Bay Bucs 5-11

The most competitive divsion in football just solidified with Julio Jones inking a 3 year extension which will keep him in Atlanta. The beauty is he stayed in the fold working and he and Matt Ryan should be firing away from the start of the season. However Deion Jones needs to return to form and their defense has to improve from a ranking of 28th.

Will Vic Beasley ever return to his 2016 All Pro form when he had 15 1/2 sacks and terrorized the division?? Matt Ryan has to get the Falcons leads and over the last 2 years he hasn’t had the rushing attack of the Super Bowl season of 2016. He’s been mired in games where he has been forced to throw to bring the Falcons back in games.

Can Freeman carry the load in ’19?

Last year the rushing attack plunged to 27th after dipping to 13th in 2017. Ever since the loss of Kyle Shanahan’s playcalling (’16) and Tevin Coleman’s departure (’17) and Freeman’s injury, Atlanta has left that defense on the field and they’ve suffered too many breakdowns.

Matt Ryan has to become the QB that can overcome play deficiencies and deliver. He has to be able to take over games when the attack is sputtering. Might not be fair but as a Super Bowl franchise quarterback, he has to held to that standard. This is Matt Ryan’s 12th season he isn’t a kid anymore and has to take over in games that mean something for Atlanta.

In Carolina and Tampa each will be held back by their quarterbacks and could both be looking for new ones next April. Since this game has been founded nothing has derailed a quarterback’s career like shoulder injuries. Cam has been recovering since off season surgery and hasn’t looked right.

Will Carolina develop other weapons to take the heat off McCaffrey.

His delivery was always a problem but earlier in his career he could power the football with his shoulder strength. He hasn’t developed throwing on time where he doesn’t have to and loft over the underneath coverage. Newton throws a lot of interceptions to Linebackers undercutting his routes.

Newton has been hesitant to let the football go and the offense relies way too much on Christian McCaffrey. Without the threat of attacking defenses downfield McCaffrey is an easy key and will be worn down by season’s end. Carolina has an aging defense that will short circuit their best efforts as Newton learns to trust the system and throw on time. He also can’t run and accumulate punishment on it either. This is a recipe for disaster as most of the Panther’s offense revolves around Newton running and throwing.

As for Winston and the Bucs… they brought in the QB whisperer in Bruce Arians. The question is will Jameis Winston pick up on the nuances of reading defenses and delivering the football on time to all of his receivers?? Winston is locked in on TE Cameron Brate but he has to be able to complete all his throws… deep digs, posts, post corners and get the ball out on time. Much like Newton he tries to gun the ball in late and sees a lot of interceptions by defenders cutting under his routes.

jameisIt’s one of the reasons DeSean Jackson connected with Ryan Fitzpatrick last year and emerged as a deep threat for Philly in game 1. However 2 of the Bucs former head coaches are on the Falcons coaching staff where Raheem Morris and Dirk Koetter are employed.  Tampa is in another coaching rebuild and will struggle. Tampa will struggle as will their quarterback. Will Winston make improvements to the point Tampa picks up his 6 year option?? Or will he fall by the wayside where the Buccaneers officially enter the Jalen Hurts sweepstakes??

The Chancellor of Football thinks it will be the latter.

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