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Ask a former NFL player: Are teams really in ‘win now’ mode, or is it a myth?

In this week’s mailbag, retired lineman Geoff Schwartz takes a look at the urgency to win in the NFL, as well as which teams can go from worst to first in 2019.

Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone! Hope y’all can enjoy the time off with family and friends, while eating everything in sight. Before you hit the water this weekend, check out my mailbag!

As a reminder, if you have a question for next time, you can DM me on Twitter or Instagram.

Is there such a thing as “win now” mode in the NFL? I see a lot of talk about how the Chiefs have a short “window” to get to the Super Bowl before they have to shell out big money for Patrick Mahomes. Do teams really have that mentality, or is it just a sports media misperception? — @RobstaLobsta22

This answer is different depending on your role with the team. For the coaching staff, they are always in “win now” mode. Coaches are judged on wins and losses, and player development. They often go hand in hand. Coaches must win. They crave winning. They don’t spend countless hours at the facility, sleepless nights focusing on the game plan and time away from their family to lose games. They WANT to win, all the time. If they don’t, bye bye job.

Just look at last season for an example. The Raiders were 2-10 and heading toward the first pick in the draft. We can all agree having the first pick, or even a top-three pick for Nick Bosa and/or Quinnen Williams, would have been more beneficial to them than drafting fourth. They should have lost down the stretch. Instead, the Raiders won two of their last four games and ended up with the No. 4 pick. There are many other examples of this throughout the NFL — teams that could have benefited from losing or tanking, but they win too much.

Players are wired the same. When you’re between those white lines, you better show out. The film is your resume and no one evaluating the film is saying, “oh wait, that team is trying to lose. It’s OK player X isn’t playing well.” Ha! No chance. So when players are on the field, they are trying to win every single rep.

Now, front offices aren’t always in “win now” mode. They are team builders in the facility. They need to look ahead. They project out their rosters, the salaries, and the future cap number. They often keep their gigs through multiple coaching hires. They have job security.

With that being said, I do think teams as a whole, including the front office, understand the value of trying to win with a franchise quarterback under a rookie deal. Whether it’s the Seahawks, Eagles, or Rams, it’s clear this formula can get you into the big game and win.

For the Chiefs, I do think there’s a sense of urgency within the organization to win now, but mostly because windows close quickly in the league, even without having to pay a top quarterback. It’s freaking hard to win and keep winning. One or two injuries can derail a season and so can free agency. Bad luck in games can happen and the ball doesn’t bounce in your direction. Winning is tough.

So the short answer: Mostly, everyone is trying to win now for various reasons.

Which team is most likely to go from worst to first this year? @Sirris

Looking over the standings from last season, there’s one potential team that could go from worst to first in its division: the Jaguars. And even then, I wouldn’t bet on it. Adding Nick Foles is a huge bonus for them, but their division is tough and I can’t really see it happening.

However, there are two teams that finished near last place that I can see winning their division in 2019. The Packers were 6-9-1, one game out of last place in the NFC North. With a healthy Aaron Rodgers, a new offense, and an improving defense, the Packers can totally win the North.

Sticking in the NFC, the 49ers finished 4-12 and in third place in their division. We know their offense under Kyle Shanahan is legit and adding Jimmy Garoppolo back into the mix will only take it to another level. They have a formidable pass rush now with Dee Ford and Nick Bosa, but their defense will still need to greatly improve for them to win the NFC West.

What type of pass rusher should an offensive lineman fear more: technicians with good hands, speed rushers, or power rushers?@ltBeJP

The answer is someone who can do all three — and plenty can. If you have one pass rush move, any good offensive lineman can shut that down. Speed rush? OK, I’ll set to take that away knowing you have no counter move. Power rusher? I’ll set ready to anchor on the bull rush.

If a pass rusher has two moves, then linemen need to set accordingly. But when a guy has three moves, it’s so darn tough. What do you set to take away? If you take one away, and even the counter, then pass rush move No. 3 can get you.

However, if you’re asking about a single move, I’d have to go with the hump move. It was a Reggie White special. You’re setting for the speed rush and while the defender is rushing up the field, he slows down just enough to use his arm to throw you out of the way and go inside. This works because you can pressure up the field. The hump move starts with that fear. It’s almost impossible to stop.