Happy New Year everyone! And for those coaches who got fired yesterday, happy job searching!
A number of different teams cleaned house yesterday ranging from the 2-14 Chiefs to the 10-6 Bears. That wide range shows you just how differently organizations function in the NFL. Some teams just want to get to .500 with their pieces, others demand playoffs or bust. One report even suggested that if Lovie Smith and his Bears DID make the postseason, if they were one-and-done, Smith would have still been fired. The 12 teams that did make it and their coaches should count themselves lucky then.
I am curious to see the shifting that goes on and where the fired head coaches land. I feel like at least Andy Reid and Lovie Smith should get head coaching jobs again. For those that do not, look how successful Jack Del Rio was one year removed from head coaching the Jaguars as the Denver Broncos offensive coordinator. Fail with Blaine Gabbert and you might get to coach Peyton Manning, its a weird, weird world.
Especially for the Giants who had back-to-back 9-7 seasons with wildly different conclusions. The NFC East story-lines run deeper than that though. There is the Cowboys who had back-to-back chances to make the postseason in the LAST GAME OF THE YEAR and blew both. There is the Redskins who have been going nowhere fast for years until RGIII got there and there is of course the Eagles who do not have a starting quarterback, a head coach, or the support of a very angry city.
The AFC East is another mess. Out of the four teams, only the Patriots and Dolphins seem to be trending upward. The Patriots won the division again and the Dolphins have a ton of cap money to get rid of in free agency so its time to get some wide receivers. The Bills fired their head coach and are uncertain about the future of Fitzpatrick and the Jets are still the Jets and owe Mark Sanchez a lot of money.
The NFC North seems split evenly as well with the Packers and Vikings going to the postseason and the Bears and Lions stalling. Lovie Smith is already gone and the offensive line is unfortunately still there in Chicago and Jim Schwartz is in hot water for how the Lions have regressed and handled themselves this season. That whole Titus Young Sr. thing probably didn’t help much either.
Two teams from the AFC North made the playoffs this year after three made it last year, so how bad could things be there? Well, if you are the Browns you just fired your head coach and your GM, you got stuck with a second round draft pick QB in Brandon Weeden who still has question marks surrounding him, and you play in a division where no one else finished under .500. #RuhRohDawgPound
As for the NFC South, I would say its all optimistic. The Falcons destroyed this year and they have only one more challenge ahead of them: win a playoff game. The Saints get Sean Payton back next year (Hallelujah). The Bucs just need to fix their secondary and make Josh Freeman more consistent and the Panthers despite all the hoopla over Cam Newton’s regression finished second with a 7-9 record.
The AFC South likewise is looking up. Texans won the division for the second straight season, the Colts rebounded astonishingly with Andrew Luck, and the Titans have another year to develop Jake Locker, but must make the hard decision whether or not to keep the enigmatic Chris Johnson. As for the Jaguars, the prodigal son will most likely return to Florida with Tim Tebow arriving next year.
Credit: Seattle Seahawks Memes
The 49ers won the NFC West, but who here wants to bet against the Seahawks right now? They might be the most dangerous non-division winners since the Packers in 2010. The true definition of a WILD CARD team. The Rams will be dangerous next year after rebounding from a two-win season with a 7-8-1 record and 4-1-1 inside their very tough division. The Cardinals, well Larry Fitzgerald rather, will look to rebound next year with a new quarterback and a new head coach. Alex Smith, anyone? Matt Flynn? The NFC West is stacked with good quarterbacks.
From possibly the best division to definitely the worst. The Chargers somehow made a 7-9 season look even worse. The Raiders have a good quarterback they can develop, but they didn’t start Terrelle Pryor until Week 17 (wherein he threw two touchdowns and ran for another), and the Chiefs get the number one pick in an underwhelming draft class. The bright spot- the Broncos who, with a little bit of luck, might win the Super Bowl. (Luck in this case meaning that they won’t have to play the Patriots).
So that is the State of the Teams address as delivered by me. Now to end the regular season with some things worth sharing.
Pro Football Mock has been bringing weekly installments of their QBs on Facebook all season and they posted this one after Week 17 to cap off a Crappy New Year. As always, I am giving a warning for the crude nature of this link: NFL QBs On Facebook: Crappy New Year!
I am mad at myself that it took me this long to share this image:
Credit: NFL Memes
This is a long video, but a video that has to be seen. Carolina Panthers TE and Wayne, NJ native Greg Olsen and his wife’s elation turned to fear when they were told that one of their two unborn twins would be born with a heart defect and require a series of surgeries- the first one scheduled a few days after his birth. Greg Olsen, Heart Of The Matter is a gut-wrenching segment from ESPN.