So, how embarrassing is this 7-9 thing?
Has parity in the league gone too far? They flashed the stat last night. Almost 400 division winners, and Seattle became the first to pull off the feat at 7-9. I think in the NBA this can occasionally happen….40-42 gets you in or something, but the NFL is more selective than that. Also, it is the nature of the 7-9. It isn’t like the Seahawks were burdened by a brutal schedule. They didn’t lose a single close game all year. They have the 3rd worst point differential in the entire conference. If this were the Raiders (8-8) or a team like that, maybe you could talk yourself into them giving the Saints a game this weekend, but that isn’t the case here.
In the end, it probably doesn’t make a difference. I don’t think anyone thinks the Bucs, or the Giants were going to win the Super Bowl if they got in, but it robs the fans of a decent first round game at the very least. I think it is a little bit of a black eye for the league and they’ll be doing their best to drum up some interest in the unfortunate match-up, most likely centered around Seattle’s home field advantage, but in the end by the time the divisional round comes along we’ll have forgotten about the Seahawks and moved on. You can’t overreact to one horrible year for a single division.
The Young Quarterback Movement:
There was a time when quarterbacks in the NFL were recycled like head coaches. Guys would stick around forever. They are still out there. We saw Mark Brunell yesterday, but a lot of teams this year put faith in young and/or unproven back up quarterbacks. Matt Flynn, Troy Smith, Colt McCoy, Whitehurst, Skelton, Hall, Joe Webb, Tebow. The list goes on and on. Part of this was because of injuries, and there are still the Grossmans and Kitnas out there, but it also seems like plenty of teams are willing to take a chance on a young guy and see if they can strike gold.
Is this the Romo effect? The Fitzy effect? Even the Vick effect? Seems like teams realize you might not know what you have in a QB until you toss him out there under center when it matters. The answer at QB could be buried on a depth chart, and you won’t know until the guy plays. Now, most of these guys failed spectacularly, but not all of them. And, I can’t help but think if this was 5 or 10 years ago we’d have seen a lot more Kitnas than Webbs.
Lost in the Parity?
I know the Greatriots engine will be gaining steam with each passing day, but for now it seems like the Pats managed a slightly under the radar 14-2. For a team that hasn’t come close to losing and hasn’t scored less than 31 points in two months I would expect more Super Bowl lock talk. Were there too many other stories this year? Favre, Vick, the coaching turnover? The Pats have gotten plenty of attention, but it feels like it has been for individual accomplishments. Brady’s year, the love affair with Woodhead, those types of stories. Do you get the feeling that the Pats are untouchable right now? I’m not sure what to think. The numbers say they are, but it doesn’t feel that way in the old gut.
More quickly now…
Surprises of the Year:
Clearly Vick, who will need to win Sunday to really cap things off. Arian Foster went from mid-round fantasy flier to the league’s leading rusher. Great division to run against, or a stud for the next 5 years? From a team standpoint, I guess we’re talking Tampa despite their missing out on the playoffs. The other surprises were of the disappointing nature, Dallas, Minnesota, Washington, Denver….
Saddest Duo of the Year (Non-Favre Division):
Donovan McNabb and Larry Fitzgerald, obviously for vastly different reasons. McNabb saw his career completely dissolve over the span of a couple of months in Washington. If anyone saw the shot of McNabb on the sideline yesterday, bundled in a jacket, not a teammate within 30 yards of him, you know exactly the kind of sadness I am talking about. It wasn’t only a failure in D.C., but you wonder if there is any landing spot left for Don now. For Fitzgerald, he had a very fine year statistically, but he’s the poster boy for what was a sorry, sorry offensive show in Arizona. Aside from his measly six touchdowns, what stands out is that he set a career high for targets, but posted his worst statistical full season. That’s on the QBs.
Worst Coaching Job:
Mike Shanahan. Several guys were fired, and probably rightfully so. Brad Childress and Wade Phillips were replaced by guys who did much better with 2nd and 3rd string QBs. But, there is something about the whole Shanahan package that makes me want to single him out. This guy is supposed to be elite and all he can put together is one of the ugliest 6-10 seasons of all-time? Just when you thought Snyder might have gotten the right guy, Shanny comes in and sets the franchise back another couple of years.
Tom Brady. I’m not aware that there is even a race here. If you have someone else in mind, let me know, but I don’t see it. I guess I’d put Vick second, but his slow finish and missed time make this a no-brainer.
Preferred (and objective-ish) Super Bowl Matchups:
- Patriots vs. Eagles
- Patriots vs. Saints
- Eagles vs. Colts
84. Bears vs. Jets