I have three questions pertaining to the NFL Season that just passed. These questions were submitted back in January, so I am going to tweak them so that they're able to flow to someone following along through the month of March. The topic of discussion has to do with the past season and the arrangement of the coaches. We are also a week away from free agency and two months from the draft, so this should also be a response to my predictions from earlier in the season.
Here we go with questions:
What did you think of the 2013 NFL Season?
As a team fan, it was painful! The Giants started the season at 0-6 and while they were able to reshape and go to 7-9, we learned that their defense was rusty, their offense struggled, and their offensive line was atrocious. Letting go of Kevin Gilbride due to his "same old offense" in favor of an unpredictable Ben McAdoo was the right call (even if Pat Flaherty should have been a sure bet out the door).
As a football fan, this season had a lot to offer and we learned that the Seattle Seahawks had EVERYTHING going for them. Not only is Pete Carroll one of the most enthusiastic head coaches in the league, but Darrell Bevall operates a powerful offense, while Dan Quinn stepped up to the plate in his first season as defensive coordinator. Both men should see opportunities to run the show in the future. Russell Wilson can play QB at all angles and he has plenty of weapons to hand off or throw to. The defense has demonstrated excellence as well... even if Richard Sherman can have an outrageous personality that leads to postgame rants that make him look like Clifford from Muppets Tonight. The one specific element they have going for them, however, is their twelfth man. This includes the fans that really provide them with the push they need during home games and break the record time after time for the loudest crowd.
As for the rest of the teams, the Denver Broncos really showed relevance (up until the Super Bowl) and their offense could, perhaps, be considered one of the best of all time. Their defense still contended as well. Andy Reid turned the Chiefs around in what was not a huge shock, Ron Rivera proved he has more to do in Carolina, while the Falcons and Texans shocked the league in being more far disappointing than they have been the last few seasons. In addition, the Bengals and Chiefs continue their postseason victory droughts for not having won in the postseason since the 1990 and 1993 season, respectively.
What did I think of the outcome?
The Seahawks steamrolled over the Broncos in the Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, by a score of 43-8. The last time the final score in the Super Bowl was overwhelmingly lopsided was when the Ravens beat the Giants in the 2000 season, with a score of 34-7. I predicted the Broncos would beat the 49ers in the Super Bowl, while I had the Seahawks in the playoffs, but losing. I predicted the Texans and Bears would lose in the championship, so the Texans making it THAT far was quite a bitter taste to my prediction. I predicted the Jaguars would be the worst team this season and looking at the beginning of the season, I was cutting it close, for they were looking like they would go 0-16. When all was said and done, the better team won Super Bowl XLVIII and the Seahawks dominated on every side of the ball. I am very happy that the Super Bowl MVP went to Malcolm Smith, a linebacker, for his very important interception that came just before halftime. He also made crucial plays that either came close to interceptions or helped in some way lead to interceptions. This is the first time the MVP went to a player that was not a quarterback since 2008 and while Russell Wilson did an outstanding job, there were plenty of MVP options to choose from.
What do I think about the coaching transitions?
Every transition was justified for each team's purpose, with the exception of Rob Chudzinski being let go from the Browns. It wasn't because they lagged, but because I ask myself, "why did you hire him in the first place when the hire was such a soft deal?" It all comes down to selecting the right coordinator and it didn't seem like Chudzinski was the coordinator for this time and place. I did feel that Rex Ryan deserved to be let go, while Dennis Allen survived in a turn of events (just the second Raiders coach since 2001 to survive more than two seasons), even if he'll likely be let go at the end of next year. While I agreed with Mike Munchak being let go, it was because he didn't want to fire somebody, which makes sense for both parties. The firings of Mike Shanahan, Greg Schiano, and Jim Schwartz will decrease the number of hot-headed coaches in the league, while Leslie Frazier became the out man of a dreadful quarterback fiasco.
As for the hirings, I felt the decisions were relatively impressive. The one that made the biggest splash and should have the most immediate success is Lovie Smith for the Buccaneers. The Bucs should have hired a veteran coach (whether it was Mike Sherman, Brad Childress, or Marty Schottenheimer) over Greg Schiano and after two seasons with Schiano, they made the right decision to choose a veteran and choose Smith. If there are others to look out for gradually, they would be Bill O'Brien for the Texans and Mike Pettine for the Browns. O'Brien did an excellent job rebuilding Penn State when it became shattered from the issues behind Andy Sandusky that took Joe Paterno's legacy and turned it from diamonds to dirt. O'Brien should be able to take a team that needs simple renovations and turn them into playoff contenders relatively quick. Pettine will have more of a handful as he's coaching a team that was reborn in 1999 and has since made the playoffs just one time (in 2002). If the Browns are patient, Pettine should have them getting close to .500 immediately and in the playoffs soon after. He had the Jets and Bills defenses operating successfully and will now bring some of that flow to the Browns, while Kyle Shanahan will help rejuvenate the offense.
I am pleased to see that both Jay Gruden and Mike Zimmer were tapped for head coaching positions for the Redskins and Vikings, respectively. Both of them should see decent results in some fashion. Gruden becoming a head coach was only bound to happen, while for Zimmer, it's a "better late than never" affair. As for Ken Whisenhunt and Jim Caldwell, they have all coached in the league before, but their coaching tenures could be considered "quarterback driven" in plenty of ways. Whisenhunt was behind two playoff runs with the Cardinals, which included one in which they reached the Super Bowl, but after Kurt Warner retired, the Cards struggled immensely and a starting quarterback could not be established. Caldwell started head coaching during a season where Peyton Manning was powerful, then went into a decline before losing Peyton Manning for the season and was unable to recover from such a gap. Caldwell was fired following a 2-14 season. Both Whisenhunt and Caldwell redeemed themselves by rebuilding the Chargers and Ravens offenses, respectively, into active form. Whether or not they could rejuvenate their teams with what ever they have is the key question.
I want to thank Kevin Brownlie once again for providing me with questions I could really feast on. I enjoy NFL discussion just as much as I enjoy the NFL. Coming up in the NFL, as I mentioned, is free agency and the draft. Free agency kicks off next week and there should be plenty of highlight transitions to the point that eyes should remain peeled to NFL.com. Who the first pick of the draft will be and which team will select which quarterback (including "who will get Johnny Manziel) will be questions looking for answers.
Please submit questions you wish to have answered on my blog and I'll arrange a Q&A. My areas of interest for blogging include politics, books, literature, film, television, sports, music, food, current events, environmental events, nostalgia, and responses to previous posts. Questions are appreciated!
Here's to 250 posts and several more!