Wednesday Morning QB (Week 17)

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The NFL season is now over and that means another annual tradition for teams in the NFL that are not preparing to play next week. It has become known as Black Monday in the NFL as the Monday after the last week of games is a day that all head coaches out of the playoffs dread. It is the day when NFL teams take stock of their team and organization to see where they have to go in the future. That usually means that teams with losing records take a good look at their coaching staff and their football operations staff to see if they should make changes. For some teams it is not necessary as they see that they are improving and may just need a few key players to make that move to the next level. For others though it is time to clean house with coaches and GMs that did not do their job. For some it was the change of management above them that would force the hand to fire the head coach. Other teams look to a coach that has been there for years or a coach and GM team that have been there for years and have not done enough. Both of these situations arose on Black Monday as teams looked to make immediate changes to their futures with a number of firings. There were a few teams that looking to make changes above the men on the field as there were plenty of General Managers fired on Black Monday. Jacksonville’s Gene Smith joined Mike Tannebaum (New York Jets) on the unemployment line as they would leave their posts while the men on the sidelines would stay. A few teams would hand out their pink slips after seasons that just didn’t make the cut for the management. The Cleveland Browns were one of these teams as they fired head coach Pat Shurmur and Tom Hekert as a new owner cleaned house after years of missing the playoffs. The Kansas City Chiefs were in the same situation as they let go Romeo Crennel after one year that saw the Chiefs fall from playoff team to the worst team in the league. Another team that saw this same situation were that the Arizona Cardinals who fired both head coach Ken Wisenhunt and general manager Rod Graves. These firings were not major news as they were all from teams that were struggling this year or for the past few years. These teams needed a change and many are looking for something to get them out of a hole where no coach or GM has been able to take them before. Then there were teams who were in something far from an experiment as two coaches will leave their team after a very long tenure. After 6 years the San Diego Chargers have parted ways with head coach Norv Turner along with General Manager AJ Smith. Another long tenured coach would also leave his long time home as Andy Reid would be fired after 14 seasons as the Philadelphia Eagles head coach. Both of these firing were not extremely surprising as rumours surfaced in the second half of the season and most people would know that these teams needed something to change. Still it ended the longest tenure of a head coach in the NFL and was evidence as to how fragile a coaching job can be. Among all of the typical firings there was one big surprise on the day as one coach would see his job lost even after battling for a playoff spot in the last week. The Chicago Bears would fire Lovie Smith even after a fairly successful tenure as the Bears’ head coach. After 9 seasons in Chicago, including a Super Bowl appearance and a turnaround that has seen the Bears become a constant challenger in the NFC North, Smith will to be back. Some of these coaches may not see the sidelines again in the NFL and some will see it in a different role. There are a few of these coaches that will be back as a head coach though and some will not take very long. Andy Reid is the leader in the race for a new job as he has been linked to the San Diego job and has been linked to the Arizona job. Meanwhile Lovie Smith seems to be the most encouraging free agent coach as many do not believe he should have been fired and will see plenty of offers. These include offers from Buffalo, where Chan Gailey was let go, and from Arizona. Meanwhile as these coaches look for new head coaches jobs there will be some new blood looking to get their shot as a head coach in the NFL. Three of the leading candidates include a college coach, a former head coach turned announcer and a current NFL offensive coordinator. Current Oregon head coach Chip Kelly has been linked to many teams including the Cleveland Browns and the Philadelphia Eagles. Another coach linked to many jobs is Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter who has been linked to the Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles, and a few more. The final rumour is that Jon Gruden will come back to coaching this year although he has not been linked to any team and he is always thought to be someone who will return to coaching. It was another Black Monday in the NFL and plenty of teams are looking for their chance to go from worst to first and the first step is changing their organization.

 

Four Quarters
(Four Quick Thoughts on Week 17) 

9 Short for AP
Adrian Peterson had his greatest year ever becoming only the seventh player to reach 2,000 yards but came up 9 yards short of the single season rushing record and the scary thing is he did it all less than a year after tearing his ACL

East is Wild Again
The NFC East was the most interesting division this year as it would come down to the last game of the year to determine a winner and it was the Washington Redskins led by the potential rookie of the year Robert Griffin

The Chiefs win Something
The Chiefs had a terrible season by any measurement as they simply became forgettable after looking like they would be on the upswing after last year but they did get something and that is the #1 pick in the 2013 draft which helped the Colts last year

Stumbled in
Some teams have streaked into the playoffs but many have stumbled as some of the favorites in the preseason have faltered in the last few weeks including the San Francisco 49ers and the Houston Texans who have no time to figure things out now

 

NFL Standings 

American Football Conference
Division Leaders:
1. *-Denver Broncos (.813)
2. z-New England Patriots (.750)
3. z-Houston Texans (.750)
4. z-Baltimore Ravens (.625)
Wild Card:
5. w-Indianapolis Colts (.688)
6. w-Cincinnati Bengals (.625)
Out of the Playoffs:
7. Pittsburgh Steelers (.500)
8. San Diego Chargers (.438)
9. Miami Dolphins (.438)
10. Tennessee Titans (.375)
11. New York Jets (.375)
12. Buffalo Bills (.375)
13. Cleveland Browns (.313)
14. Oakland Raiders (.250)
15. Jacksonville Jaguars (.125)
16. Kansas City Chiefs (.125)

 

National Football Conference
Division Leaders:
1. *-Atlanta Falcons (.813)
2. z-San Francisco 49ers (.719)
3. z-Green Bay Packers (.688)
4. z-Washington Redskins (.625)
Wild Card:
5. w-Seattle Seahawks (.688)
6. w-Minnesota Vikings (.625)
Out of the Playoffs:
7. Chicago Bears (.625)
8. New York Giants (.563)
9. Dallas Cowboys (.500)
10. St. Louis Rams (.469)
11. Carolina Panthers (.438)
12. New Orleans Saints (.438)
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (.438)
14. Arizona Cardinals (.313)
15. Detroit Lions (.250)
16. Philadelphia Eagles (.250)

 

*-Clinched Home Field
z-Clinched Division
y-Clinched Playoff Spot
w-Clinched the Wild Card

 

Key Scores:
Minnesota Vikings 37 – 34 Green Bay Packers
– Adrian Peterson did not get his record but that didn’t stop the Vikings from pulling out a big win on Sunday that earned them the wild card spot and a rematch next week with the Packers who will surely be looking for revenge

Denver Broncos 38 – 3 Kansas City Chiefs
– The return of Peyton Manning is not complete but it is reaching legendary proportions as Manning would cap off his return season with a big win against the Chiefs to earn the #1 seed in the AFC earning a bye next week

San Francisco 49ers 27 – 13 Arizona Cardinals
– The Niners were a favorite for many at the beginning of the season but that did not last as they struggle in the middle of the season as they let the Seahawks into the division race until they closed the door with a win against the Cardinals in the last week of the season

Washington Redskins 28 – 18 Dallas Cowboys
– The Redskins had not won the NFC East since 1999 and with Robert Griffin III under centre they were looking to break the streak and did just that by beating the Cowboys in a “win and you’re in” game that kicked off the playoffs early for the Skins

 

Wild Card Playoffs 

National Football Conference:
Minnesota Vikings vs. Green Bay Packers (Saturday January 5th; 8:00 pm EST)
– The Vikings and Packers split the season series each winning at home and the Vikings will travel back to Lambeau Field a week after beating their division rivals as they look to repeat their performance to advance another round in the playoffs

Seattle Seahawks vs. Washington Redskins (Sunday January 6th; 4:30 pm EST)
– The Seahawks have been playing great football lately but they will run up against another very hot team as they take on Robert Griffin and the Washington Redskins in a matchup of two of the best rookie QBs in the NFL

 

American Football Conference:
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Houston Texans (Saturday January 5th; 4:30 pm EST)
– The Texans have stumbled into the playoffs with a lack luster end of the season after coming out strong to begin the season and they will take on a team on the opposite trajectory in the Cincinnati Bengals ho have played good football as of late

Indianapolis Colts vs. Baltimore Ravens (Sunday January 6th; 1:00 pm EST)
– The Colts did not go from worst to first but it was close enough as the 2 win team in 2011 will now be led by rookie QB Andrew Luck and the inspiration of head coach Chuck Pagano into the playoffs against a still banged up Ravens

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