Wednesday Morning QB (NFL Week 17)

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The NFL season is officially done but for many on the sidelines that means the scariest time of the year. It has become known as Black Monday and it marks the day where coaches and general managers lose their jobs. It is the day after the last week ends and for many teams the decision has already been made heading into the final week of the season. To avoid rocking the boat on a team that is still trying to win games, whether or not they are trying to make the playoffs. The owners, GMs, or team presidents do not want to upset the balance in the last week and so they wait until their season is officially over. Once they are officially in the off-season teams begin to make decisions that will give them enough time to find replacements and build towards the next season. It is not the favourite day for coaches on struggling teams as even some with votes of confidence may not keep their jobs on Black Monday. This year was a busy one for management as four teams made changes on Black Monday as none were willing to wait to fire or part ways with their coach. None of these teams are the worst in the league either as they are all teams that have seen recent success and lost patience with their coaches who could not bring them back to the playoffs this year. The Atlanta Falcons were one of these teams as they were used to winning the South or at least making the playoffs. The last two years saw the Falcons struggle throughout the regular season and 2014 marked the second year in a row that the Falcons were out of the playoffs. That was the last straw for the Falcons as they are not used to losing. Mike Smith had carried them so close to the Super Bowl and yet they could never win the Lombardi Trophy and after two seasons missed the playoffs for the second year in a row he lost his job. Following suit was a team that was almost sure to fire their head coach when the season ended. The Chicago Bears saw a good boost in their first year under Marc Trestman as their offence took a step forward. That didn’t save the defence though and the Bears struggled to keep pace with their division. Still they looked promising heading into this season with their second year head coach. Then everything went wrong as the defence looked worse than a year before and Jay Cutler, the highest paid offensive player in the NFL, could not get going in Trestman’s system and for that Trestman’s short stint in the NFL ended. After two years Trestman was finished in Chicago but another coach with a lot longer tenure finally left his home. The New York Jets were one of the best teams in the league under Rex Ryan for the first few years as the defensive coach helped the Jets to become one of the best defensive teams in the league. That defence brought them to two straight AFC Championship games but could never get over that hump. The last few years were not as positive as everything started to go wrong in New York and after four straight years of missing the playoffs Ryan’s tumultuous time in New York is done. The biggest news was probably the least surprising news of the year as Jim Harbaugh and the San Francisco 49ers parted ways. It wasn’t a firing but it also wasn’t just Harbaugh walking away. The Niners and Harbaugh did not want to be together anymore and with a 7-year $35 million contract on the table from his alma mater, Harbaugh had a place to go. He accepted the job at Michigan and left the 49ers leaving another hole in the NFL coaching carousel. In terms of replacements many names are popping up with a few seeming like the most popular. There are the usual names like Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden but they are unlikely to take coaching jobs as they are both happy with their broadcasting career. More realistic candidates for any job are New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Arizona defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, and Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase. These three will be the most popular names circulating for these four jobs but there is sure to be some surprise as there may be more positions and any one of the fired coaches could land in one of the openings. The off-season has begun for most teams but the best time in the football season is about to begin. The playoffs are here and as teams outside prepare for the long road to 2015, 12 teams prepare for the long road to Arizona.

Fifth Quarter:
(Thoughts on Week 16 in the NFL)

Reinforcements for Steelers
After winning the AFC North the Steelers are getting ready for the wild card weekend and they have some reinforcements in the likes of Ben Tate who they signed this week to add another threat in their backfield

Changes in Cleveland?
With a promising season collapsing in the end the Browns are not going to stand pat and according to owner Jim Haslam they are not going to tolerate off-field issues that Johnny Manziel and Josh Gordon have brought leading many to think that both may be gone

Suh in and out of Trouble
Ndamukong Suh has been in trouble multiple times which, despite what the NFL says, had to go into his suspension for stepping on Aaron Rodgers but in a surprising turn his suspension was overturned letting him play in the wild card game

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Key Scores:
Green Bay Packers 30 – 20 Detroit Lions
– The packers and Lions faced off in a battle for the NFC North as the winner took the title and a first round bye and although it wasn’t pretty with an injured Aaron Rodgers being carted off only to return the Packers earned the win allowing Rodgers to heal before the second round

Seattle Seahawks 20 – 6 St. Louis Rams
– The Seattle Seahawks had an easy goal in mind this week as a win would mean that the road to Arizona went through one of the toughest places to play in the NFL and despite a sluggish start they got the job done clinching first in the NFC

Carolina Panthers 34 – 3 Atlanta Falcons
– It was the worst division in the NFL this year but it was the closest race in the NFC as Carolina and Atlanta played for the division title and a spot in the playoffs as the loser was eliminated which was the Falcons

Pittsburgh Steelers 27 – 17 Cincinnati Bengals
– The best division in football this year came down to the wire and although neither team could be eliminated from the playoffs the Bengals and Steelers looked to take the AFC North title and earn home field in the wild card

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