Wednesday Morning QB (Week 17)

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The NFL regular season is officially over and that usually means one thing, Black Monday for coaches.

As with the end of every season, the NFL undergoes some major changes as teams who struggled throughout the year make their final decisions on the future of their teams.

The simple fact is that the teams that won’t be playing next weekend often see coaching as the easiest change they can make.

In the world of professional sports, it is becoming increasingly difficult to convince fans bases and owners that a rebuild is necessary.

Getting rid of a lot of talent to go through a couple years of terrible play is never something a team wants to do.

Instead, teams often look to the sidelines to make a change as it is far easier to fire a coach than admit to a rebuild.

A new coach has a chance of bringing a new attitude to the team and potentially getting the best out of talented players who are underachieving.

For a lot of these teams, it is the last chance before they commit to a rebuild as they just look to make a change for the sake of change.

It isn’t necessarily a bad thing as some teams are simply too comfortable with what they are doing and they need a change to kick them into gear.

The decisions often come after the season is finished as Black Monday has gained its own life in the last decade.

It is the Monday following the end of the season when most teams make their final decisions on what the future holds.

That happened in a big way this year as there are more openings this year than any year in recent memory.

The NFL will undergo some major changes in the coming months as there are currently eight openings for head coaching jobs.

Some have been watched over the last few months as a number of teams looked to make an early switch in order to save their seasons.

That rarely works too well and teams like Green Bay and Cleveland sit out of the playoffs despite making that midseason change.

Both of those openings are going to be the most coveted though as they involve far less of a rebuild than many other teams.

In Green Bay, the new head coach will immediately have one of the best quarterbacks in the game right now.

A lot has come out about Aaron Rodgers being tough to coach and not being the best teammate but the fact remains he is one of the greatest of the era.football-sidebar

Having an established quarterback in place is a massive head start for a head coach and with Rodgers there the Packers might have their pick of assistants or college coaches.

In Cleveland, the hopes were high this season after a new commitment to building a contender.

Part of that commitment was the drafting of Baker Mayfield who came in with a lot of questions but proved a lot of doubters wrong this season.

He might be the answer at QB that the Browns have been looking for since 1999 and although one season is far from a convincing sample size, the right coach can make a big difference.

The Browns went from one of the worst teams in the last decade when they became only the second team to lose 16 games, to going 7-8.

It may still be a losing record and by a lot of standards, a terrible season but for the Browns, the seven wins they earned were more than the last few years combined.

They are a team trending upwards and there are many coaches who would see them as a great opportunity to grow.

The right coach in that situation can help a young quarterback develop into something special and bring a legendary team back from the basement.

For the Browns, it will be one of the most important decisions they have ever made as they are sitting at that all-important point where they have the potential to be a contender.

There are plenty of other good openings as well with a little more work involved as both Arizona and New York have young, talented quarterbacks but would require more talent around them.

Teams like Cincinnati, Denver and Tampa Bay have a lot more work ahead making it a far more difficult job.

All eight of these spots will be filled in the coming months though as these teams look to make their changes and begin work on getting back to the playoffs.

 

Fifth Quarter

Trouble in Steeltown

 Only last year the Steelers were one of the most feared teams in the league with an offence that was changing what it meant to be a Steeler. This year things have been far different and most of the issues on the field relate directly to issues off of the field. It started with Le’Veon Bell refusing to report to the team after they placed the franchise tag on him for a second straight year. Now it is their other star as Antonio Brown was benched for the final game of the season after failing to report to practice. That refusal to report came from an apparent rift between Brown and Ben Roethlisberger. Now as they head into the offseason Brown has reportedly requested a trade with reports claiming that he is not happy with the relationship between Mike Tomlin and Roethlisberger, claiming they are tied too closely together.

Quietly Breaking Records

Baker Mayfield is anything but a quiet player as his attitude and competitiveness is what had a lot of teams wondering if he could actually play in the NFL. Yet still, it seemed like a bit of a surprise to everyone outside of Cleveland when he threw his 27th touchdown pass in his rookie season. That pass broke a long-standing record for most touchdowns by a rookie quarterback, passing Russel Wilson and Peyton Manning. What is more impressive is the fact that Mayfield didn’t even start the season as the #1 QB. Without four weeks of playing time Mayfield still broke the record leaving everyone to wonder how impressive he might have been had he started all year. That record also gives him a legitimate shot at Offensive Rookie of the year over Saquon Barkley although Barkley did surpass 1,000 yards rushing in his first season.

Unconventional Hire

The Oakland Raiders have never been a team to do things normally and they once again leaned into that reputation. A year after bringing Jon Gruden out of the Monday Night Football booth to the sidelines on a 10-year deal the Raiders went back to the broadcast world to find their new GM. The Raiders announced that Mike Mayock would take over as the General Manager in 2019. Mayock has been the NFL Network’s draft expert for more than a decade beginning at the network in 2004. He has never held an executive job at any level of football but was a player for three years. There is no questioning his knowledge of the college game and his talent in evaluating players but translating it to the real world will be an interesting experiment for the Raiders who are in a rebuild mode and need someone to help them find the right people.

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