I spent most of my Sunday watching Week 17 of NFL action, the final regular season games. I did not watch every game of course so I will be careful not to comment on game action from those I did not actually see. But here are my thoughts based on what flashed, or crawled across my TV screen, as we head to the Play-Offs and Off-season for the League.
Is there really a chance that CALVIN JOHNSON, or Megatron as he has come to be called, has played his last game in Detroit?! This possibility has been widely speculated over the past month or so. Big changes are expected for the LIONS as the widow, Mrs. Ford, has assumed control of a mostly stumbling/bumbling franchise. Someone new will be appointed soon as G.M., VP of Operations or some other title with the clear intention that he/she will lead the team out of the pro football wilderness. Then more tough decisions will be made. Even though JOHNSON has been slowed by injuries a bit over the past few seasons he seems clearly to have some skills left in his 30-year old body. MEGATRON torched DA BEARS for 10 catches, 137 yards and 1 TD. My guess would be that a contract re-negotiation will end up being a big part of any deal to keep JOHNSON in Detroit. If egos get in the way of a mutually acceptable deal in Detroit I would expect several teams would be quite interested in JOHNSON. My personal choice for a new home would be BALTIMORE, where a healthy RAVENS roster still has plenty of talent, but is in dire need of a reliable veteran WR with some size, and yes some good speed still left in his legs.
The JAGUARS, ending up with a 5-11 season are not progressing the way many expected they would under the leadership of GM DAVID CALDWELL and HC GUS BRADLEY. Their season ending Loss to the TEXANS looked all too familiar to those who follow them. They looked almost totally inept on Offense from the beginning of the game. They clearly did not look ready to play from the opening whistle. Much of their limited success has come in the second half of play, which would indicate that the team is either not mentally ready to play at kick-off, or the coaching staff has not created a game plan during the week’s preparation. Kudos for the staff and players for coming out of halftime and fighting back, but it is not enough. The team is still shy on talent overall, but is making progress in that aspect. It would seem to me that the positive attitude BRADLEY may come under some scrutiny this off-season. However, I do not expect to see him fired if for no other reason than because Owner SHAHID KHAN seems hesitant to eat guaranteed money. CALDWELL deserves at least another year as he inherited a poor roster from his predecessors in the organization.
If JIM IRSAY fires CHUCK PAGANO this week then he’s as clueless as an owner as his father was. For the COLTS to win their finale using JOSH FREEMAN & RYAN LINDLEY at QB, straight off the street, should be considered nothing short of a miracle and genius coaching by the entire staff. On the other hand RYAN GRIGSON/GM should be gone sooner rather than later for some of his personnel and drafting gaffs. A MASH-unit roster (like many around the League) was held together with baling wire and prayer many weeks of the season by PAGANO. This team went 5-3 in the second half of the season without ANDREW LUCK. How about two thumbs up to MATT HASSELBECK for his work at age 40 as well. Your move Mr. IRSAY, hope you are able to see the forest through the trees here.
I wonder how many years the BILLS ownership will waste before they realize that REX RYAN does not have all the essentials needed to win as an NFL Head Coach. The demise of the JETS under his guidance seemed to have clearly indicated that he was a poor top man, as he tried to lead while acting out the part as a blend of Dad BUDDY RYAN & BILL PARCELLS & THE DONALD. Too much bluster and not enough substance for this man. Despite all the pomp and ceremony REX managed to win 1 less game this year than DOUG MARRONE did in 2014.
I realize that the COWBOYS were severely hampered by the injuries, especially to ROMO & DEZ, but welcome to today’s NFL folks. Very few teams escape the Injury Bug in today’s NFL. What the 4-12 record clearly demonstrated was that the GM should be fired for faulty evaluation of his team’s talent base. Putting on a COWBOYS uniform does not magically transform MATT CASSEL into ROGER STAUBACH. Owner JERRY JONES needs to fire his GM, JERRY JONES, immediately and recruit a real football man to retool a roster that is talented in spots, but undermanned overall. Clearly, the biggest ego in Texas isn’t going to do that. Struggle on COWBOYS fans.
Time for ARTHUR BLANK to have a heart-to-heart talk with himself and realize that as his team folded to finish 8-8 for the season he has to face the reality that his biggest problem on the field is a lack of overall talent and depth. And after firing HC MIKE SMITH after last season it is now time to let go of GM THOMAS DIMITROFF, who purely and simply has not brought enough talent to Atlanta for this team to be a true Play-Off franchise, despite some true star power on his team in spots. MATT RYAN & JULIUS JONES are about to become the southern version of STAFFORD & MEGATRON. Pull the plug Arthur, before it’s too late and you have nothing of high quality left on your team.
The most resilient team of the 2015 season has got to be the KANSAS CITY CHIEFS. AFter a 1-5 start to the season, and the loss of their top offensive weapon in JAMAAL CHARLES, this team proceeded to finish the season Sunday with their 10th straight victory and an 11-5 record. ANDY REID, Head Coach, has a team willing to play his way. ALEX SMITH has proven that although he isn’t a big armed super star QB he can get the job done with efficiency and his legs, when needed. And let’s not forget the man who put this all together: GM JOHN DORSEY. The RON WOLF protege’, has put together a solid roster and let REID go about the weekly work. I’m not sure how far they can go in the Play-Offs, but I see it as an almost miracle that they even got there.
The SEATTLE SEAHAWKS sent a clear message to the CARDINALS that they are still a force to be reckoned with heading into the Play-Offs, with a 36-6 pounding of the Cardinals in Arizona. It certainly served as a strong dose of payback for the Cardinals big win in Seattle back in Week 10 of the season. Whether anyone in the Cardinals organization wants to admit it or not, the worry has to be that the CARDINALS just might still be the SEA HAWKS bitch. In fact, as crazy as this might sound the Vikings may have done themselves a disservice beating Green Bay last night. Their next guests in the Twin Cities will be the SEA HAWKS…. OOPS!
Although I realize some moves have already been made I will present you with my preferred firings list that I made notes on Sunday morning. These are the guys I think it makes logical sense to dismiss on this “black Monday” around the NFL.
Head Coaches to fire: MIKE PETTINE/BROWNS, TOM COUGHLIN/GIANTS (OK call it retirement), JEFF FISHER/RAMS, MIKE MULARKEY/TITANS.
GM’S to get the axe: THOMAS DIMITROFF/FALCONS, RAY FARMER/BROWNS, JERRY JONES/COWBOYS, RYAN GRIGSON/COLTS, MICKEY LOOMIS/SAINTS, TRENT BAALKE/NINERS, RUSTON WEBSTER/TITANS.
You will also note that I have BAALKE out the door instead of HC JIM TOMSULA, who has been the scapegoat in waiting all year. I also see MICKEY LOOMIS being the problem in New Orleans not PAYTON/BREES.