The NFL season has ended and the qualified now teams embark upon postseason play, with the aspiration of winning the Superbowl , thereby being anointed world champions. The fascination for me when I first heard this was , world champions ? World champions of what ? Considering in large part that all 32 teams are situated here in the US. That hardly constitutes that they ought to be designated world champions. But such are the vagaries that we ought to merely just leave it at that !
Records asides , the Indianapolis Colts (14-2) and the New Orleans Saints (13-3) ended up with the best regular season records within their respective conferences and handily won their divisions. In doing so, they automatically became the number one seeds within the AFC and NFC conference and thereby obtaining a bye in the first round of the playoffs. Postseason play commences this weekend with the first round match ups of the wildcard seeds and divisional winners who did not obtain a bye.
In the AFC on Saturday we’ll see the New York Jets takes on the Cincinnati Bengals , both teams being two of the four AFC representatives at this stage of the proceedings. We’ll also get to see the Dallas Cowboys take on their heated divisional (NFC East) rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles. And considering the outcome of the last regular season meeting this past week. Can we say that for Donovan McNabb and his Philadelphia Eagles’ teammates ‘….revenge is sweet when it’s best served up cold’ ? And were they to upset the applecart with a win in the playoffs. Then not would it only equate with it being a disastrous season for the Cowboys but it would also make it almost fifteen years without a playoff series’ win. That sort of ineptitude is not something that Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones is willing to tolerate.
Sunday pits the Baltimore Ravens against the New England Patriots of the AFC and we’ll also see the Arizona Cardinals take on the Green Bay Packers of the NFC. All of these games ought to be enticing for their fans, as well as the fans of the NFL. And for myself being a die-hard New England Patriots’ fan, I can only but hope that they’ll acquit themselves well against coach,John Harbaugh’s Ravens. If not, then it’s bye ,bye Pats. But much of that will be predicated upon which Patriots’ team considers to show up. The one led by Pro Bowl quarterback , Tom Brady that’s playing at a high level or the one where they become error prone , lackadaisical, wherein the coach, Bill Belichick is trying second guess himself and everyone else around him ? That’s the dilemma that this may well face.
Now I’m not going to try and analyze these games and offer up what’s deemed to be an expert’s opinion which it won’t be. I’m no expert when it comes to the NFL and the games as to when they’re played. But what I can tell you is that just about any other ardent fan of the NFL , I really do know what I like about the game when I see it. And hopefully each of these games will be highly competitive with each giving it their very best on the day. That’s all any real fan of the NFL can ask for. Oh , I should preclude that of course, with that you’d want your team to win.
The games will definitely have their plot lines as will the remainder of the season. Will we see Bill Belichick raise his fourth Lombardi trophy and thereby join Chuck Noll as the winningest coach in Superbowl history ? Or could we see the likes of Sean Payton, Jim Caldwell, John Harbaugh , Wade Phillips, Ken Whisenhunt , Rex Ryan , Andy Reid , Mike McCarthy, Brad Childress and Marvin Lewis become first time recipients as winners of the Superbowl ? This much is sure, when the fervor of the playoffs begin , anything and everything is liable to happen. As to the event itself , it merely becomes one great big holiday bash where we can all celebrate. Never mind the fact that the televised event will be watched by in excess of 1 billion viewers world-wide. For myself, the event other than the game has become very much about the comedic value of the ads that are shown. From the Go Daddy.com girls to the Clydesdale horses for the Budweiser commercials. And as usual Hollywood has to parlay its part with its summer blockbusters that’ll be on tap. I wonder what Will Smith or Scientology’s favorite son, Tom Cruise will be rendering us with ? For God’s sake Tom you can’t speak with a German accent , so you were fooling no one with your asinine attempt at playing a commandant in the movie ‘Valkyrie’ (2008). Your lame ass attempt dragged that movie into an abyss from which it could never fully recover !
The regular season brought us some of the usual controversy that we as fans have come to expect. And right up there as always has been the inconsistency of the officiating. ‘nough said ! Sadly , we also saw the loss of Bengals’ wide receiver Chris Henry in what is being reported as an accident . The death itself is still under investigation by homicide detectives. Also there was also the untimely loss of Steve McNair in a murder suicide death , that not even the most fans of the NFL were able to comprehend or who saw coming. These events as such, encapsulated the worst events that transpired throughout the regular season of the NFL.
On the field of play, both the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints were in pursuit of perfection. A regular unbeaten season of 16-0 seemed to be well within both of their reach. But somehow they inexplicably failed to meet what appeared to be easy objectives coming down the stretch. And as we all know when that ’72 Miami Dolphins’ mark appears to be in jeopardy we have the lone representative from that team, Mercury Morris comes out to remind us that ‘perfection’ was theirs and theirs alone, in having an unbeaten season and then winning the Superbowl. In 2007, the New England Patriots matched the Dolphins’ feat of having an unbeaten regular season but they would succumb to the New York Giants in SB XLII , losing the game 17-14. A memorable Superbowl for those in attendance as well as for the tv viewing audience.
The traveling circus otherwise known as Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings are still in full swing. One wonders what the fallout might be, should Favre and Vikings’ coach Brad Childress fail to meet the expectations of the fans ? Needless to say, that Favre may well entrench himself once again, considering re-retirement. I mean he’s self serving enough to do that given his track record. And speaking of records concerning Favre, he added another credible one to his list of already astonishing achievements. He became the first quarterback in NFL history to have nine season where he has thrown for 30 touchdown passes or more. Great when your team is winning and winning consistently. But when they’re not its akin to comparing apples and oranges.
The Tennessee Titans having started off the season (0-6), made a laudable effort to make the playoffs. And were it not for that erratic start to the season they might well have made the playoffs. Jeff Fisher’s job as coach became as tenuous one could ever envisage. But in the end it was left to the heroics of the team’s quarterback, Vince Young and running back Chris Johnson to almost lead them there. Johnson for his part had what I would describe as one of greatest seasons ever by running back in the history of the NFL. His 2,509 all purpose yards broke several NFL records. And of those yards it equated with 2006 on the ground and the remaining 503 coming through the air. That’s better than the primary targets of the Tampa Buccaneers’ receiving corps and then some ! If anything there’s the consolation of that feat and the very fact that this team steered adversity in the face and came very close to overcoming it all.
And with the usual merriment that usually accompanies such a situation , it’d appear that the revolving door policy of the Washington Redskins continues to this day, when it comes to coaching upheavals. With the dismissal of Jim Zorn, the organizations has hired Mike Shanahan as Zorn’s successor. Whether or not, Shanahan is able to reproduce the success that he attained in the Elway era of successive Superbowl wins with the Denver Broncos remains to be seen . But I guess that’s why Redskins’ owner, Daniel Snyder is willing to pay his new coach $7 million (5 yr $35 million contract) per to find out, if this is all possible ? Given Shanhan’s set of ensuing circumstances , I too would take the money and run. It’s not as if this team in any form will be able turn things around overnight. Especially not within the environment that is the always competitive and contentious NFC East division. I don’t what Redskins’ GM Bruce Allen states when he says ‘…….Redskins’ football isn’t representative of being in last place’. My advice to him. ‘ Bruce get use to it. It’s been that way for quite a while now and there’s more to come before you can even think it’s going to get better’.
Courtesy of Associated Press and Yahoo Sports
By Joseph White, AP Sports Writer
Ashburn, Va. (AP)—At the podium stood Mike Shanahan, who has a $35 million, five-year contract that gives him final authority over football decisions as head coach and executive vice president of the Washington Redskins.
Seated at a nearby table was Bruce Allen, the first general manager Dan Snyder has hired in 11 years of owning the team.
And nowhere on the stage was Snyder, who sat next to his wife Tanya as a member of the audience in the Redskins Park auditorium. It was the first time he hasn’t introduced a new coach, a powerful symbol of how the balance of power has shifted within a proud franchise.
“Dan Snyder has directed us to please get this team back to the levels where it’s been in the past,” Allen said. “And I believe he’s going to be our most supportive fan.”
Shanahan made his formal debut Wednesday, one day after signing his contract and just two days after Jim Zorn was fired following a 4-12 season. The winner of two Super Bowls in the 1990s with the Denver Broncos spoke mainly in generalities with polish and confidence, far from the nervous and ragged performance given by rookie coach Zorn 23 months ago.
“It doesn’t happen overnight,” Shanahan said, “but we’re going to give it the best shot we have.”
For most of his time as owner, Snyder has been a hands-on manager yielding a strong influence on roster decisions. But the Redskins are 82-99 on his watch, missing the playoffs in eight of 11 seasons, so three weeks ago he hired Allen and ousted longtime front office confidant Vinny Cerrato.
Therefore, in less than a month, the Redskins have gone from an organization that revolved primarily around Snyder and his yes-man to one that includes two established decision-makers firmly in charge.
Shanahan, who had a similar arrangement with the Broncos, downplayed the power he’s been given.
“I do have final say,” Shanahan said, “but I never used it in Denver.”
Snyder tried this once before with coach Marty Schottenheimer in 2001— before the two butted heads and Schottenheimer was fired after an 8-8 season. Snyder also deferred to Joe Gibbs when the Hall of Fame coach came out of retirement, but this is the first time the owner has taken this much of a back seat.
In order to read this article in its entirety just click on the
link text provided
This season when it came to abject futility within the NFL and many of its teams. Nowhere was this more representative than with the following, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Seattle Seahawks, Kansas City Chiefs, St Louis Rams , Oakland Raiders , Cleveland Browns, Buffalo Bills and the ever mediocre Detroit Lions . Whom if given the chance of a do-over would still find ways of screwing that up and disappointing there fans as well. We hear all this talk about parity but surely ‘parity’ wasn’t meant to represent this ? Commissioner, Roger Goodell and the NFL’s hierarchy are really in need of seeing the dire consequences of this , when there are so many franchises this abysmally bad ! But I guess his and their priorities lay elsewhere ?
Though we know it’s extremely difficult to successfully defend a Superbowl championship. Who would’ve expected to see coach, Mike Tomlin’s Pittsburgh Steelers fail to make the playoffs with an effort that was so lackluster that it doesn’t even bear thinking about. I’m not saying that they bowed out with their tails hanging between their legs. But no real excuses can be found with regard to the team’s inconsistency. OK, Steelers’ fans will take umbrage and say ‘… we lost Troy Polamalu for much of the season’. But shouldn’t equate with the fact that the team under Ben Roethlisberger’s leadership were about as resolute as French army were against the German military might of World War II. So much for the fans of the NFL being able to witness something this special in this decade. It has been during the decade by the Patriots with their back to back defense of Superbowl wins in 2004 and 2005. But since then ‘nada’, ‘nothing’ , ‘zero’ and ‘zilch’ . We may well have no dominant teams within the NFL anymore. But I’d like to think that the vast majority of the NFL franchises are competitive. Somehow that hasn’t been the case for the greater part of this decade. I’d certainly to think that with this upcoming decade we’ll see one or at least two teams who seek to aspire to those heights.
Well, as the playoffs are about to commence and I for one, just hope that the games can live up to much of the preconceived hype that seems to abound many of these match-ups. What do you think about that , as well as what transpired throughout much of the regular season within the NFL ?