The season has been over more than a week so I thought I’d throw a bunch of thoughts on the entire league into one semi-coherent post.
(1) It was a bad season for the NFL and it all stems from mismanagement at the top. The fallout from injuries/head trauma, player protests, rules issues…etc. were manageable and fixable. But Roger Goodell once again showed himself to be the most flaccidly ineffective commissioner in the history of professional sports.
(2) The “catch rule” has been the mostly thoroughly debated issue in the NFL and the Super Bowl seemed to be a turning point for its legislation, with two touchdowns actually being ruled touchdowns. (This despite the utter confusion of the commentary box, where Michaels and Collinsworth acted like they were asked to call a three-day test cricket match on forty minutes notice.) Possession. Two feet down. That’s it. If you have possession of the ball and two feet on the ground, you have caught the ball. For the first time in a long time, it feels the NFL is headed back in that direction.
(3) Ryan Pace took over the GM job in Chicago prior to the 2014 season.
- His first year? Low expectations.
- His second year? Three quarterbacks played, one of whom was benched for C.J. Beathard in 2017 and another didn’t approach an active roster.
- Year three featured the drafting a quarterback with the second pick and nobody should put win/loss expectation on a rookie quarterback.
Now we enter year four. Pace has his coach. Pace has his QB. And if the latter stays healthy, the Bears should be expected to win games in 2018.
(4) I saw who won the Super Bowl. I did. But I think if Marcus Williams makes a tackle, Sean Payton and Drew Brees get their second title and cement their legacy in the league. Imagine being Payton and Brees twenty years from now, seeing the clip of that play, and just wanting to go out in the yard and fire bullets into the woods.
(5) Keep hearing Kirk Cousins to the Jets. But the best match for Cousins, his demeanor, the chip on his shoulder, is Buffalo. That city would love him.
(6) I think the Rams will finish third in the NFC West next season and miss the playoffs. And I think the bloom is going to be fired off the Sean McVay rose with a canon. They exploited an awful schedule in 2017. Their rise is overstated.
(7) One of the most important signings in the league this off-season will be Houston’s backup quarterback. And if I were Brian Gaine and Bill O’Brien, I’m waiting to see how things shake out in Minnesota. Deshaun Watson isn’t playing sixteen games. They need to find someone who can keep the team afloat for six. Sam Bradford is perfect. He’s only got six good ones in him.
(8) Amazing stat this season. Outside of Brett Hundley and the Packers, there wasn’t a another NFC team that finished the 2017 season on more than a one-game losing streak. The AFC, by comparison, had 7. The NFC is very, very good right now and I don’t see that changing over the next few seasons. If the Bears want to be in the playoffs next season, beat Detroit, Minnesota and Green Bay.
(9) It would take arguably the boldest move in NFL history but if I ran the Eagles, I’d ask the Cleveland Browns if they’d give up the 1st and 4th pick for Carson Wentz.
If they said yes – and they should – the deal gets done. Windows are short in the NFL. And the Eagles just proved they can win it all with Nick Foles. They proved it! It’s proven! Foles was incredible in the two biggest games of his life – two games there’s no guarantee Wentz will ever get to!
Imagine how much better this team could be in 2018 with the players they either acquired with those picks or the windfall of picks that came from dealing out of those prime positions. Instead they are two years away from making Wentz the highest-paid QB in the league and we’ve seen how that story ends.
(10) Bears need more pass rush. But if you watched the Super Bowl you know EVERYBODY needs more pass rush. That was the worst pass rushing effort in Super Bowl history but the game was decided by one moment of pass-rushing brilliance.
(11) Which Minnesota Vikings defense do we remember from 2017? They were the league’s best for 66 quarters. They were awful their final 6, against their best opponents, when it mattered most. The end of their season will sting at the start of 2018.
(12) There are currently ten NFL teams that can’t definitely answer the question, “Who will be your quarterback for the 2018 opener?” That’s a third of the league. And that’s wild.
(13) Team I think was a bit underrated this season: LA Chargers. Here are the point differentials for all the teams that finished 9-7.
- Ravens +92
- Chargers +83
- Seahawks +34
- Lions +34
- Cowboys +22
- Titans -22 (playoff team)
- Bills -57 (playoff team)
The Ravens should have been in the postseason but they somehow blew their finale to Cincinnati. The Chargers were then nearly 50 points better than the next 9-7 club. That should have been a playoff team. And they would have made waves. And with that young collection of pass rushers, they’ll be back in 2018.
(14) The end of season awards were fine with two exceptions. These should be changed after the postseason.
- Assistant Coach: John DeFilippo, Eagles. If this were a regular season prize it’d be a layup for Pat Shurmur but Nick Foles’ final two performances cement the award for Flip – a future head coach in the league.
- Coach: Doug Pederson, Eagles. Doesn’t it seem laughable now that Sean McVay was named 2017’s best coach? Will anybody remember what the Rams did if they don’t back it up next season? Pederson capped off a remarkable 2017 with one of the best-called Super Bowls in history.
(15) Sometimes I laugh when I remember Marvin Lewis is going to be the coach of the Bengals again. John Fox beat Lewis by like 75 points in December.
(16) Bears 2018 record: 9-7.