Submitted by Jim Feist on Sunday, January 6, 2019 at 1:00 PM
Well, we finally reached the end of not only 2018 but the end of the regular season of NFL games. It has been an interesting ride; many things have changed over the past 4 months dating to back September and October. The high-flying teams, the high-octane offenses like that of the Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints and the Los Angeles Rams have somewhat cooled off. You might have noticed that the teams that are running the ball and playing good defense are the teams that have taken over now. The Baltimore Ravens are using an almost 60% running game with Lamar Jackson, a running quarterback, in at signal-caller and Joe Flacco on the bench. Flacco is likely to be traded to another team that runs the ball successfully and has done well.
The Chicago Bears, whose quarterback is limited as well with Mitch Trubisky, has a solid running game and their defense is also solid. The Ravens and the Bears have two of the best defenses in football.
Now that the first day of the wild card games are over, I want to congratulate the Indianapolis Colts on their victory at Houston and a great season for Frank Reich and Andrew Luck after two years on the injured list. Also, congratulations to the Dallas Cowboys winning at home. The Cowboys had a great year at home as Dak Prescott showed up big and Zeke Elliott had another great performance.
As for the Colts, no one should want to play this team. They are solid everywhere. They go on the road to play the Chiefs, who are dynamite on offense but lacking on defense. The latter could be their undoing.
The New England Patriots have also gone to a running game, no longer depending totally on QB Tom Brady to deliver. The strongest team in the AFC could very likely be the LA Chargers. Philip Rivers is an excellent quarterback and they have a good running game with Gordon. Their defense is strong now that Bowser is back in the lineup and many will say they have the best roster in the AFC and I would agree with that, however that doesn't mean they will go very far. In the NFC the Saints and the Rams have won their divisions, the Bears have won their division and the Eagles got the Wild Card.
It is a very balanced group that enters the playoffs, and anyone could win. When I looked at doing any futures to win the AFC, NFC or the Super Bowl, I was looking for a price and I looked at which teams had competent or excellent quarterbacking, offensive line play, running game and defense. I didn't really find that in every spot that I was looking, and I also realized that some of the hot teams like I mentioned earlier like the Saints, Chiefs and the Rams have fallen off a little bit due to injuries and chemistry. I look at the prices being offered on the future tickets and the Seahawks came up at 33-to-1 early in the year before the season started. I lost that bet.
Teams that didn’t make the playoffs will be looking for coaches and that is no easy job as there eight head or more coaching positions that will be opening up after the season. Plus, you’re going to be looking at openings for defensive and offensive coordinators. It’s not going to be easy to find quality people that not only know football but can lead a group of players and other coaches and be successful. There are some teams, like the Cleveland Browns, who made a head coaching change mid-season and that worked out very well for them as they went from Jackson to Williams and got rid of their offensive coordinator. Therefore, along with their new quarterback in Baker Mayfield they have new leadership and presently that is working out very well as this is a team that won one game in the previous 32 and vastly improved after their coaching change and nearly knocked the Ravens out of the playoffs. Of course when we think of don’t make sense moves, the Browns might just dump Williams and move on again to someone new.
I mentioned Baker Mayfield but there are other quarterbacks that came in over the last year or two that have made an impact including Rosen at Arizona, Darnold at the jets, Allen at the Bills and Mahomes at Kansas City. It’s very difficult to determine if a quarterback is being coached properly to bring out his talents. Jackson with the Baltimore ravens. Like any other job, the quarterbacks are pieces of clay that need to be molded to their new position. This seems to be working very well for Arnold, Mayfield. Allen, Jackson and Mahomes.
Questions remain for Rosen who has not developed as the season progressed. The Bears Mitch Trubisky, who has had his ups and downs, but I'm more positive about him now. As these teams change coaches and they change their quarterback coaches and their offensive line coaches it takes time to develop an NFL quarterback. Not everyone can jump into the starting Circle and show success like Jackson, Mayfield or Mahomes. Only time will tell with Darnold and adequate coaching can develop these players and recall this that there is no quarterback that will be successful without an offensive line or decent running game. I have concerns for the Texans because their quarterback is not protected well by their offensive line, (60 + sacks this year alone) and his style of play will likely get him hurt more often than a traditional quarterback that stays in the pocket.
It should be a fantastic playoff over the next 6 weeks and I look forward to it and I know all of you will be as well.
Now on to my view of the future.
Look for quite a bit of chaos when we begin the 2019 season. Here is why. I hate to focus on the negative, but I must bring it up, at least a little bit. The current NFL is heading for a dumpster fire start to the 2019/2020 season. Why am I going there, at this time? In looking at the way we are closing out the 2018/2019 season and the eight head coaches and those teams trying to fill those roles. Exactly where are all, those replacement coming from? Let the great NFL, assistant coaches raid begins. Of course, the talent waiting in the wings to take over, head coaching jobs in the NFL, are the assistant coaching ranks or perhaps, the college head coaches. The possible exception would be, the already terminated coaches and there are many.
When you consider how vital assistants are to their present teams, there will be some drastic effect on the teams they leave.
Example: Remember the Atlanta Falcons of a few years ago? Those Falcons went to the Super Bowl and led at half time 28-3 versus the Patriots. We all remember the Falcons blew that lead and lost that game to the Pats. The point I want to make, and this is the reason for this article. The Falcons were the highest scoring team in the NFL that season. Their HC Dan Quin and their offensive coordinator was Shanahan. The Niners offer Shanahan their HC job, which he accepted. The next year the Falcons went from 32 pts per game, to about 21 ppg. That is a huge drop off for a quality team with the same quality personnel.
The whole point here and so I don’t get too long winded, it will take a lot more due diligent for any of us to know what NFL will be capable of when the new season begins next September.
After a 4-1 Wild Card Weekend, Jim stays hot in the NFL, winning 25 of his last 33 releases!