Well folks, we have gorged ourselves on the last of the regular season, and if you aren’t stuffed after that Raiders/Chargers ending, then we are gonna stuff you like a Piñata in the playoffs. Before we move forward though, we need to look back. I am going to rip through a look back at the season that was here before a Friday preview of the playoffs. We are going to do this speed listicle style. Hold on to your belt buckle (and loosen it). Here we go.
Tom Brady: Gave it all for the team, and got a team torn apart by injuries to a home playoff game in round one.
Aaron Rodgers: Single handedly lost his team two games with his non-sense, but when he was focused, he was as good as it gets.
Jonathan Taylor: Wasn’t able to finish the job and get the Colts into the playoffs, but let’s not overlook his dominance on the ground.
TJ Watt: Tied the NFL sack record despite missing 5 games. When he played, he absolutely dominated and dragged the corpse of Ben Roethlisberger to the playoffs.
Joe Burrow: A late surge sneaks him into my top 5. A great season that got stronger as it went along.
Sam Darnold: Somehow the worst quarterback in the league with or without pressure, the idea that he would be better with a fresh start was a complete miss.
Will Fuller: Played a handful of snaps for the Dolphins this season on a 14 million dollar deal, Fuller broke his finger and then literally vanished. No one is Miami has seen him. I am not kidding.
Baker Mayfield: A lot of people thought he would blossom without the pressure of throwing to OBJ. Nope.
Christian McCaffrey: Another lost season full of injury for McCaffrey who is quickly gaining an injury prone label. This is also to recognize his role as Fantasy Football LVP.
The entire WFT defense. Fresh off a strong showing in 2020, the WFT defense was one of the worst in the NFL this year despite having back most of the same players.
TJ Watt: You can’t tie the sack record in 12 games and not get here. Good lord son.
Aaron Donald: He’s unreal. He is simply unreal. Look at this.
Micah Parsons: Not much he can’t do at this point. Cover, rush, stop the run. He is the full package.
Trevon Diggs: The point of playing defense is to stop the other team. With that said, turnovers do more than just stop the other team, they help your offense. Nobody did that better than Diggs.
Myles Garrett: The king of getting held without a call, Garrett was his usual dominant self on the edge.
Ja’Marr Chase: Massive stats. He took over from day one and is immediately a top 5 NFL receiver.
Jaylen Waddle: Survived the chaos in Miami to put up huge stats, setting the rookie record for receptions, despite spending a quarter of the season trying to catch Jacoby Brissett’s terrible throws.
Mac Jones: While not as great as everyone thinks, it is hard to come in as a rookie QB on a winning team where you cannot make mistakes. Jones did enough to make this list.
Kyle Pitts: One of the hardest positions for a rookie, TE Pitts still put up over a 1K yards in year one.
Najee Harris: Despite operating behind a very weak offensive line, Harris still managed to put up good stats in a limited offense.
Micah Parsons: it’s not close
Jevon Holland: Already a top 5 safety in the NFL. Once he took over, the Dolphins defense exploded. He is going to be an elite player.
Patrick Surtain II: Quickly became a top CB. He has elite coverage ability and ball tracking skills.
Jaelen Phillips: Another strong finisher, he finished second in rookie sacks. His mature game will only get stronger as his body does.
Odafe Oweh: Quickly becoming a strong piece for the Ravens, he might not have the same sack numbers, but he is force against the run too.
Trevor Lawrence: It’s hard to blame him for this year in Jacksonville, but did very little to help. Far more interceptions than touchdowns. I think better days are ahead however.
Zach Wilson: Was absolutely awful the first half of the year. In the second half, we saw some glimmers of hope, though.
Justin Fields: It’s also hard to blame him for the madness in Chicago, but he was not a major factor in year one.
Jaycee Horn: He got hurt. This listing is more for who the Panthers didn’t take, a QB. They desperately needed one and chose Sam Darnold over Mac Jones.
Alex Leatherwood: He was ok. This is really about having a second round tackle going before players like Jaelen Phillips or Najee Harris.
Green Bay Packers: Outside of the two games Aaron Rodgers threw away (week 1 by avoiding training camp, and the week he had to take off for avoiding the COVID shot) the Packers were dominant. 13-2 in games where things were normal(ish). Clearly the current Super Bowl favorite.
Los Angeles Rams: Despite having one of the toughest schedules and divisions in the NFL, the Rams still put up one of the best records in the NFL.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Despite a massive pile up of injuries all season, the Bucs still put together a better record than last year and a tie for the best record in the NFL.
Kansas City Chiefs: Despite a mid-season lull, the Chiefs rebounded to put up the second best record in the AFC.
Tennessee Titans: Overcoming massive injury losses to their 3 best offensive weapons, the Titans still secured a bye in the playoffs in the AFC.
Jacksonville Jaguars: I mean, obviously. It’s hard to be bad, a joke and have no hope moving forward, but the Jaguars did it. They have joined the Buccaneers and Browns as the only teams to earn the number 1 overall pick twice in a row.
New York Giants: To me, this is the next worst team. Not only were they bad this year, they have no clear identity moving forward. Their coach, QB, and every 1st round pick for the last 5 years are all bad.
Houston Texans: They have one of the oldest teams in the NFL and had 4 wins. That is hard to do. The Jaguars were two of those as well.
New York Jets: They played more competitive as the year went on, but they have such little talent on the roster, it is hard to get excited.
Detroit Lions: While they had the second fewest wins, you got the feeling they are on an upward trajectory. They found some good things this year.
Most Surprising team:
Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals put it all together this year, after being almost totally irrelevant last year. Part of that was avoiding the injury bug for the most part, as it tore apart the Ravens, but the Bengals have a very strong foundation on offense and a solid defense.
Las Vegas Raiders: The Raiders overcame a massive amount of adversity this season to get in the playoffs. From their coach being fired midseason, to several players being lost to criminal actions, this team endured a lot. In the end, they surprised a lot of people by sneaking in at the last second.
Seattle Seahawks: Surprising in the wrong way, the Seahawks were nowhere near the playoffs, thanks to a serious injury to Russell Wilson. This team just has so little beyond him, that they could not withstand his loss.
Dallas Cowboys: I expected them to be good, but their defense is the real revelation this year. The explosion of Micah Parsons and Trevon Diggs turned a bad defense into a good one very quickly. Elite talent can do that.
Baltimore Ravens: Almost no one had them pegged to finish last in their division this year. The injury bug got started early on them, and didn’t let up. There are problems beyond that, however, as teams seemed to offer solutions to Lamar Jackson that damaged their offense.
Coach of the Year:
Matt Lafleur: Getting the team past Aaron Rodgers’ behavioral issues to stay focused on winning was impressive. Making the defense somehow better without it’s two best players most of the season was the biggest accomplishment, however.
Bill Belichick: Getting that limited team to the playoffs was really somethings. Mac Jones has been getting the praise, but it should go to Belichick and Josh McDaniels. Look at how all the other young QB’s did this year. Lawrence, Wilson, Lance, Fields, Tagovailoa, and Herbert all missed the playoffs. Only Joe Burrow made it, in his second year. Most of them were flat out bad. Jones was the lowest pick of them all.
Mike Vrabel: Overcame the loss of Derrick Henry, Julio Jones and AJ Brown for most of the year, but still got the bye. Managed to squeeze a good defense out of basically one good player in the secondary by developing a great defensive line.
Rick Bisaccia: No franchise experienced chaos like the Raiders this year. Jon Gruden’s firing mid-season, along with the various legal problems key players faced should have sunk this team. Bisaccia somehow squeezed a four game winning streak out of these guys down the stretch to sneak into the playoffs.
Nick Sirianni: I was hard on Nick in the preseason, as his meathead tendencies caused me to doubt him. I was wrong. Nick made a great midseason adjustment to change the entire focus of the offense. They went from 2-5 to the playoffs. It sounds easy, but few coaches would completely change the offense like that.
Over/under wins report: How did I do? 3-3-2 Not great.
These were the one’s I said I felt best about. I finished
Houston under 5: Correct (4)
Tampa Bay over 13.5: Incorrect (13)
WFT over 8: Incorrect (7)
Pittsburgh Steelers under 9: push
Dallas Cowboys under 9.5: Incorrect (12)
Buffalo Bills over 10.5: Correct (11)
Seattle Seahawks under 10: Correct (6)
Miami Dolphins over 9: Push (9)
I finished 9-9-3 on the rest lol. It’s almost like it’s a coin flip and I have no real expertise. Weird. My greatest accomplishment was saying the Chiefs would win exactly 12 games and being right about that. My worst accomplishment was my picks column for most of the year that might have been the worst in America. I did much better when I switched to just 3 picks a week and stopped giving advice I don’t have.
Coach firing surprise meter (on a scale of 1-10):
1.0 Darrell Bevell: He hasn’t technically been fired, but I assure you, he will not be the head coach next year. This is Urban Meyer’s honorary spot.
2.0 Matt Nagy: I think pretty much everyone saw this coming. The team never got better under him.
2.5 Vic Fangio: I wasn’t 100 percent sure he would be fired, but it seemed likely. Three straight years without a playoff appearance will do that. He was really fired because they haven’t found a QB since Peyton Manning retired.
3.0 Mike Zimmer: I think a lot of people expected Zimmer to be fired, but the truth is, he was mostly a success in Minnesota. Things went downhill when the GM focused on adding offensive talent and neglected a defense that is now worst in the league and has very little talent.
6.0 Brian Flores: This one came as a shock to a lot of people, particularly people who don’t follow the Dolphins closely. Flores seemed like a good coach, especially on the defensive side. The problem, however, were all the relationship bridges he burned, including a number of coordinators, players, his GM and owner. His intentional obstruction of Tua Tagovailoa was bizarre and self-defeating.
Are other coaches on the hot seat still? Oh yeah
Joe Judge: A terrible coach by any rational metric, Judge somehow kept his job despite the GM retiring. I wonder if a new GM is hired if he will decide one of the least disciplined teams in the NFL needs the coach it has.
Pete Carroll: We still have to see how this plays out. It’s not Pete’s fault this team has not backfilled with any talent in the last 5 years, but missing the playoffs with an elite QB shouldn’t go unnoticed. Russell Wilson has been papering over cracks on this team for the last several years, and somebody should pay for that.
Brandon Staley: He won’t be fired, but they should at least consider it. His overly aggressive tactics blew up in his face and cost the Chargers multiple games this season. He was supposed to be a defensive mind, but the Chargers were one of the worst defenses in football this season. Missing the playoffs with 6 Pro-Bowlers is insane. He also had the worst special teams unit in football.
Matt Rhule: Matt hasn’t had much luck on the injury front, with star running back Christian McCaffrey missing most of the last two years. However, if he had any part in the decision to take Sam Darnold over drafting Mac Jones, he should be fired just for that.
David Culley: It’s not his fault the Texans lost so many games with probably the worst roster of any team this year. With that said, his job is hardly secure. He is a fill in, until they get more talent, and I think even he knows it.
Honorable Mention: Rich Bisaccia. Despite doing a great job filling in, Mark Davis is an idiot who loves big names. I highly doubt he lets Rich go another year, despite the fact that he has earned it by doing something Jon Gruden couldn’t. Get the Raiders to the playoffs.
Who were the best free agent signings (not re-signings)?
Cordarelle Patterson: The Falcons struck gold with this signing. Patterson proved to be the perfect player for a hybrid RB/WR role in their system. Patterson proved what I had long suspected: that he was being miscast as a WR.
Corey Linsley: A rare elite lineman changing teams in free agency, Linsley delivered a pro-bowl season for a team that desperately needed an offensive line upgrade. He combined with Rashawn Slater to move a bad offensive line to above average.
Trey Hendrickson: Hendrickson was a signing that was nearly universally panned in the offseason, but it proved to be one of the best. His 14 sacks were best of the free agents, and his cheap (by comparison) long term deal is an incredible value for the Bengals.
Matt Judon: Judon provided the Patriots with their best pass rusher in a strong defense. Judon was worth every penny. The Pats spent a lot this offseason, and it was a mixed bag. This was the high point. Honorable mention to Hunter Henry who seems to have a good rapport with Mac Jones.
Yannick Ngakoue: Yannick provided a key pass rusher (10 sacks) to help the Raiders improve on their dismal pass rushing since Khalil Mack left. Combining him with Maxx Crosby provided to be an elite pairing.
Who were the worst free agent signings?
Kenny Golladay: While Golladay was hurt a lot this year, that was his rap prior to signing. The Giants signed on for damaged goods and got it. He did virtually nothing to help Daniel Jones get better, and the worst part is the Giants are on the hook for 3 more years at nearly 20 million a year.
Will Fuller: Another wide receiver miss, Fuller barely played, missing games for mental health reasons, and a broken finger, and then simply vanishing. No one on the Miami staff has seen him in a month. Fuller was known as damaged goods, so he only got a one year deal, but showed even that was too much.
Andy Dalton: The Bears payed over 10 million for Andy, who remains totally washed as a QB. After an inauspicious start, Andy was injured and did not return. His career is probably over.
Kyle Fuller: A star for the Bears over the last few years, Fuller was a surprising cut (to make room for Andy Dalton). When he signed on with the Broncos, it seemed like an ideal pairing. However, his play fell off dramatically and he lost his job he was being paid 10 million this year to do.
Bud Dupree: Dupree signed a massive 5 year 80 million deal, and provided nowhere near the same production as other free agent defensive lineman. Coming off an Achilles tear, he was injured multiple times, only had 4 sacks and was recently arrested for assault.