Tuesday, December 27, 2005

NFL Season-End Wrap-Up

So, as we enter into the last week of the NFL’s regular season, let’s take a last look around some of the more interesting stories in the league. We’ll start close to my heart with the NFC West and NFC Central, then tackle two more divisions in the next few days leading up to the final playoff spots and speculation about what’s going to happen in the postseason.

NFC West
Seattle Seahawks
They finally took the next step, shrugging off all other pretenders in a weak, weak, weak NFC West, but also taking care of business in the NFC as a whole, tying up home field advantage throughout the playoffs. But has any other #1 seed been more suspect in the postseason since the Missouri basketball team got a #1 seed in the NCAA tourney a few years back? I can’t find anyone outside of the Pacific Northwest who’s a true believer. Nothing short of a conference title—and maybe even a Superbowl victory—will establish this team as legitimate. I think Chicago, New York, Washington, Carolina and Tampa can all have an honest chance at going to Seattle and beating the home team. We’ve got three or four weeks to wait and see, but so far, they’ve done everything they needed to do, and they deserve credit for that.

St. Louis Rams
An absolute disaster of a season, and rightly so. Injuries have depleted starters; the offensive line was far beyond offensive, and the defense is cover-your-eyes awful in every way, but especially against the run. Stephen Jackson looks lost on the field, they have no QB (Bulger’s hurt and apparently chronically fragile), Marshall Faulk is likely to retire depending on who gets hired to coach next year, and the front office is more dysfunctional than the cast of “Arrested Development.” A complete housecleaning, from top to bottom, is in order. This isn’t going to be a competitive team for another 2-3 years, if that.

Arizona Cardinals
Rumor from Bernie Miklasz of the StLPD says Denny Green’s interested in coaching the Rams if he can get out of his contract with Arizona. Two years after coming out of the broadcast booth to turn this disastrous franchise around, he’s ready to hit the “Eject” button. Kurt Warner couldn’t work miracles a second time around, and I’m hard pressed to believe that Jesus Christ himself could do anything to change the fortunes of this cursed franchise unless he first cast Bill Bidwell and his spawn out of the owner’s booth first. Bidwell’s living proof that not every wealthy American deserves their good fortune.

San Francisco 49ers
Frankly, I’ve always hated the Niners. I hated them when they sucked in the 1970s, I really hated them with the white-hot fury of 1,000 stars when they dominated in the 1980s, and I’m not even remotely close to even half-empty on my giant surplus silo of schadenfreude when it comes to the misfortunes of this sorry bunch of misfits. Hey, if it wasn’t for the Rams, they’d still be in the Reggie Bush sweepstakes. These guys lose even when they win, and I hope it lasts for at least the rest of the decade.

NFC Central
Chicago Bears
Come on, does anyone really believe Rex Grossman is going to take this team to the Superbowl, even with this kind of defense? What’s scary to think about is what this team will look like next year with what will surely be a revamped offense. No one else has mentioned this idea, so I think I’m the first to throw it out, but Mike Martz is only a few weeks away from looking for a job. Why not visit old friend Lovie Smith and ask him to return the favor you gave him a few years back. Now imagine Lovie’s Chicago defense with Martz’s psychotic offensive scheme. That’s scary!

Minnesota Vikings
Clean house, top to bottom. Everyone goes, from the GM to the towel boys. Hit the restart button and rebuild this franchise from the ground up. Keep Brad Johnson and Paul Edinger. Everyone else is expendable. Zygi Wilf will not tolerate this embarrassment for longer than one more week. Brad kept us from being a laughingstock, but even before the tough losses to Pittsburgh and Baltimore, no one really considered this team a playoff threat.

Detroit Lions
Fire Matt Millen. Until the Ford family does this, they’ll be stuck with a powder-blue Edsel for the foreseeable future.

Green Bay Packers
Brett Favre should circle the Hall of Fame induction date in 2011 and walk away, waving his hand with his Superbowl ring on it. After Favre leaves, they can set about scuttling this garbage scow and set about the business of rebuilding something resembling an NFL team.

Tomorrow: NFC South and East


TUCK! said...

Nice observations. Now: Insight? Stick your neck out there: Where do you think Mooch SHOULD wind up? WHO gets to put the pieces back together in Green Bay (once they sack Sherman)? (Not to mention: Oakland/Turner Overdrive, Dan Reeves' Disingenuity, and Philly.)

One last shot: Eli Manning is Elvis Grback. Anyone else who thinks the Giants really have a shot at this, well, that says more about the sorry state of affairs in the NFC than anyone else could. Remember the old days when the NFC championship was the "real" Super Bowl? Well, that game moved to the "A."

Go Steelers.

(Wow. No snarkiness. I must be slipping...!)

Sandman said...

Hmmm, such poignant questions...

Mooch is a more "hands-off" player-oriented type of coach, so he would be better suited for a team that doesn't have a lot of knuckleheads who need straightened out, which rules him out of St. Louis and Minnesota. Arizona is a possibility if Denny Green bolts, and I imagine that Green Bay might take a look at him, seeing as he's a Holmgren disciple and all.

Oakland is a huge mess. That is a team with a host of strong personalities. I would say Brian Billick or Jeff Fisher would be good fits, but the Ravens finished strong enough that Billick keeps his job, while the Titans are rebuilding and apparantly loyal to Fisher, which is too bad, since he would be my first choice to take over the Rams.

Another rumor I've heard about Mike Martz has him taking over in Minnesota. I like it from the offensive side of the ball, but the Vikings have had chronic defensive problems since Tony Dungy left Denny Green's staff, and Martz has a poor history of coaching defenses. If I was his agent, I'd urge him to seek an offensive coordinator job in order to rebuild his "genius" reputation. It might be better for his health, as well.

Elvis Grbac never had the arm that Manning does. We have to remember that this is essentially his rookie year, since he didn't come in last year until the season was half over. In two years, Eli will be challenging his brother for league MVP honors. I agree that he makes poor decisions at times now, but the reason the Giants are a legitimate threat to win the NFC title have more to do with their defense and Tiki Barber (who should be in this year's MVP conversation) than Eli. I do agree that no NFC team has much of a chance to win the SB against any of the top four AFC teams.

I'll root for the Steelers until they have to go to Indianapolis. First things first, they'll beat the living hell out of Detroit this weekend, then end up playing the Bengals in the first round of the playoffs. Wow, what a game THAT will be!

Mike said...

As for the Lions, at least an Edsel looks good and has some value.