Right. An Eagles-Jets Super Bowl.

I’ve said there ain’t no team really worthy of being picked for the Super Bowl in the 2011-2012 season. All 32 teams have a reason why it should not be in the Big Game. There really are no truly elite teams. Well, not by standards I have come to expect.

What makes a truly Super Bowl worthy team? Great coaching. Great QB. Great Defense. Talent, but not only talent, a TEAM, where the individual is subordinate to the TEAM.

Nowadays, it seems you don’t need all of these or even most of them to win the Super Bowl. Not since the 2004-2005 Patriots, anyway, who had great coaching (BB), great QB (Brady), great defense, good talent but half the guys on that team were virtual unknowns who subordinated themselves to the team and gave all to the team. No Patriots team since then has had these qualities enough to win the Super Bowl, which is why they haven’t.

The subsequent Super Bowl winners have had MOST of these qualities, but not all of them. The 2005-06 Steelers had a Roethlisberger who was just a second year QB, not a great one. The 2006-07 Colts had a great QB and coaching, but certainly not a great defense overall. The 2007-08 Giants had a great defense, but Eli Manning was not a great QB and Coughlin was not a great coach. The 2008-09 Steelers? Roethlisberger was now a great QB, but Tomlin, a good coach, was still not a great coach. The 2009-10 Saints? They perhaps come closest to being the ideal Super Bowl winner, but much of their success was predicated on the kharma principal-payback for what the Saints went through after Katrina. The 2010 Packers have most of it too, but is Mike McCarthey a great coach? Actually, the only great coach in the NFL now is STILL Bill Belichick, but with an asterisk: the man cheated. Tomlin and Payton are close, but still…

Rex Ryan is NOT a great coach! Sorry, he’s not. Get over it, media! He’s not! It is just that you love the guy. And he coaches in New York. And he has a good-looking, better-looking-than-even-Joe-Namath QB who also appears to be charismatic to go with Bart Scott, who also appears to be charismatic. But then again, they play for New York. And, because of hot-shot Sanchez and big-mouth Scott, Rex Ryan is a great coach. NO, HE’S NOT! What has he done??

Oh, yeah! He’s told the world the Jets will win the Super Bowl this year! Guess what? he told them the Jets will win the Super Bowl last year! But, what the hell, this is Rex Ryan talking so I guess (says the media) the Jets really will win the Super Bowl.

But now, of course, the Jets won’t just walk away with the Lombardi Trophy.

Some are now saying the Jets will NOT win the Super Bowl, because the Eagles WILL win the Super Bowl! Why? Because they got Nnamdi. Sorry, can’t spell his last name without looking like an idiot, so I won’t even try. So it’s Nnamdi. The Eagles will win the Big Game because of Nnamdi. And Vince Young. And Cullen Jenkins. And Dominique Rogers-Cromartie. And Andi Reid. Andi Reid, you know, is another great coach. What makes Andi Reid a great coach? Well, he made Donovan McNabb what he used to be (a great QB) and he made Micheal Vick what he is now, a great QB. and if Vince Young has to take over for Vick, Reid will make VY a great QB as well.

And how else do we know that there will be an Eagles-Jets Super Bowl? Because last year the Jets went bughouse crazy signing free agents, and this year the Eagles are doing it too. And they have great coaches and the Eagles have a great QB and the Jets have…well, Sanchez doesn’t need to be a great QB because Rex Ryan said so and “the Sanchize” can let the defense do all the work, so…. And the Eagles have Nnamdi while the Jets have Revis Island and the Eagles have LeSean and the Jets have “Holmes-boy” and the Eagles have this and the Jets have that.

And the Eagles are this year’s Miami Heat while the Jets were last year’s Miami Heat and so…

But, the Miami Heat play BASKETBALL! In BASKETBALL, you have 5 guys on the Court and it is not unreasonable that some “big three” or whatever can get you to the championship game based just on those three alone.

FOOTBALL has eleven guys in one series of plays and then another eleven guys in the next series. All 5 guys in basketball can play both offense and defense, but in football, only eleven on offense and then eleven on defense can be on the field at one time, and, therefore, elementary my dear Clayton, you need TWENTY-TWO guys–and let’s not forget every now and then you have to punt the ball and make field goals!–no, make that TWENTY-FOUR guys who can get the job done, and you have to put the best twenty-four guys possible out there to play (and, as tough as football is, you need good reserves as well…the Eagles have Young to back-up Vick…who the heck backs up “the Sanchize”? didn’t they just cut Mark Brunell?)

Therefore, you have to do more than sign a few superstars and look great on paper and impress the media. That is what the Heat did–in basketball, mind you–and they STILL didn’t win the NBA! (Note: and the Mavs did win the NBA, and good golly miss molly a white guy–A WHITE GUY!!!–got them to it! What’s this world coming to?)

A Jets-Eagles Super Bowl?

Sounds great on paper, eh?

Thing is, NO TEAM BUILT THAT WAY HAS EVER WON A SUPER BOWL!

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These Teams Likely to be Bad Again This Year

Despite the Kabuki Theater regarding the continued “pay-me-or-to-hell-with-the-2011-season” BS by Vince Jackson and Logan Mankins–who continues to put the kibosh on the notion that playing for BB is good enough–there probably will be a 2011 NFL season.

Not that the following teams wouldn’t mind that NOT happening!

Surely I jest! But don’t call me Shirley…can I be sued for writing that? Even with Leslie Nielson resting in peace?

1. Washington Redskins: this team tops the list of teams that will continue to suck, and, in fact, the Skins may be the ONLY team that truly sucks this year! On a list of teams that could go, say, 1-15 this year, the Skins come to mind. In fact, if 1,000 random NFL fans had to choose which team would go 1-15, it would inexorably be Shannahan’s crew that would get most of the votes. I mean, look at the state of the Redskins: John “deer in the headlights” Beck starting at QB…as anyone who followed the Fins in their 1-15 season in 2007 might say, “Are you freaking kidding me?” Fat Albert. I know this guy was once a force, but cut the guy, already! DeAngelo Hall. Yeah I know…he always plays Dallas well–in fact the one win I am sure the Skins will get (they’re not bad enough to go winless) should be against the ‘Boys. And just who the heck is Ryan Torraine? Anthony Armstrong? Rex Grossman? Like I have said before–following the 2007 Dolphins makes me think that the Skins, who have even less talent than that ill-fated Miami team, really ought to go 1-15 this year. And don’t let that Shanny talk about NOT wanting to blow the season just to get Andrew Luck next year fool you. Because getting a guy like Luck is the ONLY hope for the Redskins!

2. Carolina Panthers. Sorry, but I DO NOT trust Cam Newton! The Panthers have a fairly good team around him, however. But (as with so many relatively decent teams who keep getting stuck in 3rd or last place) the Panthers are in perhaps the toughest division in the NFL. The Saints and Falcons are possible Super Bowl teams. The Bucs were good enough last year to almost make the playoffs. They will likely make last place by default no matter how much they improve. I think they are better than a 3-13 team but that most likely will be their record, or maybe as high as 5-11.

3. Arizona Cardinals. After a couple of really overachieving seasons, thanks maily to Kurt Warner, the Cards are reverting (and have reverted to normal, which is bad-to-mediocre). Again, the Cards, like the Panthers, have some definite talent around a QB situation that will not get much better if Kevin Kolb is had from the Eagles. This guy has proven NOTHING! For the Eagles to extort a first-rounder from the Cards or anyone other team is highway robbery at its most blatant! Heck, as a South Florida writer said the other day, Tyler Thigpen has more worthiness than Kolb does over the last couple of seasons. (Thigpen, BTW, is an unrestricted FA and I can think of one AFC West team and also an AFC East team that could land him for virtually nothing.) However, if the Cards do trade for Kolb by exchanging Dominic Rogers-Cromartie for him, it could be straight up even: DRC has done little since a sensational rookie year, and the Eagles could definitely use the guy.

4. Cinncinati Bungles. I told you that until this team starts doing some right things and stop yo-yo-ing in the standings every year, I am calling them the Bungles. I lambasted Fins owner Stephen Ross here a while back for being incompetent (actually, for trying to hire Harbaugh for HC when he hadn’t even fired Sparano yet), but Ross (and a couple of other lousy owners) has nothing on Mike Brown. He is NOT his father’s child! (Or is it grandchild?) Paul Brown would be ashamed (maybe) at what the Bungles have become. If he actually did the right thing and let Carson Palmer go I might have a higher opinion of him. And, except for Palmer, who QBs this team? His kid brother? Finally, the fact that the AFC North is as brutal as the NFC South, and the Browns are almost light years ahead of the Bungles in team-worthiness in this division. At a time when the Steelers and Ravens are beginning to see the end of their good fortune (the retirement of Ray-Ray and Dick LeBeau, for instance, should ensure the demises of both defenses, which both teams are more dependent on than most teams are for success…along with the Jets of course), the Bungles are blowing an opportunity to move up for a while. I actually see a lot of hope on the Browns, but Cincy? It ain’t happening!

5. Tennessee Titans. Kenny Britt. No viable QB…unless Vince Young makes it very clear very soon that he is the guy for new coach Mike Munchak. CJ simply will not be able to keep it up all by himself. Plus there are some valuable guys on defense such as Steve Tullock who are probably leaving. And in a year when it will be very hard for a new coach to install whatever he wants to, and again, the AFC South is looking for a team to overtake the Colts…and the Titans just aren’t ready. I do not see this team winning any of its division games. 5-11 at best.

6. Denver Broncos. I like John Fox. Elvis Dumerville is coming back. But (in a still somewhat weak AFC West) the decision to start Tim Tebow (les’s face it–I do not trust this guy!) over Kyle Orton still looks like a bad decision, but I would be surprised if the Broncos traded Orton because I am not convinced of Tebow’s ability to start and win. On the other hand, I can’t see them trading Orton unless it was to a team that had no QB, period (which leaves Miami out…if the Fins signed Orton they would have to start him over Chad Henne, and I don’t think the Fins want to go that route. For one thing, Henne has pretty much taken control of teaching the offense Brian Daboll’s playbook). Arizona or (more likely, either Minnesota or Seattle) would definitely benefit from having Orton, though. The other thing is all the Dolphin castoffs on their defense: Andre Goodman, Renaldo Hill, Nathan Jones, and (formerly) Vonnie Holliday…there is a good reason the Fins let these folks go–Vontae Davis, Sean Smith, Chris Clemons/Reshad Jones and Randy Starks/Tony McDaniel/Jared Odrick, most of whom are better and a lot younger than those that Denver got. Blame Josh McDaniels–who coached a division rival offense–for those moves though. It’ll be interesting to see if the Broncos pick up, say, Philip Merling (who is a bust, on the field and especially off it!) or Benny Sapp or Quentin Moses or any other possible castoff from that team. Anyway, I see the Broncos going no higher than 6-10 (but is that really bad?)

Honorable (or is it dishonorable?) mention: Seattle, San Fransisco, Minnesota. All three have possibly deep QB issues. But the remaining talent plus likely good coaching keeps these teams off the list. Other teams, like Buffalo, Cleveland, Jacksonville and Oakland don’t make the list because (it must be me, but) I see all four of these teams making strides this year even though most of them are in tough divisions. All four have stable QB positions, even if the QBs themselves are lightly regarded (Fitzpatrick, Garrard, Gradkowski, McCoy).

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Ten 2011 Season Prediction Failures

1. The Bears Won’t Get Back To Playoffs:

Some of this is a sudden and (really now!) misplaced love affair with the “new and improved” Lions. And I am thrilled about the fact that the Lions are improved! I love it! But to say they are good enough to keep the Bears out of the playoffs is ridiculous. And to think, thanks to the officiating last year in game one with Calvin Johnson not getting the TD he should have gotten, the Lions keeping the Bears out of the playoffs in 2011 would be poetic justice. But I simply do not think the Bears aren’t good enough to make the playoffs.

I didn’t think they’d be good enough last year, but lo and behold they won the division! A lot of that last year was due to the fact that I do not like Jay Cutler. There, I said it. But I shouldn’t let dislike of Jay Cutler color my opinions…heck, if not liking a player had a bearing on final standings, the Steelers would be last place every year! (Hint: I don’t like Roethlisberger, either.)

2. The Jets will win the AFC East. Right. Just like they won Super Bowl 45! Nope, I’ll say it right here right now: either the Pats repeat again, or Chad Henne fools everyone and plays like he’s Mark Sanchez in the playoffs and Daboll shows why all that nonsense about him not doing anything with a piss-poor Browns offense is just smoke and mirrors. Yeah, I know I said Miami would finish last because Stephen Ross deserved it. But the Fins weren’t as good as 2008 but also weren’t as bad as 2010. One of these days I will try to figure out what went wrong in South Florida last year. In fact, I think–no, really–that the Bills have a better shot at the playoffs than the Jets do. In other words, I just have a really bad feeling about the Jets this year…having to sign a zillion free agents will do that to ya.

3. The Cowboys will get back to the playoffs. Why? Because they’re the Cowboys, dammit! Sorry, but this ain’t the 1970s, 80s, or 90s anymore. Wade Phillips needed to lose his job, but when you have players on the team saying John Kitna is a better leader than Tony Romo, honey you got problems! And that also assumes that the Giants will fold again and that Micheal Vick will repeat last year’s performance. You can’t assume either one.

4. The Rams will win the NFC West. The ONLY reason I’m seeing this one is because the Rams are the only NFC West team that you know who their starting QB will be. And that’s it. But this division is so weak that you can’t assume one of the other teams won’t come up with a good starting QB to rival Sam Bradford, nor can you assume Bradford won’t have a bit of a setback. I mean, Matt Ryan had a setback in his second year and Chad Henne had a setback in his second starting year. So who is to say Bradford won’t? I say that if Kevin Kolb finds his way to either Seattle or Arizona…not that Kolb is a great QB…he could (being in a weak division) lead his team to the division title over Bradford.

5. The Colts win the AFC South. I know I’ve waffled on this issue as late as a few days ago saying the Colts will probably win by default again, simply because I have no reason to trust the Texans or Jaguars will finally get over the hump. Thing is, if the Texans get Nnamdi Asoumagah (spelling?), along with having a defensive top notch coach in Wade Phillips, along with that great offense, the Texans could–despite Kubiak–get over the hump this year.

6. The Redskins trade McNabb. I mean, who would want the guy? I say the Skins get over their John Beck fettish and keep McNabb just because…

7. The Broncos trade Orton. Orton is one of those guys that is a legit starting QB on the one hand but isn’t on the other. He’s not really franchise but not really journeyman, either. He reminds me of Jay Fiedler, who never quite got a real chance to replace Marino in Miami because, well…he wasn’t Marino! In fact, of all the QBs in Dolphins history, I’d put Fiedler behind only Marino, Griese, and Chad Pennington. Don Strock would be number five, but Henne might get on there one of these years. So, no, I really don’t see the Broncos trading Orton. Why? Because I really don’t see the Broncos handing it over to Tebow just like that. What has Tebow done?

8. Carson Palmer retires. Now, who would want to play for the Bungles the way Palmer is being done? But still, if the guy really wants to keep playing, Mike Brown (who is worse than Stephen Ross, Jerry Jones, Al Davis, and Jerry Richardson put together!) will make sure he plays in Cincy. No ifs ands or buts. And until this team actually does something right, I’m calling them the Bungles!

9. The Ravens take over the AFC North. I made that mistake last year picking them to win the AFC. Well, teams don’t spoil my predictions and get away with it! So, since Flacco can’t ever seem to do anything about the Steelers and Ray Ray might be getting too old to make it right–and Ozzie doesn’t seem to have confidence in Flacco, anyway, then why the heck should I? My prediction: second place. Again!

10. The Chargers win the AFC West. This “expert” prediction probably has the most chance of happening. After all, Phillip Rivers’s chance of a Super Bowl window is closing very fast, and the Bolts have still the most talented team in the division. Thing is, the Bolts have this very annoying tendency of starting very slowly that they simply haven’t done much about over the last several years, and because this division is getting stronger, the Bolts may not be able to operate like that and expect to win much longer.

Next time: Predictions I expect are correct.

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Top Ten Worst Moments in NFL History

ProFootballTalk is doing the ten worst moments of each team since 1987 when they had the strike, so now it is my turn…

Not in any order…

1. The Browns move to Baltimore from Cleveland after many years of Championship futility (not since 1964, correct?), and then become the Ravens and proceed a few years later to win the Super Bowl…meanwhile, the Browns come back to life (in a manner of speaking) a couple of years later in Cleveland and then proceed to suck like they’ve been doing for about fifty years! And to top that off, having to live in Cleveland! (Okay, okay, it’s not Detroit!)

2. The Detroit Lions, since 1958. AND having to live in Detroit! (Yeah, I know…they will be a real powerhouse in 2011–NOT! I mean, we’re talking the LLLLLLLLLLLions here!)

3. The Bills losing four straight Super Bowls, and sucking since then…AND living in Buffalo!

4. The Steelers not drafting Dan Marino. Think about what that would have meant: from their inception (no, it wasn’t immaculate!) until 1972, the Steelers were the epitome of futility. Then came 1972 and the Immaculate Reception and then the 1970s where they were indeed the best of the decade so that they did indeed dominate the 70s. In the 90s, they were good for the most part, and, in the 2000s, they were very very good (but not great). Now, they could have been at least almost great in the 80s, but they weren’t, and weren’t even good for the most part, because they didn’t draft Dan Marino, who, IMHO, was wasted in Miami (because they didn’t have the defense nor the running game to be good enough to win Super Bowls despite having Don Shula coaching them). Marino should have won at least one Super Bowl, period, end of story. He would have in Pittsburgh.

5. The advent of the WFL. If the WFL had never come into being…for one thing, it might have been the Dolphins, not the Steelers, who would have dominated the 70s, but not only that, suddenly fans realized that many players were not in it for the glory and macho like fans had always believed before, but in many cases solely for the money. Team loyalty went out the window for good.

6. Pat Tillman gets a big rookie contract from the Cardinals but then decides a year later to sign up to “fight Osama” in Afghanistan, goes over there, and then instead of a hero’s welcome gets killed by “friendly fire” which some to this day (especially Tillman’s folks) think was deliberate because Tillman became increasingly anti-war…and while the NFL and several players and coaches continue to “support the troops,” it is as if Tillman died for nothing not only on behalf of the US but on behalf of the ethos of the NFL as well. I mean, has Goodell or anyone else actually honored this guy?

7. Owners screwing their fans: first the Colts “Midnight Escape” to Indianapolis, then Art Modell does the same thing (almost) to Cleveland (see above), and now, the Vikings might have to move to LA. The Los Angeles Vikings? And then they screw the fans even when they stay, because it is the taxpayers, not the owners, who pay for these stadiums..except for the ones who pay for their own stadiums, such as Joe Robbie, late owner of the Fins.

8. The strike of 1982.

9. The work stoppage of 1987 (and very short strike that year, when “replacement players” were used).

10. The lockout of 2011, and the cuts in employee pay because of it–not to mention the fact that neither the players nor owners will budge on their positions, and of course the 2-Republican, 1-Democrat 8th Circuit Court of Appeals which ruled exactly the way 2 Repubs and 1 Dem would be expected to rule–in favor of business and against labor. And now the Supreme Court, who could care less if fans get their football or not. And if me and Ray Lewis are correct, the millionaires and billionaires who are taking away our bread and circuses in the fall just might regret they ever messed with a testosterone-filled, already fed up with the government and its owners in the banks and on Wall St. Gee, what will a whole bunch of dissaffected folks (some with guns) do if they can’t have their NFL football on Sundays? In other words, it would behoove the powers that be in football (and everywhere else) to stop this lockout crap and make sure fans have football.

Among other things, it’ll provide more jobs for the TSA types that’ll be (maybe) groping folks going into football stadiums to see their teams play…

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2011-12 Super Bowl Teams Could Be An Unlikely Pair

Assuming there are Super Bowl teams in 2012…

I had the Packers and Ravens in Super Bowl 45. I had the Saints and someone–Ravens or Patriots or maybe even the Colts–in Super Bowl 44. For Super Bowl 43, I had the Pats and Cowboys, I think…

Well, some are buying into Rex Ryan’s Jets-in-the-Super-Bowl meme, and who can blame them? Think about it: who else that has not already represented the AFC and is a supposedly viable contender is there BESIDES the Jets? Think about it: the Pats? They haven’t won a playoff game since the 2007 AFC Championship game, methinks as payback for Bellichick’s bad kharma over cheating, and, who knows? Bellichick may not ever win another playoff game. The Steelers? Again, kharma…even though Roethlisberger has “repented” of whatever it is he supposedly did. They didn’t lose to the Packers for no reason. The Chargers have wasted several years trying and are pretty much done with. The Ravens? Have you read about what Ozzie boy has told Mr. Flacco–you either produce like your franchise QB label says, or you can forget a pay raise (that is, you either succeed in the playoffs before Ray Ray retires, or else!)…thus, it seems the Ravens FO does NOT think Flacco can get it done! The Colts? I am never convinced with this bunch–last year they were lucky to win the division, and how long can Peyton Manning do it pretty much all by himself (and how long can Mathis and Freeney run the D all by themselves?). Well, that takes care of the teams that most consider the ONLY possible AFC champions besides the Jets, and that is why the Jets really really are considered the most likely team to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.

Here’s the thing, though. Since many NFL pundits are picking the Jets, they ain’t doing it because Rex Ryan says so. They are doing it for two reasons: one is that the jets have been in the AFC Champ game for the entirety of Rex Ryan’s tenure with them; and the other reason they are being picked is that they have managed to convince themselves that Mark Sanchez must be better than he has usually shown and despite some goofy games in the regular season he is a leader when it comes to the playoffs, totally ignoring what most folks know: it is the D that gets the Jets into the playoffs and keeps them there, not Sanchez! Does anyone honestly think that Mark Sanchez could do what the experts think he can do without Revis, Scott, Harris, Ellis, Cromartie, Pouha, and the rest of the D? That Sanchez would get the same results having to play on a team with the Bills or Lions or Bengals or Cardinals or Redskins?

Further, it is thought that the Jets could lose either Braylon Edwards or Santonio Holmes to free agency, whenever that begins…which is why they are going after Randy Moss. Further, they no longer have a couple of pieces they’ve had on the OL and are going to use Matt Slausson and maybe someone else instead of Damien Woody and Brandon Moore (unless they keep Woody, which might happen if the elockout continues). This would be a far cry from the line of Ferguson, Fanaeca, Mangold, Woody and Moore, which was perhaps the best in the business. The Jets running game–I mean, this is still a running team–was not quite as effective in 2010 as it has been; Shonn Greene is okay but he fumbles a lot.

In short, I am not convinced about the Jets, either. So that it will be a team no one expects. Since it is a team that I won’t expect, either, how can I pick the team? So I won’t.

Now, for the NFC, which will be easier to pick. It won’t be the Packers, because McCarthy is no Lombardi. That leaves a host of other possible contenders that a more “contender” than those I listed for the AFC: Falcons, Saints, Cowboys (let’s face it–2010 was an anomoly, Romo and Garret will be back), and Eagles. I can see any of these four teams winning the NFC Chamionship, though all four have some issues.

A few are saying the Lions and/or the Rams will join them SOLELY based on who their QBs are. Folks, we have gone from one extreme (Defense) to the other (Who the QB is), as if only a good defense or only a good QB means the difference between who is a true contender and who isn’t. Some are even saying the Lions and Rams will join ‘the elite” this year! Well, I got news for those who think a team that was 0-16 three years ago and a team that was 1-15 two years ago can be elite–until both of these teams have offensive lines (esp. the Lions) that can keep their QBs upright, these two teams will not be elite, and anything else is just delusional. Now I know folks want the Lions and Rams to do well because they have been so downtrodden the last few years (for the Lions, the last 50 or so years!), but let’s stop the nonsense, shall we? Stafford and Bradford alone will not make these two teams elite, any more than Jamaal Charles will make the KC Chiefs elite.

It’s a new decade and there will be a new set of elite teams to go with it. It’s just that I do not know who these new teams will be. But they could be very very unlikely teams…

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Will Lockout Shake Up NFL Standings? Part 2

Part 1 is here.

Keep in mind folks that this is all just speculation and opinion and I am not picking on any teams here. Just the way I see it.

We left off with reasons one through six in part one.

Basically, I said some teams would rise and some would fall. But, would the lockout have anything to do with who would rise and fall?

It is easy to say that teams with rookie QBs or teams that do not know for sure who the QB will be will be hurt by the lockout. Yet, it seems to me that rookie QBs are quite in the news lately at least trying to make contact with their proposed team’s veterans and one (Cam Newton of the Panthers) is being tutored by a former QB of the team and now has knowledge of “90 percent” of the playbook (according to ProFootballTalk). You also have another QB who may or may not start this year (but should start considering the length of the lockout–but will he finish?), that is, Miami’s Chad Henne, who has the playbook (albeit from a new Offensive Coordinator) and is teaching it to players attending workout he is holding. Alex Smith, another QB who may or may not start, and John Beck of the Redskins (who, I think, would have to completely remake himself in order to start), are doing similar things.

Thus, for three QBs anyway (Henne, Smith, Beck) the lockout is providing a leadership opportunity. For Henne and maybe Smith (I doubt it for Beck, but who knows?), it could be the lockout has been a Godsend.

In fact, I’ll say it right here right now: if the Dolphins get back to the playoffs in 2011, I will give the lockout a majority of the credit; for one thing, the Fins are perhaps the earliest team to begin the player wokouts (remember 1982 with the strike: which two teams had the most practices at this time? The same two teams that went to the Super Bowl that year–the Fins and Skins.) Though the AFC East is a very tough nut to crack, it is doable. The players also might want to play with more heart this year simply to support thier head coach, who was done dirty by an owner who doesn’t seem to get it how to run an NFL team when Ross tried to get Jim Harbough before firing Sparano. This simply is not done by an NFL owner!

In the last post I said some teams will go on the decline at the same time as a new decade gets underway. Folks, this is a fact of life in the NFL: a new decade heralds new “powerhouses.” Starting from the fifties when the old All-America Football Conference ended and a few of its teams entered the NFL, one of these new teams dominated the NFL immediately–the Cleveland Browns. Another new team, the Rams, had the “million dollar backfield” and was also a force. And another new team, the Baltimore Colts, won the “greatest game ever played” championship against the Giants in 1958…the Giants had been a power for years but let go of an assistant coach who would build the best NFL team in the 60s bar none: Vince Lom badri, that is. Now the Packers had been a pretty good team since its inception, but these guys completely dominated the sixties in the NFL. all the while the prominence of the Browns had faded, and same goes for the Bears and Lions who had been good to great in the previous decades but now became somewhat mediocre. Two other NFL teams–both expansion teams–became dominant at the end of the 60s: the Cowboys and Vikings. Both of these became serious Super Bowl contenders in the next decade, the 70s, and what happened in the 70s is due in large part to the NFL-AFL merger that happened in 1970 but was planned in the late 60s.

Similar to what happened with the NFL happened to the AFL: the better AFL team that began the 60s (Chargers, Oilers, Bills) were all pretty much out of it by the end of the 60s, while doormats of the early 60s like the Raiders and Jets (Titans back then) became dominant AFL teams at the end of the decade. Yet while the Raiders maintained dominance in the 70s, the Jets fell off and some say their former owner Sonny Werblin cursed them. But the worst AFL team was about to become one of the best when the two leagues merged: the Dolphins. Meanwhile, an NFL team that had never done anything, the Steelers, was about to be the most dominant NFL team throughout the entire 70s. The merger and new decade had most to do with this because, first, would Don Shula have gone to the Fins IF they were still in the AFL? Second, would the Steelers have become the dominant team they became IF they were still in the NFC and did not move to the AFC? Further, as Miami so dominated the AFC East during those years–never losing to another AFC East team except in 1970 and 1971 to the Colts (who were good until 1972’s rebuilding job), would the Fins have done so had Shula’s old team (the Colts) and Shula’s desire to avenge his Super Bowl III loss (the Jets) NOT been in the AFC East?

Then, the 80s. This decade was primarily dominated by the 49ers, who had been taken over by Bill Walsh in the late 70s. Again, a dominant team is built in a new decade on the back of the old decade. Meanwhile, the Steelers faded for one reason and one reason only: in 1983, the drafted Gabe Rivera instead of Dan Marino. Had they drafted Marino, their dynasty surely would have continued after Bradshaw retired. Other teams who were perennial contenders as well during that decade were the Raiders (but not so much after their Super Bowl win over the Skins in 1983), the Redskins, the Bears (but only in the middle decade), the Dolphins, along with the Patriots in some years, the Bengals, the Oilers, the Browns–and two team who, of course, ended the 80s as up-and-comers with great QBs–the Broncos and Bills.

It took a while for the Niners to poop out (just like it might take awhile for the Colts, Steelers, and Patriots to poop out), but when they did the resurgent Cowboys were ready to take over. While the Bills won four straight AFC Championships from 1989 to 1993, the Broncos, another team that hadn’t done much, dominated the 90s for the latter half of the decade. And while the Niners and then the Cowboys dominated the earlier 90s, the resurgent Packers led by Brett Favre finished it. And while Don Shula “retired” in 1995 to pretty much end the Dolphins “glory days”–and begin roughly fifteen years of futility to try to get that glory back–a “new” Don Shula was about to arise: Bill Belichick.

This leads to the new decade of the 2000s, and BB as he is called dominated most of it, or at least until the latter half. The Steelers bounced back, and so did the Colts with Peyton Manning. In the NFC, no one team dominated it, but teams that, yet again, had never done much of anything–the Eagles, the Seahawks, the expansion Carolina Panthers, the Tampa Bay Bucs, and another former doormat, the Saints, all did good things in this decade. The Saints success should continue at least for a couple of years with Drew Brees. Yet, the NFC is “crying” for a dominant team, and I suggest two of them, the Packers under Aaron Rodgers and another team that has never done much of anything, the Falcons (if they can get over being the Falcons, that is). I can also see two teams that didn’t do very well for most of the 2000s, the Rams and Lions, possibly being factors as well.

Like I said the success of the Pats, Steelers and Colts should carry over at least into the early part of the 2010s, but Brady and Manning will not be around forever and that great Steeler D will not be coached by Dick LeBeau forever (he is in his 70s and has talked about retirement). Who will take over in this decade?

An expansion team–Texans or Jaguars? Ravens? Browns? (Don’t forget the Ravens used to be the Browns.) Will the Bengals miraculously become better than they’ve ever been (not a good notion considering their owner is one of the leagues worst)? Are the Chiefs for real? Will the rebuilding Dolphins get the job done at last and with a QB that no one thinks is any good but could surprise everyone because the lockout is giving him an opportunity in a remade offense (that is, without the RBs he’s had and no Wildcat?) Can the Bills turn it around under a good coach with Ryan Fitzpatrick who everyone thinks is a journeyman but maybe he’s a lot better than that?

Or will Sexy Rexy finally live up to his billing and deliver the Jets out of BS land?

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Will Lockout Shake Up NFL Standings? Part One

Well, I think it will, and here are some reasons why.

1. Teams that must rely on rookie Quarterbacks might find these QBs much more unprepared than rookie QBs would normally be–especially since NONE of the rookie QBs are sure franchise QBs…there were no Sam Bradfords, Matt Ryans, or Matthew Staffords in this draft, IMHO.

2. Teams that have new head coaches, with the new coordinators this new HC brings, will have a much harder time, IMHO, bringing their players up to speed–and this goes double for new HCs with rookie (or new) QBs.

What this means is that the Tennessee Titans, Minnesota Vikings, Carolina Panthers, San Fransisco 49ers, Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, and Cinncinati Bengals will likely have rough seasons. Each of these teams either has a new QB or rookie starting coming in, a new HC/Coordinators, or both. One could also add the Arizona Cardinals and maybe even the Seattle Seahawks to this list because of unsettled QB situations…and if this is the case, look for the once doormat St. Louis Rams to take over the NFC West.

3. Some teams that made major improvements last year will fall back almost by default, mostly because of the divisions they are in. I love Josh Freeman, but the experts who claim the Tampa Bay Bucs will fall backwards this year are unfortunately probably being truthful–the NFC South is a ball buster as long as Drew Brees is on the Saints and the Falcons continue to look more and more like an elite team (yet, looks can be deceiving…just bercause of Matt Ryan and supposed coaching genius Mike Smith, does this mean that the Falcons will not continue to be the Falcons? Good one year, mediocre the next?). Then you have the Chiefs…Jamaal Charles carried this team last year, but will he be able to do what he did in 2010, or will the team have to rely on Matt Cassel? If so, then look for the Chargers to retake the division. In the NFC North, every expert on the planet is looking for big things from the “suddenly revived” Lions. Now really, the Lions have been so bad for so long that them getting to 6-10 last year actually has these experts thinking they’ll make the playoffs? But for this to happen, the Bears will have to fall way hard, and honey, this could happen I suppose but it isn’t likely. Jay Cutler isn’t elite but when he’s good he’s on fire.

4. Some teams that disappointed–in fact most teams that disappointed–should make it back to previous standing. Tony Romo is back and Jason Garrett clearly had the Cowboys attention last year, so look for the Cowboys to perhaps make the playoffs again in 2011. The Chargers–unless the Chiefs really are for real and the Raiders still have QB issues (among others) that prevent them from moving up–should retake the AFc West mainly because the issues that divided them (Vince Jackson and Sean Merriman) are no longer there, and this might be the last year Norv and the boys have to push for the Super Bowl.

5. Some teams that have been “elite” will likely fall back as well. After all, a new decade (2011 begins the decade, not 2010) always–no exception–brings new powers, and with it, old power fall off. I’ve been saying on other blogs for the last couple of years that I expect the Colts, Steelers and Patriots to fall off. It hasn’t happened yet: these three teams have great QBs, period, end of story. But the Colts clearly fell off last year, and the only reason they still make the playoffs is because no other AFC South team has risen up to claim the mantle (and every time I say the Texans will, they disappoint yet again!). For the Steelers, it always seems that something–their defense, officials, or pure blind luck–keeps this team from even beginning to crack, but one of these days Dick LeBeau will retire and then I think we will see the start of the fall off. They were bad for 40 years, then they were great (mostly) for the next 40. So, then, it’s time. And we all know how super duper the Patriots were in 2010, but then came the playoffs. We all know BB is the best coach in the NFL, and we all know how awesome Tom Brady is. But still. History (the AFC East version of it anyway) will repeat itself. Either the Jets, Dolphins or Bills will take over this division in the 2010s…I just don’t know which one (but I don’t think it’ll be the Jets…why? Because they’re the Jets, and Rex Ryan ain’t helping! The media loves this guy. I don’t–hubris, man, hubris.

6. Other playoff calibre teams still have a lot of question marks. There has been a flurry of FO commentary regarding whether or not Joe Flacco deserves a new contract in Ravensville–guys there has to be a reason for this, and I suspect Ozzie and the gang simply do not think Flacco is good enough…I mean, their window is closing for the Super Bowl as well because Ray Ray won’t be around for much longer and when Ray Lewis retires so do the Ravens fortunes (that’s how good the man is!) Is Haloti Ngata ready to take Ray Ray’s place? I’ve already mentioned the Chargers. the Saints have issues that do not seem to be getting much coverage because many think they are returning to the Super Bowl and don’t want to damper their enthusiasm: Reggie Bush, Darren Sharper, and a little but of kharma coming over that flap with their coaches handing out illegal substances might be coming Sean Payton’s way. The Packers? I love Aaron Rodgers, but is Mike McCarthy really that good a coach? The Jets? Did you know that for all the flack Fins’ Chad Henne has taken this off-season from everybody, Henne actually grades out better than Mark Sanchez does in every category but leadership, and Henne (due to the lockout) has taken huge strides to become the leader the Dolphins must have to escape the mediocrity they’ve been in since that huge 2008 turnaround. My point? With Rex Ryan’s hubris, their free agency quandry (too many free agents to try to sign), and the fact that the Jets are getting older faster than just about every other team–and I see definite improvement in the Bills as well as the Dolphins–I actually see the Jets might finish last this year in that division. Hard to believe, but the pressure is building.

Part Two is <a href=”http://lifeimitatesfootball.wordpress.com/2011/07/03/will-lockout-shake-up-nfl-standings-part-2/>here</a>.

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