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?