NEW YORK, N.Y.- Black Monday in the NFL came and
went, with one of these least active days we’ve seen in recent time. Only one
organization made a move as the New York Giants fired Pat Shurmur. Three other
head coaching vacancies arose prior to Monday, as the Cleveland Browns fired
Freddie Kitchens hours after the season ended while the Carolina Panthers and
Washington Redskins made their firings during the season. In all, four head
coach openings were available before the Redskins hired Ron Rivera as their
head man on Tuesday morning. So with the Browns, Giants and Panthers still
open, which is the most attractive situation?
1) Cleveland Browns:
Despite the dysfunction in the front office, the Browns are the most attractive job because of the talent on the roster. Stepping into either New York or Carolina is a rebuild situation while stepping into Cleveland is a ready to win situation. More than anything, the Browns need a leader as their head coach. Someone who can hold players accountable, lead from the front and create a culture that hasn’t existed in Cleveland in what feels like an eternity. The concern is the possible upheaval in the front office, as general manager John Dorsey’s job is possibly in jeopardy, although it seems like that decision could ultimately be made by the new head coach. If that’s the case, the new head coach either way will have a general manager who shares the same vision, which is key to putting a successful team out on the field.
The biggest priority is developing Baker Mayfield, who despite having a rough sophomore season has shown the ability to be the guy moving forward. The Browns won last offseason and built a tidal wave of hype heading into 2019 mostly because the players knew the talent they had. Players quit at the end of the year in part because they saw a loaded roster that was being wasted by incompetent coaching. Having a leader take charge, put players in positions to succeed and bring that 2018 second half swagger back will have the Browns on the up-and-up in 2020. This job has the highest ceiling and the quickest chance for success.
2) Carolina Panthers:
David Tepper is ready to put his fingerprints all over this organization and
guide Carolina under his vision. This started with the ousting of Rivera and
could continue with the dismissal of franchise quarterback Cam Newton. Carolina
is an interesting job because outside of Christian McCaffrey and Luke Kuechly,
there isn’t much talent on the roster that stands out. The good news with that
reality is the new head coach can shape the roster to his vision and pick his
franchise quarterback. That is a luxury few head coaches are offered, as the
other three openings this year all have young quarterbacks in place that the
new coach will have to adopt.
Another bonus is the NFC South power structure. While the Saints are division champs yet again, Drew Brees isn’t getting any younger. The Buccaneers never established any sort of threat this decade and the Falcons are running it back with a head coach who’s gone 7-9 in consecutive seasons despite having a talented offense. The division, while currently ruled by the Saints, could be up for grabs in a few years, which is the perfect timetable for a new head coach to rebuild the roster, find his franchise quarterback and be in the perfect position to capitalize if the Saints have a downfall post Brees.
3) New York Giants:
The Giants are an interesting situation. On the one hand, you have most of the pieces already set in place for future success as Daniel Jones showed signs he can be the guy moving forward, Saquon Barkley is a stud, Darius Slayton emerged as a reliable receiver and the offensive line flashed improvement. This should be enough for any candidate to jump at. Why the Giants are ranked third of the three teams is their decision to keep general manager Dave Gettleman. It’s been an interesting two years for Gettleman, who has made some nice draft picks in Jones, Slayton and a few defensive players yet struck out mightily in free agency. Trading Odell Beckham Jr. a few months after signing him to a contract extension is a massive black eye on his resume, not to mention to the other free agent misses like Nate Solder and trading for Alec Ogletree have not exactly worked out.
situation where the general manager is anything but secure is a tough ask for a
head coach to accept, especially with how ownership seems divided on the
direction of the team. The Giants have been one of the most stable franchises
in the NFL, yet it’s been their instability the last few years that has made
this job less desirable. There is a real possibility that a new general manager
could take over next season, which automatically creates insecurity for the new
head coach. This uncertainty moving forward is why the Giants are the least
desirable head coach vacancy.
The 2019 NFL season is finally over, and the 100th anniversary of the NFL saw many teams & players produce historic numbers.
Pittsburgh Steelers: No Player Finished with 500 Rushing Yards
The Steelers have built their legacy of six Super Bowls on an intimidating defense and a consistent running game. Since the merger, seven different Steelers ran for 1,000 yards; a mark Pittsburgh reached 22 times.
For the second straight year, James Conner led the Steelers in rushing, finishing with 464 yards. The last time Pittsburgh failed to finish with a player recording 500 rushing yards was 1967 when Don Shy led the team with 341.
Miami Dolphins Leading Rusher
Ryan Fitzpatrick became the 8th QB since the merger to lead his team in rushing and the second QB to do so in 2019 (Lamar Jackson). However, Fitzpatrick finished with only 243 rushing yards.
Fitzpatrick and the Dolphins set two records with the number. First, at 37 years & 35 days, he became the oldest player to lead his team in rushing. He surpassed Hall of Famer Marcus Allen, who led the Chiefs at 36 years & 272 days in 1996.
Second, Fitzpatrick’s 243 rushing yards were the fewest for any team leader since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule in 1978. Miami became the first team not to produce a player to finish with at least 300 rushing yards over that span (the previous record was 311 rushing yards by Michael Haddix of the 1990 Green Bay Packers). Fitzpatrick finished 14 yards ahead of the NFL record since the merger, set by Ross Montgomery of the 1970 Chicago Bears. Montgomery led the Bears with 229 yards, finishing two yards ahead of Don Shy for the team lead (the second Don Shy reference).
Fewest Rushing Yards, Team Leader
NFL, Since the Merger
Philadelphia Eagles: 4,000-Yd Passer but Zero 500-Yd WR
The NFC East champion saw Carson Wentz became the first QB in team history to throw for 4,000 yards.
However, Alshon Jeffery and Desean Jackson finished the season on IR, while Nelson Agohlar missed six of their final eight games. Jeffrey led all WR with 490 yards, helping the Eagles became the first team in NFL history to produce a 4000-yd passer without a 500-yd WR.
Jameis Winston: Most Pick Sixes Thrown By QB in One Season
Despite becoming just the 8th player in NFL history to register 5,000 passing yards, Jameis Winston had a season filled with inconsistency.
He finished with 33 TD & 30 INT, becoming the first QB in NFL history to record a 30/30 season (the last QB to throw 30 INT was Vinny Testaverde, who threw 35 in 1988).
Winston entered Sunday’s final game tied for most interceptions thrown returned for a TD in NFL history (6). Fittingly, Winston and the Bucs season ended with Deion Jones returning an interception 27 yards in overtime, marking the seventh time a player returned a Winston INT for a TD in 2019.
Baltimore Ravens: 3,000 Yards Rushing & Passing
Baltimore featured MVP candidate Lamar Jackson, who became the first QB in NFL history to throw for 3,000 yards & rush for 1,000 yards in the same season.
The Ravens offense set an NFL record recording 3,296 rushing yards, breaking the record set by the 1978 New England Patriots (3,165). Jackson & company also threw for 3,225 yards, just 71 yards fewer than their total rushing.
Christian McCaffrey: 1,000 Rushing & Receiving
McCaffrey became just the third player in NFL history to register 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the same season. He joined Hall of Fame RB Marshall Faulk (1999) and Roger Craig (1985) as the only players to do so.
Growing up I always valued being a fan of my New York sports teams from the Knicks, Jets, Yankees and Islanders. It wasn’t because of the nice jerseys they wore or they always won every year. It was the love of my cities teams no matter if the team win, lose or draw. But now there’s a new age in sports, fans now or may I say the millennials, have changed the value of routing for a specific team to a star player. A lot of the reasons for the change has been social media. I know what your going to say, why would social media be the very thing that will destroy sports. My answer to that question is how many people that go to sporting events actually watch and concentrate on the games. In 2019 I attended at least eighteen games and realized more than half the people at those events were not even watching the game. I understand the value of the cell phone now, that you can take pictures that can last you a lifetime or seeing who is following you or posting something on facebook or instagram.
The real problem I believe is the fan now doesn’t really care about any one teams success, but what the one player they follow is eating or doing at that very time. When you research star players like Steph Curry, who has over 13 million fans following him on twitter or 28 million fans following him on instagram. I realize in the last two decades basketball is not about the five players on the court or the 56 players on a football team. Its really about how many fans are following a particular player on their social media’s. I can’t tell you how many times I heard in the radio industry they ask you for your social media handle, what does that have anything to do with your experience.
In 2017 Kevin Durant apparently tried to use a fake Twitter account to defend himself, slamming the Thunder. It started a backlash with the NBA and their players with social media and using it for personal reasons. In 2018 Bryan Colangelo, the ex general manager of the Philadelphia 76ers, allegedly used several fake Twitter accounts to smear his own current and former players. This act eventually had Colangelo fired and because of this incident he hasn’t been offered a GM position. Im sure there are plenty of good things to say about social media, but I absolutely believe it has stolen the value of sports. Sports is a way for you to get away from your busy boring life, you don’t need social media and the problems it has brought to sports.
By now, all of your Fantasy Football Leagues should have wrapped up. Champions should be crowned, losers – punished. Some of you (myself included) were fortunate enough to draft dynamic players like Lamar Jackson, Christian McCaffrey, Michael Thomas, George Kittle, or even New England’s Defense/Special Teams. Others dealt with devastating injuries, like losing star Qbs like Drew Brees, Pat Mahomes, or Ben Roethlisberger for extended periods of time. Many saw disappointing seasons from guys like Odell Beckham Jr, Aaron Rodgers and Saquon Barkley. The rest of you are just bad at Fantasy Football.
But whether you were your league’s champion, bottom dweller, or somewhere in between… chances are you had a blast playing, and will once again be back for more next season. I guess maybe that’s easy for me to say, coming off of two championship seasons in the two leagues I played in. It certainly helped fund my holiday shopping, which put me in the Christmas Spirit in the nick of time. Fantasy Football is king. It has come a long way, making it so easy to play and manage your team in the process. I don’t know what the cutoff age is, but chances are if you’re of a certain age, most people you know who like football – or even sports in general – are part of a Fantasy Football league. We’re obsessed with it, we just can’t get enough of it. And aside from referees trying their best to ruin the experience for us, we continue going back for more and amercing ourselves in it.
Fantasy Football is like… committing to a long lasting relationship. Or being a parent, watching your baby grow week after week. And obviously, like being the general manager of your very own football team. I understand that it’s not for everyone, and maybe it’s a little too much commitment for people who have young children or work long hours. But it’s so much fun! This is a great era to play Fantasy Football. The NFL is filled with so many young, talented players that are exciting to watch. And the NFL does a great job of giving access to its product, with games scattered throughout the week, including all day Sunday. There are so many shows dedicated to Fantasy Football advice, there’s even NFL’s Redzone, a channel dedicated to Fantasy Football fans! So, if you’re not playing Fantasy Football, what are you waiting for? And if you already are, then you understand my excitement for this fun game!
So, last week the WWSRN was host to a Toy Drive for Project Toy. We were introduced to Project Toy by Gary Brown former Green Bay Packer, LI native and guest on the Haystack Show. The drive was a great success and we collected a great deal of toys. I have been so impressed with the level of involvement of Gary Brown and those like him.
Last week LSU’s Joe Burrow’s Heisman speech brought in over $236,000 to a local food pantry. If you haven’t heard his speech I suggest that you look it up. Not everyone can afford to donate money, but we can give the most valuable thing we have which is our time to help others. It’s heart warming to see a speech like that from someone who is really just starting out and sees the bigger picture. He selflessly used his moment to shed light on others that are in need and ask for support. Just one speech is responsible for $236,000 which will allow so many hungry people to have food on their table for many months to come. Words and actions are powerful, we need more people like Joe Burrow inspiring others to do good.
Each year, the NFL selects one player from each NFL team for the Walter Payton: Man Of The Year Award. If you look at the list of those awarded and what they have done, it’s pretty amazing. Why the media or NFL don’t celebrate these achievements I don’t understand. These are people who use their celebrity status to bring focus and help to a cause that resonates with them. One award receipant stand out for me is Anquan Boldin. Boldin was recognized for the work he has done through his foundation he started in 2004 that offers several programs including educational support for under privileged children and community support.
During his acceptance speech, Boldin said:
“When I first got into the NFL nobody could tell me anything. I was living life.” “I had achieved my dream of one day making it into the NFL, but soon realized that’s not what life is all about. I realized my purpose in life was not to make it to the NFL and score touchdowns. God put me on this earth for something much bigger that that and I realized and understand what my purpose is now. It’s my prayer and my hope that I can live out the rest of my life honoring God and help as many people as possible. I think Boldin summed it up perfectly. People like Boldin are the real heroes of the NFL. The good they do is inspiring and should be celebrated.