It was another wild week both in the NFL and for fantasy owners. Here’s a recap of every game in the Tuesday Morning Buzz.
Browns – Steelers
The Browns ended a tough season by firing Rob Chudzinski after only one year. I’ve always been a fan of Chudzinski and was surprised he got just one year; but on the other hand, if ownership isn’t happy with a coach, I don’t see waiting to make a move. That’s one of the biggest mistakes in sports. Why wait a year to fire a guy you don’t want to be your coach? Keep an eye on where Chudzinski lands next year as an offensive coordinator. Despite his 4-12 season as a head coach in Cleveland, the guy knows offense and will be a benefit to fantasy owners if he lands with a team that has a decent quarterback.
Texans – Titans
Chris Johnson ended the year on a high note, rushing for 127 yards and a score. I like to bust Johnson’s chops because he complains about everything. He makes excuses for his poor play, he throws teammates under the bus and he blames fantasy owners when he has a bad game. However, while Johnson may no longer be in Adrian Peterson’s class, he still has some productive years left in him if he stays motivated. It will be interesting to see where he ends up in 2014. Hopefully it will be with a team that gets him out in space more and utilizes his strengths better than the Titans did the last couple of years.
Redskins – Giants
This game was so dreadful no one even showed up to watch it. There are only a couple of things I can say about this game. I feel sorry for the team that hires Mike Shanahan. I mean, seriously, look at his record since 2006. I say it all the time: football changes, and just because a coach used to be considered good doesn’t mean that’s still the case. Just ask Monte Kiffin. Next year will be huge for Eli Manning. He’s coming off one of the worst seasons a big-time quarterback in his prime has had in my lifetime. One guy Manning may want to throw to more next year is Jerrel Jernigan. He played really well over the final three games. It was weird watching a Giants receiver that actually wanted to be on the field.
Jets – Dolphins
People spend so much time making fun of the Jets it should be recognized what a good job Rex Ryan did this season. The Jets had one of the worst groups of offensive skill position players I can remember, started a rookie quarterback, lost Darrelle Revis and still went 8-8. The Jets have to get more talent on the offensive side of the ball though. They need to draft a Julio Jones/A.J. Green kind of young receiver that can make big plays in the passing game. If New York drafts defense again in the first round, its fans should revolt. Ryan Tannehill has become the latest person to declare his dislike for Mike Sherman. Sherman better be careful. Soon he’ll be hated by more players than Todd Haley.
Lions – Vikings
This was the loser bowl featuring two pathetic coaches waiting to get fired. I would be jumping to get one of these jobs if I were a coach on the market. It’s obvious that Detroit has talent and Jim Schwartz just can’t coach his way out of a paper bag, but don’t sell Leslie Frazier short. He can’t coach worth a darn either. This is the guy who didn’t start using Cordarrelle Patterson until Week 11. The Vikings have talent too, they just need a quarterback. If Minnesota can bring in the right coach and quarterback like the Chiefs did last offseason, I can see them making a big leap in 2014.
Jaguars – Colts
It took offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton some time but it appears he finally realizes that he’s not at Stanford anymore. Hamilton spent much of the year trying to feature a non-existent power running game instead of letting his stud quarterback lead the offense. In college you can do that stuff because Stanford is playing Washington State and Colorado, but in the NFL if you have an elite quarterback the offense has to run through him. After 14 weeks the guy making a lot of money to run an NFL offense finally figured out what the rest of us knew in Week 2. Andrew Luck is now distributing the ball to all his receivers and Indianapolis is using the running game to complement him, not the other way around. If the Jaguars don’t draft a quarterback in Round 1 they should get kicked out of the league.
Ravens – Bengals
It’s funny because the Ravens are one year removed from winning the Super Bowl but I feel they have a lot of work to do this offseason. Marlon Brown was a nice surprise this year but Baltimore has to find more playmakers on offense to help Joe Flacco. Dennis Pitta will be healthy next season but I don’t care what Ray Rice says, he’s two years away from retiring. The Ravens need to accept that Rice is close to done and do something about their running game. I know the line didn’t block anyone but Rice also couldn’t find holes when they were there. Baltimore’s offense is going into an offseason of transition. The Bengals head to the playoffs, and while Marvin Jones stepped up a little this year, I feel like they are one slot receiver away from having a scary offense. If Cincinnati can find one of those quick slot receivers in the draft, its offense will be even better in 2014.
Falcons – Panthers
The last two weeks were the epitome of the Falcons’ miserable season. Atlanta had a chance to beat both playoff-bound San Francisco and Carolina but came up short each time. Tony Gonzalez is gone, but every time I see him I feel like I should be a Vegan. The guy looks 22. Still, the Falcons offense will be much improved in 2014. You saw how much better it looked with just Roddy White healthy. With Julio Jones and White both back next year Matt Ryan will have a big bounceback season. Carolina finished 26th in total offense under Mike Shula, just like I predicted. Thank God for Cam Newton and their defense.
49ers – Cardinals
The Cardinals came up short on Sunday against the hottest team in the league and just missed out on the playoffs, but Year 1 in Arizona under Bruce Arians was a success. The Cardinals have one of the best defenses in the NFL. Now they just have to figure out a way to defend the tight end. Arizona has a strong group of receivers and found a playmaker in the backfield with Andre Ellington. I don’t think the Cardinals can take the next step with Carson Palmer at quarterback but I’m guessing he’ll be the starter again in 2014. However, I also expect them to select a quarterback pretty high in the draft.
Chiefs – Chargers
The Chargers almost inexplicably blew a golden opportunity to get into the playoffs by barely beating the Chiefs’ B-team in overtime. I admit that I thought San Diego would win only three games this year, so I have to tip my hat to Mike McCoy. He did an excellent job in his first season getting a team I still don’t believe has a ton of talent into the playoffs. Knile Davis was a guy I had as a sleeper coming into the draft and then the Chiefs selected him higher than most thought he would go. Davis was once considered a potential second-round pick before injuries and fumbling problems hurt his draft stock in college. However, you saw some of his physical ability on Sunday. If Jamaal Charles were to ever go down in the future, Davis would be a strong fantasy option, assuming he can hang onto the football.
Rams – Seahawks
I bet $100 on Seattle to win the Super Bowl back in May. I’ll win $1,000 if the Seahawks win it all, and while I’m obviously happy they have home field advantage, I don’t think Seattle will get there. My main concern is that Russell Wilson has lost his confidence. If you watch Wilson closely, he’s leaving the pocket when there’s no rush now, he has nervous feet and he isn’t going through his reads like he used to. Seattle has had injuries on the offensive line and Percy Harvin never really played this year. It looks to me like Wilson is regressing a little bit. Watch for this in the playoffs because if Wilson struggles, I would be concerned that it could linger into next season.
Packers – Bears
I no longer have a doubt in my mind that Jay Cutler has a sexual crush on Brandon Marshall. If you could throw a Hail Mary up to any receiver in the NFL, who would it be? The right answer is Megatron but the second receiver is Alshon Jeffery. Very few receivers can go up and get the ball at its highest point like Jeffery. So what does Cutler do on the last play of the game with the Bears’ season on the line? He throws one up to Marshall. As good as Marshall is, Jeffery has a much better chance of going up and making that play. You have to hand it to the Packers. They stayed in it because they have a better coach than the Lions and Bears, got Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb back for the last game and those two made the play that sent Green Bay to the playoffs. A lot of people like the Packers to make a run in the playoffs. I’m not one of them. The 49ers are an awful matchup for Green Bay. It was a great job to get into the postseason but it will be one-and-done when San Fran comes calling next week.
Buccaneers – Saints
I’m always pleased when a jerk gets fired. The first time I saw the Buccaneers attack the line on the victory formation and Greg Schiano said, “We play until the final whistle,” I waited for the day to see him get fired. Go coach high school football, you jerk. I’ve worked in the NFL. Those guys will buy into that crap for about 10 minutes until they get bored with it. That’s the kind of nonsense that may work at Rutgers but it’s not going to work with guys making millions. Trust me, if we think it’s stupid, players think it’s stupid too. I thought Mike Glennon played well for a rookie getting thrown into the fire. Like Minnesota, I don’t believe the Tampa Bay job is a terrible job to get. If Glennon pans out, they have more talent than is reflected by their record.
Bills – Patriots
Man, your rush defense is bad when LeGarrette Blount is running for 189 yards and two scores. The Bills were competitive in Doug Marrone’s first year. Buffalo still needs some more pieces, but I thought Marrone got the most out of his talent. I will be interested to see if the team progresses in his second season. If you draft C.J. Spiller next year, you get what you deserve. Don’t come crying to me when he’s in and out of 10 games with multiple injuries, along with being a game-time decision every week. That soft SOB won’t even be on my draft board.
Broncos – Raiders
Peyton Manning broke every regular-season record but it’s not going to mean anything unless he plays well in the postseason. No player in recent memory has more pressure on him in the playoffs than Manning does this year. Even if the Broncos don’t win it all, he has to play well or the scrutiny on him will be relentless and, to be honest, well-deserved. I know Dennis Allen doesn’t coach for the best organization but he looks to be in way over his head. I don’t think he has any business being an NFL head coach. The guy constantly mismanages the clock, his personnel and game situations. You can’t blame Al Davis for that too.
Eagles – Cowboys
New year, different quarterback, same result for the Cowboys. Boy, I wonder what is the one thing that has been the same over the last 16 years? The players have changed. The coaches have changed. Yet, Dallas only has one playoff win in 16 years. I wonder what could be the real problem there. It’s a mystery. While Jerry Jones continues to count his money and pretend he cares about winning, the Eagles’ investment in Chip Kelly paid off. Kelly utilized all of his offensive weapons and the defense improved just enough to send the Eagles to the playoffs. Meanwhile in Dallas, 2012 Top 10 pick Morris Claiborne is now a nickel corner and last year’s second-round pick, tight end Gavin Escobar, finished the year with nine receptions. Keep up the great work, Jerry. In 20 more years I feel a Super Bowl coming.