What a week, folks. There was a lot going on even without football and baseball. Saban grabbed 19 of ESPNs top 50 recruits to form yet again, the top freshman class in the nation. A-Rod came to his senses and dropped the lawsuit, although I still think he’s a jerk and there is something more behind it. Syracuse beat Notre Dame to stay #UNDEFEATACUSE and remain #1 in the land. Lastly, over in Sochi, the most bizarre Olympics to date kicked off with the US, of course, capturing the first gold.
Despite all that, I still rather write about football. With the 2013 NFL season all wrapped up, one thing I learned it’s that I suck at projecting the Super Bowl! All I can say is Wow, tip my cap, and congratulate the Seattle Seahawks. They went out there and totally thrashed the greatest offense of all time. It was the most anticlimactic end to an otherwise exciting season, even worse than the infamous fade to black Sopranos ending. Seriously, the Seahawks had the lead for 59 minutes and 48 seconds. It was total domination.
Enough about Super Bowl XLVIII. It’s in the books. Now we reflect on what was. My Houston Texans were the most overhyped team in years. They were projected to be in the Super Bowl by a lot of experts. I watched every game, folks, and they were literally two or three plays away from an 0-16 season. In the end, Kubiak and his entire regime paid the price. Despite having to endure the worst season I’ve had to sit through as a Texan fan – and that says a lot people – there were a few tidbits I was able to take away from the ’13 season.
WHAT WE LEARNED IN 2013
1. Bill Belicheck is a genius and the best coach in football.
If you believe that there is a correlation between Spygate and Belicheck’s ability to win a Super Bowl, I’ll have the Easter Bunny come pick you up and discuss how the Red Sox were held title-less for 86 years because of a fat, dead Babe Ruth. Look at his resume this millenium: 158 wins, double-digit wins 11 years in a row, 11 AFC East Titles, a 3-2 record over 5 Super Bowls, and an undefeated regular season campaign. It’s not even about the numbers with Belicheck, it’s how he has done it. In the early 2000s, before Brady was merely super human and not a football god, he ran a run first, defensive minded team. Then in 2007, he got new toys he never had before in Randy Moss and Wes Welker, and they went 16-0 as Brady unleashed himself through the air as one of the NFL’s most dominating QBs. This season, he lost his best WR in Welker. He lost the NFLs best TE to multiple injuries and his back-up TE to the penal system. Vereen was down for most of the year, and it seemed he lost a key defender each and every week. He still won 12 games and the AFC East, and he still was on the cusp of making it to the Super Bowl. Belicheck seems to get it done with any combination of players, any style of offense or defense, and as long as he has Brady, even as he begins to decline in talent, the Patriots are a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
2. Chip Kelly was better than advertised.
I assume many of you were like me. Entering 2013, I thought Kelly was another great college coach who thought he could change the NFL with his crazy schemes. Through 4 and a half games, the skeptics looked to be right. The Eagles started 1-3, but late in the 2nd quarter of game 5 against the Giants, Nick Foles replaced an injured Michael Vick and changed the Eagles season. They would go 9-3 with Foles at the helm and capture the NFC East title. Kelly helped make Foles the next big QB (2891 yards passing, 27 TD, 2 Int, and a league leading 119.2 QB rating over 10 and a half games). His offense helped return LeSean McCoy to stud-dom as he lead the league in both rushing (1607) and total yards (2146) with 11 combined TDs. The Eagles still have work to do, but Kelly has them going in the right direction.
3. The Dallas Cowboys are a joke.
I’m tired of hearing about these guys. Over the last 10 seasons, they are a mere 87-73 with 2 NFC East titles and a 1-3 playoff record. Compare that to the other team in Texas, the aforementioned under achieving Houston Texans. The Texans have the same amount of division titles and more playoff wins over the same amount of time, and until recently, they have mostly been an afterthought. It’s time the Cowboys are, too. Somehow, the Cowboys are always a “threat” for the NFC East even though they lose out on the last game of the season every year. Tony Romo is always on the verge of becoming and elite QB, but he simply is not. This team is good but needs changes from top to bottom.
4. Megatron… You have company.
Throughout Calvin Johnson’s tenure, there were many good WRs in the NFL. We have even watched quite a few future Hall of Famers like Andre Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald. None came close to the sheer talent that Calvin Johnson possesses… until now. Josh Gordon had a spectacular 2013 campaign. What is more remarkable? Was it that he led the league in receiving (1646 yards) in just his second season? Or was it that he did it despite missing the first two games of the season? No, it was that fact that he was the ONLY weapon on a terrible Cleveland Browns offense that provided Gordon with Brandon Weedon, Brian Hoyer, and Jason Campbell behind center. The debates have already begun in fantasy circles. Who is the best WR heading into 2014? It sure will be fun to find out.
5. The Seattle Seahawks 2013 defense is one of the greatest of all time.
Halfway through the third quarter of SB48, Jay Holloway turned to me and asked If you blogged that the 2013 Broncos team was the best offense ever, doesn’t this make the Seahawks the best defense ever? Well, Jay, they certainly have earned the right to be in the conversation. Let’s compare them to what many consider the top defenses of the Super Bowl Era:
1985 Bears: 4,135 yards allowed, 198 points allowed, 61 turnovers, 64 sacks, and 5 TDs
2000 Ravens: 3,967 YA, 165 PA, 58 TOs, 35 sacks, and 1 TD
2002 Bucs: 4,044 YA, 196 PA, 47 TOs, 43 sacks, and 5 TD
1974 Steel Curatin: 3,074 YA, 189 PA, 60 TOs, and 3 TDs
(sacks were not yet an official stat)
2013 Seahawks: 4,378 YA, 231 PA, 57 TOs, 43 sacks, 4 TDs
Their numbers are very comparable. The yards allowed and points allowed are inflated because, let’s face it, it’s a different NFL where offenses rule and defenses can’t hit. You could argue that makes their defense all the more remarkable. What can’t be denied is that the 4 teams listed above won their Super Bowls defeating Tony Eason/ Steve Grogan (Bears), Kerry Collins (Ravens), Rich Gannon (Bucs), and Fran Tarkenton (Steelers). The 2013 Seahawks completely dismantled Peyton Manning, one of the Top 5 QBs of all-time who just completed the single greatest season of all-time. Are they the greatest? Maybe, maybe not, but they are clearly now part of the argument.
Well, there you have it. The 2013 NFL season is officially wrapped up. It’s time to turn our attention to the NBA, college hoops, and the Olympics for a few weeks until the NFL Combine and Spring Training is under way. Until next time, GO ORANGE!!!