1) If there’s anything I learned from this NFL season, it’s that the New England Patriots should never be underestimated. Period. It was fun to bury them prematurely when they began the season at 1-2 with losses to Jacksonville and Detroit. It felt easier to say they didn’t have it anymore after late season losses to Miami and Pittsburgh. It didn’t matter that they’d won the AFC East for the tenth year in a row. Their optics didn’t look good. They weren’t the same dominating team we’ve seen before. It was time for the new guard in the AFC. It was time for something new.
So much for that.
The Brady and Belichick train has made the Super Bowl their final stop for the ninth time in their history and won six titles. There is no comparison to their success in NFL history. They are beyond Chuck Noll/Terry Bradshaw, Bill Walsh/Joe Montana, Paul Brown/Otto Graham, or even Vince Lombardi/Bart Starr. They have reached John Wooden territory.
I never thought I’d ever see a team have this much success with the way the NFL is structured. Not with free agency, the advanced scouting techniques, and the salary cap set to level the field. But the Patriots simply know better than another other front office in the NFL and it’s not even close.
And like it or not, we will see the Patriots again for Super Bowl LIV in Miami.
2) I think the Rams had the right idea on defense, but New England executed a similar game plan even better. They cut down the Rams running game and forced a wide-eyed Jared Goff to be their entire offense. They blanketed Rams receivers with four and five man zones and cut off Goff’s passing windows. At one point, Los Angeles punted in eight straight possessions and went three-and-out in six of them.
3) I think Sean McVay is one of the NFL’s brightest minds, but I couldn’t understand why he attacked the Patriots so conventually. I know that the Rams spent most of the game in their own territory, but there wasn’t any of that Los Angeles swagger out there. No trick plays. No fake punts. Nothing. Teams have always said that their strategy is to be themselves. The Rams weren't themselves at all.
3b) And on that point, I think Todd Gurley had to be hurt. But If not, then the Rams shot themselves in the foot by leaving him out of the game plan.
4) I know that most people will consider Super Bowl LIII the most boring ever because of the lack of points. But for those who love defense, it was truly masterful.
5) But when the only Super Bowl record broken at the game was Johnny Hekker’s 65 yard punt, you’re going to have a hard time holding grandma’s attention.
6) I think this was the tweet of the Super Bowl:
Patriots 3, Clothes taken off by Adam Levine, 2.
6b) The commericals were as forgetful as the game, but I think the best was easily the NFL 100 spot with all the greats of the game. Could’ve used any of those guys in the game...
6c) The spot with Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn meeting the first responders that saved his life was a great moment. I spent seven years working in the ER and those men and women are among the bravest people I've ever met.
7) The Colts cleaned up my postseason awards like Michael Jackson on the Grammys. I had Darius Leonard (Defensive Rookie of the Year), Andrew Luck (Comeback Player), Chris Ballard (Executive of the Year), and Frank Reich (Coach of the Year.)
8) My other choices for the major NFL Awards:
Baker Mayfield, Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Aaron Donald, Defensive Player of the Year.
Saquon Barkley, Offensive Player of the Year (Non QB.)
Patrick Mahomes, MVP.
9) I came up with a few new categories for my year end list. And I’ll start with the Screw-Up of the Year.
10a) Arizona signs Sam Bradford. Bradford played three games and got hurt as he is wont to do.
10b) Cardinals fire Steve Wilkes after one season. They gave him nothing to work with, told him that it would be a rebuilding year, and then replaced him with Kliff Kingsbury, a coach who’s never been in the NFL. Any wonder why the Cards are always among the league’s worst teams year after year?
10c) Vontae Davis of the Buffalo Bills quits at halftime. No matter what you do as a player, you never quit. If he quit after the game, I wouldn’t have had a problem. But never before the clock hits zero.
10d) Jaguars give Blake Bortles a two year, $34.497 million extention ($26.5 guaranteed) worth up to another $12.5 million through salary escalators and incentives. Enough said.
11) The “Pimp My Ride” Reclamation project of the Year goes to yet another Colt, Eric Ebron. He had 66 catches, 750 receiving yards, and a staggering 14 touchdowns. Other candidates were Adrian Peterson of the Washington Redskins who became the oldest RB to reach 1,000 yards rushing (1,042 with 7 TD’s) and the Cleveland Browns for giving hope to the hopeless.
12) The Game of the Year: Rams 54, Chiefs 51 in a Madden style video game shootout. Really could have used a game like that for the Super Bowl too...
13) Easily the Best Moment of the Year came from Drew Brees. After setting the career passing yardage mark, Brees hugged his boys and said, “I love you guys so much. You can accomplish anything in life if you're willing to work for it.”
14) The Plays of the Year: The Miami Miracle. Ryan Tannehill to Kenny Stills to DeVante Parker to Keynan Drake to a frenzied Dolphins crowd. Could’ve used a few plays like that at the Super Bowl...alright, I'll stop...
14b) James McDonald says, “Hello” to Chris Conti’s face.
14c) This catch by Amari Cooper is all Dallas needed to justify their trade with Oakland.
14d) Derrick Henry does a Tony Dorsett impression against Jacksonville.
14e) Should Baker Mayfield call it the “Cleveland Special”?
14f) The Raiders made this list in a positive way. Honest! Dwayne Harris, the Raider Nation thanks you.
15) Celebrations of the Year: David Njoku and Darren Fells are Dragonball Z fans.
15b) The Kansas City Chiefs love basketball.
15c) Marquise Goodwin still has Olympic aspirations. Goodwin was a two-time N.C.A.A. champion in the long jump and finished 10th in the event at the 2012 Olympics.
15d) Maybe the Seahawks can talk to Nick Cannon for a sequel to Drumline.
15e) It was good to see the Bears understand what Motown means to Detroit.
15f) Who says that football celebrations are limited to American football?
16) I think I’m ready to take a break from football...at least until April and the draft...