Late Hits From The 2013 NFL Regular Season
You say goodbye. And I say hello. — The Beatles
Sunday witnessed numerous endings, but there were a few beginnings as well. How promising they are is unclear.
Goodbye to Rob Chudzinski, the second coach let go and the first this weekend. His Browns were 4-5 and lost seven in a row at the end.
Sayonara to Leslie Frazier, whose Vikings had a horrible year. It's not clear to me how you parse the blame on Christian Ponder. Was that his fault or GM Rick Spielman? And how about Antoine Winfield? It's not clear whether that was Frazier's choice or Spielman's. Finally, someone screwed up in bringing in Josh Freeman. There was plenty of bad coaching, that's for sure. Horrible play-calling on both sides of the ball, which was crucial in losses to Cleveland and Chicago early.
Hello to Aaron Rodgers. He was off at first, throwing early picks, but nailed that last throw. Is anyone going to write off the Packers at home against the Niners next weekend?
Hello to the Bengals as a division winner. Or will it be goodbye in the first round? The team looked very good Sunday, especially that monster defense. Bengals fans have to be nervous about Andy Dalton. He threw four interceptions Sunday. The defense might not always be good enough to make up for that. And the team has a very dark playoff history.
Ciao to the Metrodome. Hey, why wasn’t there some kind of promotion to celebration this? Hefty trash bags? But seriously, Vikings fans probably aren’t too misty-eyed about the last of this monstrosity. That was where the 15-1 team lost on Gary Anderson's first missed field goal of the year in January 1999. But Twins fans have some great memories of the two World Series wins, in 1987 and 1991.
Hello to the Panthers’ first-round bye. For a while it looked as if they were in trouble. The Falcons were marching down the field, and needed only a field goal to win. But a premature snap caught Matt Ryan by surprise, and that was pretty much it. The Panthers sacked Ryan nine times. Wow. Opposing offensive lines, seeing the likes of Greg Hardy, will probably say not hello but hell.
Hello to the Eagles, NFC East division champs. I’m sure the Philly fans have their own special hello all prepared for the Saints, who will be coming in for one of the more intriguing playoff matchups.
Git along to the Cowboys, who ended another season on a losing note. You can’t blame this one on Tony Romo. Actually, the team played well, and quarterback Kyle Orton was a capable backup. Except for that last throw.
Goodbye to Mike Shanahan, whose Redskins finished a miserable season on a losing note on a dark, depressing day in New York. But we’ll see you again. Not sure, not sure when.
Hello to Rex Ryan, most emphatically not goodbye. His Jets played well to end the Dolphins’ season, and Rex showed he still has passion. How could anyone fire a guy running up and down the field like a cheerleader the way Rex did?
Hello to more controversy about officials. It turned out the refs missed some big ones. In the Chiefs-Chargers game, they did not see an illegal alignment by the San Diego defense on a missed field goal. The Chargers won and are going to the playoffs. And in the Eagles-Cowboys game, a mistaken delay-of-game penalty was called when the play clock started early. It almost cost Dallas, but the ‘Boys ended up scoring a touchdown. You can go to Vegas and place your last dollar on some kind of refereeing controversy in the playoffs.
Hello to Cordarrelle Patterson as a superstar. He ended up scoring both Viking touchdowns Sunday, and racked up nine on a team with a dysfunctional passing game. Some teams won’t kick off to him. He scored by kickoffs, rushing and pass receptions.
Goodbye to Tony Gonzalez. The Falcon tight end played his final game in a terrific 17-year career that did not include any Super Bowl wins. Too bad. He deserved better teams. But he’s leaving on good terms and, apparently, good health.