My New Years NFL Thoughts

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My New Years NFL Thoughts
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First let me start by saying Happy New Year to all and I hope 2010 is very prosperous and safe to you and your families.

It has been 24 hours since the NFL's 2009 regular season ended and I have a few thoughts on what was a very interesting season.

"Black Monday":

Today is "Black Monday", but it feels more like "Grey Day" with only Jim Zorn of the Redskins being fired (to no one's surprise). But there are some other coaches who need to watch their backs.

Here is a name I hear need to make some changes to his staff's or he is out.

Lovie Smith of the Chicago Bears. He met with the Bears GM and owners today and he told his staff to go home for the day. I hear that he was told to make changes to his staff (in particular Ron Turner the offensive coordinator) , but Smith has final say with his staff, so there may be a power struggle there.

But that is not the only reason why Smith is on the hot seat. The Bears  underachieved all year. They paid a king's ransom for Jay Cutler, who did not have a good year and looked out of sync most of the year and didn't add a wide receiver for him to throw to. They did have a couple young kids develop and Devin Hester improved, but there is no number 1 guy for Cutler to throw too. Matt Forte regressed and the offensive line didn't play well most notably Orlando Pace. 

On the defensive side of the ball the Bears were a shell of the old "Monsters of the Midway".  Losing Brian Urlacher in week 1 didn't help the defense, but there is problems in the secondary and Tommie Harris has been hurt too much after his big time contract.

Tom Cable has the support of the Oakland Raiders players (except JaMarcus Russell). They played hard for him all year and he never lost the locker room. But the problem is the quarterback position where the Raiders have too much money tied up into Russell to not play him.

The Raiders main issue is their poor drafting, and that starts at the top with Al Davis. I respect and admire Mr. Davis. What he has done for the game of football (and the NFL) goes without saying. He is a pioneer and a living legend. But he needs to hire a GM that can control the draft room and player personnel moves, otherwise the Raiders and their fans are in for a long playoff drought.

Darius Heywood-Bey was drafted to high at #7 over all. They SHOULD have traded back, added picks, and took him if they wanted him that bad. Russell always had a big arm, but he always had been a head case. They passed on Adrian Peterson for Russell.

Cable didn't help his cause at all with his own "off the field" issues. I think the women that came forward and his own comments about Russell will do him in.   

In Cleveland Eric Mangini needs to watch what he says because Mike Holmgren is in charge and has a tough decision to make with Mangini, who led the Browns to four straight wins.

Holmgren is being told by his close friends that he needs to bring in his own guy and that Mangini is not to be trusted. Holmgren wants to bring in an offensive guy that runs the west coast offense, and that is not Mangini. The two will meet this week and a decision will be made shortly there after.

Mangini does have some things in going in his favor though, like the four straight wins, and the young players that have come on late in the season and Holmgren's own words that a coach needs more than one year to try to turn it around. But I don't think that is enough to save Mangini.

The Teams of 2009: 

The Colts and Saints went 15 and 16 weeks respectfully, before they got their first loss of the season, but they are far from the hottest teams in either the AFC or the NFC.

The Colts loss in week  15 seemed to take their "mo-jo" away. The Colts led by Peyton Manning, had the look of a team that could go undefeated, but the Colts GM and owners decided to rest the players for the playoffs.

During their first loss the starters on the sideline look defeated. They looked like they were told to take their toys and go home or to leave a party they were throwing. They just have a different feel to them than what they had earlier this year.

The Saints on the other hand peaked to early in my opinion. They were hitting on all cylinders early in the season and as the year progressed, their play seemed to regress.

The Saints defense started off like gang busters but lately has been poor. Greg Williams, the Saints defensive coordinator, had his defense looking like a Super Bowl caliber defense in weeks 1-5 but then injuries crept in and their play got erratic. 

If I am a Colts fan, I wouldn't be worried until they play the Chargers, but if I am a Saints fan I would be extremely concerned right now.

The two hottest teams going into the playoffs are the San Diego Chargers and the Green Bay Packers. Both teams have outstanding offenses and really good defenses. They both also have two of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL in Aaron Rodgers and Phillip Rivers.

The Chargers got off to their normal slow start, but once November hit, they hit their stride. Rivers is playing at an MVP level and Ron Rivera has dialed up their defense.

Norv turner, who will sign an extension after the season is over, has got Rivers, Antonio Gates, Darren Sproles and Vincent Jackson giving opposing defenses head aches.

The Packers got off to a 4-4 start and seemed to have had their souls taken from them after the loss to the Brett Favre VIkings at Lambeau Field. They followed that with a loss to the Buccaneers and Mike McCarthy's job seemed to be on the line. 

But after a meeting that had Rodgers calling out players and getting called out, as well as the defensive asking defensive coordinator to take the hand cuffs off, the Packers went on to win 7 of their last 8 (with the only loss being to the Steelers by 1 point on the last play of the game).  

The Packers have the #2 defense in the NFL and an offense that has a 4,000 yard passer (and 30 td's), a 1,200 yard rusher and two 1,000 yard receivers (which is an NFL record since it is the 2nd consecutive year the Packers did it).

It would not surprise me to see these two teams in the Super Bowl when it is all said and done.

Chris Johnson's 2,000 yard season is impressive. He did it on a team that has average wide receivers and was the only "threat" on the offensive side of the ball. I am starting to think Johnson has passed Adrian Peterson as the best back in the NFL. Peterson fumbles to much and is not a great receiving threat, while Johnson can do both and do it well.

Brett Favre is an icon. He is one of the best to ever play the game and no one can ever take that away from him. But his attitude has taken a drastic turn since the passing of his father. Before the death of "Big Irv", Favre was a fun living guy that would make all the right decisions (off the field). But it seems after Irv's death, things changed.

Favre would never question a coach publicly or pull what he pulled with brad Childress, if Irv was alive. I think Irv was the guy that would tell Favre "What the hell are you doing? Keep your mouth shut and do what the coach tells you, you are NOT bigger then the team".

I also blame former Packers head coach Mike Sherman for letting Favre rule the roost in Green Bay and Childress for allowing him to do the same in Minnesota. But make no mistake about it, Favre's play this year was great and he has proved a lot of his doubters wrong. 

I liked the way the Lions played all year. They fought hard and showed flashes of what could be a very bright future led by Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson. Now it is time to get that defense straightened out.

I also liked the way the 49ers played. Mike Singletary has a bright future as a head coach. Once they get their quarterback situation settled they will be a very dangerous team.

I feel for the Bills fans. It sucks to see the Bills stuck at the 6-10/7-9 mark year in and year out. I would love to see them land a great young quarterback to go along with Fred Jackson (who deserves to start).

My Post Season Awards:

MVP: Peyton Manning. I really considered Rivers and Johnson here, but Manning deserves the award. He is the best QB in the NFL right now and may end up being the best ever.

OPOY: Chris Johnson. His 2,000 yards rushing is not all Johnson did. He also set the NFL record for most yards from scrimmage in a single season. He was Mr. Everything for the Titans in 2009.

DPOY: Charles Woodson. Darrelle Revis came on strong but Woodson did all year. Not only was he defending the opposing teams best offensive player (wide receiver or tight end), but he also rushed the passer, played tough run support and created turn overs. His season was the best I have seen for a CB ever.

OROY: Percy Harvin. Harvin did it all for the Vikings and made the Pro Bowl. He is another dynamic playmaker that will continue to grow as a wide receiver, barring any injury.

DROY: Claw Matthews III. Matthews play all year has been outstanding. He was exactly what the Packers needed and is the first alternate at LB. He was a sack machine, turn over machine and has a motor all coaches love to see. He edges out former USC teammate Brian Cushing.

Exec of the Year: Ted Thompson. He took so much heat for the way the Favre saga was handled, and rightfully so. But he was so sure of Aaron Rodgers and what kind of player Rodgers is (and will become) he was willing to make the toughest decision of his career. He also has drafted well and has put the Packers in a position to be very good for a long time.

Coach of the Year: Jim Caldwell. He led the Colts to a 14-2 record (including 14 straight wins to start off a career) and made the transition from Tony Dungy to himself a lot more easy than anyone could ever had imagined. 

Announcement:

I will be starting an internet radio station in the very near future. The station will be a sports talk station and I will be doing a sports talk show on it. I also have secured an MMA show and a fantasy sports show as well. Once we are ready to launch it, I will have another announcement here and on various websites.

I would also like to thank PackerChatters.com, packersnews.net, packersplanet.com, packerhq.net, railbirdcentral.com, packersupdate.com and everyone else that supports my blog.

Thank you for all your support and god bless, 

Joe Arrigo 

joeslockerroom@yahoo.com

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