10 Things We Would Do Differently If We Could Rewind the 2011 NFL Season
NFL seasons never go exactly like anyone expects, but that's kind of, well, expected. You get used to being surprised by the on-field outcomes, the surprise teams, both good and bad.
But the oddities we see that mostly live beyond the sidelines, the stuff that really makes you scratch your head, have a tendency to get under our skin.
They're the things you'd change if you could. The blatantly stupid decisions made lucid by the luxury of hindsight. Hindsight and common sense.
No article's going to change any of these acts, but since typing's the closest thing to actually taking action, here's a quick list of stops we'd make if we had a time machine designed by Roger Goodell and Tom Coughlin.
Sorry, Coughlin, no stopping in the '20s.
1. Put Brett Favre on the Cover of Madden 12
Seems like a simple solution now, doesn't it? Nothing good ever happens to the Madden cover boy, and since plastering someone's face on the front always leads to disappointing results and shocking disappearances, who better to "frame?"
Look, with Favre on the cover, he'd either come back and then disappear while disputing his contract and battling strep throat, or he'd come back and immediately get injured, or he'd come back and then play horribly. Or he'd just not come back.
Instead, Peyton Hillis is doing most of those things in Cleveland, and Cleveland just doesn't need that right now.
2. Draft Andy Dalton in the First Round
He hasn't been perfect, but he's been an earlier and/or stronger return on his team's investment than Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker or Christian Ponder.
Nothing wrong with those teams taking "their" guys, but where are the excuses from Washington, Seattle, Miami and Cleveland?
Too many teams passed on Dalton, and right now it looks like most of them will end up paying for it for years.
3. Put Jamarcus Russell in the Monday Night Football Booth
I just want to hear Jon Gruden say nice things about him.
4. Give Chris Johnson a Different Contract
One that paid Matt Hasselbeck all his money every time his number of pass attempts was higher than Johnson's rushing yards.
That's happened four times this season, and it's ridiculous that Johnson's made all that dough while Hasselbeck was winning the games.
With this weird incentive, Johnson would at least be forced to keep pace with Hass, which might have generated a few 100-plus yard games earlier in the season.
5. Stop the Colts from Playing in Primetime Games
It's not just the Colts. It's a lot of teams. But the Colts really kicked it off, playing in two prime time games in the first five weeks of the season.
Just listen to some of the Monday Night gems we'll have been privy to by the time the year ends:
Colts @ Buccaneers
Dolphins @ Jets
Chargers @ Chiefs
Chargers @ Jaguars
Rams @ Seahawks
And Sunday Night's not much better:
Steelers @ Colts
Colts @ Saints
Steelers @ Chiefs
Again, they're not all duds, but there were many games more suited for the peak hours that missed their time in the spotlight.
6. Talk to Jim Schwartz Before the Loss to the 49ers
And tell him about the handshake coming after the game. Tell him that Harbaugh is going to do his "aww shucks, I'm not a jerk, I'm just excited and peppy" routine and shake his hand a little too enthusiastically.
And then tell him to laugh at Harbaugh, log the memory for the playoffs and jog off to the locker room. The more I watch the tape of their "argument," the more Schwartz comes off as petty and whiny for reacting the way he did.
Maybe it's just a coincidence, but Detroit is 3-4 since that postgame confrontation.
7. Ask Vince Young More Questions
Sure, it was probably tough to get Young to open up after his "dream team" comments, but looking back, it would have been worth pulling some Fletch maneuvers and catching an additional quote from the Eagles' backup quarterback.
Why? Because it would have cut down on the number of times we had to hear announcers use the phrase "dream team" as an excuse to cut to highlights of LeBron James' Miami sideshow press conference.
Besides, the whole "dream team" moniker is cliched. If Young had been given more time to think of his own title, we might have learned a new word for "5-8 team that got Andy Reid fired."
8. Start Tim Tebow from Day One
Seems simple now, doesn't it?
I mean, if Tebow can beat Oakland, New York and Chicago, then maybe he could have beaten Tennessee or Cincinnati or San Diego or Oakland again.
Even if he'd won only two of the four games Kyle Orton lost, Denver would be sitting at 10-3 with a shot at a first-round bye, instead of looking down the barrel at a Wild Card matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
It may not seem like much, but the drop from possible two-seed to likely four-seed could keep the Broncos from winning a playoff game.
At the very least, Tim Tebow would be an additional five games into his progression as a passer.
9. Ice the Other Team's Kicker, Not Your Own
Not to beat a dead horse, but look out, horse.
Jason Garrett called a timeout just in time to watch Dan Bailey nail a game-winning field goal that, of course, didn't count because of his timeout.
Then Bailey missed with his second attempt, the real one, and the Cowboys lost in overtime.
Dallas still leads the division, but with two games remaining against the New York Giants, that one missed win could mean the difference between the playoffs and another lost season.
10. Change the Overtime Rules
Nothing original about this claim, but that doesn't change its validity.
The NFL's first-come, first-serve overtime worked out for the Broncos today even though they lost the coin toss, but only because of a fumble in their own territory and a 51-yarder from Matt Prater.
The idea about letting coaches bid on what yard line they'd be willing to start their drive, and then awarding possession to the coach with the worst field position makes sense to me.
Or, amazingly, the NFL could simply extend the playoff rule of giving both teams a chance to score to the regular season. Though, that does make a lot of sense, which also makes it unlikely.