Five Things We Learned This NFL Season

Jay HendryCorrespondent IDecember 29, 2008

1. Calvin Johnson is the real deal

Lions fans probably groaned at the prospect of taking another receiver.  After all, their previous first round experience at the position had netted them two busts (Mike Williams and Charles Rodgers) and one good-not-great receiver in Roy Williams.  None of those guys are still with the team.

Johnson’s different though.  He’s a top tier receiver in an age full of top tier receivers.  Johnson ranks 5th in the NFL in receiving yards on a team that ranks 24th in passing yards. 

2.  You can’t build a great team on great receivers alone

As great as he is, Calvin Johnson is still playing on an 0-16 team.  Andre Johnson leads the league in receiving and is on an 8-8 Texans squad.  Boldin and Fitzgerald are the most dominant receiving duo in history and the Cards are 9-7.

3.  Favre’s trade worked out for everyone but the Packers

Without Favre the Jets would not have gone 9-7.  Without Pennington the Dolphins would not be in the playoffs.  Without Favre the Packers managed to go 6-10.  Aaron Rodgers isn’t bad, but he’s not a great; with Rodgers the Packers are no longer the class of the NFC North and are mostly bad, not great.

4.  Adrian Peterson is the best running back out there

You’re a defensive coordinator facing the team ranked in the bottom 25 percent of the league in passing with the most explosive running back in the league.  What do you do?  Load up the box, of course.  Teams tried, and Peterson prevailed rushing for 1,760– good enough for the rushing title.  A healthy Peterson and an average quarterback can lead the Vikings to a Super Bowl; he’s that good.

5.  The Texans are almost there

I honestly thought Steve Slaton was running away from Noel Devine when he entered the draft.  The NFL must have thought the same as Slaton fell to 89th overall.   It turns out he was really ready, if being second in the AFC in rushing yards and being the NFL rookie leader for rushing yards is any measure of success.  All the Texans are missing is a QB and the AFC South becomes the most competitive league in football.

Wild Card 1.  The NFC South never disappoints

The SEC of the NFL is as topsy-turvy as ever.  Every team finished .500 or better, and the defending champion of the division finished third missing the playoffs.

Wild Card 2.  The Cowboys always disappoint

Even with a salary cap, the Cowboys feel like the Yankees– a bunch of stars that can’t handle sharing the spotlight.  Perhaps that gaping hole in the roof of Texas Stadium is symbolic of the lack of the “team” concept.