NFL: Black Monday And Wildcard Weekend

True NFL fans will have noticed that over the last four or five years there have been multiple coaches fired on the Monday after the last regular-season game. Most coaches are fired because their team, for one reason or another, did not live up to expectations. Some of the firings don’t seem to make any sense whatsoever. For example, the firing of Lovie Smith, a man who took his team to the Super Bowl with Rex Grossman as the quarterback, was fired after a 10-6 season. (Taking a team to the Super Bowl with Rex Grossman as your quarterback should get Lovie Smith into the Hall of Fame.) The Bears did not make the playoffs. So, after nine seasons, Lovie Smith, by all accounts an outstanding coach, was shown the door. Ken Whisenhunt, the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, was also fired. Ken Whisenhunt took the Cardinals to the Super Bowl. To be honest, he was one play away from winning the Super Bowl with an Arizona Cardinals team that had never seen that kind of success. Ken Whisenhunt resurrected Kurt Warner’s career. He is one of the main reasons that Kurt Warner is now being discussed as a possible Hall of Fame quarterback. Ken Whisenhunt’s problem was that he never found another quarterback after Kurt Warner retired. You simply cannot win in the NFL without a good, solid, consistent quarterback. Ask Chan Gailey who was also fired.

Wildcard weekend

There were four games last weekend and they all went according to plan. I’m sure that there are some fans the didn’t like the outcome, but the teams that were supposed to win – won. The Cincinnati Bengals versus the Houston Texans revealed that the Cincinnati offense isn’t ready for prime time. It also revealed that there’s something missing with the Houston Texans offense. Andre Johnson and Arian Foster are carrying the offense. If the Houston Texans are going to go deep into the playoffs and even to the Super Bowl somebody else is going to have to step up. As I see it, although the Cincinnati Bengals lost, basically Andy Dalton has to become more accurate.

The Minnesota Vikings versus Green Bay Packers was not really a game. The Green Bay defense simply stacked the line of scrimmage. They stopped Adrian Peterson, who had 99 yards on 22 carries. Christian Ponder was hurt, so the Vikings started Joe Webb. Joe Webb played about as well as you would’ve expected someone who has not thrown an NFL pass all year. The Green Bay Packer offense still is sputtering. Their offensive line is not as stout as it was in years past. Although the receiver core is now healthy (with the exception of Donald Driver) the timing just isn’t there yet. As I mentioned earlier, I think Green Bay is getting healthy and getting hot at exactly the right time.

The Indianapolis Colts were really no match for the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens really played a poor game on both offense and defense. Indianapolis could’ve made several more plays, but things happened – receivers dropped balls, Andrew Luck overthrew some receivers. Surprisingly, the Indianapolis Colts actually ran the ball pretty well. The Ravens are going to have to tighten up on both sides of the ball if they plan on winning next week against the Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning.

RG3’s knee is not supposed to bend like this.

The most intriguing game of the weekend was the Seattle Seahawks versus the Washington Redskins. Robert Griffin, III versus Russell Wilson. This is a rivalry that we’re going to see for the next decade. I thought that the Seattle Seahawks had an extremely stout defense. The Washington Redskins came out and ran all over Seattle. The first quarter was simply dominated by the Redskins. It was a sight to behold. In the second quarter, Seattle began to get their offense on track. At the same time, it started to become clear that Griffin’s knee was not as healthy as we were led to believe. It affected his ability to throw the ball. It really affected his ability to run the ball also. Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch began to run the ball effectively. The play action pass began to open things up. At halftime, the score was 13-14 in favor of the Washington Redskins, but the momentum was clearly with the Seahawks. The Seattle Seahawks dominated the second half, yet the Redskins defense was able to make just enough plays to keep themselves in the game. It was in the fourth quarter where everything fell apart for the Washington Redskins. (I’m a Dallas Cowboys fan, but I really enjoyed watching Robert Griffin play football. I hope his knee is okay. He’s good for Washington. He’s good for football.)

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Errington C. Thompson, MD

Dr. Thompson is a surgeon, scholar, full-time sports fan and part-time political activist. He is active in a number of community projects and initiatives. Through medicine, he strives to improve the physical health of all he treats.


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