Spiderfan's 2020 Web of Football Divisional Round Edition Jan 17, 2021 22:51:30 GMT -8
Post by spiderfan on Jan 17, 2021 22:51:30 GMT -8
Kon'nichiwa SCtoC, It is I, Spiderfan the official NFL Analyst of this great website back again with yet another playoff edition of Web of Football. We've got a whole lot to get to, so let us begin!
A Rather Blustery Game
Of all the things that could decide a NFL playoff game, wind is not something you would initially think of, but for the Bills and Ravens on Saturday night, the wind absolutely was a deciding factor. How? Well, for starters neither team had very much luck kicking FGs going 1/3 on FGs a piece (and it is worth mentioning that the FGs that were made were under 35 yards, had all the FGs been longer than that, they wouldn't have been good). The wind also destroyed the big play passing game, something which both the Bills and Ravens like to use. This meant that Bills QB Josh Allen looked like Jamarcus Russell every time he threw a pass downfield and it also meant that the Ravens play action passing game was eliminated.
So with downfield passing gone and special teams struggles, that meant there was a lot of running the ball and defense. Neither team got any real separation until Bills CB Taron Johnson got a 101 yard pick six, which gave the Bills an untimely insurmountable 17-3 lead because not only was it a TD scoring play for the Bills, but it had been 3rd and Goal at the 5 yard line for the Ravens and had the Ravens gotten a TD, the game would have been tied at 10. Instead it was a 14 point swing in favor of the Bills. I would be surprised if the play doesn't become a favorite of NFL Films.
I think it a shame that the wind got involved, because we didn't get to see either team at the fullest of their potential. Regardless, the Buffalo Bills are now headed to their first AFC Championship Game appearance since 1993. The team that the Bills played in that game? The Kansas City Chiefs. I sure hope Joe Montana and Jim Kelly do some kind of special introduction or something for the game.
Aaron Rodgers is good. Make that really good. Make that REALLY REALLY REALLY good.
That seems like the obvious statement of the millennium, but what else is there to say? It isn't like the Rams as a team played terrible football. They actually played pretty good, but the Packers lead by Aaron Rodgers were just a league above them. The Rams CBs? Smoked by Rodgers ability to find the open guy regardless of the coverage. The Rams D-line? Either couldn't break through or when they did Rodgers got away and threw a beautiful downfield. The Rams offense? Couldn't win a shootout. The game truly came down to the fact that the Packers were simply better than the Rams and there is much more to say than that.
Even though Taylor Heinicke's and the Washington Football Team's performance as a whole against the Buccaneers was admirable, the almost upset of the season has to be the Cleveland Browns against the defending Super Bowl champion and current #1 seed Kansas City Chiefs, although it didn't look that way initially. See, the Chiefs showed zero signs of rust despite their starters resting the past 2 weeks and looked like how #1 seeds are supposed to look: well rested and well prepared.
The Chiefs offense was humming despite starting running back Clyde Edwards-Elaire being out, scoring on all of their first half possessions and the Chiefs defense played some of the better football they have played all year keeping the Browns to 3 points in the first half, highlighted by Chiefs S Daniel Sorensen forcing a Chiefs touchback instead of a Browns touchdown. Here is the thing though: The Chiefs on their 4 possessions only scored 19 points. That sounds like a dumb complaint, and it would be if not for the fact the Chiefs missed an extra point early and settled for FGs on 2 drives that made it past the Browns 50 yard line.
Instead of 20-3 or 24-3 or 28-3, it was 19-3 which when you account for 2 point conversions is only a 2 possession game and the Browns had made enough positive plays that with the ball belonging to them to the start the second half, it seemed well within the realm of possibility that the Browns could make it a 1 possession game. Then Browns QB Baker Mayfield was picked off by Chiefs S Tyrann Mathieu which set the Chiefs up in the red zone. At this point, I thought the Chiefs would put away the Browns and I wouldn't have much more to say for this segment... that was until 2 things happened. The first? On 3rd and 6 despite being out of the game the previous 2 plays, Browns DE Myles Garrett came back into the game and got pressure on Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes causing Mahomes to miss a wide open Travis Kelce. The second? Chiefs K Harrison Butker missed a 33 yard FG. Instead of the Chiefs being up 22-3 or more, the game was still 19-3 again just 2 possessions.
The Browns would then take advantage of the defensive stop and drive right down the field, with both Browns RBs (Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt respectively) running over the defense and the Browns scoring a TD and brought the game within 2 possessions? Yeah, instead of doing the obvious thing and going for 2, which if made makes the game 19-11 and one possession or if failed makes the game a 10 point game, Browns HC Kevin Stefanski decided to kick the extra point game a 9 point game. This accomplished nothing and should have a made a Browns comeback way harder... except midway though the Chiefs ensuing drive Patrick Mahomes suffered a concussion, which was serious enough that he would not return to the game. Chiefs QB Chad Henne then came into the game and the offense then had training wheels put on it for the rest of the drive and the Chiefs settled for a FG. With the game still being only 2 possessions and with the best QB in football now out, the Browns smelt blood in the water and after a crazy long 8+ minute drive the Browns brought the game the closest it had been 22-17.
With the Browns having all the momentum, the last thing the Chiefs could do is give them anymore, which they did after Chad Henne threw a Howard the Duck pass. I actually thought at that moment "The Browns are actually going to do this." That should have been the first sign to me that the Browns weren't because the Browns are the Browns and do Browns things, such as with 8 minutes to go down by 5, chew up half the clock and use a timeout which because of a stupid challenge earlier in the 1st half, was their 2nd, leaving the Browns with only 1 timeout AND despite all the lack of time and timeouts, the Browns decided to punt the football anyway.
All the Chiefs needed was 2 first downs to end the game. They got the first one easy enough, but the second one will go down as a favorite of NFL Films and Chiefs everywhere and will add the agonizing history of the Browns.
After a short Darren Williams run, Browns DE Myles Garrett sacked Chad Henne, which set up 3 and 14 after the 2 minute warning commercial break. On 3rd and 14, Henne decided to book it and ran and was thisclose to getting a first down but didn't after a great play by Browns CB M.J. Stewart to keep Henne short. This would set up 4th and inches near midfield and with the clock winding down, the Browns out of timeouts, and the Chiefs only up 5, the Chiefs pretended like they weren't going to run a play, and then the ball was snapped and in the empty formation Henne found an open Tyreek Hill and the game was over. The Chiefs survived and are now going to face the Bills.
I will say this: the Chiefs are going to have to capitalize on more possessions in the AFC Championship Game. Because if not, the Bills just might be the ones headed to Miami and not the Chiefs.
The Buccaneers serve me crow
Over the last week I said these 3 things:
As for the Buccaneers, this game proved that their aggressive offseason was a good idea, and with the team continuing to play good football into the postseason they should have a shot at the Super Bowl... except they play the Saints next week who destroyed them in both regular season meetings and will likely crush those hopes. Welp, there is always next year!
The Saints avoid an embarrassing playoff upset, and now look to face the Tommy Bay Bucaneers for the 3rd time and considering the lopsidedness of the previous 2 meetings, I'd be surprised if the Saints lose.
I'll be really surprised if the Buccaneers beat the Saints. The Saints beat the Buccaneers big both times and in both games the Saints were in complete control offensively and defensively. Both teams are at full strength, so I don't think the outcome is going to be any different.
The Buccaneers won and have handed me a Florida flavored plate of crow. The Saints had 4 turnovers and their worst game of the season, and the Buccaneers unlike the previous 2 meetings with the Saints had no turnovers and capitalized on those Saints turnovers and pulled off the upset. It is a shame that Drew Brees likely last game as a Saint is a debacle of this magnitude and I hope he doesn't retire as to hopefully end on a more positive note.
Tom Brady and the Buccaneers head off to Green Bay to face the Packers, who they defeated in a blowout earlier this season, but as we saw with the Saints that may or may not mean anything. I would expect a good game between the Bucs and Packers, but then again, I didn't expect the Buccaneers to even get to Green Bay, so we'll see if I'm right.
5 Hirings and a Firing
Jacksonville Jaguars hire Urban Meyer
I said that I wanted to wait until it was official to give my thoughts on the Jaguars hiring Urban Meyer as it was still up in the air as to whether he would or not. Now, there is no doubt. Former 3 time college football National Champion HC Urban Meyer is going to be the next HC of the Jaguars. My thoughts? I think this is an absolute home run hire by the Jaguars. For starters, Meyer has established a winning culture where ever he has been a HC (Bowling Green, Utah, Florida, and Ohio State) and being that Jacksonville has a losing culture, someone that has been proven that they can turn things around at various levels of football (Group 5 and Power 5) is someone that is likely to lead a turnaround and unlike someone like Matt Rhule or Matt Campbell who made a bottom feeder school competitive, Meyer has won national championships.
Not only is Meyer a winner, but he has coached a lot of guys currently playing in the NFL, coached against a bunch of guys who are currently in the NFL, recruited a bunch of guys that are currently in the NFL, or talked in depth as a college football TV analyst about a bunch of guys that are currently in the NFL. And because of all of that, he will be well respected by the players and if he isn't respected by certain players, those guys can easily be replaced with guys who do respect him, which will avoid the Chip Kelly problem of not having very many loyal alumni to pull from for talent. I would expect under Meyer's leadership for the Jaguars to dominate free agency and the NFL Draft, something which the Jaguars desperately need considering their roster produced a barely 1-15 team.
As someone who desperately wanted Meyer to coach a team that they follow, I'm sincerely happy for Jaguars fans. They've had a bad team for a while and they deserve better. And I think Urban Meyer will give them much much better.
New York Jets hire Robert Saleh
The defensive mastermind of the 49ers over the past few years, the Jets hire someone who should be a significant improvement over Gase if no other reason that the fact that Saleh is known for his enthusiastic coaching style and should bring some positive vibes to a team that has had zero of those in the past couple years. Saleh is bringing Mike LaFleur on as his OC (LaFleur was the passing game coordinator of the 49ers the past couple years) who is young and hasn't ever called plays in the NFL before, so it will be interesting to see how the Jets rebuild turns out.
Atlanta Falcons hire Arthur Smith
While I was wrong on who the Jets would hire and I wasn't sure if Urban Meyer would go to the Jaguars, I can say that I thought that Titans OC Arthur Smith would be someone that the Falcons would seriously consider and it turns not not only did they consider him, he got hired to be the head coach. It will be interesting to see if the Titans one dimensional offense translates with the Falcons and it will also be interesting to see if the Falcons do a full rebuild or continue on with their 2016 Pro Bowl core. Since I'm not sure which direction they are going, it is kind of hard to say whether Smith will be good or not as a HC at this moment in time.
Detroit Lions hire Dan Campbell
Another guy who I wanted the Cowboys to hire be their HC, Campbell may not have been a coordinator, but he is a leader. Campbell is exactly the kind of the guy the Lions need after the disaster that was the Patriots-lite era and if the Lions do decide to move on from Matt Stafford and start a full rebuild, I think Campbell will lead a successful one.
LA Chargers hire Brandon Staley
The young hot shot DC from the team in Los Angeles that slightly more people care about (those people being the people old enough to remember that the Rams were in LA back in the day), Staley like Saleh is known for his energy and after having lead the #1 defense in football and working with Sean McVay (which automatically makes you a HC candidate), Staley has a lot promise. The issue though is that he is a defensive coach, and the Chargers have no problems on defense. What they needed is someone to help the development of Justin Herbert, whether that be Bills OC Brian Daboll or now former Eagles HC Doug Pederson. Instead in all likelihood it is going to be some ex-low level Rams assistant that will be in charge of Herbert's development, which gives me concern long term. However, it is worth mentioning that Herbert was a great rookie despite Anthony Lynn's mediocrity, so maybe it won't matter in the end.
Philadelphia Eagles fire Doug Pederson
Jerry Glanville once said the NFL stands "Not For Long". The Eagles won the Super Bowl just 3 years ago and now Pederson is unemployed. The reasoning for this is that apparently, Eagles owner Jeff Lurie is firmly in the Carson Wentz camp, whether this is because he actually thinks Wentz isn't a bust or due to the insane amount of money that Wentz is still due or both, the fact is, Jalen Hurts as the starter going forward was a no go. Pederson wanted that to be a go go and now he is gone. It isn't too often that Super Bowl winning coaches are out in the coaching carousel let alone ones that just recently won the Super Bowl, so if I'm the Texans, Pederson is immediately at the top of my list.
Considering Wentz is hyper-important to the Eagles job, I think the Eagles search is going to end up in a mess and they are going to hire someone that Eagles fans hate. Well, Eagles fans hate everything and everyone but I kinda feel bad for whoever the next guy is. My guess is a re-tread coach like Todd Bowles.
And the Divisional Round is in the books. As always I hope ya enjoyed, and I hope to see ya again next week for the conference Championship games. This is spiderfan out.