Week 18 finished off the NFL regular season with drama and fireworks down to the last game of the day. For Every team not in the playoffs the offseason starts right now and changes have already been made at the Organizational, coaching, and personnel level for some NFL teams. These are the final overreactions for the NFL regular season.
Overreaction: Firing Kill Kingsbury and Lovie Smith was the right move
Kingsbury and smith were made the sacrificial lambs of their organizations yesterday when they were fired. In his fourth season as head coach of the Cardinals, Kingsbury finished his tenure 4-13 before getting the boot. This comes just 10 months after signing a contract extension in the offseason that would have made him the Cardinal’s head coach through 2027. This continues the streak of head coaches never lasting more than six years in Arizona, which has never tenured a coach for more than six years in the franchise’s existence.
The Cardinals had immense pressure to win now after their hot start in 2021, but injuries plagued their offensive line. The Cards were also without NFL All-Pro wide receiver Deandre Hopkins for six games and went 2-4 in his absence, then losing Kyler Murray to an ACL tear later in the season. With only winning two games the rest of the season the blame had to be placed on someone.
In the case of Lovie Smith the Texans had a chance Sunday to get the number one pick with a loss, but Smith did everything he could to win. The Texans managed a tie in week one against the colts that no one saw coming and didn’t have a blowout loss until week 6 when they lost 38-20 to the Las Vegas Raiders.
In most of their games, the Texans fought hard and had the 15th-best defense on third down allowing a 39% conversion rate. But in the end, it is about who won the game not how hard you played in the NFL. Houston is very clearly in a rebuild with no direction at quarterback, which will most likely be addressed in the draft, and will have a fresh restart with a new head coach.
With their win on Sunday, the Texans lost the number one pick to Smith’s former team the Chicago Bears, more than likely sealing his fate. Smith had success in his time with the Bears but was given nine seasons to build teams. He managed to get them to the Superbowl in his first three, but in the NFL if you can’t blame the defense or the quarterback the coach and General Manager are next on the chopping block.
Overreaction: The Ravens can afford to let Lamar Jackson walk
Without agreeing on a contract in the offseason the Ravens are in a position to franchise tag the former NFL MVP if they cannot agree on a long-term deal. There is speculation that Jackson will not like this, as most players who get tagged do not and may force a trade from the Ravens. Baltimore’s inability to go out and get a weapon may force Jackson to go to the weapons instead of hoping they come to him.
With offseason speculation starting quarterbacks and star players alike look to have fresh starts where the grass is greener. For Jackson, the grass is the greenest whereas the receivers are the best. Teams like Miami and New Orleans are loaded with offensive firepower but struggle at the quarterback position. Tua had moments of brilliance this season for the Dolphins but could not stay healthy and suffered several concussions, diagnosed or not, and in the NFL the best ability is availability.
As evident in the previous weeks since Jackson’s injury, the Ravens have been less than spectacular that quarterback and have had to rely on their defense to carry them since Jacksons’ absence. The Ravens may have to look at a rebuild if they cannot lock Jackson down for a long-term deal. Jackson deserves weapons without being expected to do everything if the Ravens want to compete for the title they will need to get him the help he deserves.
Not an overreaction: Several quarterbacks are on the move this off-season.
The goal of every team every year is to win the Superbowl. Some are closer than others to achieve this but the tonality of the NFL has changed from, “this is a several-year rebuild” to, “how can teams win now?” Coaches and GMs have shorter shelf life’s to change teams around, players have to prove every day that they belong or it will be next man up, this leads to many good options being left as a “bridge” to a great option.
Take for example the Alex Smith years in Kansas City. Smith and Andy Reid took the Chiefs from the first pick in the draft to playoff contenders during Smith’s tenure. They saw an opportunity to be great with Patrick Mahomes and traded up to draft him. Unlike the failures, the Jets have had a quarterback time after time when they start week one and are not allowed to grow under the right circumstance because they need to win now.
The current NFL has rookies starting week 1 or even in their first year, Mahomes was allowed to sit and learn behind Smith for an entire year before seeing the field and was allowed to grow without being thrown into a starting role. Many of the quarterbacks on the move this off-season they’re looking for fresh starts and ways to rebrand themselves to help another team win. Players that are expected to see new teams are: Ryan Tannehill, Derek Carr, Tom Brady, and Jimmy Garoppolo.
While some players may have played themselves into new contracts after coming to new teams, players like Baker Mayfield, Geno Smith (who now holds the record for most passing yards in a season in Seahawks history) Daniel Jones, Jarret Stidham, and Mike white all played exceptionally better than expected. Teams that were on the edge of going to the playoffs and were kept out of the playoffs because of quarterback play (Jets, Titans, New Orleans, Carolina, Atlanta, Washington) could all look to improve with the option presented this offseason or should look to trade up in the NFL draft as Kansas City did and grow a quarterback the right way.
Not an overreaction: Dak Prescott could be done as the Cowboy’s starter after this year.
Dak Prescott signed a 4 year, $160,000,000 contract with the Dallas Cowboys, including a $66,000,000 signing bonus, $126,000,000 guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $40,000,000. In 2023, Prescott will earn a base salary of $31,000,000, while carrying a cap hit of $49,130,000 and a dead cap value of $89,070,000. After having just inked this new deal Prescott has done anything but play up to it this season.
The Cowboys are 12-5 and suffered an embarrassing loss to the Commanders where Prescott completed just 14 of his 37 pass attempts (15 if you could the one he threw to the defense for a touchdown). Prescott finished with only 128 yards passing and one touchdown to his team. Dallas has not made the Championship game since 1995 and has not won a playoff game since 2018.
There has been growing unrest among the Cowboys fanbase with the play of Dak Prescott and if the Cowboys fail to win a postseason game or possibly even reach the NFC championship game the blame will fall on head coach Mike McCarthy and Dak Prescott. McCarthy will no doubt be fired, but what of Prescott? The defense is good enough to win now, as is the running game, but the passing attack leaves more to be desired with Prescott’s inconsistencies.
In the NFL no one’s job is safe and nothing is guaranteed unless you have it in writing. Prescott has a no-trade clause in his contract but could be waived for teams like Tampa Bay or New Orleans that are in-now mode. The issue is that both of those teams are in cap hell and have the least amount of money available this next season. If Prescott wants to leave it may be to a team that isn’t as good but can handle his contract or he will have to restructure his contract to fit the needs of teams that want to trade for him.
Thank you for reading this year’s Overreaction Tuesdays. I appreciate and thank every one of you for taking the time to read these and cannot wait for another season of NFL football so that I can write them again for you. For more Chicago Sports and all things, NFL follow ChiCitySports on Twitter and Facebook.
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