Next up on my continuing 2009 NFL Season Reviews is the Kansas City Chiefs, who have the 5th pick this year’s draft. Like the Rams, Lions, and Buccaneers, the Chiefs entered the 2009 season with a new head coach. They also had a new GM who brought in Matt Cassel to be his quarterback. While KC did get a signature win this year by knocking off the defending champs, they still lost many games to finish at 4-12. Still, that was a two game improvement over their previous year. Three of those four wins came after releasing Larry Johnson, who was probably their most famous player at that time. Jamaal Charles, shown above, filled in very nicely for the departed Johnson. With those signs of improvement and with changes that they made at the top of the organization, there is hope for a return to glories past.
Archive for January, 2010
The Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints were the best teams in their respective conferences this year. So for the first time in years, we get to see the top seeds meet in the Super Bowl. Earlier this year, we were wondering if two teams could possibly go 16-0 in the same year, just two years after the Patriots’ run of 2007. Prior to this season, the NFL had never seen two teams even 11-0 in the same season. This year, these teams reached 13-0 before the Saints fell in week 15 to the Cowboys, and, some believe, the Colts turned their backs on history by resting their starters in the second half of week 16 against the Jets. Regardless of how the final 2-3 weeks ended, both teams showed that they were the class of their conferences in playoffs.
The Washington Redskins are next up on my list of 2009 NFL Season Reviews. At 4-12, they pick 4th in the upcoming 2010 NFL Draft. Of the teams that I’ve looked at so far, the ‘skins had by far the most disappointing season. Following their 8-8 season in 2008, in which they had a top 5 defense, many expected that this year the offense would improve enough to get them into the playoffs and back on the winning track. It didn’t quite work out that way. The defense was still solid, ranked 10th in yards allowed, but the offense didn’t really improve enough to get them into contention. The conventional wisdom is for them to look for the QB of the future with the 4th pick. Let’s take a look at their offensive and defensive performance compared against their opponents’ averages and see if that appears to be the biggest need.
For the third installment in the series of NFL Season Reviews, we will take a look at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2009 Season. After an offseason of drastic changes in both coaching and player personnel, the Bucs finished the season at 3-13. After an 0-7 start, where they were outscored 93 to 203, they showed considerable improvement, tightening the points gap to 148 to 197 in their last nine games. Early on, it appeared quite possible that they would repeat the Lions’ 0-16 record from 2008, but they won their 8th game and then 2 of the final 3 games, showing that perhaps there is a bright future for new Head Coach Raheem Morris and rookie QB Josh Freeman. With that brief recap, let’s get into the statistical review.
Last summer, I wrote a post entitled Who was the Best Rookie QB to Start a Playoff Game (Since 1970)? where I compared the rookie seasons of each quarterback to start a playoff game in NFL history. Well, now we have another this season that has joined that group. Matt Sanchez has joined Shaun King, Ben Roethlisberger, and Joe Flacco as the only QB to win a playoff game his rookie season. He and Flacco are the only two rookie QBs to win two playoff games (I would give Big Ben plenty of credit for helping his team to the top seed in the playoffs, but I’m a Steelers fan). So far in this playoffs, Sanchez has played better than I would have expected him to. Since he has accomplished something that only Flacco did before him, I wanted to see how he matches up with the other rookie QBs that I compared earlier. For the data on those players, please refer to the link above.
Continuing the series of NFL Season Reviews that was begun with the Rams 2009 Review, we will now take a look at the Detroit Lions’ 2009 season. As I mentioned in the Rams post, I will try to follow, as closely as possible, the teams in order of the upcoming NFL Draft. At 2-14, that puts the Lions at number two on this list. Rarely would a 2-14 season be considered a cause for hope, but in the case of the Lions, fresh off of a winless season in 2008, I believe that this year is the exception. While still a tough year, Detroit fans got a glimpse of the future, and for a rookie on a team that still needs a lot of help on talent, Matthew Stafford wasn’t bad. He struggled at times, but he did show signs of the talent and leadership that made him the number 1 overall pick last year. His highlight came in a 38-37 win over the Cleveland Browns where Stafford threw for over 400 yards and 5 TD passes. With that, let’s get into the review.
Before the 2009 NFL regular season began, I wrote a handful of season previews for a few teams. Since I started the blog in July, I really didn’t have enough time to do all 32 teams. However, I should have enough time to complete a season review of all of the teams. At least, that is what I am planning. We’ll see if I get through them all. With that said, this is the first review. For teams in the playoffs, a review would not be complete without including where they finished, particularly if they win the Super Bowl. For that reason, I am beginning with the teams with the worst records first and working my way up to those that made the playoffs. At 1-15, the Saint Louis Rams will have the first pick in this year’s draft, so I will cover them first.
Over at Behind the Steel Curtain, the esteemed maryrose wrote an excellent post summarizing the Pittsburgh Steelers’ issues from this season. Overall, I agree with his assessments, but there is one area where we don’t see it the same. While he did point out the short yardage and goalline deficiencies in the Steelers offense, he is willing to give Arians credit for improving the offensive output this season by over 1000 and 21 points. Maryrose asks how Steelers fans can be so hard on Arians after a season with a 4000 yard passer, two 1000 yard receivers, and a 1000 yard rusher. At the same time, we seem to be willing to give Lebeau a pass for the defensive struggles. He has a good point there, but I think there are very legitimate reasons for that.