Week 14 started out with a boring game on Thursday night between the Browns and the Steelers and ended with an even harder game to watch on Monday night. Luckily there was plenty of excitement on Sunday as the playoff picture begins to get a bit more clear. The Packers blew another team out, the Colts got blown out and Tebow Mania has grown even larger - business as usual in week 14 thus this weeks recap.
You would be hard pressed to find anything shorter then a sports fans memory. There is no denying that this ride that Tim Tebow has taken the NFL and its fans on over the last two months is exciting and must see TV. What is surprising is that football fans don't remember another former college standout quarterback took us on this same ride just recently, not once, but twice. Every time I turn on the TV or the radio, I hear another fan saying I have never seen anything like this before, and all I can think is how quickly we forget. So no one remembers another quarterback who came into the league with great fanfare but experts questioned his throwing mechanics just a few years back? A quarterback who always seemed to win even though his numbers always looked terrible? Nobody remembers watching this guy put together comeback after comeback in games that they said his team couldn't win? Are you telling me that all these people who say "They have never seen anything like this" don't remember Vince Young?
Now I know when most sports fans hear the name Vince Young, they think of the backup quarterback for the Eagles who ran himself out of Tennessee and now can't stop turning the ball over whenever he does get to play. But that wasn't always the case. In Young's rookie season of 2006, he took the NFL by storm. After the Titans had fallen to 3-7, Young lead his team from down 21 in the fourth quarter to a victory over the Eli Manning lead Giants. A week later, Young lead another fourth quarter comeback against Peyton Manning and the Colts who were 10-1 at the time. Young became the first rookie quarterback to lead two comeback of 14 points or more in the same season. Just three weeks later, the Titans, who were fighting for a playoff spot, would erase another 14 point deficit in the fourth quarter against the Bills. Young would lead the Titans to six straight wins that year before they missed the playoffs on the last game of the year. Although Young's passing numbers left a lot to be desired, he always found a way to win. After taking the NFL on that magical ride in 06, Young did it again in 09 ... only better. After going into their week 7 bye week 0-6 and fresh off a 59-0 beating from the Patriots, against his will, Coach Fisher was forced so start Young after the bye ... sound familiar? Young responded by leading the team to 5 straight wins and won 8 of his 10 starts. The Titans became the first team in NFL history to win 5 straight after losing their first 6 games. And just like we have Tebow Mania now, Vince Young was the talk of the NFL then. There were those who said he wasn't a good enough passer (he made the Pro Bowl despite being the 31st ranked passer in the league) and there were those who said his passing numbers didn't matter as long as he won. Just like Tebow now, the hype was there (SI covers/Madden Covers), the hate was there (Merril Hodge called him a joke too), the bad passes were there, the running was there, and the comebacks were there. Both quarterbacks won with great defenses, good running games, and excellent kickers that all gave them a chance to win. The only difference between Tebow now and Young is that Tebow appears to have his head screwed on properly. With 2011 Tebow, we will now see how good Vince Young could have been. Young had a better arm than Tebow, but his bad judgment lead him to throw more interceptions then Tebow. After Young had completely worn out his welcome in Tennessee, sports fans could only wonder if a quarterback with his skill set could change the NFL. Now with Tebow, we should have our answer in a year or two.
In Todd Haley's first year as Chiefs coach, he took over a team that had two wins the season before and won 4 games. In his second year, he won 10 games and the division. In his third, he lost his starting runningback, starting quarterback, and lost a tight end - on Monday he lost his job. The Chiefs have had stretches this year where they looked good (4 wins in a row) and times when they look like the worst team in the league (4 loses by 28 or more). I am not going to say the future looked bright in Kansas City, but to fire a coach missing his three best offensive players a year after winning the division seems a bit harsh.
In Miami, the Dolphins started the season with as good a shot as anyone of landing the number 1 pick in next years draft. Then November came and the Dolphins turned into a entirely different team. They won 4 out of there next 5 games, and the defense ranked in the top 5. By putting together an impressive month, all the Dolphins did was postpone the inevitable as Coach Sparano was fired this week.
Last week I told you guys that the Jags hadn't scored over 21 points in a game this season. Well this week, Josh Freeman and the Bucs went out of there way to make sure they did. In a game that was heading into halftime tied at 14, Freeman and the Bucs took the field in attempt to run a two minute offense. The result was a Freeman fumble in the endzone, a Freeman interception on the next drive and 14 points for the Jags in less then 2 minutes. In total, the Bucs turned the ball over 7 times and did everything they could to make sure the Jaguars won the game. To say this season has turned out to be a disappointment for the Bucs would be an understatement.
In Washington, the Patriots showed why they have a chance to win every week, and why they have a chance to lose every week. Tom Brady and the offense put up over 30 points as usual, while there defense allowed a struggling Redskins offense to score 27 points. As easy as it easy to fall in love with Brady and the offense and pick them as the favorites to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, it's hard to see that happening with a pass defense that ranks last in the NFL. In order for the Patriots to win, Brady has to be nearly perfect, and come playoff time it only takes one less then perfect game from Brady to send the Patriots home.
The clock has officially struck midnight in Cincinnati and Cinderella has left the ball in a hurry. The Bengals got off to a great start this season behind their rookie quarterback, but now as the teams begin to separate themselves, the Bengals look like they are still a year or two away before they will be challenging the Ravens or Steelers for the title of division champs.
Eli Manning said at the start of the year that he considered himself an elite quarterback. He said he believed he was in the same class as his brother and Brady. When he first said it, I thought he was crazy, but after watching him this season I'm starting to think he might be right. Eli has proven he is capable of leading fourth quarter comebacks, and he has cut down his interceptions. While it is easy to point out that Eli has one of the best set receivers in the league to work with, it's his ability to put the ball out there and give his receivers a chance to make a play that makes it work. I'm not ready to put Eli on the elite quarterback street, but I would put him on the waiting list.
Well that concludes this weeks recap. Make sure you check back next week to see what NFL stories caught my eye and made the weeks recap.