By HCR Staff | Dec. 17, 2018
Here are six key observations from Week 15 in the NFL:
• When it comes to teams that will miss the playoffs, this is the time of year that no one likes. Management on these teams begin looking forward to 2019, and that means some coaches will lose their jobs. We are very worried for Cardinals rookie head coach Steve Wilks. By all reports, he is a fine person and dedicated coach, but the results on the field have been so poor; that cannot be ignored. Not many head coaches are let go after one season, but we just don’t have a good feeling about the direction of the Cardinals, who lost Sunday in Atlanta, 40-14, to fall to 3-11.
• The Minnesota Vikings are a hard team to figure. They were dominating the Dolphins early in the game Sunday and raced out to a 21-0 lead. Then, after a Kirk Cousins pick six, the Vikings proceeded to bring the Dolphins completely back into the game. Only after this happened did the Vikings appear to regain consciousness and finish off the Dolphins, 41-17. The Vikings are a squad with a lot of talented players, but for whatever reason, appear to lack cohesiveness and sound game-planning, particularly on offense. We did see more of running backs Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray, so perhaps that will be commonplace moving forward.
• The Chicago Bears have an incredibly bright future, particularly if quarterback Mitchell Trubisky continues a positive progression in his development. This is a team that can beat you with their “B” game, and in a multitude of ways. On top of that, when their scheme isn’t necessarily working, they have elite athletes who can make plays on their own. Wide receiver Allen Robinson finally looks completely recovered from his knee injury, and running backs Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard form a dynamite combination. One warning sign: Sometimes, we feel that Bears head coach Matt Nagy needs to refrain from being just a bit too cute with his offensive calls.
• We’ve always been a fan of Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden. We feel he is one of the best game planners in the game, and it is unfortunate that during his entire tenure at Washington, his team annually suffers a significant rash of injuries. Winning on the road with a fourth-string quarterback who just joined your team a week ago is very impressive. The Redskins are back to .500, and remain in playoff contention.
• Even though San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has a losing record, we also are highly impressed with him. He probably is in the top three or four offensive play designers in football, and no matter the situation, always has his team ready to play and compete. Like Redskins head coach Jay Gruden, Shanahan’s 49ers squad has been hit with significant injuries this year as well. Notwithstanding that, Shanahan has had his team compete hard with a third-string quarterback and many other young players.
• One unit that does not get much attention nationally, but is rapidly improving, is the secondary of the Cleveland Browns. This unit has a ball-hawking mentality, and continues to make plays week after week. We expect to see a lot of growth in 2019, and this unit could develop into one of the strengths of the team.