By HCR Staff | January 4, 2021
It’s hard to believe we’re here – the end of the NFL’s 2020 regular season. Back in March, none of us here could even believe we’d even have a season, so the completion of an entire regular season without any game cancellations is, frankly, miraculous.
As we’ve done here every week, we want to thank all the players, coaches and staffers whose hard work made it all happen. We cannot even imagine the daily changes and hardships they had to endure, not to mention the daily threat of virus exposure.
Also, thanks to the NFL league office. They get a lot of grief over many issues, but here, we try our best to be objective, and objectively speaking, it appears Commissioner Roger Goodell and his entire staff have done an incredible job. Much credit to the league office from us.
Let’s get to it.
Matt LaFleur Is In A Offensive Game-Planning and Play-Calling Groove. LaFleur’s success with the Packers in 2 short years has been historic – he’s second only to George Seifert in regular season winning percentage in NFL history after 2 seasons as a head coach. And after witnessing his handiwork against the Bears, Packers fans can expect more good things to come.
LaFleur’s offensive game-planning and play-calling is, at the moment, as good as the game’s best; right up there with Sean Payton, Kyle Shanahan, and Andy Reid. Of course, he’s got probable league MVP in QB Aaron Rodgers, but when you see the play design and his play curation, you can see that Rodgers is being put into incredibly favorable positions.
In yesterday’s game against the Bears, Rodgers performed flawlessly – but he should have when one considers that he had, maybe, 1-2 tight window throws all game. Every other throw that we saw was to a receiver that had not just 1-2 yards, separation, but 5 or more yards.
For Rodgers, it was as if you were asking him to hit the Pacific Ocean with a football.
None of this is an accident. LaFleur schemed it up; it’s all there on tape. For example, it’s clear he wanted to isolate Bears LB Danny Trevathan in coverage; Trevathan was put into unfavorable matchups time and again.
Packers management have hit on a good one in LaFleur, and because of their wise choice, Rodgers’ career is going to be preserved well into his 40s too, should he so choose.
Sean McDermott Showing He’s A Program Builder. Sean McDermott’s built a fantastic team in Buffalo, but we see that he’s also building something that’ll be more evergreen, and that’s a program. Buffalo should be a tough out in the 2020 playoffs, but they also should be a tough out in playoffs through the 20s.
What we’ve been impressed with is the team camaraderie, and to a lesser degree, the connection with the fan base and community, which offers an intangible that players can certainly feed off of.
McDermott’s groomed a number of ‘glue’ guys on his roster, and this helps camaraderie. QB Josh Allen, CB Tre’Davious White, LB Tremaine Edmunds, etc., each of them are rising stars, but also appear to be terrific team leaders who hJave the cohesiveness of the team unit paramount in their minds.
If we’re right about these players and their intentions – and the Bills’ W-L is some evidence we are – then that’s the kind of leadership every team is looking for from their head coach. Lots of guys can learn Xs and Os; in fact, artificial intelligence will speed the X and O learning, but not many can lead with the force of their personality.
The Bills also have a Packer-like connection with their fan base and community. QB Josh Allen’s appreciation for the fans’ airport greetings show this. In our view, when you have players playing for the fans and community on top of their salaries, you’ve got some magic.
Bill Belichick Shows His Professionalism. While we haven’t liked his excuse-making this year, don’t think for a second that Belichick has lost anything. He’s still the best overall head coach alive. He squeezed 7 wins from a squad that had 4-5 win talent (of course, Belichick’s responsible for the talent level, but we’re only talking about him as a head coach here).
Yesterday, Belichick could have played Jarrett Stidham at QB instead of Cam Newton. And some might argue, Stidham would have given the Patriots an opportunity to tank, as well as see what Stidham has.
But Belichick didn’t engage in those shenanigans. He’s too smart. And he doesn’t want to be 6-10. So they designed another Cam-specific gameplan (and it worked terrifically) to win the game at hand, draft-position be damned. Plus, Belichick is thinking longer term too. By treating a veteran player like Newton with respect, he’s in a better position to lure veteran free agents in the future.
Sean McVay Easily Outcoaches Kliff Kingsbury. Until Arizona makes a change at head coach, they will not progress past the other teams in their division. Simply put, Kliff Kingsbury is an inferior head coach to Sean McVay, Kyle Shanahan and Pete Carroll.
Yesterday’s outcome is evidence of our assertion. McVay’s Rams beat the Cardinals because they actually had a plan. Kingsbury is just a play-caller, not a planner, at least not in the same class as McVay.
Rams QB John Wolford was making his first NFL start, and McVay made sure the play calls were made and curated to Wolford’s strengths. That is just common sense. McVay just needed to color within the lines and let his defense play well too.
On the other sideline, Kingsbury called the game as if his QB Kyler Murray wasn’t hurt, and as if his backup QB Chris Streveler was a veteran NFL QB (which he isn’t). In short, Kingsbury didn’t show common sense.
After starting 6-2, Kingsbury’s Cardinals dropped out of the playoffs, and this isn’t an accident.
After missing the playoffs in 2019 and integrating a new DC in 2020, McVay’s Rams are back in the playoffs. This also isn’t an accident.