By HCR Staff | November 23, 2020
As we end Week 11 tonight, the Jets have been eliminated from the playoffs and the best teams are starting to show themselves.
Let’s get to it.
Mike Tomlin May Never Top Our Rankings, But The Steelers’ Talent Can Make Up For Anything He Lacks. When Mike Tomlin became head coach of the Steelers, he walked into the most stable ownership and culture in the NFL, and one of its best personnel departments as well. Tomlin’s not an elite strategist as a head coach, but the edge in those variables offsets any in-game deficiencies he might have.
Yesterday, the Steelers didn’t play well, but it didn’t matter as they simply had too much talent and experience for an outgunned Jaguars team. In our view, outside of Kansas City, the Steelers’ combination of talent, experience and youth, make them the cream of the AFC crop (along with Kansas City).
All Tomlin has to do is let the talent express itself, and not go off on one of his ‘proclamation’ rants and side tours. Remember his, ‘we’re going to be aggressive and go for the 2-point try after every TD’ declaration a few years ago? We do, and it was a disaster.
No, all Tomlin has to do is stay vanilla, for now. The Steelers are largely healthy, focused and disciplined. The players know the talent they have in the locker room. Tomlin just has to stay out of the way.
Vic Fangio Shows He’s Still An Elite Coordinator. It’s iffy if Fangio survives as Broncos head coach, but yesterday he showed he’s still an elite defensive coordinator in the Broncos’ win over the Dolphins.
The Broncos faced an early deficit as the Dolphins’ offense looked strong in jumping out to a 7-0 lead. The Dolphins have been rolling the last three weeks behind rookie QB Tua Tagovailoa, and each week, Tagovailoa appeared to get better and better at mastering the NFL game.
Fangio, however, still has some tricks up his sleeve. The Broncos’ defense adjusted masterfully, and started throwing different look after different look at Tagovailoa – essentially doing to Tua what Dolphins head coach Brian Flores has been to opposing quarterbacks.
Tagovailoa got frustrated; so much so that he was pulled. It was an impressive effort by Fangio.
We don’t know if Fangio survives (we think he should get one more year), but if he doesn’t, he’ll be a popular defensive coordinator candidate for every head coach that is looking for a defensive coordinator in 2021.
Sean Payton Shows Why He’s Among The Best. One of the hallmarks of a great head coach is their ability to adapt to changing circumstances – quickly. It’s rare that everything goes smoothly in any NFL season, so every good head coach has a strong adaptability gene.
Along with Bill Belichick, Sean Payton may possess more of this gene than any of his peers.
Last season, Payton lost starting quarterback Drew Brees for 5 games – he went 5-0. And yesterday, he started Taysom Hill at quarterback, and the Saints trounced a surging Falcons team. The offense didn’t run in exactly the same way, and there were a couple of rough patches, but the result still was the same: a win.
Matt Patricia Isn’t Showing Us Any Growth At All. When we think of the Lions, all that comes to mind is spinning wheels that are spinning in place. There’s activity, but no progress.
The Lions lost in a shutout against the Panthers – who were starting a backup quarterback – and showed zero signs of life. None. And this is a team that still had an outside chance at one of the seven playoff spots.
The lack of fire from the Lions was appalling. It’s a strong indication the Lions need to move on from Patricia. We simply don’t see any progress.
Anthony Lynn May Have To Follow Patricia Back Into The Assistant Coach Ranks. If there is one head coach we root for, it’s Anthony Lynn. Solid man, good coach – but perhaps, only as an assistant.
Lynn’s teams always play hard for him, and like Kyle Shanahan, he’s got some bad injury voodoo on him – the Chargers have had a strong injury bug during his tenure.
But while the Chargers play hard, Lynn has shown he’s got problems managing a game, and that’s one of the essential responsibilities of a good head coach.
Yesterday, the Chargers held a commanding 18-point, second half lead against the winless Jets, but yet again, Lynn had trouble closing out the game. This is an alarming pattern, and one that’s hard to watch.
Will the Chargers let Lynn go? We don’t know. One reason they may want to keep Lynn for one more ‘prove it’ season is the development of rookie quarterback Justin Herbert, who’s come along positively in an historic fashion. The continuity certainly would help Herbert. But does Lynn have the capacity to improve as a game manager? We’re doubtful.
Andy Reid & Jon Gruden Put On A Great Show On Sunday Night Football. There aren’t a lot of games anymore where we see both head coaches making fundamentally sound and creative decisions, but last night’s Chiefs win over the Raiders was one of them. Both head coaches did well in countering each other, and every possession was critical. The formation changes, use of the play clock, etc., all of it was fascinating. The game reminded us of NFL football from the early 2000s – a brand that we prefer.
If the NFL can somehow balance out the rules to bring a little more fairness to the defensive side of the ball, the game would be better for it.
The Chiefs, along with the Steelers, clearly are the class of the conference. But the Raiders are closing fast – one more good draft, and the Raiders will be contending for the conference championship.