The NFL playoffs are underway! Jon Gruden is coming back to coaching! The Browns are getting trolled by Johnny Manziel! And Blake Bortles’ No. 1 fan on a sitcom cheered him on in person! What a weekend it was.
Another early playoff exit for Andy Reid
Stop me if you have heard this one before, but Andy Reid managed to lose a home playoff game as a favorite and will now miss the remainder of the postseason shortly after it began.
Forget about all of those runs to NFC East titles and NFC championship games Reid had with Donovan McNabb and the Philadelphia Eagles from 2001 through 2004, because since leading the Eagles to an elusive Super Bowl appearance in that 2004 season, Reid has won just four playoff games, and just one since being hired by Kansas City.
With a playoff record of 1-4 in Kansas City, this is who Reid is and may be for as long as he is a head coach in the NFL. Unless Patrick Mahomes works out for Reid, you can count on Kansas City being above-average competitively in the regular season only to see Reid mismanage a game in the postseason and go home early.
On Saturday, Reid may have had one of his most painful postseason losses since losing at home to Jon Gruden’s Tampa Bay team in the final game played at Veterans Stadium in 2003. With the Chiefs leading the Tennessee Titans 21-3 at halftime in Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City was blanked in the second half and the Tennessee Titans managed to rally for a 22-21 win that included Marcus Mariota completing a touchdown pass to himself.
Perhaps that play was a preview of what was to come. When a quarterback makes a play like that happen on a whim, it just might be his night. It wasn’t a particularly sharp night for Mariota, but he did enough to get the win, including the go-ahead touchdown midway through the fourth quarter.
The formula for the loss was not unique for Reid, as he opted to abandon giving the ball to his talented running back (rookie Kareem Hunt, who led the NFL in rushing) in the second half. As an Eagles fan, I could tell you all about Reid’s bizarre way of not allowing his running backs to help milk the clock and move the football. But hey, at least Reid has won a playoff game more recently than the Eagles, so he’s got that going for him.
So the NFL doesn't give Jeff Triplette a playoff game (a.k.a. he doesn't earn one) for three seasons then gets one right before he reportedly retires?? ??? https://t.co/aXDUkCju6V
— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) January 7, 2018
For starters, the lack of effort from veteran Darrelle Revis on defense was just one reason for the downfall.
Tony Dungy calls out Darrelle Revis' effort on the Henry TD run and deservedly so. pic.twitter.com/PWRijoatMb
— Cork Gaines (@CorkGaines) January 7, 2018
Playoff wins at Arrowhead Stadium since the Kansas City Wizards were founded in 1995…
— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) January 7, 2018
While the Chiefs clean out their lockers, the Titans now have to prepare for their AFC divisional round matchup with the New England Patriots. The Patriots will take the field for the first time since the supposed bombshell story about alleged internal power playing and disgruntlement has been silenced by a release of a public joint statement from Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft.
Basically, the Patriots are going to be a bull unleashed, focusing their frustration on obliterating anyone standing in their way this weekend. So, uh, good luck with all of that, Titans. If you are playing any confidence point football pools this postseason, 16 points on the Patriots feels like a safe bet.
But will Mike Mularkey survive the weekend if the Titans return home with a loss?
The Jags sent the Buffalo Bills (and Bills Mafia) home with an “L”
— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) January 7, 2018
The most boring game of the playoff weekend took place in Jacksonville, but Buffalo Bills fans made the most of their trip down to Florida (and no, O.J. Simpson was NOT at the game).
— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) January 7, 2018
The Bills’ long-awaited return to the playoffs finally arrived Sunday afternoon, but the wait for a postseason touchdown continues. The Jaguars earned a 10-3 win against the Bills, largely because the defenses were locked in and the quarterbacks were not. Blake Bortles managed to suck less than Tyrod Taylor, and somehow made some plays when disasters could have easily been the result.
— Dan Worthington (@danWorthington) January 7, 2018
The Jaguars won the game despite having just 230 yards of offense and giving up 263. Jacksonville was also 2-of-12 on third down too. But hey, at least Jason Mendoza (played by Manny Jacinto on NBC’s The Good Place) was feeling like he really was in the good place for a day.
— z-#Sacksonville (@Jaguars) January 7, 2018
— The Good Place, Definitely Not The Bad Place (@nbcthegoodplace) January 7, 2018
Oh, and this may be shocking to some of you, but it appears Richie Incognito is still a piece of human garbage on the football field.
Great win to day! And 64, you goin have to come harder than some weak racist slurs. I’m proud of my African heritage, as are 70% of the other Black players in this league. #Iaintjonathanmartin!
— YANNICK NGAKOUE! (@YannGetSacks91) January 8, 2018
The Jaguars will play at Pittsburgh in next weekend’s divisional round. The early game on Sunday will be a major revenge game for the Steelers, who were embarrassed by the Jags earlier this season, 30-9, in Pittsburgh. I suspect this one will be much tighter or could go in the opposite direction.
Cam Newton at the center of NFL’s latest concussion protocol concern
The New Orleans Saints defended their home field against Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers in Sunday’s late game. Behind the veteran calm of Drew Brees, the Saints overcame a rare down performance from the running duo of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram. Credit the Carolina defense for taking away the running game.
But once again, Brees proved he is still capable of taking control of a game with his arm. He was nearly perfect in the first half, ending the game with 376 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns in a 31-26 win.
The Saints defense was also bruising, and many will be talking about the hit Cam Newton took that forced him out of the game for a few minutes.
Newton underwent a lightning-fast concussion protocol and was said to have an issue with his eye before returning to the game and nearly leading the Panthers to a win. He did appear to be wincing his left eye in the replay above, but Newton needed to be attended to on the field, as he fell when he tried walking off.
An eye problem? That seems a little sketchy, and you better believe the NFLPA and NFL will want to get some additional information on this incident. And given Newton’s own history of taking hits and the controversy that has come up about those in the past, we could be revisiting some difficult territory here.
The Panthers have some young offensive weapons around Newton, but it is clear the team still needs to give Newton more to work with for the Panthers to return to a Super Bowl. While they work on scouting the draft to see what players they can add, the Saints are making their way to Minnesota to take on the Vikings in a game many will suggest is the real NFC Championship Game. They could have a point.
Falcons flying their way to Philly after win in LA
The defending NFC champions are still alive in their quest for redemption. Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and the Atlanta Falcons handled the up-and-coming Los Angeles Rams on the west coast Saturday and flew home with a 26-13 victory.
The Rams looked like a young team playing in its first playoff game, which was to be expected — even at home in the Coliseum. Penalties and turnovers were a problem for the NFC West champs, and Jared Goff was pressured enough to cause problems for the Rams offense. Todd Gurley had a 101-yard game, but 33 of those came on one run and the Falcons did a fairly good job of keeping one of the league’s top running backs contained.
The future of the Rams still looks incredibly promising as their 2017 season comes to an end. The ingredients are there, it just needs more tweaking and experience, which they gained this season.
The Falcons now head to Philadelphia to take on a team already being written off faster than any No. 1 seed in recent memory. It makes sense, however. The Eagles wrapped up home-field advantage on the back of an MVP-caliber campaign from Carson Wentz, but a season-ending injury suffered late in the year means Philadelphia has no choice but to ride with Nick Foles. The Eagles are now the NFC’s longest shot to reach the Super Bowl, according to the oddsmakers, so the Falcons are playing this team at the best possible time.
Raiders going back to the well with Jon Gruden for some reason
Well, they did it. The Oakland Raiders won the Jon Gruden sweepstakes, which have reportedly been going on since the day Gruden stepped into the Monday Night Football booth at ESPN. And boy, was the wait ever worth it for the coach with a 10-year contract valued at $100 million. Get paid, Gruden.
The Raiders went all in to lure Gruden back as the franchise is preparing for an upcoming relocation from Oakland to Las Vegas. Gruden will take over a Raiders team with some good tools to work with, beginning with quarterback Derek Carr. The 2017 season was a disappointing one, failing to maintain top-level AFC contender status with Carr back and healthy and the addition of Marshawn Lynch at running back.
Is Gruden really going to be the difference for the Raiders? Time will tell, but I’d hold off on those Super Bowl viewing parties if you are a Raiders fan for the next couple of years.
Gruden will be officially introduced as the Raiders’ new head coach on Tuesday. He will now be in the same division as one of his former bosses, Reid of Kansas City.
Johnny Manziel trolled the Browns
Fans of the Cleveland Browns mocked the team’s 0-16 season with a parade this weekend. Quarterback Johnny Manziel posted an image of himself from his brief stint with the Browns with a caption that read “0-16szn,” apparently because he didn’t have the time to fully write out “season.” Manziel is probably focused on his “ComebackSZN” as he appears to be taking steps forward toward playing in the CFL with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
Manziel did later edit his troll post on Instagram to remove the caption, but the story here is the Browns are getting trolled by one of the more notable NFL busts of the century. If that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about the Browns, what more do you possibly need?