Before the 2018 NFL season began many of the ‘experts’ picked the Pittsburgh Steelers to win the Super Bowl. Today, they are in their homes watching the playoffs.
Here is a list of five teams which should have been in the playoffs. There talent was obvious, but poor coaching failed their teams.
In 2018 John Gruden was given the Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders to return to greatness. After he traded away two of the best players in the NFL, the Raiders struggled to achieve a record of 4-12; last in their division. Wide receiver Amari Cooper helped the Dallas Cowboys win a playoff game yesterday, and today Khalil Mack, possibly the best defensive player in football, will be on the field for the Chicago Bears.
The Atlanta Falcons supposedly had it all. Their season ended with a 7-9 record. Head Coach Dan Quinn had no explanation for the disappointing season and will likely be replaced within the next few weeks. Several ‘experts’ picked the Falcons as the team which would be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy on February 3, 2019.
The Minnesota Vikings were touted as having the best defense in the NFL. They struggled to an 8-7-1 record in 2018. After trading for quarterback Kirk Cousins, Head Coach Mike Zimmer believed that ‘all of the pieces were in place.’ Watching the games, it was obvious that Zimmer and his staff failed to get maximum effort from each player and the Vikings missed the playoffs, coming in second place in the NFC North.
I don’t know what to say about the Detroit Lions. Every year they are expected to win the NFC North, and nearly every year they fail. The experts continue to praise quarterback Matthew Stafford, and every year he disappoints. With a 2018 record of 6-10, how much blame for the poor showing belongs to first year Head Coach, Matt Patricia? The play of the entire team can be described as erratic. Coaching does make a difference.
Undoubtedly the Pittsburgh Steelers were the biggest disappointment in 2018. With a roster envied by most other Head Coaches, Mike Tomlin and his assistant coach’s primary function was to keep their players focused and motivated. It would be easy to blame place-kicker Chris Boswell for the poor season, but that would be wrong. He cost his team three games, but it should never have been his responsibility. The Steelers should have had a big enough lead in each game that Boswell’s failed effort would have been an anecdote. The coaching staff must be blamed for a lackluster 9-6-1 record, and losses to inferior teams including the Cleveland Browns, the Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders, and the Denver Broncos. The big question is ‘will Ben Roethlisberger announce his retirement’ after experiencing two disappointing seasons in a row?
Coaching is far more critical than most fans would like to admit. After 12 seasons Mike Tomlin has a record of 125-66-1. He only has one Super Bowl victory after coaching a team which has boasted multiple future Hall of Fame inductees, including his starting quarterback.
Like him or not, Bill Belichick is the greatest coach in the history of the NFL. Regardless of the talent on the New England Patriots, Belichick motivates his players to surpass their own abilities. For years I have claimed that with any other team Tom Brady would have been labeled as ‘very good,’ not ‘great.’
The Truth Lives Here
Op-ed by this “Wise Old Fart,” James Turnage
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