It feels like a major moment for the NFL. In the last week we may have seen the end of the Tom Brady Patriots and the Drew Brees Saints. The NFL is suddenly ruled by young mobile quarterbacks, and teams are making big changes to try and stay relevant.
With that in mind, let’s go to the mailbag for this week.
■ Q: Did the Cowboys make the right move hiring Mike McCarthy?
A: Yes. But let’s be honest, we won’t know for a while. I know it goes against the constant TV-and-radio news cycle, but picking a coach is never an easy thing, and impossible to judge immediately. Except for the Giants getting a guy who’s never been a coordinator before, that’s crazy in the present tense.
A coach’s tenure is remembered for his accomplishments, and most of that is predicated on sticking around long enough to have them. McCarthy is most likely guaranteed that since he comes into this team protected by both an abundance of talent, and the ego of Jerry Jones. He’s going to get enough time to make his mark in Dallas, and he’s been very good with quarterbacks before. He seems like a solid hire.
Sometimes when things aren’t working, you just need to make some major changes. I know that advice is true because I heard it in divorce court just before that judge threw his gavel at me.
Anyway, I think getting McCarthy is good for several reasons, not the least of which involves the Cowboys’ current talent situation. McCarthy wouldn’t take this gig if he didn’t know that the Cowboys were going to spend money to keep Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper. This all bodes well for the team, and the fanbase.
■ Q: What about the other coaching hires?
A: Matt Rhule in Carolina surprises me not for the hire, but for the size and length of the contract. A first-time NFL coach getting seven years and $60 million to $70 million is a stunner, but the new Panthers owner is crazy rich and wants to make a splash. Washington getting Ron Rivera and a new general manager is definitely a good thing for a franchise that’s become a laughingstock. The Giants? Eh. Hiring a well-respected guy with no experience is either boom or bust.
And the Browns? Hey, Cleveland gonna Cleveland.
■ Q: Can you believe the refs missed that call?
A: I get these questions about somewhere in the vicinity of 40% of everything the refs do, so I’ll sum up.
The expanded instant replay is a disaster.
It’s not just that it doesn’t work. It’s worse than that. After last year’s debacle for the Saints, the NFL made a move to make things better, but they left it too vague and open-ended. Now any contact short of blasting someone with a rocket launcher is not going to be overturned by replay. The NFL gave us hope, and then took it away.
For the record, I didn’t think the Clowney hit was overly dirty, the overtime blind-side block call against the Bills was a joke, and I didn’t think the push-off in the Saints loss was egregious enough to get that call in overtime of a playoff game, but I can certainly see where there’s room for discussion on all of them. And when that doesn’t happen openly, fans begin to assume the league is stacked against them. And not just Saints fans, for a change.
In the offseason, that replay system will definitely go away.
■ Q: Who’ve you got in the Super Bowl?
A: Well, since I had been picking Saints and Chiefs since August, I guess I should amend that pick. I’ll take the Chiefs and Packers, but I wouldn’t be really surprised at any of the remaining teams making the Super Bowl. The top of the league is really even this year.
Now on to today’s picks. Last week things weren’t good for me, my friends. One more week like that and you can check the classified ads for me selling off my car, guitar, and a kidney. As always, these are for the purposes of comedic discussion only. No wagering.
■ Houston (+9.5) at Kansas City: My rule is, defense wins championships. My rule that supersedes that is “Patrick Mahomes is awesome.”
Pick: Chiefs to win but not cover, winning by nine or less.
■ Seattle (+4.5) at Green Bay: I really like Seattle, but Russell Wilson has a history in Green Bay like I have in Mexico. It’s much worse than I remember it being, it’s all probably better off forgotten, and it occasionally involves the Federales.
Pick: Packers to win and cover, winning by five or more.