NFL

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Dynasty

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Go ahead and crown the Kansas City Chiefs as the fourth NFL dynasty of the Super Bowl era.

They have joined the post-2000 New England Patriots, 1980s San Francisco 49ers and 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers in a class apart from all others. Theirs is a dynasty in progress — just getting started, perhaps. But these Chiefs have done enough to belong.

That is the big-picture takeaway from the Chiefs’ 25-22 overtime victory over the 49ers in Super Bowl LVIII which delivered Kansas City its third Lombardi Trophy in only five seasons.

What makes an NFL dynasty? Patrick Mahomes- obviously, and there’s more to it than just that.

The Joe Gibbs-era Washington Redskins and early 1990s Dallas Cowboys were great, but they belong in separate categories, as we’ll explain.

The public-address announcer at Allegiant Stadium introduced the Chiefs as a “dynasty in the making” before the team ran onto the field.

For much of the game, the Chiefs played like a dynasty in the unmaking. They fumbled, wasted timeouts, incurred costly penalties and were fortunate to trail only 10-3 at halftime.

But when Kansas City had to score or else, Mahomes and the Chiefs did, just as even the most ardent 49ers fan should have expected.

Here they are, with three Super Bowl victories in five seasons, are they a dynasty?

After studying the greatest Super Bowl-era runs, the 1974-79 Steelers, 1981-94 49ers, 2001-18 Patriots and 2019-23 Chiefs emerged as the only teams fitting what I think are logical requirements for dynasty status:

After studying the greatest Super Bowl-era runs, the 1974-79 Steelers, 1981-94 49ers, 2001-18 Patriots and 2019-23 Chiefs emerged as the only teams fitting what I think are logical requirements for dynasty status:

  • Winning three-plus Super Bowls over five-plus seasons
  • Posting the NFL’s best regular-season winning percentage, beginning with the first Super Bowl-winning season and ending with the most recent one
  • Reaching the conference championship round more than half the time during the dynasty

These benchmarks display dominant success over time.

The Chiefs to their dynastic peers in the Super Bowl era. All the relevant boxes are checked. Kansas City, like New England, has won big in the free-agency era, which complicates keeping great teams together.

For now, the Chiefs are the first team to win back-to-back Super Bowls since the 2003-04 Patriots.

If they become the first team to win three in a row, they’ll match those 1970s Steelers with four Super Bowl victories in a six-season span, leaving only the 1980s 49ers and post-2000 Patriots left to conquer.

That will take time, maybe some luck.

Mahomes did it again on the biggest stage. Just think how many Super Bowls the Chiefs will win once they get Mahomes a little more help on offense. They’ve already given him a young defense that ranked among the NFL’s top five in EPA (Expected Points Added) per play this season.

Red, yellow and white confetti falling at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas was the confirmation of their coronation. Once again, the Chiefs experienced the feeling only one team achieves in an NFL season, accomplishing a daunting objective that leads to an exhilarating sensation.

To quote Ric Flair,”Whether you like it or not, learn to love it, because it’s the best thing going. Wooooo!”

Top Chiefs

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The 2023 NFL season officially has ended.

The Kansas City Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers 25 – 22 to win Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas. The Chiefs have repeated as world champions, which has not happened since the 2003-04 New England Patriots.

This is the third Super Bowl win for head coach Andy Reid and quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Reid coached the Philadelphia Eagles from 1999 – 2012 and he never won a Super Bowl with them. Now that he has an elite QB, he cannot be stopped.

“This is awesome. This is legendary,” game MVP Mahomes said after the win.

Since they won two in a row, Mahomes answered the question of if they should be considered a dynasty now. “It’s the start of one. We aren’t done,” the now three-time Super Bowl champion quarterback said.

Mahomes threw for 333 yards, 2 touchdowns, I interception and rushed for 66 yards on 9 carries.

San Francisco was a more talented team but they faced the best quarterback in the game.

Brock Purdy was the last pick in the 2022 NFL Draft (262nd overall), making him Mr. Irrelevant. He has far outperformed what anyone could have expected from him. He will have to live with questions about his talent this offseason.

Purdy had 255 passing yards, 1 TD and 12 yards rushing on 3 carries.

NFL Offensive Player of the Year and First-team All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey was the focal point of the offense. He rushed for 80 yards on 22 carries, which is only 3.6 yards per carry. He also lost a fumble in the first half. He led the team in receiving with 8 catches, 80 yards and a score.

KC was down 10 – 0 in the second quarter before they kicked a field goal before halftime.

Pro Bowl tight end Travis Kelce only had 1 catch for 1 yard at halftime. He finished the game with 9 receptions and 93 yards so they started getting the ball to him in the second half.

He’s best known this season for dating pop star Taylor Swift, who was in attendance.

“Vivaaaaaaaaaaaa, Vivaaaaaaaa, Las Vegasssssssssssssss!!” a hoarse Kelce, Lombardi Trophy in hand, scream-sang into the microphone as CBS’ Jim Nantz interviewed him on stage.

San Fran head coach Kyle Shanahan has the unique distinction of coaching in both of the Super Bowl games that went into overtime. He was the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI, when they blew the infamous 28 – 3 second half lead. This is also his second Super Bowl loss to Kansas City as the coach of the 49ers.

The 49ers have several playmakers on offense but they did not get the ball to them. Deebo Samuel had 11 targets but only had 3 catches for 33 yards. He also had 3 carries for 8 rushing yards. Tight end George Kittle had 2 catches for 4 yards. Brandon Aiyuk had 3 receptions and 49 yards.

In overtime, both teams get one possession in the playoffs. Several 49ers players said they were not aware of this after the game. They won the coin toss and decided to receive the ball first. They kicked a field goal to take a 22 – 19 lead.

Mecole Hardman caught a three-yard TD to win the game.

“I knew I was going to get the ball, caught the football, and I blacked out,” said Hardman after the game. “I’m not going to lie, I blacked out. I (saw) Pat running towards me, and I’m thinking, ‘We just won.’ I understand now and after that.”

The Franchise

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The 2024 quarterback class may be the deepest in years at the position.

There is the potential to have as many as six QB’s selected in the first round when April rolls around. Let us look at the top 6 QB’s in the draft:

Caleb Williams, USC: Regarded as the best QB prospect in years, all signs point to Williams being selected by the Chicago Bears with the first overall selection in the draft.

Williams, a former Heisman winner, has the arm and mobility to be a franchise QB in Chicago.

The Bears will part ways with Justin Fields and hopefully learned a valuable lesson about putting pieces around a young QB so he can be successful. Atlanta Falcons are you paying close attention to this situation?

Drake Maye, North Carolina: Expect a run on QB’s with the first few selections, and now the beauty contest begins.

With the third overall pick in the first round the New England Patriots select the big bodied, big armed prototypical QB that fits right into the Patriot way.

Mac Jones will be cast off to greener pastures and Maye will lead a proud franchise for the next 12-15 years. Maye will have a distinguished career for the Patriots.

Jayden Daniels, LSU: The 2023 Heisman winner revives football in the nation’s capital.

The Commanders select Daniels with the second overall pick in the first round and Commanders begin the March back to being a playoff team in the NFC East.

Michael Penix Jr., Washington: Experts think Penix will drop into the second or third round, but his productivity cannot be questioned.

Could the Bucs at 26 or the Steelers at 20 take a shot at a productive player like Penix Jr.?

I can hear the so-called draft experts use every draft day buzz word phrase regarding this player. Penix could be a steal for someone. I predict the Raiders will take the QB with the 44th overall selection in the second round.

Bo Nix, Oregon: Bo Nix is quietly rising up draft boards. I now fully expect Bo Nix to be drafted by the Denver Broncos with the 12th selection to be the replacement for Russell Wilson, who will get traded before the 2024 draft.

Sean Payton will have his QB moving forward to turn Denver into a Super Bowl contender.

J.J. McCarthy, Michigan: Jim Harbaugh thinks his national title winning QB should be one of the first QB’s off the board.

I will take it a step further as I think the Minnesota Vikings will draft McCarthy with the 11th pick in the first round to replace Kirk Cousins who will be somewhere else this fall.

McCarthy has the arm talent and mobility that the Vikings want moving forward.

Sleeper Selection: Spencer Rattler, South Carolina: I think Rattler could be on the biggest steals of this draft.

The QB was the only bright spot on a bad football team in 2023. Regardless of what the New York Giants say publicly about Daniel Jones they are not saying it privately.

The Giants take their QB of the future with pick seventy in the third round.

This 2024 QB class will go down as one of the greatest QB draft classes in history a decade from now.

 

Help Needed

By: Colin Lacy

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Just a couple of days after the 2023 Atlanta Falcons season came to a close in New Orleans, the change at the top was made with Arthur Smith out.

Earlier in the month Arthur Blank announced that Raheem Morris would be the new head ball coach in Atlanta.

As the fresh staff begins to roll into Flowery Branch, the biggest question is “How do the Falcons answer some key questions in the NFL Draft?”

The NFL will flock to Detroit on April 25th through 27th for the 89th annual First Year Player Draft, and the 8th name that will be read by Commissioner Roger Goodell will be the newest Atlanta Falcon.

With the 8th pick in the first round, most Falcon fans are praying for a quarterback. Draft experts however aren’t convinced that there will be that first round QB talent available after the seven previous picks are made. So, what are the QB options available?

Most “experts” believe that former USC quarterback Caleb Williams will be the first signal caller to hear his name on draft night. It’s believed that Williams will be taken off the board by the Bears with the number one pick, or at the very latest, will be reunited with former USC coach Kliff Kingsbury in Washington (hired as Commanders OC) with the second pick.

Seems all but certain that Williams will not be on the board for the 8th selection.

The next couple of QB prospects have at least a possibility (some slight, but still possible) of being on the board when Atlanta is on the clock.

North Carolina Drake Maye was destined to be the unanimous first selection, but a up and down 2023 season with the Tar Heels has seen his stock dip just a touch.

Maye is undoubtably uber talented and looks the part at 6’3” 230 pounds. Maye’s combination of accuracy with the arm and ability to make plays on the ground has shown his proficiency at times to run a high-powered offense.

The third “high first round” option potentially available for the “Dirty Birds” is Jayden Daniels. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner may be the player that had his draft stock soar the most in 2023 leading the LSU Tigers.

To me, Daniels seems to be the most realistic and to me frankly seems to be the best fit with the Falcons organization.

Daniels turned into a “human highlight reel” for the Bayou Bengals throwing 40 touchdowns (rushing for 10 more) and only four interceptions on the year.

The biggest improvement (and one of the largest knocks on Daniels entering 2023) was the deep ball, but Daniels proved all the naysayers wrong launching numerous balls down field with impressive, improved accuracy.

There are a couple other QB options in this draft, that if in desperation could be on the board, but I don’t believe are top 10 picks.

A couple names that will be heard in the first two to three rounds will be JJ McCarthy from Michigan, Michael Penix Jr out of Washington, and Bo Nix from Oregon.

To me the Falcons first round selection turns into one question. Do we think either Williams, Maye or Daniels will be available when we hit the clock?

If the answer is yes, fantastic. I think the Falcons will have to make a trade to move up a couple of spots (maybe as few as two spots to the 6th pick). To me, Jayden Daniels should be the play, and a lot depends on if the Bears take a quarterback with the first pick. If so, Atlanta will have to move up to get the former LSU Fighting Tiger.

What are the other needs? What happens if all -you know what- breaks loose, and the three quarterbacks are gone?

The next biggest need for new Head Coach Raheem Morris is an edge rusher on the defensive front. Dallas Turner from Alabama would be a powerful addition to the Falcons organization and would help erase a question that has been near the top of the Atlanta faithful for a number of years.

Overall, the Falcons have the potential to be an up-and-coming team in the near future and I understand that the draft is a full weekend of multiple rounds and the Falcons have eight picks in the Draft, but Atlanta unequivocally needs a quarterback pronto and the draft would be a huge key in addressing the need!

A Different Bird?

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The Atlanta Falcons coaching search is over. They hired Raheem Morris to succeed Arthur Smith.

Smith was fired after the Falcons’ season finale in January.

“He was offered (the job),” Morris’ agent Brian Levy confirmed in a text after reports of the Morris hire. “He accepted.”

“I am overjoyed for the opportunity for my family and I to return to Atlanta as the Falcons head coach,” Morris said in a statement posted on the team’s website.

“We know from firsthand experience what a first-class organization Atlanta is and what this team means to its city and its fans. I am incredibly appreciative of Arthur Blank for his leadership and for this entire organization for putting its trust in me to help lead this team.”

Morris, 47, has extensive coaching experience in the NFL and in the NFC South.

He was the defensive backs coach for Tampa Bay in 2007-08. He became their head coach for 2009-11. In three seasons his record was 17-31. The Buccaneers were 10-6 in 2019 but they missed the playoffs. He also coached in Tampa from 2002-05 as an assistant defensive coach.

He was the defensive backs coach for Washington from 2012-14. He was named the assistant head coach & pass game coordinator for the Falcons in 2015. He was moved to wide receivers coach (2016-19), then defensive coordinator in 2020. Atlanta got off to a 0-5 start in 2020 and Dan Quinn was fired. Morris was promoted to interim head coach on October 12, 2020. They were 4-7 under Morris.

He has been the defensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams from 2021-23. The Rams won Super Bowl LVI on February 13, 2022.

Blank said something interesting earlier in January that still resonates as the coaching search came to an end.

“At the end of the day, I understand the final decision will be mine, but mine will be in collaboration with others,” Blank said Jan. 8. “Like I said initially, we’ve kind of begun the process if you will. It doesn’t take long to get going, so we’re moving.

“But I also want to be clear on this is that there is no timetable. The only timetable is to do this correctly, take our time, be thoughtful, do all of the interviews, be respectful, make sure we have a full diverse set of candidates that we’re considering in every way.”

I’m not sure what to make of this hire. Morris has proven that he’s a good defensive coach.

Atlanta needs to get a franchise quarterback as soon as possible. They have a good offensive line and several talented skill position players.

Some examples are running backs Bijan Robinson, Tyler Allgeier, tight end Kyle Pitts and wide receiver Drake London.

He will need to hire an offensive coordinator that will put the ball in their hands.

Up to this point General Manager Terry Fontenot has failed to address the quarterback position.

This will be the biggest hurdle to overcome for the team to have success. If Desmond Ridder is under center in September then Morris is destined to fail in his first year.

 

Navigating Rough Waters

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The undeniable sting of defeat engulfed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after their 31-23 loss to the Detroit Lions in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs.

It hung thick in the visitor’s locker room at Ford Field, where players dressed mostly in silence and exchanged hugs with one another and with coaches and other staffers on their way to the buses that would transport them to the airport for a long flight back south.

Moral victories garner nothing in the NFL, so the team members who spoke to the media didn’t hide their disappointment. They had failed in their quest for a Super Bowl victory, a goal they set for themselves back in the dog days of summer.

It was a goal they maintained all year, even amid a bleak 1-6 stretch at midseason, before a hot streak positioned them to finish 9-8 and the NFC South crown. Then they beat the Philadelphia Eagles 32-9 in the Wild Card round.

Real talk: The Buccaneers had no business playing in the divisional round of the playoffs. Not on paper, and definitely not based on how they looked on the field earlier this season.

Many concluded in the preseason that the Buccaneers caught in the awkward spot of rebuilding while trying to cling to a few pieces from their Super Bowl victory three years ago would be one of the worst teams in the league this year.

Quarterback Baker Mayfield might not have agreed with those preseason projections, but he understood them.

Once the former top-pick-turned-journeyman locked in on Bucs coach Todd Bowles’ vision, he shared the belief that he and his teammates were capable of far exceeding outside expectations.

So, the Buccaneers went to work, began building, overcame deficiencies and growing pains, steadily improved and transformed themselves into one of the NFL’s better teams.

Mayfield, signed to a one-year, $4 million contract in March, embraced the massive challenge of succeeding Tom Brady by turning in a career year (4,044 passing yards, 28 touchdowns, 10 interceptions and a 64.3 completion percentage). He served as the poster child for this team’s resolve.

This season, Bowles was the catalyst for Tampa Bay’s success. Bowles was much maligned because of a tenuous four seasons with the Jets and the Buccaneers’ 8-9 drop-off last year, Bowles was believed to be lame duck when Tampa Bay officials began preparing for this season.

Purging the roster of aging stars and their bloated salaries would force younger players into duty; often before they were ready. Bowles doubled down and believed growth and a competitive campaign were possible.

He made the tough call to overhaul his coaching staff, parting with some figures who played key roles in Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl win. And he entrusted the offense to two discounted figures: Mayfield and offensive coordinator Dave Canales.

Bowles, meanwhile, intensified his efforts as a defensive mastermind. He started his workdays an hour earlier than his first season as head coach and two hours earlier than his days as the defensive coordinator. That meant he was reporting to Bucs headquarters at 3:30 a.m. every day in 2023.

He didn’t, however, change his leadership style, and his stoic and patient approach was exactly what the team needed as it persevered through challenging times.

But players say there are other levels to Bowles’ personality and the way he connects and motivates.

Tampa Bay has 20 pending free agents, including Mayfield, wide receiver Mike Evans and defensive stars Devin White, Lavonte David, Antoine Winfield. But Bowles, who delivered the best coaching job of his career, firmly believes his team can mount another Super Bowl chase next season.

Time will tell.

Mr. Right?

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The Atlanta Falcons are still searching for a head coach to replace Arthur Smith.

It looks like Bill Belichick is the front runner for the position. He is the only candidate so far that has had two interviews with them.

I’m not sure if Atlanta has any other clear plans because they have had so many interviews with other candidates.

The Falcons have interviewed Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh and he is scheduled for a second interview. I think this is the best available coach but he is the front-runner for the Chargers opening. That job is more attractive because they already have a franchise quarterback.

The Falcons have completed interviews with the following coaches: Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald, Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan, 49ers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, Panthers defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero, Ravens assistant head coach/defensive line coach Anthony Weaver, former Patriots coach Bill Belichick (first and second interviews), Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, Eagles offensive coordinator Brian Johnson, Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris, Bills interim offensive coordinator/quarterbacks Joe Brady, Texans offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik and Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson.

On paper Belichick seems like a great fit for the job. He won six Super Bowls with New England and two more as the defensive coordinator of the New York Giants. As we know, Tom Brady was his quarterback for the Patriots during that time.

After Brady left New England in 2020, New England had a losing record in 3 of those 4 seasons without him. This past season they were 4-13. They drafted quarterback Mac Jones in the first round of the 2021 draft and they have not been able to help him develop.

This should be looked at because Atlanta might draft a QB in the first round.

It has also been reported that Falcons owner Arthur Blank wants to hire Belichick but

“The Atlanta thing, there’s a lot of buzz going around right now about the Atlanta job, that the executives are there are trying — and I’ve heard this, I’m telling you from so many different people — basically Arthur Blank wants to hire Bill Belichick, and all the front office people in Atlanta don’t want to hire Belichick because it’s like any big company — sport franchises are like microcosms of all big companies,” Bill Simmons said on his podcast.

“You bring in Belichick — you think Belichick’s going to listen to like [John] McKay’s kid … or [general manager Terry] Fontenot. He’s going to be like, ‘I’m going to do my own thing.’ “

I think the best remaining candidates are Slowik and Ben Johnson.

Slowik, 36, is credited with getting rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud ready to play in the NFL this season. Stroud, who was taken with the second overall pick in the draft, helped lead the Texans to the AFC South title. After blowing out the Browns in the wild card round, the Texans lost 34-10 to the Ravens on Saturday.

Johnson, 37, was a walk-on quarterback at North Carolina. He’s been Detroit’s offensive coordinator for the past two seasons. The Lions were ranked third in total offense at 394.8 yards per game, second in passing (258.9) and fifth in rushing (135.9 per game) and fifth in points scored (27.1).

The Collapse

By: Jeff Doke

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

I’ll be honest; this is not the time of year I expected to be doing a Jacksonville Jaguars “year in review” article. In previous years, sure. Perfect timing.

But after last year’s record-setting come-from-behind playoff win over the Chargers, followed by the closer-than-most-people-expected loss to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Chiefs, I honestly expected to be doing this in late January, maybe -if we dared to dream- mid-February. That’s the kind of expectations Jag Nation had coming into the 2023 season.

Those dreams were still within reach late in the season. After 11 games, the boys in teal were 8-3 overall and in first place in the AFC South with a 4-1 divisional record. Looking pretty strong.

That’s when the wheels came off.

Going into their first Monday Night Football game since 2011, the Jags were ready to fly high. Instead, the inevitable Duval crash occurred.

The Bengals, a week removed from losing superstar QB Joe Burrow for the season, beat Jacksonville 34-30 in overtime. Worse still was the ankle injury suffered by QB Trevor Lawrence that would arguably hinder his performance for the rest of the season.

This would be the first of four straight losses. Defeats at the hands of the Browns, Ravens, and Buccaneers not only had fans questioning their team’s playoff readiness but left the Jags on the brink of missing the playoffs.

The 27-0 thrashing of the hapless Panthers was satisfying, but the final week playoff-denying loss to the hated Tennessee Titans was a true gut punch to the Duval faithful. Almost but not quite as bad as 1999.

With the postseason suddenly no longer on the agenda, GM Trent Baalke wasted no time in firing Defensive Coordinator Mike Caldwell and his entire staff.

This was an understandable move, considering the defense allowed 28 or more points in four of the five stretch-run losses, wrapping up the season.

On top of the late-season collapse, the end-of-season stats didn’t do Caldwell any favors either. Defensively, the Jags came in 22nd in the league in Total Defense, 26th in yards allowed, 25th in scoring, and 17th in points allowed. Not playoff-worthy numbers, much less for a team that had Lombardi aspirations to start the year.

The defense, although aptly receiving most of the blame, are not by themselves. Trevor Lawrence made some big strides over last season, throwing for 4,000 yards and 21 touchdowns. Unfortunately, he also threw 14 interceptions – nine of which came in his last 5 games, and quite often while playing from behind.

His high ankle sprain and an additional shoulder injury down the stretch were more than likely contributors to that troubling stat.

Calvin Ridley in his first year back from a gambling suspension made his first season with the Jaguars a fairly productive one. He hauled in 8 TDs on 76 receptions and a little over 1,000 yards. Shy of what most were expecting, but nothing to sneeze at either.

TE Evan Engram, although limited to only 4 trips to the end zone, had a massive year with 114 catches and less than 40 yards from a 1,000 season.

Starting RB Travis Etienne was another bright spot, cracking the thousand-yard mark on the final week of the season, adding another 400+ in the passing game.

Offseason concerns include replacing the defensive coaching staff primarily and upgrading the offensive line to cut down on the ridiculous 35 sacks allowed this year.

And, of course, anything to make Trevor’s life (and ours) easier.

Help Wanted

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The NFL regular season is over and we are going into the second round of the playoffs.

Several coaches have been fired or resigned to create coaching vacancies.

Let’s take a look around the league and see what franchises need a new coach and which is the best job.

Los Angeles Chargers: On paper this team should be able to at least advance to the second round of the playoffs. They have a franchise quarterback in Justin Herbert but he does have injury issues. They also have Joey Bosa, Keenan Allen, Derwin James, Austin Ekeler, Khalil Mack and Mike Williams.

They did make it to the playoffs in 2022. They played Jacksonville in the Wild Card round and had a 27-0 lead before the Jaguars came back to win. That seemed to linger into this season and they were 5-9 before coach Brandon Staley was fired on December 15. I think this is the best landing spot for a coach that can make a quick turnaround.

Carolina: They fired first year head coach Frank Reich in November after a 1-10 start.

The Panthers have rookie quarterback Bryce Young. Young’s 5.5 yards per pass attempt in 2023 ranked as the fourth-worst in NFL history with a minimum of 500 pass attempts. He also ranked last in the NFL in passer rating (73.7).

Carolina finished the season with the league’s worst record, 2-15, and the league’s worst scoring offense with 13.9 points per game.

Carolina has had four head coaches in their first 23 seasons. Under owner David Tepper they have had 6 different head coaches in 6 seasons. This franchise is a dumpster fire. This is the worst opening so it will be an uphill battle for whoever takes this position.

Las Vegas: They fired Mike McDaniels on Halloween after starting 3-5. He was 9-16 in his two seasons in Vegas.

The Raiders went 5-4 under interim head coach Antonio Pierce and finished the season 8-9. They allowed 15.9 points per game from week 9-18, which was the fewest in the NFL.

They have some good players on both sides of the ball like All-Pro receiver Davante Adams, Pro Bowl defensive end Maxx Crosby and running back Josh Jacobs. They need a quarterback though.

Tennessee: Mike Vrabel is gone after 6 seasons in Nashville and a 54-45 record. He had four winning seasons and three playoff appearances. They were 13-21 in the last two seasons.

They traded away star receiver AJ Brown to Philadelphia during the 2022 NFL Draft. I think the GM should be held more accountable for their questionable roster moves than the head coach.

I don’t think running back Derrick Henry will return for the 2024 season. They also have issues at quarterback. They did draft Will Levis in the second round of the 2023 draft and he was 3-6 in his 9 starts.

Atlanta: Arthur Smith was fired after three 7-10 seasons. The offense has tight end Kyle Pitts, receiver Drake London and running back Bijan Robinson.

Smith was resistant to featuring them but they are very talented players. They also need a dependable quarterback.

The Falcons averaged 19.6 ppg, which was the ninth-worst scoring offense.

Washington: Ron Rivera was fired after going 4-13 in 2023. They have the No. 2 pick in the draft so they should get a franchise QB.

Seattle: Pete Carroll has moved to an advisor role after 14 years coaching the Seahawks. They were 9-8 this season and they have a solid team.

Same Old Story

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The 2023 NFL regular season has concluded. The Atlanta Falcons had an outside chance at making the playoffs if they beat New Orleans and if Tampa Bay lost in the last weekend of the season. They lost to the Saints, 48 – 17.

It’s never fun to get blown out by your archrival, but the ending of this game was talked about. The Saints put in backup quarterback Jameis Winston and they were supposed to take a knee to run the clock out. They were lined up in “victory formation” but Winston handed the ball off to Jamaal Williams for a 1-yard touchdown with 1:10 left in the game.

Saints head coach Dennis Allen says he had nothing to do with that and he tried to apologize to Smith after the game.

“They did that on their own. That’s not acceptable,” Allen said, adding that Smith “should be” upset about it.

“The score was already 41-17, so I don’t know how much worse it can get, but I got a ton of respect for Arthur Smith and the coach that he is,” Winston said. “I didn’t want to disrespect (Smith). That was not my intention. My intention was to lead the team that I’ve been with the entire year and we made a collective decision that we wanted to get one of our guys that they fight with — blood, sweat and tears, every game — in the end zone. I’m going to feel good about that.”

Falcons head coach Arthur Smith was fired a few hours after the game. Atlanta lost four of five games to end the season.

Smith coached the Falcons for three seasons and had the same record every year, 7 – 10. An interesting fact about him; his father is FedEx founder Fred Smith.

Firing him was the right move but Atlanta should have also fired general manager Terry Fontenot in my opinion. He was also hired in January 2021 with Smith and he is largely responsible with putting the roster together.

The Falcons desperately need a quarterback and so far, Fontenot has failed to address that. I think if they had a serviceable quarterback, they would have won two more games this season.

“Decisions like this are never easy and they never feel good,” Falcons owner Arthur Blank said in a statement released at 12:03 a.m. Monday. “We have profound respect for coach Smith and appreciate all the hard work and dedication he has put into the Falcons over the last three years. He has been part of building a good culture in our football team, but the results on the field have not met our expectations. After significant thought and reflection, we have determined the best way forward for our team is new leadership in the head coaching position.”

It is very early so we do not know who the new head coach will be. Blank and Chief Executive Officer Rich McKay will lead the search for Smith’s replacement.

Fontenot will provide input along with other members of the Falcons and AMB Sports and Entertainment organizations.

The 2024 draft order is set for the teams that did not make the playoffs and Atlanta has the eighth overall pick. They desperately need a quarterback but I think they are picking too late to get a franchise QB. We will see if they trade up or try to acquire a veteran.

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