It’s a bit of a (burdensome) tradition. Not only was there a Super Bowl but Super Bowl week tends to be the busiest in terms of football news. So here are 20 thoughts at the end of the 2020 season.
1. Give Tom Brady all of the credit.
I did not think that the guy whose skills truly seemed to be eroding last season was capable of playing this well and pulling this off. I was wrong. That’s very surprising, of course, because I’m almost never wrong about anything at all. Brady was great in the Super Bowl and survived his worst moments of the season.
Does winning a seventh Super Bowl make him the “GOAT?” Yes. But also no. Look, there’s never going to be a definitive correct answer to these types of things. Few would argue Brady the most talented quarterback of all time but the results are staggering. We’ll probably acquiesce around Brady for a little while until someone else makes the conversation interesting again.
2. But don’t give Tom Brady all of the credit.
As in, Tom Brady wasn’t the singular (or maybe even most significant) reason the Buccaneers are Super Bowl champions. Their defense was phenomenal. Their defensive front was exceptional throughout the postseason. Leonard Fournette was tremendous as well. Bruce Arians and his staff were spectacular.
Brady deserves the attention. But so do a lot of others.
3. This is going to sound crazy but I’m not sure we talk about Gronk enough.
Right, so obviously we talk plenty about Rob Gronkowski the person, but do we actually talk about Rob Gronkowski the football player as much as he deserves? He’s one of the most significant offensive weapons in the history of the sport. His rise coincided with Brady’s evolution as a player. He was an absolute afterthought this season but ended up making his 13th and 14th career playoff touchdown catches in the Super Bowl.
4. Don’t overreact to the Chiefs. You’re smarter than that.
The Chiefs weren’t playing without Eric Fisher. They were playing without FOUR offensive linemen. It’s the story of a game that never was. They’re no less dangerous next season than they were two weeks ago. We’re idiots for not recognizing it (well, at least I am) coming into the game. They’re the favorites to win the Super Bowl next year and will be every year until something changes that.
5. But that doesn’t guarantee they win three more Super Bowls, either.
They’re the best team and they linger over the rest of the league. But things still happen. Sometimes you have four offensive linemen get hurt. Last year Patrick Mahomes got hurt and they were fortunate it only hurt them so much. Andy Reid’s future is probably at least slightly uncertain. The Chiefs are the 800-pound gorilla, but that guarantees nothing.
6. Cheers to The (freakin’) Weeknd.
It was really tough to do an “iconic” Super Bowl halftime show in the midst of a pandemic. Elaborate on-field scenes weren’t an option. It required someone who could just sing and perform. He did that. It won’t be remembered among the best ever, but it was very good. I’ll predict Ariana Grande for the gig next year. I’d love some sort of bold Alicia Keys/H.E.R./Brittany Howard combination effort.
7. The answers are Beavis & Butthead and the Oatly guy. Respect my decision.
The “Beavis and Butt-Head” thing was just so perfect. It’s not forced, nonsensical nostalgia for nostalgia’s sake. They were actually advertising where you could watch old “Beavis and Butt-Head” episodes! That was effective! And I had never heard of Oatly before their terrible commercial. I’m terrified that it was unironically terrible but it was effective nonetheless.
8. The Hall of Fame didn’t get the class wrong but to be fair, it was nearly impossible to.
This group of finalists was so overwhelmingly loaded that there was really almost no possible way to get it wrong. I feel like past voters might have penalized Calvin Johnson (the most talented receiver of all time) for a shorter career for whatever stupid reason. This group didn’t do that. But even if it had, there were so many deserving candidates that it still might not have actually gotten anything wrong at all.
9. Ravens fans are back in the Hall of Fame conversation next year.
Three former Ravens (Steve Smith Sr., Anquan Boldin and technically Devin Hester) are among the first year eligibles for Canton next year along with Andre Johnson, Vince Wilfork, Robert Mathis and DeMarcus Ware. There’s no Peyton Manning or Charles Woodson in the class but a lot of strong arguments. Plus, Torry Holt, Reggie Wayne, Ricard Seymour, Ronde Barber, Jared Allen and Tony Boselli remain holdovers AND Patrick Willis didn’t even make the finalist cut this year.
(Quick reminder that Boldin is more deserving than Smith. Smith just got a lot more attention.)
10. It’s actually OK that Aaron Donald won Defensive Player of the Year because he’s the best defensive player there is.
I don’t really think I need to follow up on that any more.
11. A bigger cap helps the Ravens! But it helps everyone else, too!
According to Adam Schefter, next year’s cap won’t be as low as the $175 million that some had feared but instead in the neighborhood of $180 million. That’s good for the Ravens as they aren’t quite as flush as they’d like to be. But before you get your hopes up that the additional money could help land an Allen Robinson or (Super Bowl champion) Chris Godwin, a reminder that all of the other teams have more money and also want good football players, too. It’s quite the novel concept.
12. A bigger cap probably won’t solve the Orlando Brown problem, though.
It appears clear that Brown wants out of Baltimore so he can play left tackle. Considering how well he played at the position this year, that’s not surprising. None of this means the Ravens HAVE to trade him necessarily. He could threaten to hold out and if he doesn’t want to be here, so it might behoove Eric DeCosta to make the best deal he can. But he could also hold on to Brown as part of an “all-in” strategy to try to win a Super Bowl next season then let the chips fall from there. It just seems as though there will be no scenario in which Brown joins Ronnie Stanley in sticking around long term.
13. While we’ll be talking most about receivers and edge rushers and centers, tight end should be a priority as well.
Nick Boyle told Glenn Clark Radio Feb. 5 that he’s targeting Week 1 of the 2021 season to return from multiple injuries to his left leg. That sounds promising but is not a guarantee, and this was a team that was hurt by not being able to go into their THREE tight end sets as much in 2020 even before Boyle’s injury. This is a position of need still.
14. Let’s not pretend hiring coaches with specific titles changes everything about the offense suddenly
On paper, bringing in a “pass game specialist” (Keith Williams) and another offensive assistant (new wide receivers coach Tee Martin) either directly from or not far removed from the college game seems like a very good thing! But let’s not pretend like a Greg Roman offense won’t still likely be a Greg Roman offense or that any one new coaching concept suddenly makes the Ravens the best aerial attack in the NFL.
15. There’s no story I understand less than the “Ed Reed wants to be a coordinator/head coach” story.
To be clear, I’m not knocking Ed Reed for wanting to be a head coach or a coordinator instead of a position coach. Who WANTS to be a position coach? But there’s no real controversy here. In basketball, being a great player can qualify you for top coaching jobs without necessarily working your way up the ladder. The NFL hasn’t done the same with great players. Mike Singletary had to be a position coach. Ed Reed isn’t being treated unfairly.
That doesn’t mean Reed might not be a great fit for a team as a coordinator (or head coach?) if it was to take the chance. Just that I don’t really understand why there’s this much conversation about it.
16. But there are actual hiring issues to discuss in the NFL and we should keep discussing them.
And yeah, Buccaneers coordinators Byron Leftwich and Todd Bowles are pretty strong examples of that.
17. Trading a first-round pick for Carson Wentz would be a choice
Some Philadelphia reporters tossed around the idea of a trade that would send Wentz to Chicago for a package including a first-round pick. There was a time when this might seem brilliant. Perhaps Carson Wentz as a reclamation project is still a far better option than what the Bears have but … man. This seems like it would be a win for the Eagles.
18. It’s not just that I don’t understand Deshaun Watson being interested in the Jets. It’s that I don’t understand him being interested in the AFC.
If Drew Brees announces his retirement this week I’d be trying to FORCE my way to New Orleans. But more than that, I’d rather be in the conference where the “very good young quarterbacks” crop is “Kyler Murray” than “Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield, Justin Herbert, Tua Tagovailoa and Joe Burrow,” myself.
19. The football broadcaster carousel could be just as intriguing as the football quarterback carousel.
Jim Nantz wants “Tony Romo money” from CBS. CBS just so happens to have two play-by-play voices that are just as good (if not, perhaps, even better?) in Ian Eagle and Kevin Harlan. ESPN is reportedly interested in Nantz for an expanded NFL package, and he could potentially continue his pursuit of calling 50 Masters even if he departs for Disney. They’re also apparently interested in Philip Rivers, whose weird trash talk might be a sign he could be an interesting analyst?
This will probably all end in rather boring fashion, but I’m far more fascinated by it than I am Sam Darnold’s future.
20. I have to imagine this is the last _ thoughts at the end of the __ season I do unless I live to the age of 118.
Or did I say that last year? Ah hell. I miss you already, football.