It's New Years Eve and the last blog post of the year 2013. Unfortunately the year is not ending great for certain teams or NFL head coaches who lost their jobs yesterday. The Stack is here with reaction to it all so let's get right to it and see what made "the stack" for today, Tuesday, December 31:
NFL Black Monday strikes
Houston already had a jump on this unfestive day firing Gary Kubiak earlier in the season so we knew that there was one opening. As we write this today, there are a total of six head coach openings in the NFL. Here are the five that happened after the season ended:
Out: Rob Chudzinski
Reaction: This was absolutely surprising. A Cleveland guy, loyal to the Browns since he was a kid and who previously had a couple of stints working for the team, fired after one 4-12 season. Cleveland is a mess, plain and simple. Browns players were sounding off about this. Fans are upset. How can you have stability when you continue to undermine that by firing people after one season in which the quarterback situation was less than to be desirable. Because this is a new ownership regime, perhaps we can give them a little slack, but the reality is, it's the same old Browns.
Out: Leslie Frazier
Reaction: Thought Frazier kind of got a raw deal. The team didn't quit on him this season and they enjoyed playing for him. He is a Tony Dungy disciple and last I checked, Dungy did great things turning around Tampa Bay and won a Super Bowl in Indianapolis. The quarterback situation was a disaster in Minnesota this year. If Frazier was making the choice to start Christian Ponder because "he gives us the best chance to win," then yes Frazier had to go. If he didn't and upper management made the decision which I think was what was happening, then no, Frazier shouldn't have been fired. At least this means that Cover 2 will be done in Minnesota.
Out: Mike Shanahan
Reaction: Not surprising in the least. The fricition was there right from the start once RGIII got injured. Truth be told, what did Shanahan do in Washington that was so great? Pretty much nothing. Washington has work to do, but money to do it so the job looks pretty good. Still it was time for Shanahan to go.
Out: Jim Schwartz
Reaction: Had to be done. This year was the year for the Lions to win the NFC North. Every other team in the division had quarterback issues and the Lions failed to win the division given their talented roster. Discipline was a huge issue and that starts with the head coach. Get a disciplined head coach in there, and the Lions can do some damage.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Out: Greg Schiano
Reaction: A little surprising. Fans have wanted Schiano to go pretty much since the start of this season. After the Bucs won four of five games in the middle of the season following their 0-8 start, thought that Schiano bought himself another year. Given the roster, the team shouldn't have started 0-8. Schiano is probably better suited for the college game.
From the outside looking in, Detroit looks like the best job given the roster. More discipline and fewer interceptions from Matthew Stafford will lead to big things in Detroit. Here's how I would rank the six head coaching openings.
3. Tampa Bay
Will be interesting to see how this all plays out. We'll be here with who gets hired when news comes along.
NFL Week 17 Power Rankings
1. Seattle Seahawks 13-3
Playing in Seattle is going to be tough for any opposing team in the playoffs. Seahawks offense needs to be a little more consistent.
2. Denver Broncos 13-3
Peyton Manning's stats from Sunday at Oakland...4 touchdowns, 3 incompletions. Do that in the playoffs, and the Broncos will be in New York for the Super Bowl...and playing no less.
3. Carolina Panthers 12-4
A great defense and a quarterback making smart plays (Cam Newton). The Panthers are a team that could make a deep run in the playoffs.
4. San Francisco 49ers 12-4
The 49ers really seem to be playing some of their best football right now. Running game is getting going.
5. New England Patriots 11-5
The Patriots may have won the AFC East again, but this is not the same team we're used to seeing play in January. Could see them losing their first game.
6. Cincinnati Bengals 11-5
The Bengals won't get past wild card weekend if Andy Dalton throws four interceptions in a game like he did Sunday against Baltimore.
7. Green Bay Packers 8-7-1
Looking for a sneaky pick to reach the Super Bowl? Look no further than Green Bay...and it is all because of Aaron Rodgers.
8. New Orleans Saints 11-5
Alright Drew Brees. Let's see you throw five touchdowns in the cold at Philadelphia.
9. Indianapolis Colts 11-5
These last two weeks should help restore faith in the Colts for fans and others. Big test against Kansas City.
10. Kansas City Chiefs 11-5
Chiefs showed a lot of grit in their loss to the Chargers. First team players can get fully healthy now with a date at Indianapolis set. Defense must play like they did in the first half of the season for the team to make a run.
11. Philadelphia Eagles 10-6
Not sure how I'd feel about the Eagles after they barely squeeked by the Cowboys starting their second string quarterback. They'll need all points possible with Brees and the Saints coming to town.
12. San Diego Chargers 9-7
Chargers are lucky to make the playoffs. Hope they sent Bill Leavy a gift for missing that call at the end of regulation.
13. Arizona Cardinals 10-6
Foundation has been set for a big run at the NFC West next year. Don't be surprised when the Cardinals win the division.
14. Chicago Bears 8-8
Kind of a crapshoot here on out with the rest of these teams. Chicago has a good offense. Not a great defense. They were close to the NFC North title. Chicago will be good next year.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers 8-8
Amazing how this team had a chance at the playoffs given their start. Testament to Mike Tomlin for keeping this team together.
16. Dallas Cowboys 8-8
"America's Average Team" deserves an average spot in the power rankings.
17. Baltimore Ravens 8-8
No repeat Super Bowl for the Ravens. Look for them to restock some talent in the offseason.
18. New York Jets 8-8
Rex Ryan deserves coach of the year votes. Didn't think the Jets would win more than four games. Doubling that?!! Impressive.
19. Miami Dolphins 8-8
Dolphins had everything on the line Sunday and didn't get the job done. Disappointing season in Miami given all of their big free agents they signed in the offseason.
20. St. Louis Rams 7-9
The Rams have a pretty good defense. If Sam Bradford stays healthy and they add a few more weapons on offense, the Rams will be gunning for the NFC West next year.
21. Detroit Lions 7-9
Lions are an attractive team with lots of talent, but no discipline. Probably the best head coaching opening out there.
22. New York Giants 7-9
Given how bad the Giants were this year and how many interceptions Eli Manning threw, 7-9 is better than I thought the Giants would finish.
23. Tennessee Titans 7-9
If the Titans don't re-sign Chris Johnson, they essentially have nothing on offense. This team has a long ways to go.
24. Buffalo Bills 6-10
E.J. Manuel needs to stay healthy for the Bills to know if they have a legit franchise quarterback.
25. Minnesota Vikings 5-10-1
Vikings fought hard for head coach Leslie Frazier. They need to do a lot in the offseason with the defense and finding a quarterback to compete once again.
26. Atlanta Falcons 4-12
Falcons never packed up and quit on the season. Injuries certainly derailed their season. They'll be back next year.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 4-12
Given the talent on this team, 4-12 shouldn't happen. Whoever gets the job is coming into a great position.
28. Jacksonville Jaguars 4-12
The 2014 opening day quarterback isn't on this roster. Just saying.
29. Cleveland Browns 4-12
This team is a mess, but with plenty of money to spend in the offseason and two first round draft picks, Cleveland could turn around quickly. Key word: could.
30. Washington Redskins 3-13
Mike Shanahan had to go. RGIII's confidence needs to be rebuilt and then Washington will return to competitive football.
31. Oakland Raiders 4-12
Look for the Raiders to spend some money this offseason to provide a significant upgrade in talent to this roster.
32. Houston Texans 2-14
Fourteen straight losses to finish the year. Thanks to two comeback victories to start the year, the Texans could have been 0-16.
College bowl picks
Advocare V100 Bowl 12:30 PM ET ESPN (Shreveport, LA)
Arizona vs. Boston College
Why?: I want to take BC because of running back Andre Williams and recently switched picks. Just not sure outside of Williams, that BC has much to beat Arizona.
Hyundai Sun Bowl 2 PM ET CBS (El Paso, TX)
Virginia Tech vs. #15 UCLA
Pick: Virginia Tech
Why?: I know I'm on the outside with this prediction. Brett Hundley is a very good quarterback and Virginia Tech's defense is going to have its hands full, but the Va Tech defense is very good. I think they can slow down Hundley and Logan Thomas can put the Hokies in position to score some points.
AutoZone Liberty Bowl 4 PM ET ESPN (Memphis, TN)
Rice vs. Mississippi State
Why?: Rice has been sneaky good team this year. They won Conference USA. However, it will be like a road atmosphere since Mississippi State's campus is so close to Memphis. Still, I think Rice is more talented and will be able to get the win.
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl 8 PM ET ESPN (Atlanta, GA)
#24 Duke vs. #21 Texas A&M
Pick: Texas A&M
Why?: A&M has Johnny Manziel and Duke doesn't.
Coming up New Years Day (at some point): New Year's Day bowl game predictions and more.
Thanks for a great 2013. See you in 2014! Happy New Year!