Dan's Season 2013-14

Here at Gridiron Gentlemen HQ we have decided to dedicate this week to being a review of the season. Having been going for less than a year, it feels like we’ve all learnt a lot and we thought now would be a good time to reflect on a year that had more than its fair share of snow, a double header in London and more than enough Dog riding Monkeys.

I have been an NFL fan for as long as I can remember. But this was the first year and said. I’m going to watch every game. So every Monday/ Tuesday, I would sit down and watch every single game, sometimes on condensed feed, but still I watched every single snap. I would then use this to write a not-so condensed review on each game and post it to the site.

This was amazing, just from watching all of these games from the sport I’ve loved for since I was a child, I learnt so much and was able to express it in a way I’ve never been able to. But it gives me the ultimate opportunity to chime in and write about some of the things I’ve noticed this season.

Year of the QB…nope Year of the, erm Team?

If there is one thing we heard over and over this season it’s that “Defences win Championships”, which whilst being true, is really not the whole story. Really what we took away from this year is that to compete at a high level, you have to have a complete team in all phases. The Seahawks were great on Defence, great on Special Teams and great on Offence. That’s why they won the Superbowl.

It feels that you can’t just throw an elite QB into the mix and expect to win a Superbowl. You can’t just rely on Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees to get you to the big game, no it’s the complete teams that are making the splash, who have improved in every phase. For me, next year look out for the Bengals, Chiefs, Eagles and possibly the Colts. The latter there, if they can get it together could be Superbowl Champions.

Even within each phase to make a splash a team has to be good in each area. No longer could the Packers cost along without a weak run game for example. Every area of every phase, contributes to complete team effort. At the same time, you can’t do it with a weak QB. A proved by the Bengals this year, but he doesn’t have to be elite to make be successful.

My Predictions…

Every year I have prided myself on being able to make pretty spot on predictions. This year I didn’t do so well. In fact if I predicted a team to win, more often than not they would lose. When did it start you say? OK so let’s start with my Superbowl prediction of… What for it… New England Patriots vs. Dallas Cowboys. Yup, that is a prediction that has been the butt of many jokes amongst the Gentlemen and really rightly so. I could explain my logic, which I to a certain extent stand by, but at some point I have to bite the bullet and say I was totally wrong!

The bad predictions carried on though. “The Seahawks will never make it”, yup I said that. I thought the Chiefs would never make it past one game in the Playoffs at the start of the season. Then I saw a totally different Alex Smith and thought they’d win at least one. It was at this point they then went and lost…sorry Chiefs fans I jinxed them.

But my boldest prediction was that the Cleveland Browns would make the Play offs. Sounds crazy right? Hear me out. A) I thought that Defence was unstoppable and with the right coaching I still think they could be. B) The AFC North was the weakest it had looked, ok so aside from the Bengals proving they are stacked in all areas, the AFC North looked like it had taken a real hit in terms of talent, I thought this would be the Browns best chance at making it to the Playoffs. C) I had complete faith in Norv Turner and Brandon Weedon. Yup you don’t need to tell me. Of this I don’t think they’re far off. (Ok they are currently no. 32 in my power rankings, but hear me out). They do have 15 draft picks this year, to improve a team that doesn’t have many holes, but the ones they do have are glaring. New Coaching could help.  I don’t have the greatest faith in Kyle Shanahan, but I don in Pettine. I think that Defence will shine under him, my main concern about them however is that the Front Office are not showing a great deal of patience after getting rid of Chudzinski after only one season and I just hope they give him a chance to work some magic with that team.

The Mobile QB is King?

I disagree with this. Whilst a degree of mobility could be useful, you have to say that this is the first year where it really is just whatever fits your team best. The Seahawks didn’t put together a team to work around Russell Wilson. They brought in a QB that fits into their team. The sooner teams like Washington realise this, the sooner they start making waves in that Division. Anyone that has spent a ridiculous amount of money on a QB could be in trouble too; I’m looking your way Chicago, Atlanta, Baltimore. There is just not enough cap space to do that and expect to have enough depth to make a playoff run. Where mobile QB’s shine is in youth, ability to make a play without knowing the team that well. Also you can get the most out of their rookie contract from them, from being able to just plug them into the team.

Is there room for players like Manning & Brady? Absolutely, but their like Unicorns in how rare they are and take a couple of years to get up to speed. Andrew Luck is a player who will shine and I believe could be every bit as good as Aaron Rodgers at combining both the Athletism of a mobile QB and the arm of an old school pocket passer. The truth of the matter is, “the what makes a great QB question?” question gets asked every couple of years and every couple of years there is a different answer. What could make a good QB next year could be vision from the pocket, who knows, defences catch up so quickly it makes it necessary to make changes on the fly. One thing is for certain, style never goes out of fashion. Manning & Brees will always be great QB’s and whoever comes out of college in the years to come that displays natural talent like that and work ethic will always do well. But while there is an easy way to plug in an athletic QB teams will always opt for this option rather than taking the route that Rodgers and Brady took. Regardless, there is no right answer, just a league with room for whatever gets wins.

So that was my year. Truthfully the main thing I learnt was that there are a lot of people who have an incredible knowledge of the NFL in this country and everyone has the same goal. Grow the game in this country. Along with exceptional knowledge the fans in this country are very happy to open up about their opinions and have all been very good to the Gridiron Gentlemen.  I guess what I’m trying to say is…



We’re going to be around all off season, so sit back, relax and prepare for the non-off season, off season.