I must be losing it in my old age; things are getting pretty loose down here in Curmudgeon Central. Let me explain briefly:
- My plan for today was to do my annual NFL Draft Preview where I go through all my notes from last season’s college football viewing. I even thought ahead to the short time I would have to write it getting back from Ireland late on Tuesday and having to have it done by Thursday. I took my notes with me so I could start the sorting process that has to happen before I can piece together the Draft Preview. Then I proceeded to leave all those notes in the seat pocket in front of where I sat on the aircraft flying back to the US. Ergo, there will be no Draft Preview for this NFL Draft.
- While in the process of “regrouping” in terms of setting up a writing schedule, it came to mind that I never did the Post-Mortem on my NFL predictions for the 2018 regular season. Normally, I do that in January; this year I totally forgot to do it.
And so … the best I can do today is to lament the loss of all those college football notes and move on to doing the Post-Mortem that I should have done about 3 months ago. And by the way, if I lose my car keys and find them in the refrigerator sometime next week, I will be really scared that I am losing it.
Back in early September 2018, I made predictions about the records for all 32 NFL teams and about coaches on the hot seat. What I will do here is to review those predictions and to give myself grades as if I were back in high school to see how I did. Let me start with the coaches on the hot seat:
- I said Jason Garrett was on the hot seat and that he might get the axe if the cow boys continued to be mediocre. The Cowboys won the NFC East and Garrett is still the head coach there.
- I said Adam Gase could not survive another 6-10 season in Miami. Well the Dolphins went 7-9 and even that was not good enough. Gase is out in Miami and newly ensconced as the head coach of the Jets.
- I thought that Jay Gruden needed to be 8-8 or better to survive into this season. The Skins went 7-9 and that was good enough to keep him on.
- I said that John Harbaugh needed to win enough games to make the playoffs to survive into this season. The Ravens won the AFC North division and made the playoffs and Harbaugh is still on the job in Baltimore.
- I said that Hugh Jackson could not survive inflated expectations for the Browns in 2018. He was fired halfway though the season when the Browns were playing like – – the Browns.
- I said that Vance Joseph needed to win more than 5 games and be competitive in the losses to survive. The Broncos won 6 games, but Joseph was fired.
- I said that Dirk Koetter was in trouble in Tampa because Jameis Winston had not developed the way he was supposed to under Koetter’s tutelage. The Bucs went 5-11 and Koetter is gonzo.
- I said that Marvin Lewis was perennially on the hot seat but that he was probably safe for last year because he got a contract extension. The Bengals went 6-10 but played like a hot mess for much of the season. Lewis was “kicked upstairs” and Zac Taylor will take over on the sidelines.
- I wavered on Todd Bowles. I thought that the Jets’ over-achievement in Bowles’ first year would earn him one more year given that he was going to start a 21-year old QB and that I thought the Jets would win 7 games in 2018. The Jets won only 4 games and Bowles is gone.
Those predictions are not perfect by any means. However, 5 of the 8 on the list are indeed gone and two of the others, Garrett and Harbaugh, won their divisions last year so they have been retained. My assessment of Bowles’ survivability was incorrect because I vastly over-rated the Jets’ potential in 2018. I think these predictions merit a B +.
In the AFC West, I had the Chargers as the division champs with the Chiefs in second place with both making the playoffs. The Chiefs won the division and the Chargers finished second and they both made the playoffs. I underestimated both teams; I had the Chargers winning 10 games and the Chiefs 9 games; in fact, both teams won 12 games. I had the Broncos winning 8 games; they won only 6 and I had the Raiders winning 5 games while the team actually won 4 games.
There was lots of hype last year surrounding the Raiders in Year One of Jon Gruden 2.0; please note that I did not buy into that and pretty much got the Raiders’ record right for the year. Overall, I’ll give myself a B – for the AFC West.
In the AFC South, I had the Texans winning the division at 11-5. That is EXACTLY what happened. I also said the Titans would finish third in the division at 9-7. That too is EXACTLY what happened. For the other two predictions, things did not quite work out as well:
- I said the Jags would take a step back from their playoff run in 2017 but that they would still make the playoffs here as a wild card. The Jags did not just take a step back; they came totally unglued and finished the season at 5-11.
- I said the Colts would finish last in the division at 5-11. What happened was that the Colts finished 10-6 and got a wildcard slot in the playoffs.
In this division, I got two of the teams perfectly right and was not in the same area code with the other two predictions. That outcome deserves a solid C.
In the AFC North, I had the Steelers winning the division at 10-6 followed by the Ravens at 8-8. Actually, the Ravens finished 10-6 while the Steelers missed the playoffs at 9-6-1. I thought the Bengals and the Browns would finish at 5-11. The Browns went 7-8-1 and the Bengals went 6-10.
Nothing here was exactly right – – but none of these predictions was totally off the reservation. I’ll give myself a C – here.
In the AFC East, I had the Pats winning the division at 12-4; they won the division at 11-5. I had all the other teams in the division finishing under .500; that happened too. I thought the Bills would be the worst team in the division; the Jets finished last – – and got their coach fired in the process.
Other than the order of the also-rans here, I pretty much had this division scoped out. I’ll give myself a B here.
In the NFC West, I had the Rams winning the division at 12-4; they won the division at 13-3. I had the Niners finishing a distant second at 8-8; then Jimmy G. tore up his knee early in the season and the Niners finished at 4-12. I had the Seahawks at 7-9 but they played very well and finished at 10-6 earning a wildcard playoff slot. At the bottom, I had the Cards at 4-12; they finished 3-13 and will draft first tomorrow night in the 2019 NFL Draft – – unless they trade down.
I came pretty close to the right records for the top and bottom of the division and missed badly in the middle – – the Jimmy G injury played some role in that outcome I do believe. Overall, I think a D is the proper grade here.
In the NFC South, I had the Falcons winning the division at 12-4 and having home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Let me be kind and say that did not come close to happening. I had the Saints finishing with the same 12-4 record which is pretty close to the Saints’ 13-3 record in 2018. I had the Panthers at 6-10; they finished 7-9 and I had the Bucs at 4-12; they finished at 5-11.
Given the huge missed call on the Falcons, the best grade I can assign here is a D.
In the NFC North, I had another huge miss. I had the Packers winning the division with a n 11-5 record. The Packers limped in at 6-9-1 and got the coach fired in the process. I had the Vikes finishing second with the same 11-5 record. The Vikes were 8-7-1 which is closer to my prediction than the one for the Packers; but still… I had the Bears finishing above .500 at 9-7 but running third in the division. The Bears went 12-4 and won the division. The only thing that was close to correct was exactly correct; I had the Lions finishing at 6-10 which is EXACTLY what they did.
Notwithstanding that prediction for the Lions, the only grade possible here is an F – because the scale does not go any lower.
Finally, in the NFC East, I had the Eagles winning the division at 10-6; they finished second at 9-7. I had the Giants finishing second at 8-8; that was not even close. I had the Cowboys also at 8-8; the Cowboys won the division with a 10-6 showing. And, I had the Skins with 5 wins and they actually won 7 games. The only thing to crow about here is that I said the NFC East as a division would finish at 31-33 – – and that is EXACTLY what the teams did cumulatively.
I think a grade of D for the NFC East is all that I deserve…
And so, to summarize, there were 9 grades to hand out. In order they were:
- B +
- B –
- C –
That boils down to an embarrassing 1.78 ‘Grade Point Average” which would not be sufficient to maintain my eligibility for NCAA competition. As I said at the beginning of the predictions back in September 2018:
“Prediction is difficult – – particularly when it deals with the future.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………