Don’t look at past performance when trying to figure out who’s going to win today’s game.
It’s often quite deceiving.
Last week, it was pointed out that in the two battles between Tom Brady and Drew Brees, it was no contest.
Brees didn’t throw a pick, Brady threw five.
The Saints won both games against the Bucs.
It meant little last Sunday as Brees threw two interceptions on the way to a four turnover game for the Saints, and the Bucs won on the road and catapulted themselves into the NFC championship game against the Packers.
If this was Drew Brees final game, it was unfortunate. It’s reported he will retire and begin his broadcasting career, but sports is real life and not everything has a storybook ending.
Brees will go down as one of the greatest of all-time.
But his finale was anything but.
So, if we’re not hanging our hat on what happened weeks and months ago, we’re not jumping on the Bucs bandwagon again.
In week six, Tampa Bay slammed Green Bay, 38-10 in Tampa.
Again, don’t be fooled.
The Packers had won their first four games of the season and were set up for a road loss.
The Buccaneers were coming off a loss to the Bears, and were set up for a big win.
Brady threw for a pair of touchdowns, and Ronald Jones ran for 113 yards.
After jumping in front 10-0 in the opening quarter, the Bucs outscored the Pack 28-0 in the second, and that’s all she wrote.
Aaron Rodgers was intercepted twice and never found the end zone with his arm. Green Bay’s running back Aaron Jones wound up with a measly 15 yards on 10 carries.
Every game takes on a different pattern, and the opinion here, is that the Bucs were so geared to finally getting the measure of the Saints, it’ll be difficult to match that zeal in the frost of Green Bay, with a Super Bowl appearance on the line, despite the presence of Mr. Brady.
I love what the Buffalo Bills accomplished against the Baltimore Ravens.
They demonstrated the grit they had to have to beat a real good team in chapter two of the great Bills turnaround from weakling to powerhouse.
But the Bills had the advantage of going against a quarterback who, like many of the new athletic, quick-to-run stylists, have yet to learn to be pocket-passers first.
The Ravens’ Lamar Jackson wowed the football world with his spectacular long TD run against the Titans, but he couldn’t make the red zone throw to get Baltimore the touchdown they needed, and never got.
The Bills have obviously made huge strides in a relative short time, but to have a chance to beat the defending Super Bowl champs in K.C., they’ll have to run the ball a lot more and a lot better than they did against the Ravens.
And while Josh Allen has had a superb year leading the Bills offense, this doesn’t appear to be the time for him to get Buffalo to the big game.
Eventually he should.
Who knows whether Chad Henne will be running the Chiefs in the AFC title game against the Bills.
The sense at this point is that Patrick Mahomes will clear his concussion protocol to quarterback K.C.’s bid to return to the Super Bowl.
It looked a bit dicey when Mahomes left the game against the Browns and the game was in Henne’s hands with the playoff game still on the line.
It’s often been said that the most important player on a team is the quarterback, and the second most important is the backup quarterback.
There have been teams without a capable backup who have died on the vine when the regular was injured and couldn’t play.
Not only did the Chiefs survive with their second-stringer, they trusted him to execute on the game’s biggest play.
First, the Chiefs were holding a tenuous 22-17 lead, facing a third-and-14 play coming out of the two-minute warning.
Henne who is 35, and last started a game five years ago, couldn’t find a receiver and took off with the ball, and very nearly picked up a first down with a head-first dive.
Now, on fourth-and-1, still in their own territory with 1:16 on the clock, the Chiefs lined up as if they were going to run a play.
It appeared as if Henne was attempting to lure the Browns offsides before punting the ball away.
Instead, Henne completed a 5-yard ass to Tyreek Hill for the first down that allowed the Chiefs to run out the clock.
It was as gutsy move by head coach Andy Reid, and an incredibly clutch play by Chad Henne.
The Chiefs won, and moved on. Proving the old adage, that you need everybody to win a game.
So, I like the favorites, Green Bay and Kansas City to make it to Tampa for Super Bowl 55.
If they do, at least their matchup will be labeled the Super Bowl.
They’ve clashed before you may remember, it was January 1967.
But it wasn’t yet called the Super Bowl.
What was, in effect, Super Bowl I, was promoted as the NFL-AFL Championship Game.
It was played in the Los Angeles Coliseum, and the Packers prevailed, 35-10.
There have been many coaching hires in the NFL since the end of the regular season.
We won’t go into calling it as crapshoot, but it’s relatively close.
The fact is, teams never really know if they’ve picked the right guy.
Many teams have gone for what I consider to be the knee-jerk method of choosing a head coach who has excelled either as an offensive or defensive coordinator, hoping he can bring his expertise to shore up a weakness of his new team.
I’m not sure that’s a good way of hiring a new man.
I have seen it done when the specialist on one side of the ball actually sees a drop in that area.
Dan Quinn, is an outstanding defensive coach, and proved it with Seattle.
But when he became head coach of the Falcons, the defensive unit became their weak spot.
Adam Gase, established his reputation as a terrific offensive mind and expert play-caller as evidenced by his experience with Peyton Manning in Denver.
But with the Dolphins and the Jets, he fell woefully short as an offensive coach, and more important, as a head coach.
These are just two examples.
I don’t know whether Matt LaFleur is a top head coach, and play-caller.
He’s one step from the Super Bowl.
But if you’re quarterback is named Aaron Rodgers, you’re not going to do too badly.
I’m going to name several head coaches, some of whom may be unknown to some of our younger readers.
Paul Brown, Tom Landry, Vince Lombardi, Chuck Noll, Bill Walsh, Jimmy Johnson, Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick.
There are other great ones, perhaps, but none greater than this group.
None of them were play-callers, certainly in the sense that we see today.
But they all had, or in the case of Belichick, have three traits, or qualities that I think add up to make the best head coaches:
All leaders, teachers and the ability to inspire.
Forget about motivation. If you lack motivation in whatever you do, you’re in trouble. You better have motivation.
But if you have someone who inspires you, ahh, now you have something.
The names listed above all have led, and all have taught.
They also had the right lieutenants to run their offenses and defenses.
Many of those lieutenants became generals with other NFL clubs.
To me, that’s the kind of head coach teams must have, to win championships.
So, when I see teams name their new head coaches, the first thing I do is wonder whether they have someone who can lead, someone who can teach, and someone who can inspire.
And also, someone who can be sharp enough to bring in a good staff.
Forget about whether they’re proficient on one side of the ball or the other, although some might be.
Right now, the one I see who best fits the bill, is Robert Saleh of the Jets.