This week, head coaches stole the headlines and there were plenty of fanbases saying “finally!” More teams were eliminated from the playoffs, while others kept their hopes alive with critical victories. The division races are coming down to the wire and most of the remaining seeds will be locked up by next week. Most fanbases have begun looking at mock drafts and dreaming about next year. For the rest, this is when the real season begins.
Jeff Fisher got fired: Perhaps it took longer than it should have, but eventually people finally realized that Jeff Fisher hasn’t coached very many good teams for someone generally considered a good coach. Since taking over the Rams, he’s yet to reach the playoffs and became the butt of many jokes about epitomizing mediocrity. Last year, Bruce Arians memorably pointed out that the Rams are “always 8-8.” Fisher’s familiarity with team relocation appealed to Rams owner Sam Kroenke, but everyone has a limit. At 4-9, Kroenke finally reached his.
Bill O’Brien finally benched Osweiler: Nobody likes to admit when they’re wrong. For NFL coaches, it’s 1,000x harder to do. Most people realized the Texans shelling out $72 million for Brock Osweiler was a terrible idea. It took longer for Bill O’Brien to realize it, but he’s finally come to his senses and given Tom Savage a shot. While that’s not likely to muster up much hope from Texans’ faithful, it’s long overdue.
Doug Peterson going for two: It’s not fair to criticize one coach for doing the same thing another coach did, simply because the result was different. Jack Del Rio’s decision to go for two against the Saints in week 1 may prove to be a decisive factor in what has shaped up to be a competitive race for coach of the year (Jason Garrett, Bill Belichick, Adam Gase, and Mike Mularkey are all qualified candidates). At 5-8, Peterson probably wanted to win back the season’s lost momentum in one felled swoop. With nothing on the line except draft position, it’s hard to blame him and taking chances appears to be his M.O.
Washington falling apart at home: Everbank field, formerly the largest stadium in the NFL, is always a tough place to play. Throw the fact that it was a primetime game on Monday night and the Redskins are actually good this year and it’s pretty hard to believe Carolina walked out with a win. Cam Newton’s antics only fuel his critics, particularly with the team floundering this season. These are the kind of games Jay Gruden needs to win more consistently to get his team over the hump and into the playoffs.
The Raiders squeaking by the Chargers: It feels like Oakland wins a close game every week and San Diego loses a close game every week, so in one sense this is par for the course with these two teams. Still, this had all the makings of a trap game for the Raiders and, as they’ve done consistently all season, they rose to the occasion.
Denver shut out in Mile High: The Patriots woes playing on the road in Denver are well documented at this point. The Broncos’ notorious home field advantage cost New England last year. It’s a huge win for the Pats, who are still battling for the AFC’s top seed, while it leaves the Broncos with a must win trip to Arrowhead next week.
Things that shouldn’t have surprised anyone
The Dolphins backup beat the Jets backup: Technically Bryce Petty is the Jets third string quarterback but the analogy is the same. Matt Moore burned the J-E-T-S for four touchdowns on Saturday night, putting an embarrassing nail in the coffin on what has been a disastrous season for Todd Bowles’ defense. Meanwhile, Petty looked like the kid from Not Another Teen Movie when Cam Wake and Ndamukong Suh went unblocked from the snap.
Buccaneers and Cowboys was a great game: Tampa looks like a legitimate threat after hanging tough for four quarters in Dallas on Sunday. Sunday’s game could be a second or third round playoff preview. If so, the Cowboys have reason to fear the scrappy young Buccaneers. Still, there’s no doubting who the team to beat is in the NFC after another impressive victory. The Cowboys are the class of the 2016 season.
The Seahawks Color Rush uniforms were terrible: Very few color rush uniforms actually look good and several are downright dreadful. The Seahawks touch of neon normally follows the rule “less is more,” which is why they pull of such an exotic uniform color. Similar to the Dolphins in week 5, the Color Rush switch resulted in some downright atrocious uni