Not Another Boring Super Bowl Recap: 10 things to remember about the 2011 season

February 8, 2012No Comments

Rather than rehash the Super Bowl, I thought I’d do what I did last year, and talk about 10 of the most interesting stories that took place during the 2011 season. Enjoy.

  • Victor Cruz proves scouting is still an inexact science.
    • How many teams could use an explosive slot receiver who also plays on the outside? Salsa dance aside, Victor was the most electrifying player to emerge from nowhere to super star this season. Even Giants general manager Jerry Reese acknowledged that the Giants were very happy with Cruz and he exceeded all of their expectations. The fact that all 32 teams passed on Cruz during the draft shows that the best talent isn’t always at the biggest programs with the biggest television contracts. Who will be Victor Cruz in 2012? Whoever he is you probably haven’t seen him yet.
  • Tom Brady is new Peyton Manning.
    • For years Brady had the luxury of playing with a solid defense and running game. Brady took full advantage by winning his first 10 postseason starts along with 3 Super Bowls. However in Brady’s last 12 playoff starts he is only 6 – 6 including two Super Bowl losses to the New York Giants. So what’s wrong with Brady? Absolutely nothing. He is still probably the best quarterback in the game but his supporting cast is not nearly what it used to be. What Brady did this season was remarkable for the fact the he lead a team with a last place defense and no game breaking wide receivers within a hail mary pass of winning a Super Bowl. Brady is just as good as he ever was, but unfortunately for him he is experiencing the cruel reality that often befell Peyton Manning in Indianapolis. Teams win titles, not individuals.
  • Cam Newton is in a class by himself.
    • One thing that kills me is when people only compare Cam Newton to other African American QBs. Granted, there have been some great black quarterbacks in NFL history but to compare Newton to Randall Cunningham or Michael Vick because he is mobile is missing the point. Cam Newton not only broke the rushing touchdown record for rookies (with 14) but he also threw for the most passing yards (4,051) of any rookie (breaking Peyton Manning’s record) in NFL history. Cam Newton is what scouts have always wanted: a mobile, pass first QB who is just as good with his arm as he is with his legs. Right now Cam isn’t like anyone I’ve ever seen and so I think it will be interesting to see how he develops going into his second season.
  • The Lions are good again.
    • Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson helped the Lions to their first playoff berth since 1999. Even though they lost to the Saints in the wild card round, Detroit fans can finally breathe easy knowing that the Lions have finally turned the corner.
  • Peyton Manning will play for the Cardinals next season.
    • Despite several notions that Peyton will head to the 49ers or the Redskins, I see him ending up on the Cardinals. Why Arizona? Three reasons. The first reason is the Cardinals have a team that can contend right away with Peyton under center. Second they have the money to potentially bring in Peyton’s favorite target, Reggie Wayne. Lastly, Arizona has great weather and a retractable dome so he won’t have too many bad weather games playing in the NFC West.

  • The Texans are still kicking themselves.
    • Sure it was a feel good story that the Texans finally made the playoffs and even won a playoff game. But with the way things played out the Texans have to feel like they had a chance to make to the Super Bowl if not for the injury to Matt Schaub. Houston had a championship caliber defense and running game but their inexperience at QB really prevented them from advancing further in the 2011 postseason.
  • Roughing the passer is still a joke.
    • Protecting the QBs is vital to the game, but this is football, right? Too many times a flag is thrown when a QB is barely touched or has his helmet grazed after throwing a pass. I am ok with blatant late hit penalties or obvious blows to the head being called but the referees continue to error on the extreme side of caution.
  • Moving the kick off up 5 yards didn’t ruin kick off returns.
    • Sure, there were more touch backs but there were plenty of long returns as well. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen as many 100 yard plus kick off returns in one season. I actually kind of liked the long returns myself. The main question is did the NFL see a reduction in the number of injuries on kick offs from previous seasons? If so good job, NFL.
  • Momentum is better than being good.
    • The Giants of this year and 2007 along with the Packers of 2010 prove that getting hot means a lot more than being good during the regular season. However, it is a fine line to try to achieve the perfect balance of desperation to build up momentum while still avoiding getting knocked out of the playoffs. The key is for teams that do well during the regular season to keep that edge going into the playoffs. Easier said than done.
  • The 2012 season will be here before you know it.
    • With no lockout looming, you can kick back and enjoy the off season knowing that the NFL will be back in September 2012. Ironically, the NFL benefited greatly from the threat of the game being taken away from the fans in the form of increased popularity that broke numerous television and merchandising records this season.

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