I typically do this column the morning after the Super Bowl, but some health issues made that impossible this year. My apologies. Now that I have that out of the way, here are my 18 thoughts at the end of the 2018 NFL season.
1. The Super Bowl was as terrible as you thought it was.
Seriously, it was to football games what "
Jennifer Lopez doing a Motown tribut
e" is to ideas. I worried for a second that perhaps I wasn't recognizing the greatness of a defensive slugfest, but I genuinely don't believe that's what actually occurred. I think the New England Patriots schemed very well. I also think Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay and quarterback Jared Goff were wildly unprepared for the moment. No matter how much ESPN's Trey Wingo
screams at you
("but sir, this is an Arby's"), the game was garbage and there's nothing wrong with saying it out loud.
2. It would be acceptable if next year the NFL found a halftime performer that SOMEONE might possibly enjoy.
In an attempt to make sure they offended no one, the league came up with Maroon 5, which put forth an effort so forgettable I literally can't add a punch line to this joke because I can't think of a frame of reference with which you'd be familiar. Speaking of Lopez, next year's game is in Miami, so I'm just about certain you can pencil in Lopez and Pitbull for the gig. But hey, there's good news!
Andrew Whitworth is right!
3. The Patriots' sustained success is not proof that teams can prioritize pass catching less. In fact, it's the opposite of that.
Perhaps this tweet from WJZ's Mark Viviano (who I both like and respect) jumped out at you:
There's something to be said for what Viviano is saying here. What the Patriots have done in general is remarkable. But he conveniently chooses not to include the MANY early-round pass catchers the Patriots drafted, signed or traded for during the stretch.
That includes Randy Moss, Brandin Cooks, Josh Gordon and future Hall of Famer Rob Gronkowski, who had an eight-figure cap hit this year. While Gronkowski had perhaps his worst season, he still made THE play to win the Super Bowl for the Patriots. (Note: even Wes Welker actually cost the Patriots a second-round pick in a trade).
The Patriots -- the team that has absolutely done the best job of developing lesser pass catchers -- has still constantly paid high prices for pass catching throughout the years. If the team that is literally the best at this still spends a ton of significant assets on pass catching, then how much should a team that has shown no ability to develop any pass catchers at all -- you know, like perhaps the Ravens -- be spending?
4. After committing insane coaching malpractice, perhaps the Rams coach should change his name to "Sean Mornhinweg."
The entire effort was such an abomination that McVay is being let off the hook for the absolute insane way the first half ended. The Patriots took a knee inside their own 1-yard line, and McVay decided that instead of forcing them to run another play or two and risk a safety or a fumble, he'd just rather like, not do that.
You can be a super handsome savant all you want. If you EVER want to be on the level of Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, you can't screw these types of things up. But to be fair, inexplicably literally every other coach makes such total gaffes. Even ones that get new four-year contracts after making the playoffs for the first time since 2014.
5. I actually think the debate baseball people are having about Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman is really interesting.
Perhaps you've noticed on Twitter that a number of baseball people have suggested there's a level of hypocrisy in how PED users have been treated in their sport in contrast to how a known user like Edelman -- who some are now arguing a Hall of Fame case for despite him not having anything close to the numbers that would justify it -- is treated within football.
Football people have been dismissive of the conversation. I'm not. I think it's a fascinating dichotomy. But I'm also a guy who thinks Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens deserve to be in the Baseball Hall of Fame, and I'm reasonably certain voters are about to elect David Ortiz. All three have been connected to the use of PEDs.
It's an interesting conversation. And I actually think a debate about whether the NFL should allow players suspended for PEDs to participate in the postseason is warranted.
6. It would be really nice if someone else in the AFC East could be even decent next season so that there's at least a slightly smaller chance of this happening again.
But they won't and this was kind of a pointless exercise.
7. There was little debate about Ed Reed as a Hall of Famer. That makes sense. But there's some real debate about who the greatest football player in Ravens history is.
There is no doubt that Ray Lewis is the "greatest" Raven of all time because of the breadth of his accomplishments and value to the franchise. But
46 percent of Glenn Clark Radio listeners
think Reed is the single greatest football player in Ravens history, just in terms of who was the best at what they did. Thirty-nine percent said Lewis, and 16 percent said Ogden. Former Ravens linebacker Adalius Thomas
actually agreed with the minority
, and I think I might agree with him.
8. Looking ahead, I think safety Troy Polamalu, receiver Reggie Wayne, and yes, linebacker Patrick Willis should all be first-ballot Hall of Famers next season.
The argument against Willis is that he simply didn't play long enough; his career lasted just eight seasons due to injury. But since you all didn't blink when I labeled Gronk as a "future Hall of Famer" earlier in the column, it's certainly worth noting that Willis actually played in just three fewer games (112) than Gronk has (115), and many of us seem to think Gronk is likely to retire.
Willis was dominant. I would probably argue for Willis, a six-team All-Pro and seven-time Pro Bowler, ahead of Wayne among the first-year eligibles next season.
9. Speaking of Gronk, I'm really conflicted about whether I want him to retire.
As a football fan, I kinda want him to play forever. He's been a delight on and off the field and has been great for the game.
But as a football fan, I want the Patriots' path to another Super Bowl to be tougher because we're genuinely sick of it.
10. Perhaps you're a little surprised by some of the teams that have better odds of winning next year's Super Bowl than the Ravens. I am not.
According to BetOnline.ag, the Ravens have 33/1 odds to win next year's title, tied with two other teams for just the 15th-best odds of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy next year. Among the teams ahead of them? The Cleveland Browns (25/1) and the Atlanta Falcons (28/1).
There's an obvious difference -- those teams have clearer quarterback situations. As exciting as Lamar Jackson was at times, we have to be willing to admit that we have no idea if the Ravens' running style is sustainable or if Jackson can develop into a more complete quarterback. The same things can't be said about the Browns' Baker Mayfield and Falcons' Matt Ryan.
But I might be inclined to throw a couple of bucks down on the Houston Texans at 33/1. For entertainment purposes, obviously.
11. How Roger Goodell handled himself in saying little about the New Orleans Saints mess and offering empty thoughts regarding Colin Kaepernick was … pretty on-brand, really.
There's not much more to be said here. The NFL commissioner mishandled very public things. But the game had an economic impact likely in the billions, so I guess none of this really matters.
12. It appears as though the Ravens won't be holding a season-ending news conference with team owner Steve Bisciotti. But they should. Fans deserve to hear from the top decision-maker at least once a year.
Thanks for coming to my #TedTalk.
13. Some fans seemed to roll their eyes when they heard John Harbaugh hired a receivers coach (David Culley) who hasn't seemed to have done much in terms of developing receivers during his stops the last five years (Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills) and whose background ties him to Andy Reid and the Philadelphia Eagles.
Yeah, that's it. That's the thought. I'm not going to argue with them.
14. The #NFL100 spot was as good as everyone made it out to be, but I'm more than a little surprised the players participated without getting paid.
Am I missing something? I thought the league and the players weren't exactly getting along so swimmingly. That's weird.
15. I'm willing to believe that Kyler Murray is genuinely having a hard time making a decision. But such struggles might not be best aired on national television.
I mean that, by the way. I think this is probably something he's genuinely struggling with, not necessarily just posturing to get more money. But yeah … that was as bad as Maroon 5.
16. I won't be mad at Ravens safety Eric Weddle if he plays somewhere else next season.
I never believed the whole "Ravens or retire" thing to begin with. I doubt he'd choose to play in Cincinnati. But if the Ravens release him, he has every right to play elsewhere, and who cares that he said something silly the day after an exciting season came to an end?
17. Perhaps some free-agent receivers would be excited to play with a pop-culture phenomenon like Lamar Jackson. Their agents, however, wouldn't be quite as thrilled.
And that's why the opinion offered by the Ravens' brass that Jackson could help lure receivers kinda doesn't stand up. No agent will want to guide his client to a location where their numbers would appear likely to be less than spectacular. The draft is where the Ravens will need to find their receivers.
18. If I'm a betting man, the Ravens will have to release Joe Flacco rather than trade him.
There just don't appear to be enough teams in the mix to force someone's hand when they know the Ravens are going to have to release him anyway.
Follow Glenn Clark on Twitter @GlennClarkRadio
Photo Credit: Ed Sheahin/PressBox