A Few Good NFL Stories of 2008 season.
By Bill Smith
While many of you will find this article a departure from the normal frying pan analysis, I wanted to give accolades to some of those I think deserve them.
Kurt Warner and the Arizona Cardinals—The Cards have been the flavor of the month for several preseasons. They have the best receiver combination in the league and a potential Hall of Fame QB. The Cards wining their division was not all that surprising. The NFC West has been a weak division for a while. But to beat the Falcons and then go and drill the heavily favored Panthers in their house was a shock. Now that the Eagles knocked off the Giants, the Cards may have a shot to go to the Super Bowl. Win or not, at least they have brought some success to the fans.
The Arizona Cardinal Defense, head coach Ken Whisenhunt and defensive coaches—Congratulations on your stealth defense. You made all of us think you were a middle of the road defense then suckered the Falcons and Panthers into believing that before you dominated them. It was either an acting job worthy of an Oscar or your plan to go back to basics at the end of the season. The D has played outstanding football and you deserve to be in the NFC Championship.
The Miami Dolphins and head coach Tony Sparano—Turning the team around from 1-15 to 11-5 and a division championship is just short of a miracle. Congratulations to everyone involved.
Chad Pennington QB Dolphins—You got the bums rush out of New York but the bigger the insult the greater is the satisfaction of revenge. Many doubted you, including myself, but you showed all of us wrong. Your revenge was extra fine by clinching the AFC East by beating your old team and knocking them out of the playoffs.
The Atlanta Falcons, owner Arthur Blank, head coach Mike Smith and his staff—You not only pulled off an outstanding turnaround, but went a long way to restore the reputation of the franchise after the Mike Vick affair. Mr. Blank is one of the good guys in the league and deserves this success.
Donovan McNabb—When he got benched in week 12, the fans, the media, and even the organization was dumping on McNabb like he was a chuckhole in the freeway. But he was not done. He sparked the Eagles turnaround when everyone outside the locker room left the team for dead and out of the playoffs. He and the Eagles are now in the NFC Championship game.
Bill Belichick—Those of you that read this site regularly know how much this pains me to say but you have to give the devil its due. 2008 might well have been the best coaching job Belichick has ever done. He lost the best QB in the league in the first quarter of the first game. The injury list went on and on. He lost half a dozen starters on D and almost that many on O including his franchise running back and a couple of pro bowl quality corners. Even so, he used duct tape and paper clips to take the team to 11 wins. Even though the team failed to make the playoffs, it was an outstanding coaching job.
Tim Tebo—After the loss to Ole Miss, he took the team on his back and willed them to a national championship. Then he made one of his best decisions ever to stay at Florida for his senior year. Despite his leadership and grace under pressure, many draft experts are not sure he is accurate enough or has a strong enough arm to play QB in the NFL. Because of his decision, he will have another year to prove he can do the job at the next level. And by the way it also gives him another shot at a second Heisman and a third national championship in 4 years.
Anquan Boldin WR Cardinals—We all held our breath after the hit that injured you. Then we all cheered when you came back and continued to play at an all pro level. You are a warrior. You have won the respect of football fans all over the country.
Joe Flacco and the Ravens—Despite feelings about how the city got its team, I have to give the team and staff credit for not only getting into the playoffs but making it to the AFC Championship game. The victory over Miami was a nice win but the job the team did in beating Tennessee was outstanding. Flacco has played like a veteran and can become one of the best in the league.
Randy Lerner and the Browns—As you know, I have expressed some concern about the new people being brought in. However, I congratulate Mr. Lerner for cleaning house and at least giving the long suffering Browns fans some hope. Next to Bill Cowher, Eric Mangini was the best experienced coach available. He got a raw deal in NY and hopefully can do better in Cleveland. We are still holding our breath to see who Mr. Lerner brings in as GM.
Tony Dungy—May you have success and find joy in whatever you do next. You have been a great credit to the NFL and it was a joy watching you coach. We all hope you might stay for another season or two. But you have given so much to the game you deserve to do whatever makes you happy.
Willie Parker RB Steelers—Congratulations on your performance in the Divisional round of the playoffs. Those of us that drafted you in fantasy football would have preferred if you had been as successful during the season but congrats anyway.
Cedric Benson RB Bengals—By your play in the last half of the season for the Bengals, you have resurrected your career. The Bengals were in dire need of a solid running game and you have the talent to provide it. Work hard and stay away from boats and you will be fine.
That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.
Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for NFLDraftDog.com and edits fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .