After 256 regular season games, and 11 more in the postseason, the 2019 NFL season has come to an end, and now our long offseason nightmare sans football — sorry, XFL, sans NFL FOOTBALL — begins for the next several months. The Kansas City Chiefs are the champions of the world, having scored 21 unanswered fourth quarter points, doing what they've done all postseason long, coming from behind, to beat the San Francisco 49ers by a final score of 31-20.
It's late, late Sunday evening, and I have a morning radio show to do on Monday, so let's get right to it. For the entire Super Bowl weekend, including the awards show Saturday night, and the parties on South Beach, there were winners and losers. Let's hit these rapid-fire style, so I can go sleep.
4. Lamar Jackson
Saturday night, at the NFL Honors ceremony, Jackson was named the unanimous MVP for the 2019 season, just the second unanimous MVP in league history. Jackson was absolutely electric in 2019, and was truly the first quarterback since Michael Vick to break the stodgy rules of what teams look for in quarterbacks. Yes, there have been mobile quarterbacks since Vick, but none who had an entire offense built around their next level explosive running like the Ravens did with Jackson. Now, it's up to Jackson to, like the 2018 MVP Pat Mahomes, build on this campaign to bring Baltimore another Super Bowl championship. The league didn't figure out Mahomes, but they made life harder for him (as did injuries), but Mahomes cracked enough codes down the stretch and in the postseason to bring him the Chiefs' first Super Bowl since 1969.
3. This year's Pro Football Hall of Fame class
Also, Saturday night, the writers in charge of selecting the Hall of Fame class, gave us the Class of 2020:
Polamalu went in on the first ballot, which I had no problem with — he was a four time first team All Pro and eight time Pro Bowler, with memorable moments galore. The other four were frequent finalists, or names discussed as "someday they'll get in." Locally, I think Bruce getting in helps Andre Johnson, who hits the radar for the 2022 class. Getting some of the wide receiver logjam cleaned out would be nice.
2. Teenage Mahomes
How about this for vision.....
After Mahomes threw his second pick of the night, with about 12 minutes to go in regulation, the chances of the Chiefs winning the game were less than ten percent (according to ESPN.com win probability stat), which means Mahomes' chances at the MVP award were even less than that. However, Mahomes has been magical all postseason long, and Sunday was no different. The torch is being passed to him.
1. Andy Reid
Truth be told, Andy Reid already had a Hall of Fame resume before Super Bowl LIV. He was sixth in all-time wins, and coached teams into the postseason on a routine basis. He has been an offensive architect that has been the envy of largely every non-Eagle, non-Chief fanbase in the league. However, this Super Bowl cements his case. However presenting Andy Reid for Hall of Fame induction someday should have a very short, easy presentation for the voters.
4. Everyone at Gronk's beach party not named "Belichick"
Perhaps you heard, Rob Gronkowski threw a beach party in Miami over the weekend. (Why is it that I feel Gronk would find a way to throw a "beach party" even if the Super Bowl was in Minneapolis?) If you went to that party, it's really too bad that you had no chance at winning "best dressed"....
Seeing Belichick in a pastel, plaid beach shirt (and white shorts!) is like watching a video of a lion with a poodle's body. Disorienting.
3. AFC pretenders
As mentioned earlier with Mahomes getting the torch passed to him, it would appear that Kansas City is on the cusp of a serious reign of terror in the AFC. Who knows if Tom Brady is even back with the Patriots next season, and we will see how sustainable Lamar Jackson's 2019 dominance is. All we need to say is that the Texans are the four-seed, and you realize how shallow the franchise talent pool is in the AFC. The Chiefs appear to be built to last, and this could be a multiple Super Bowl run we are looking at here.
2. Kyle Shanahan
It was just three years ago, at NRG Stadium, that Kyle Shanahan was the play caller for a Falcons team that had a 28-3 lead over the New England Patriots. If Shanahan had just run the ball a couple times with the lead, instead of leaving the game in Matt Ryan's hands, the Patriots would be short one Super Bowl trophy, and Atlanta would have a title. Fast forward to last night, and Shanahan was once again the steward of a fourth quarter collapse, watching his offense wither down the stretch, while Reid and Mahomes raced to a 21 point blitzkrieg in the fourth quarter. Shanahan has now been either the offensive coordinator or head coach for two Super Bowl teams that have been outscored 46-0 in the fourth quarter and overtime. Woof.
1. Jimmy Garoppolo
I was doing mt national CBS Radio show during the Super Bowl game on Sunday night, and at halftime, I was joined by longtime Bay Area scribe Ray Ratto, who very nonchalantly (and in a somewhat cocky tone) told me that "Hey, this is how the Niners win — they run the ball and play defense." That was in response to a question about a lack of confidence in Jimmy Garoppolo. Ratto made it seem like Garoppolo was a non-issue, like Shanahan had cracked the code on removing the significance of the quarterback from the equation. Well, it turns out Garoppolo had to make some plays for the Niners to win, and he failed miserably. He started the game 17 of 20, and finished 20 of 31, so he was 3 for his final 11 attempts down the stretch. He just looked overmatched and undersized, with several passes batted down at the line of scrimmage. The Niners may very well win a Super Bowl with Garoppolo, but they will need games to play out in a very specific passion, building a big lead and grinding out clock, in order to hoist a trophy with him under center. He is not equipped to get into a shootout.