Well fans, last weekend's playoff games featured a lot of surprises, including the worst piece of officiating witnessed all season, the denial of Troy Polamalu's obvious interception in the Colts/ Steelers game, a call that nearly changed the outcome. Or perhaps that shouldn't have been a surprise. I can not remember a season marred by so much bad and inconsistent officiating.
Something needs to be done to standardize what consists of such violations as holding on offense, and pass interference on defense, and how they are called. And it is high time that the billion dollar industry of the NFL upgrade its corps of officials. Maybe they need to work the job full-time. Way back in the old nickle-dime heyday of Bud Grant he used to harp on that, and he had a point then.
On to the pipe dreams of next season, where the post game locker room will have to stock beer for the players and soda pop for the under-aged coaching staff. It will be very interesting to see what the new regime can get out of the current cast of characters that Mike Tice couldn't.
Supposedly, both Darrell Bevell, the new offensive coordinator, and Brad Childress are QB gurus. They will need all of their magic to resurrect the career of Daunte Culpepper, whose knee is grievously injured and, so it would seem, his psyche also. He apparently avoided meeting with Childress when last in the Twin Cities, and is due some seven or eight million dollars as a bonus in March. Meanwhile, Brad Johnson is making noises about how richly he deserves to be a starting QB again.
It will be extremely interesting to see how this all plays out, particularly as Culpepper is more of a downfield passer than Johnson, whose rhythm passing and quick release might be better suited to the west coast offence we will see next season.
Meanwhile, 33-year old Mike Tomlin is coming in to install the Tampa-2 defensive scheme, the Bears model of which was so thorougly trashed by Steve Smith and the Panthers on Sunday. Let it be remembered that the Purple version next season will lack a Brian Urlacher, of whom there is only one to go around.
As I understand it, the basic virtue of the Tampa-2 is that your safeties stay in deep coverage, taking away big plays, particularly in the passing game.
Wow. This would make life so much easier for fans of the Purple. Unfortunately, to play this scheme effectively you need pressure from your front four and speedy linebackers who can get back into pass coverage in a trice. This does not sound much like a job for Messers. Newman, Cowart, and Henderson. (See above re. B. Urlacher. )
Mr. Wilf has been the very opposite of the former owner in his willingness to spend money to build a winner. Hopefully we will have a delightful off season.