Guest Author - Tara O´Gorman
The regular season has ended, and the past week leading up to this weekend’s wildcard games has hardly been silent in the NFL.
Not a surprise to anyone, Rod Marinelli was fired as head coach of the Detroit Lions who ended the season as the NFL’s first-ever 0-16 team.
Along with Marinelli, head coaches Romeo Crennel of the Cleveland Browns and the Jets’ Eric Mangini were given their walking papers. After 14 seasons as head coach of the Denver Broncos, Mike Shanahan was fired after the Broncos ended the year 8-8 and failed to make the playoffs after a crushing loss to the San Diego Chargers.
The Jets, Browns, Lions, Broncos and St. Louis Rams all are actively seeking replacements for head coaching positions. Jim Haslett was named interim head coach of the Rams early in the season, and rumors have been flying that players have petitioned for Haslett to be officially named as head coach for next season.
Another rumor hitting the blogs and airwaves involves Colts’ Tony Dungy, who again is contemplating retirement at the end of the postseason. The Colts earned a wildcard bid and will play Saturday.
Beloved Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defensive Coordinator Monte Kiffin has left the Bucs to work with his son Lane, who has been named as the new head coach at the University of Tennessee. Kiffin had been a defensive coordinator in the NFL for 26 seasons, including 13 with Tampa Bay.
The Colts’ Peyton Manning was named NFL MVP, joining fellow quarterback Brett Favre as the only three-time winner. Speaking of Brett Favre, an ‘anonymous’ source from inside the Jets spoke out this week about Favre allegedly distancing himself physically and mentally from his teammates. Running Back Thomas Jones, who has since said his words were taken somewhat out of context, also criticized Favre’s play during a radio interview and said he believed Favre should have been taken out of the game during last week’s loss to the Miami Dolphins.
Aside from the off-field drama of the week, there are four wildcard playoff games scheduled to be played this weekend. NFC wildcard matchups include the Atlanta Falcons at the Arizona Cardinals and the Philadelphia Eagles at the Minnesota Vikings.
In the AFC, wildcard matchups include the Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins and the Colts at San Diego. Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson is reportedly questionable for the game, suffering from a torn groin tendon.
The road to Tampa Bay has begun. Will any of this weekend’s winners make it to Super Bowl XLIII? Tune into Saturday and Sunday to see how the postseason will begin.