Watching the playoffs last night reaffirmed one major thing from the Mike Shanahan era: he is a bigger liar than Keyser Soze. Shanahan’s whole “5 year” plan is completely bogus and every year the playoffs proves that to be the case. Pretty much each and every one of these teams in the post season has had an extended down period (some quite some time ago), yet it didn’t take them 5 years to rebuild and get back into playoff contention:
-Colts were 2-14 the year Peyton Manning was injured and basically gutted their roster the following offseason. Sure you may still see Robert Mathis out there or Reggie Wayne (before he was injured), but this really doesn’t resemble the perennial SB contender under Peyton Manning. They also instituted their own cap penalty when they cleared their roster and had nearly $40 million in dead cap. Despite that they are 22-10 over the past two years, and have two straight playoff appearances. They look to be a contender going forward as well.
Kansas City Chiefs:
-The Chiefs were 2-14 last year and they didn’t even have the luxury of being able to draft a top QB for their futility. The Chiefs struggles go back further than last year as they’ve made just one playoff appearance since 2006, and have lost 12 or more games in 4 out of 7 seasons since. Andy Reid came in and turned that team around and finished 11-5 (and that is with resting most of their starters in week 16). They lost a close playoff game, but they definitely should be a tough team heading into next season.
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-The Eagels were 4-12 last season, and were probably lucky to finish with that record. This year they started out 1-3 at the quarter point and 3-5 at the midway point (both just like the Redskins), but closed the season strong to get 10 wins and take the division. While it was a tough playoff loss, they look like the team to beat in the NFC East going forward. Chip Kelly’s offense showed that it could work at this level and will be something that will be tough to defend.
New Orleans Saints:
-Now the Saints have been pretty good for awhile now, but that hasn’t always been the case. When Sean Payton took over they were a 3-13 team with just one playoff appearance in 12 years. Payton got them to the post season the first year on the job and has gotten them back to the post season 4 times since. Payton’s never lost more than 9 games in the season, and in fact just has one losing season (last year doesn’t count for him) with the Saints.
-When Marvin Lewis took over in 2003, the Bengals were the joke of the NFL. They had just one season at .500, and no winning seasons since going 9-7 in 1990. From 1991-2003 the Bengals had 9 seasons with 10 or more losses. Lewis went 8-8 his first two seasons and 11-5 in year 3. Lewis has now been with the Bengals for 11 seasons and has just 3 losing seasons and just two have had 10 or more losses. He’s now made the Playoffs 5 times including 4 of the past 5 years. The Bengals continue to look promising going forward as well with a deep roster and a very strong defense.
San Francisco 49ers:
-From 2003-2010 the 49ers had just one .500 record and zero winning seasons. Since Jim Harbaugh took over they are 36-11-1 and have made the playoffs each year, including going to the Super Bowl last season. The 49ers are considered one of the strongest teams in the NFL and there is little reason to believe they won’t continue winning.
-Seattle was a good team in the early-to-mid 2000’s under Mike Holmgren, but they began to age quickly and went 4-12 his last season and 5-11 the next year under Jim Mora Jr. Pete Carroll took over and went 7-9 his first year, but in the weak NFC West that season that won the division. They upset the Saints in the playoffs, before losing the next week to Chicago. They went 7-9 the next season missing the post season, but have gone 24-8 over these last two years, and have the number 1 seed in the NFC.
-Though the Broncos were strong even up the mid-2000’s under Mike Shanahan, he didn’t leave a lot to work with when Josh McDaniels took over. McDaniels made matters worse and really left this team devoid of a lot of talent when John Fox took over. Despite that Fox rallied his team year one behind Tim Tebow and made the playoffs and even won a playoff game over the 12-4 Steelers. The Broncos then brought in Peyton Manning and have had the number 1 seed in back-to-back years in the AFC.
All of these teams have had pretty quick and definitive turnarounds when they got a new coach in place. It perhaps wasn’t always like the 49ers who went to the NFC Championship their first year and the Super Bowl their 2nd year, but they turned around struggling franchises. Though not mentioned you can go back further and find similar turn around’s in the history of the Packers and Patriots. Carolina is the one team that struggled a little at the start under Ron Rivera, but since the 2nd half of last season (Rivera’s 2nd year) the Panthers have been a really tough team to play and this wasn’t some case of them sneaking into the post season this year. They earned the number 2 seed and definitely look like a strong team going forward.Though not a drastic turnaround you have to be impressed with first year coach Mike McCoy getting the Chargers into the post season in a tough division as well.
They Redskins might not be able to make the playoffs year one, but there is no excuse for playing meaningless games by the time Thanksgiving rolls around, and that has happened far too often of late for the Redskins. The Redskins need to find a coach who can win and not make excuses for their failures. These other teams found that, and there is no reason why the Redskins can’t find that as well.