Because an NFL season often takes on two distinct chapters, it’s entirely appropriate to put out a yearbook for the first half of 2018. If we’ve learned anything over the years, the second half of the season will look much different as coaches frantically adjust and alter in order to make a playoff run, or save their jobs. Meanwhile, players realize they’re approaching an evaluation period that can secure a roster spot or lucrative contract extension.
So join us for the best part of any yearbook review, the most effective way to brand someone for life based on a short window: the superlatives section.
Most likely to spend the next four months as a sporadic guest on second-tier mid-morning sports debate programs before spring-boarding into a career as as the kind of television analyst who uses his platform to tirelessly to rewrite his personal history
Not much of a surprise here. Jackson’s meltdown was taking place both publicallyand privately. What began as a massive coup for the Browns during a 2015 hiring window, when Jackson was one of the hottest candidates on the market, ended with a rash of infighting, paranoia and blame-shifting. Jackson’s attempt at revisionist history, and apparent lack of self-awareness when he suggests the team should have listened to him more, will probably make it hard for another owner to install him in a head-coaching role again.
Most likely to parlay thirst for an opportunity to work with Baker Mayfield into an upset bid to win the Browns’ head job
The quarterback whisperer sure loves good quarterbacks. Baker Mayfield is going to be a good quarterback. At age 66, football’s Kangol-wearing king of cool has seemingly grown tired of media life—or at least bored enough to start throwing said Kangol into the ring for coaching jobs again. The Browns will be looking for an innovative offensive mind and safe choice to keep Mayfield’s development on a steady rise. Arians can do that. And he also (probably) won’t try to shove his offensive coordinator in front of a moving train.
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Don’t look now, but the Colts are jockeying for position to make a run in the AFC South. They have the division’s best quarterback and, despite a significant lack of weaponry, have gutted out two straight wins and are barreling into a contest against the wounded division-rival Jaguars. If nothing else, Reich has turned a horrific situation—finally getting a head coaching opportunity only after the other guy hired half a staff and then quit—into a bedrock for a future where Andrew Luck can realize some of his potential.
Jon Gruden and Reggie McKenzie
Like all great young romances, one person carefully crafts a well-executed plan for a life together, and the other kicks in the door with a crate of dynamite and blows it all to pieces. Bless McKenzie for making it seem like he and Gruden are in lockstep through the Raiders’ chaos. Two years ago the Oakland GM won executive of the year and was one Derek Carr broken leg away from torching a few teams in the playoffs. Now his best draft pick is challenging Aaron Donald for defensive player of the year … with the Bears. Here’s hoping this couple lasts until prom, at least.
The amount of time and planning that went into Thomas’s Joe Horn tribute was astounding. He still will not say how early he had to sneak into the Superdome to make it happen. His teammates said they had no choice but to cover the hell out of the ensuing kickoff in support of the legendary action. Despite the piles of hate mail I received for saying this: It was entirely worth the 15-yard penalty in a tight game against a good offense.
Most likely to throw stones in public whilst living in a glass house
The Lions’ first-year head coach chided a reporter for slouching, saying it’s disrespectful to the process. Many people were quick to point out that the notoriously dressed-like-a-vacationing-pirate Patricia doesn’t really give off the vibe of someone who respects “the process” much, either.
Most transparent in frantic efforts to stave off a coaching change
We joke, but we would all have done something similar here. I think Koetter is an excellent play-caller and coordinator who fell into a strange win-now situation in Tampa not entirely of his doing. No one who looked at the bones of this roster thought they were ready to take on the Atlantas, Carolinas and New Orleans’s of the world, and yet the Bucs were thrust into Hard Knocks hyperdrive after their 2017 appearance. The result this season? The comical juggling of quarterbacks and mystical dependence on the magic of one Ryan Joseph Fitzpatrick.
Worst attempt at utilizing your Insta-life as a shield to hide your true feelings of remorse
The jet skiing and, uh, other stuff were not really fooling anyone. Bell has been sending emotional trial balloons on social media all season while James Conner rips up the AFC North and further entrenches himself as the Steelers’ starting running back. The feelings here are straight out of high school. Imagine venturing outside of your tight-knit friend group to reach for something better only to realize that, when that thing doesn’t materialize, you’ve been replaced at the lunch table by another guy with cooler hair. Damn, man.
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