Top 5 Storylines of the 2010 - 2011 NFL Season
The 2010-2011 NFL regular season has come to a close and the playoffs are now upon us. There were so many great things that happened in the league this year, and also some things that everyone wouldn't mind soon forgetting. Let us take a look back at the major story lines that made this football season one to remember.
Michael Vick's Comeback
After spending 21 months in jail for a federal dog-fighting crime in 2007, and filing for chapter-11 bankruptcy in 2008, Michael Vick reemerged as a starting QB in the NFL this season. Determined to pick up where he left off, Vick was given the starting job by the Philadelphia Eagles after Kevin Kolb suffered a concussion during the first game of the year. Vick played well and earned the starting role even while battling through a serious rib-cartilage injury he suffered in week 4. Throughout the course of the season, Vick showed off his new skills as a dangerous pocket passer as well as being able to pick up substantial yardage on the ground. He also set his own career high with an average passer rating of over 100 for the season. While Vick has not signed a contract extension with Philadelphia, he is looking to sign a major contract with some team before the start of next years season. It is a true testament to Michael Vick as an athlete and human being that he was able to bounce back so effectively in the face of adversity. And his second chance comeback was truly one of the great stories of this NFL season.
Brett Favre Contaminates His Legacy
After announcing he was retiring for a third time at the end of last season, Brett Favre decided that he still had some gas left in the tank and returned to the Minnesota Vikings for his "final" season. I'm sure few were surprised at this move especially when considering his last "final" season ended with the Vikings losing a heart breaker to the New Orleans Saints in the NFC title game. Brett was back, ready to avenge his loss, and go out with a Super Bowl bang. But after a 2-7 start, it was clear that the physicality and brutality of the game had caught up with him. And I must admit, I felt bad for the old man. Watching him stand on the sideline, arms crossed, wearing the once dreaded purple and white colors he had despised as the 16 year leader of the rival Green Bay Packers. I stopped feeling so bad once I heard the news that Brett had been involved in a "sexting" scandal with former Jets employee Jen Sterger. In the original report, which included voice mails and "personal" photos that Sterger had received, it was very easy to identify this behavior as major sexual harassment. When the season was all said and done, it is safe to say that Brett Favre's legacy was severely damaged by his choice not to retire the first, or even the second time around.
Peyton Hillis's Surprise Break-Out Season
It is safe to say that no-body prior to this NFL season saw Peyton Hillis coming. Especially not ex-Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels who traded Hillis the prior season to Cleveland for Brady Quinn. But Hillis took his new opportunity with a new team to launch himself into the national spotlight by churning out consistent highlight runs week after week. When the 2010-2011 season was all said and done, this rowdy RB from Arkansas piled up over 1,100 rushing yards, almost 500 receiving yards, not to mention leading his team with 13 total trips to the end zone. Considering that in his previous two seasons with the Broncos, Hillis was held to only 700 total yards with 7 touch downs, his 2010-2011 season was as big of a break out as any player has had. Congratulations to Peyton Hillis for making the most of his opportunities and giving us some incredible running highlights this season.
Major Head Coaching Changes
This NFL season has brought many changes both on and off the field. But the changes that have had the most obvious and direct effect on teams was the firing of head coaches. It came as a surprise to most that the following coaches found themselves unemployed before the season was even over; Wade Phillips of the Dallas Cowboys, Brad Childress of the Minnesota Vikings, Josh McDaniels of the Denver Broncos, and Mike Singletary of the San Fransisco 49'ers. Pre-season every one of these teams were projected by most to be in the playoffs. Maybe it was the high expectations that eventually led to their early termination.
As fast as the for-mentioned coaches were let go by there respective teams, sure enough a replacement had to be found. For the most part, the interim head coaches did a good job turning their teams around. More specifically, Jason Garrett the new head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, did a wonderful job turning a once pathetic Dallas team into a winning ball club once again by finishing the season with on a 5-3 record. Leslie Frazier, the new coach of the Vikings also helped reset his teams winning mentality and established a good attitude in the locker room throughout the remainder of the season.
Seattle Seahawks Defy Expectations
Coming into the playoffs with a losing record was nothing that the Hawks and their fans could have been truly proud of. Especially because something that terrible had never happened in the history of the NFL. They had accumulated a 7-9 record while on their way to win the NFC West division against it's troubled divisional peers. And although their playoff game was set to take place at home, they also managed to be the first NFL team to be considered "under-dogs" in the first round, at home. Although Qwest Field, their home field, is revered my many to be the loudest most intense stadium in the league, they were up against the defending Superbowl Champion New Orleans Saints. It's safe to say that nobody expected a win out of the Seahawks. Their defense had been weak all year, nearly last in the NFL. Their QB, Matt Hasselbeck, now getting older and despite his play-off experience, hadn't played a complete game in weeks. Yet somehow the Hawks managed to put together their finest game of the year. The defense held the Saints when they had to, the offensive line kept Hasselbeck alive long enough to through a couple dimes down the field to wide open receivers, and Marshawn "Beast Mode" Lynch had a highlight reel 67-yard touchdown run in the second half to seal the victory for the Hawks. This unlikely Seahawks victory will go down in history as one of the most improbable playoff games outcomes to ever occur.