Looking back at the 2008 NFL regular season, I think the one theme that stands out is the fact that a lot of teams blew a lot of chances this year. Sure, there were teams that pounced on opportunity: the Arizona Cardinals took advantage of being in the worst division in football to win said division, the Miami Dolphins took advantage of their schedule to be good enough to win the AFC East, and the San Diego Chargers took care of their business to put themselves in a position to win and get in in the final week of the season.
But the Chargers were only able to do that because the Denver Broncos wasted their (very good) chance. And the Dolphins wouldn't have won had the Jets held their ground. And they were joined by the likes of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Chicago Bears, who at one point controlled their destiny, only to let those opportunities slip away. Throw in teams like the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys, and it seems like there was an inordinate amount of teams this year who had a chance to make things happen for themselves, and blew it. (Teams like the Bills don't count - though they got off to a really hot start, they faded too far too fast.)
I noticed a couple of patterns with these teams - the Jets, Broncos, Bucs, Redskins, and Cowboys. The first is, other than the Jets, who lost too many games to beatable teams, the teams really beat up on their weaker opponents - meaning maybe they didn't really deserve to be in the positions they were in because they didn't have the most difficult schedules. (I noted how easy the Broncos' schedule was way back in August.)
But the other thing is a lot of these teams had a big win, followed by a big collapse. Look:
1) The Jets beat the Patriots and Titans in back-to-back weeks on the road, improving to 8-3, then went 1-4 the rest of the way.
2) The Broncos started the Jets on that downward spiral, but that was their high water mark - after beating the Jets, Denver beat Kansas City, then lost their final three, all with an opportunity to clinch the division.
3) The Buccaneers were 9-3, coming off a win that pretty much buried the Saints, then lost to Carolina in a big divisional matchup as part of their 0-4 finish to the season.
4) The Redskins started hot, became everyone's favorite darkhorse, were sitting pretty at 7-4, and then finished 1-4 - including a loss to Cincinnati - to finish the season.
5) The Cowboys' chokes have been well-documented, but they fit this pattern, too - after regaining some hope by beating the Giants, they lost their final two games of the season with everything on the line.
I guess this is all just to point out that as horrible as the Jets season was, they had plenty of company this year. It's just hard to notice that other teams and their fans are sharing your plight in the heat of the moment.
ON THE OTHER HAND, MY YEAR WAS PRETTY GOOD: I have to admit, on this last day of 2008, that I got really caught up in my number of posts this year. When I changed format sometime last year, the new page kept track of posts per month and year. And I decided I wanted to try to post as much as I could in 2008, watching those numbers very closely.
I ended up posting a record 284 times in 2008. Of course, it was a leap year, so you have to subtract from 366 to see how many days I missed instead of 365, but still...I'm impressed.
April and May were tough - a busy time at school. October, a month into having the new baby, was also sporadic. But I wrote this year more days than ever before - by a long shot.
And the reason I did it was because people were reading. I was picked up a couple of times this summer by other blogs, which was a first. And I have my small, small circle of loyal readers, who I really appreciate taking a couple of minutes out of their day to read what I have to say, and either comment on it in writing or in person. Thank you, because I'd like to think I'd do this in a vacuum, but I'm not sure I'd continue if no one read it.
I'm proud of the fact that I was able to keep the writing up this year. And I doubt that I'll be able to match that output in 2009. But I'll try. And I'll have help. I'm excited to announce that in 2009, as I floated out as a possibility in early August, the Southern Bureau will become a regular contributor - I've officially handed over a set of keys. Maybe I can get The Wife to do some more contributing in 2009 as well.
But just like a year ago, there's a lot to look forward to in the coming year. And I will write about it. And who knows, it might just turn out to be more often than in 2008.