Friday’s NFL Baba Ghanoush: Andy Reid to the Chiefs, Chip Kelly and Wild Card Weekend
Welcome football fans to the first Friday Baba Ghanoush of 2013! It’s been a crazy first week of the year in the NFL, with a lot of coaching changes, Ray Lewis’ retirement announcement, as well as Wild Card Weekend ahead. Without further ado, let’s jump right into the action:
Upon the completion of the NFL’s regular season, seven head coaches, as well as various other front office personnel, were relieved of their duties for their respective teams. Though there are numerous reports of who will fill those vacancies, I have to note that ProFootballTalk.com has an excellent tracker to keep up on all the action.
Here’s a list of the coaches/GMs who have been fired:
The Bears fired head coach Lovie Smith.
The Bills fired head coach Chan Gailey.
The Browns fired head coach Pat Shurmur and GM Tom Heckert.
The Cardinals fired head coach Ken Whisenhunt and GM Rod Graves.
The Chargers fired head coach Norv Turner and GM A.J. Smith.
The Chiefs fired head coach Romeo Crennel.
The Eagles fired head coach Andy Reid.
The Jaguars fired GM Gene Smith.
The Jets fired GM Mike Tannenbaum.
Here’s a list of the current coaching hires and rumors that have been reported (current time as of me writing this):
Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com reports that the Chiefs have hired Andy Reid. Both the Chiefs and the Cardinals were in the running for Reid, but being reunited with quarterback Kevin Kolb wasn’t enough to bring Reid to Arizona. Rosenthal also reports that Reid “will be able to shape the organization in his image.”
Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times reports that Lovie Smith will interview with the Bills. Jensen also reports that, according to ESPN, the Chargers are also interested in hiring Smith.
Oregon head coach Chip Kelly is one of the biggest head coaching prizes out there this offseason. Though multiple teams are likely to vie for him. Curtis Crabtree of ProFootballTalk.com reports that the Bills, Browns and Eagles are expected to interview with Kelly. The Browns could be the favorite to land Kelly, especially with the connections the two parties share, according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. According to Cabot, via her Twitter account, Browns CEO Joe Banner “spent time with Chip Kelly’s agent [on Thursday]” and that Banner and Kelly’s agent, David Dunn, have a “strong relationship.” Lastly, Cabot wrote that Kelly and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick are good friends, and that she believes Belichick would “steer Kelly toward the Browns over Eagles.” Should be interesting to see how the Chip Kelly race heats up over the next few days, given that Oregon’s season is over.
Wild Card Weekend
Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans, Saturday at 4:30 on NBC
Rematch of last year’s Wild Card Round game, which the Texans won 31-10.
Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers, Saturday at 8 on NBC
Third meeting this season between the two teams, who split their regular season series.
Indianapolis Colts at Baltimore Ravens, Sunday at 1 on CBS
Colts rookie quarterback Andrew Luck faces long-time linebacker Ray Lewis, in what could be his final home playoff game.
Seattle Seahawks at Washington Redskins, Sunday at 4:30 on FOX
Russell Wilson vs. Robert Griffin III.
Earlier this week, Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis announced his intention to retire following this season. Now, I wrote a piece on what Lewis’ legacy will be to football back in October following his injury, so I’ll keep my praise on him here short.
Lewis has been one of the most dominant players of his generation, and it has been a pleasure for me to watch his career. Though I’m too young to remember the greats such as Dick Butkus, for the rest of my life, I will remember linebackers like this: before Ray Lewis and after Ray Lewis. In my opinion, there has been no linebacker as transcendent to the game of football as Lewis over his entire 17-year career. He led the way in what I feel is the greatest defense of all time in the 2000 Ravens.
It’s been an incredible honor to watch Ray Lewis’ career, and though I will miss him lining up as a member of the Ravens next season, I look forward to seeing him as a member of ESPN, where, according to Josh Katzowitz of CBSSports.com, Lewis is set to sign a multi-year deal with the sports network.
*photo borrowed from Arrow Head Pride