1. I wish that Tony Sparano finds another head coaching job. He was a good coach working under difficult circumstances after the Dolphins ownership publicly courted Jim Harbaugh. After the Dolphins’ horrific start, which had many commentators predicting a winless season and the first pick in next year’s draft, more than a few coaches and many teams would have packed it in for the season. Sparano and the Dolphins didn’t. Sparano deserves another shot somewhere else.
2. I wish that Todd Haley finds another head coaching job. It wasn’t his fault that the Chiefs’ most important players suffered season-ending injuries. (Unless you subscribe to the theory that Haley’s unusual training camp, which focused on conditioning, somehow contributed to those injuries. I don’t, and you shouldn’t either.) Like the Dolphins, Haley and the Chiefs could have quit on the season as they watched their key personnel being carted off the field. They didn’t, and, for a while, they were legitimate playoff contenders.
3. I wish the NFL would put an end to coaches calling timeouts just before the snap for a field goal attempt. No one wants to see a team attempting the same field goal twice. And I’ll bet Jason Garrett would agree. I don’t want to hear about how calling a timeout in this situation is an “important strategic decision.” It’s the simplest strategic decision imaginable in the context of a football game, and it often takes away from 59 minute of otherwise great football. Moreover,whether the kicker makes or misses the field goal has nothing to do with whether there was a timeout. (There’s statistical evidence on this issue, my friends.) The rule should be as simple as this — once a team lines up for a field goal attempt, neither team can call a timeout.
4. I wish someone would make a great football movie. I was sitting next to director Jon Favreau on a flight last night (he directed Iron Man, in case you were wondering), and it struck me that he would be the perfect director for something like that, but I didn’t want to bother him. Now I wish I had. But, seriously, when was the last great football movie? No, The Replacements wasn’t a good movie. I think you’d have to go back to North Dallas Forty.
5. I wish that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA chief DeMaurice Smith have a wonderful holiday season. Funny how infrequently you saw their names in the paper once they got the lockout resolved, but all NFL fans owe them thanks for getting it done. Two intelligent, committed men resolving an issue with (mostly) respectful, professional communications. Imagine that.
6. I wish to see Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith’s names appearing in the papers even less frequently for the next several years.
7. I wish the Lions would grow up. They’re a talented team that is being undone by their immaturity. And it’s not just Ndamukong Suh stomping on a player on Thanksgiving Day, when half the nation is watching. It’s silly penalties and childish conduct.
8. I wish that the Packers decide not to rest their starters and take a shot at a perfect season. Yes, I understand that winning the Super Bowl is more important than a perfect season. But there’s also something to be said for taking a chance at doing something exceptional, and there’s also something to be said about the dangers of taking your foot off the gas pedal.
9. I wish that Matt Schaub and Mario Williams appreciate their roles in getting the Texans into the playoffs for the first time and that they come back healthy next year to try to make it two in a row. Every team suffers injuries. But to lose your starting quarterback and, arguably, your top defensive player (I still can’t get myself to call Williams a linebacker), then still make the playoffs, speaks highly of everyone in that organization.
10. I wish that Peyton Manning starts at quarterback for the Redskins next year. For all of the many pieces I have written in this space in the past several years, I have never received as much mail as I did for my prediction that Manning will be playing for the Redskins next year (or the year after). Now that the Colts have all but cemented the first pick in the draft, and as it is widely assumed that they will select Andrew Luck, the likelihood that Manning will be available will be greater than ever. And if Manning has a clean bill of health, the Redskins would be wise to try to upgrade one of their weaknesses by plugging in one of the greatest quarterbacks in history for a couple years. Manning in a Redskins uniform would look no less peculiar than seeing him in a Seahawks or Chiefs uniform. But wherever he ends up, Manning is going to make that team significantly better. And if you are a Redskins fan and would rather have Rex Grossman under center next year than Peyton Manning, I just don’t know what to say.