Happy Thanksgiving everybody! While we all reflect on what we have to be thankful for this year, let’s take a look around the NFL at the players, coaches, and teams that have something to be thankful for this time of year.
Kansas City Chiefs – The Chiefs should be thankful to the Philadelphia Eagles for firing Andy Reid and making him available for them to hire. Despite losses in their last two games, Reid has helped the Chiefs pull a complete 180 following a disastrous season last year. Already reaching the nine-win mark is better than even the most optimistic fans could have expected from the Chiefs coming into the season after just two wins all of last year. Kansas City is almost certainly going to the playoffs, and they have Reid to thank for their swift turnaround.
Philadelphia Eagles – Not only are the Eagles thankful for Chip Kelly, whose offense has put a lot of points on the board this season, despite a few off weeks, they’re also thankful for Nick Foles. The Eagles could have traded away Foles this offseason, as he’s not the proto-typical quarterback you see in Kelly’s offense, but he’s been exceptional over the past month and has the Eagles atop the NFC East and eyeing a potential playoff birth in Kelly’s first season in the NFL.
Greg Schiano – Schiano should be thankful that he still has a job. At any point during Tampa’s 0-8 start to the season, the Bucs would have been justified in firing him, especially since they also lost five of their final six games last year. The Bucs winning three in a row does give them a chance to salvage the season, although it does indicate that they had too much talent to lose their first eight games, and that Schiano’s poor coaching was the main culprit in their poor start to the season. Either way, Schiano is still employed as a coach in the NFL, and he should be thankful for that, because a month ago it was far from a guarantee.
New England Patriots – We tend to take what Tom Brady does for granted, but considering all the problems New England had during the offseason, and the injury problems they’ve had during the season, where would the be without him? Slot receiver Danny Amendola and tight end Rob Gronkowski are the best weapons Brady has this year, and both of those guys have missed time with injury, forcing Brady to get by with rookies Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins. Yet, the Patriots are where they always are this time of year: they have a seemingly insurmountable three-game lead in the AFC East and are just a game behind Denver and Kansas City for the top seed in the conference, and an overwhelming amount of the credit belongs to Brady.
New Orleans Saints – The Saints have gotten a huge boost from the return of Sean Payton this year, but they really need to be thankful to the Dallas Cowboys for firing defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, because Ryan coming to New Orleans to run the defense has been the biggest difference maker for the Saints this season. New Orleans couldn’t stop anybody last year, but now they’re a top-5 defense against the pass and have only allowed 20 or more points on three occasions this season, and with Drew Brees playing quarterback that’s a combination that will win a lot of games. The Saints are 9-2 right now, and should have no trouble making the playoffs and being one of the favorites to come out of the NFC, with a great deal of credit going to Ryan and the play of his defense.
Seattle Seahawks – At the moment, Percy Harvin has exactly one catch for 17 yards, but over the next two months the Seahawks are bound to grow increasingly thankful that they have him, and that he’s been able to come back from his hip injury and get back on the field for them. Harvin gives Seattle a dynamic threat in their passing game that has lacked playmakers all season, despite the fact that they have a quarterback that can create big plays if he has the weapons around him. Harvin is that weapon that Russell Wilson and the Seahawks need, and they’re about to be thankful that they have him down the stretch and in the postseason, because he’s a difference maker.