BY CONOR FORREST STAFF WRITER
As the Vince Lombardi Trophy finds its new home in Kansas City, it’s time to take a look back at the 2019 NFL season.
The NFL is a story, and each season is a chapter. Each chapter brings in new challenges and new triumphs. Along with each chapter come the characters that drive the storylines to new levels of entertainment.
2019 was home to some incredible stories, both victories and failures. Because when the dust settles on a season, and the confetti is swept up from the field following the Super Bowl, there is only one team who leaves the final words on the page and goes home feeling fully satisfied.
That leaves 31 other teams behind them to pick up the pieces and start again.
Starting again comes easier to some than it does others. Each team has a foundational group of players and coaches to build from. Some foundations are stronger than others.
Take, for example, the turnaround the 49ers had. From finishing 4-12 in 2018, the Kyle Shanahan-led group posted a 13-3 finish a year later, only to fall in the final minutes to the Chiefs in Superbowl LIV.
The Chicago Bears, however, were an example of a team that did just the opposite. From finishing 12-4 in 2018, the Bears finished the 2019 season at 8-8, with more questions than answers moving forward.
This past season saw stars emerge in some incredible ways. Names like Lamar Jackson from the Ravens and Patrick Mahomes from the Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs will be household names in the years to come. Young talents like Kyler Murray from the Cardinals and Nick Bosa from the 49ers also strongly broke onto the scene.
While some teams are already at work revitalizing their rosters for the upcoming draft, others needed a complete overhaul from the top down.
Organizations like the Browns and the Redskins cleaned house. From the removal of GM’s, coaches, staff members and even members of the training staff, the Redskins and Browns are looking for more than just wins on the field. They are looking for a brand-new identity.
Teams like the Giants and Panthers found new coaches as well. The Giants employed Joe Judge from the New England Patriots, while the Panthers appointed former Temple and Baylor head coach Matt Rhule.
The Cowboys finally parted ways with long time head coach Jason Garrett and agreed to terms with former Packers head coach Mike McCarthy.
The NFC West division was one of the best divisions in football this past season, sending the 49ers to the Superbowl, while the Seahawks and Rams all found themselves to be playoff-relevant by the time the end of the season came around.
The NFC East division this year, however, looked more like a contest for who wanted to lose more, rather than four teams who were vying for a playoff spot.
But in many ways, that’s how the wheel goes in the NFL. Some years, you find yourself in the thick of the race for the Lombardi Trophy. Other years, you are planning off-season golf trips in the middle of October.
One thing is for sure, however. Every year is a brand new chapter in the story of professional football. The characters and challenges change with each season. New players come and go, from the NFL draft to training camp to the preseason, and kick off in early September.
2019 was a season that saw a team win the Superbowl for the first time in 50 years. It saw the Patriots exit the playoffs in the first round for the first time since 2009. Who could have scripted that?
That, however, is the beauty of football. The moment that people think they have teams figured out is the moment that something unexpected happens. The Kansas City Chiefs will take the next week or so to celebrate their title, and spend some time reflecting on the year they had.
For the rest of the NFL? It’s on to 2020.