By Andrew Shortall, firstname.lastname@example.org
1:31 PM PST, January 26, 2013
The following are final updates on area athletes and coaches in the National Football League for the 2012 season.
Change was abundant for the three locals in the NFL this past season with even more on the horizon. Most notable was Andy Reid, a former Glendale Community College football player, joining a new team, the Kansas City Chiefs, for the first time in nearly a decade-and-a-half after a second year of struggles with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Another former Vaquero, Hue Jackson, had more success as an assistant coach, helping the Cincinnati Bengals reach the playoffs after being fired from his head coaching job in Oakland at the end of the 2011 season.
The defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants missed the postseason, but wide receiver Ramses Barden, who graduated from Flintridge Prep, had his best showing yet with free agency approaching.
While Reid’s landing spot for 2013 has already been decided, only time will well where Jackson and Barden will find themselves next season.
The following are recaps of the past year — good and bad — for all three former local players in the NFL.
It was a heart-wrenching start to the 2012 season for Reid, a former offensive tackle at GCC, as his son, Garrett, was found dead on Aug. 5. And it became clear before the first regular-season game kicked off that he was on the hot seat with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Twenty-six days after Garrett was found dead, Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said a season like 2011 — when Philadelphia finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs — wouldn’t be acceptable at a press conference.
Thus, it came as no surprise when Reid was fired on Dec. 31, 2012, after the Eagles fell well short of the postseason with a 4-12 record.
While injuries played a big part, the struggles weren’t limited to just one thing. Offensively, Philadelphia averaged 17.5 points a game and allowed 27.8 points on defense. Both numbers ranked 29th out of the league’s 32 teams.
The Eagles were a popular pick to make and win the Super Bowl before the 2012 season began. Philadelphia started the season by winning three of its first four games by a total of four points before losing its next eight. They boasted a roster filled with high-priced talent on both sides of the ball, but it didn’t translate into many victories this past year, which included a quarterback change from veteran Michael Vick to rookie Nick Foles.
With a resume that includes a career record of 140-102-1, nine playoff appearances and a Super Bowl appearance, Reid wasn’t going to be unemployed for long. He proved to be a hot commodity in the NFL, being the first coach hired this offseason, with eight teams looking for new leaders, when the Kansas City Chiefs made him their new coach on Jan. 4.
Reid, who reportedly had drawn interest from the Arizona Cardinals and San Diego Chargers, will look to put the past two disappointing seasons in Philadelphia behind him in Kansas City. It will take some rebuilding, but the Chiefs have some nice pieces with six Pro Bowlers and the No. 1 overall pick for the upcoming draft after they finished the past campaign with a 2-14 record.
“Sometimes change is good,” Reid was quoted as saying during his introductory press conference with the Chiefs by ESPN.com. “It could be tremendous for the Philadelphia Eagles, and at the same time, I think it's going to be tremendous for the Kansas City Chiefs.”
REPEAT SUCCESS FOR
For the second straight year, the Cincinnati Bengals made the playoffs, this time around with Hue Jackson onboard as an assistant special teams and defensive backs coach.
Jackson, a former Glendale Community College quarterback, was hired by the Bengals on Feb. 17, 2012, after being fired as the Oakland Raiders head coach after the 2011 campaign.
Cincinnati locked up a wild-card playoff berth for the second season in a row by winning seven of its final eight games to finish with a 10-6 record. Once again, its stay in the postseason was short-lived, as it was knocked out in the wild-card round by the Houston Texans, 19-13, for the second year in a row on Jan. 5.
Recent reports suggest Jackson may be on the move with all the shuffling of coaches currently going on in the NFL. He’s been a top candidate for a number of offensive coordinator openings in the league. He’s reportedly already interviewed for the Carolina Panthers position and also drawn interest for the New York Jets opening, according to the Charlotte Observer and NFL.com, respectively. Multiple media outlets have also linked Jackson to the Dallas Cowboys.
UP AND DOWN
YEAR FOR BARDEN
With free agency looming in 2013, Ramses Barden needed to show the New York Giants and the rest of the league he's worth a new contract. The Flintridge Prep graduate had a flash of dominance in the 2012 season en route to putting together the best campaign in his four-year career.
The year started out well for the 6-foot-6 wide receiver, as he scored for the first time in his NFL career in a preseason game with the Chicago Bears on Aug. 24, 2012. It came on an 11-yard pass from quarterback Eli Manning and highlighted a three-reception, 46-yard day for the 27-year old.
Injuries to fellow Giants wide receivers Hakeem Nicks and Domenik Hixon thrust Barden into the limelight in a regular season game in Carolina on Sept. 20, 2012. Barden stepped up and led all receivers with nine catches for 138 yards in New York's 36-7 win over the Panthers.
“I have a mentality where I prepare daily to be the No. 1 wide receiver on the team,” Barden recently said in an interview with Vibe.com. “I just prepare to play the best and perform the best each day. I tried my best to take advantage of the opportunities I got this year. I was excited when those opportunities came.”
The outburst helped him match the amount of receptions he had in all of 2011 and led him to a career year with season highs in receptions (14) and receiving yards (220). Six of those catches were for more than 20 yards and 11 were good for first downs.
The performance gave Barden a good shot to take over the third-receiver spot with the Giants behind Nicks, Victor Cruz and in front of Hixon and rookie Reuben Randle. Barden followed the career game with two catches for 36 yards in a 19-17 loss to the NFC East rival Eagles on Sept. 30 before being ruled inactive in week five because of a concussion he suffered late in the Philadelphia loss.
The absence dropped Barden down on New York's talented wide receiver corps, as he didn't log another catch until week 10 when he caught a pair of passes for 22 yards in a 31-13 loss to the Bengals.
The year didn't end well for the Giants, either, as the defending Super Bowl champions failed to make the playoffs with a 9-7 record. New York dropped five of its last eight games to fall just behind the startup Washington Redskins (10-6) and their rookie phenom signal caller Robert Griffin III, along with the wild-card Seattle Seahawks (11-5) and Minnesota Vikings (10-6).
There are questions about where Barden, who was drafted by the Giants in 2009 in the third round, will play next season. The former Rebel recently told Vibe.com he'd “love to resign with the Giants,” but knows anything can happen.
“My agent and I just have to sit down with the Giants' management and hopefully both parties can find a way to keep me around,” Barden told Vibe.com. “Free agency doesn't open until March so I’ll have a better idea of where I'll be playing then.”