Bruce Arians, Arizona Cardinals, Head Coach: I have been remiss. In past Hokies in the NFL write-ups I have only focused on the actions of active players, but the reality is that former Hokies contribute on the coaching side of the ball as well. Bruce Arians played football for Virginia Tech and was the starting QB in 1974. In 1975 he started his coaching career as an assistant at VPI. Fast forward 41 years and Arians is now the head coach for the Arizona Cardinals. Two of the last three NFL Coach of the Year awards belong to Bruce (2012 and 2014). Looking back at the 2015 season there is a serious argument for him to retain his current NFL HC of the Year title. Arians’ nine wins as the interim coach for the Indianapolis Colts, during Pagano’s bout with cancer, remains the most wins by any interim coach in the history of the NFL. That was 2012, when he was also the first (and currently only) interim coach to ever be named the NFL Head Coach of the Year. Not surprisingly, such accolades quickly made him the hottest head coach prospect in the league. In 2013 Mr. Arians took over the head coaching duties of the Arizona Cardinals and hit the ground running. In 2013 he directed the Cards to a 10-6 record. In 2014, 11-5. This year the Cardinals continued to improve and finished at 13-3. In his tenure as Arizona’s HC he has achieved a record of 34-14. In 2014 Arian’s Cardinals suffered an ignominious loss in the Wild Card Playoff round to the 7-8 Carolina Panthers, 16-27. This year things are different, and both the Panthers and the Cardinals earned bye weeks. The only way they could meet for a rematch, this year, would be the NFC Championship. In the 2015 Divisional Playoff Round the Cards will face the highest remaining seed out of the No. 3 Vikings, No. 4 Redskins, No. 5 Packers, and the No. 6 Seahawks. I know the NFC East has caught a lot of flak for their division’s abysmal performance, but… I expect that the Cardinals to face the Washington Redskins. The ‘Skins face off against the Packers in D.C., and although neither squad has an impressive win Washington is riding a four game winning streak while the Packers are 2-2 in the same period, and coming off a two game losing streak. We will, obviously, revisit the Cardinals eventual matchup, but here is hoping Arians will earn his first playoff win this season!
Kam Chancellor, Seattle Seahawks, DB: Kam Chancellor has been battling a pelvis injury for the last three weeks. He did not see time during the Seattle destruction of Arizona during the last week of NFL regular season play. The game itself had little effect on the Seahawks’ playoff fate, but the loss, combined with the Carolina win, did remove the Cards from being able to secure home field advantage during the playoffs. Chancellor missed the first two games of the 2015 season due to a contract dispute and subsequent hold out, but returned for week three. Seattle lost their first two games of the season, but since Chancellor’s return the team went 10-4. Chancellor’s impact on games is perhaps best illustrated in the week four matchup against Detroit when Kam forced a fumble against an about to score Calvin Johnson with less than two minutes in regulation. Since his injury in week 14 Chancellor has been listed as questionable. Hopefully after almost a month of rest he will be prepared to face the Minnesota Vikings. Earlier this year Seattle traveled to Minnesota, and devastated the Vikings 38-7. Kam had seven tackles during the game. Assuming he is healthy, and considering that Seattle has won six of their last seven, it is likely Seattle again leaves Minnesota with a win.
Antone Exum Jr., Minnesota Vikings, DB: In his second year Mr. Exum played in 15 games and actually recorded his first NFL start when Harrison Smith injured his knee. As he did in 2014, Exum has spent the preponderance of his time on special teams, but did perform well in the two starts he had in 2015. Minnesota enters the playoffs on a three-win streak and a 20-13 victory over the Green Bay Packers that was not as close as the score showed. This will be Exum’s first playoff game, and as mentioned above, the Vikings will face off against the Seahawks. Russel Wilson is having one of his best year’s in the NFL, and carrying the highest QBR (74.9) and passer rating (110.0) he has ever had. With 34 TDs and only 8 INTs, Wilson will give the Viking’s secondary plenty to contend with during the Wild Card weekend.
Kyshoen Jarrett, Washington Redskins, DB: Jarrett had a scary injury in the last week of regulation against the Cowboys during a hit against Dallas RB, Darren McFadden. The team’s medical professionals are concerned about the nerves in Kyshoen’s right arm and Jarrett was placed on injured reserve this past Tuesday, ending a fantastic and surprising rookie season.
DeAngelo Hall, Washington Redskins, DB: For only the second time since joining the Redskins in 2008 will Hall show in the NFL Playoffs. Previously, Hall was in the playoffs during his rookie season with Atlanta 2004. The Redskins are coming off a four game win streak and will be taking on a Packers team that has looked very mortal. Although the NFC East has struggled, I believe the ‘Skins are in a place to win their Wild Card weekend matchup and move on.
Mike Vick, Pittsburgh Steelers, QB: Vick still lives deep on the Steelers depth chart as the number three quarterback. His primary role, since losing the starting job to Landry and the subsequent return of starter Ben Roethlisberger, has been helping out with the scout team. Vick says, "My arm feels good," and that, "I feel I can still give something back to the game." We wish the greatest Hokie of all time the best of luck in the post season, but unless the Steelers suffer complete devastation at the position it is unlikely he will take a snap in the playoffs. Mr. Vick hopes to find a home in the NFL for the 2016 season.
It is no surprise that four of the six Hokies making playoff appearance are defensive backs. Virginia Tech has earned the moniker of DBU for a reason. Stay tuned to Gobbler Country for future updates on how the Hokies perform throughout the post season!