|Charles Krupa / Associated Press|
|Santa and his many helpers will be busy this holiday season dishing out gifts to teams and players in need.|
It is Christmas time and, as they say in the movie "Home Alone", it is "the season of perpetual hope." Hope often is what many teams rely on for next year as few actually plan to win. But since it is the season for giving, I thought it might be best to give a few gifts to the teams and players.
The first gift we all would love to see under our tree on Christmas would be labor peace in the league and, therefore, no work stoppage for 2011. Football is part of the fabric of this great country, so we need a labor deal that is beneficial to both sides.
To John Skelton, the pride of Fordham and now the starting quarterback in Arizona, may he have a great offseason filled with hard work and dedication as he tries to become the full-time starter. Other than Sam Bradford, there was no other quarterback with more talent in the draft than Skelton. If he combines the work habits with his talent, he might be a long-time starter.
To Tony Gonzalez, a Super Bowl appearance as his career is coming to a close. As a member of the Chiefs, Gonzalez never was able to achieve that dream and may he have that chance to cap his remarkable career with the Falcons.
To the Panthers and their fans, a comprehensive plan on how they are going to rebuild the franchise, from top to bottom. The Panthers and their fans do not deserve another year like this and nothing will prove more essential in Carolina than a blueprint containing the essential elements to get back to being competitive.
The Bears' wish list for Santa is easy, three new offensive linemen to help Jay Cutler and the offense maximize its full ability. The Bears are a good line away from being a really good team, capable of beating anyone.
To Jason Garrett, a fellow Jersey guy, a contract to become the head coach of the Cowboys. But more than money, the bigger gift we could bestow upon Garrett would be the toughness to be able to tell owner Jerry Jones what he needs to know instead of what he wants to hear. Sometimes, being the man in charge means you have the responsibility to do the right thing at the right time along with the courage to stand alone.
To the Lions, one more excellent draft class and for quarterback Matthew Stafford to stay healthy for the entire 2011 season. I know that is more than one gift, however, I am in a giving mood.
Green Bay Packers
To quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the ability to play 10 more years without having to worry about getting a concussion. Rodgers has had two already this year and one more might cause him to miss time and prevent all of us from watching him play.
To owner Zygi Wilf, a new young quarterback to build the team around and hopefully a new stadium for him to display his talents. The Vikings are a long way from being good and I hope ownership is patient as the rebuilding process might take as long as it does to build a new stadium.
New Orleans Saints
To Drew Brees and the entire organization, a gift of thanks for making their Super Bowl win so much fun to watch as well as the class they have demonstrated as champions. The Saints are the quietest Super Bowl champs EVER and have acted this year as if last year's win never happened. As Frank Sinatra would say, now that is class.
New York Giants
May Giants coach Tom Coughlin find the right words to motivate his team this week coming off the tough loss against the Eagles. The Giants can turn their setback into a comeback. If they beat the Packers this week, it might be hard to stop them come playoff time.
Under the Michael Vick tree, may he have the strength to handle the success that his perseverance allowed him to obtain based on his incredible play this season. The clear cut Comeback Player of the Year winner has allowed the Eagles to rebuild much quicker this year and has turned them into a viable Super Bowl team.
San Francisco 49ers
To those who learned from Bill Walsh what good quarterbacking play looks like and, unfortunately from watching this year, what bad play looks like. The 49ers' gift is a talented, young quarterback who could make their fans proud.
For quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, the ability to stay healthy and be able to play an entire season without being hampered, which might mean he needs a few more quality offensive linemen to protect him in the pocket. Hasselbeck has not been able to stay injury free the past two seasons and those issues have prevented him from playing well.
St. Louis Rams
Fans should not feel greedy getting more gifts with Sam Bradford possibly being a present of a lifetime. But even Santa knows Bradford needs a few more playmakers under his tree.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
To coach Raheem Morris, the real understanding of what the best team in the NFC should look like. The Buccaneers took a huge step forward this season, and in one more year they might be the best in the NFC, but not right now, patience Raheem.
To Mike Shanahan, a peaceful offseason away from all the questions from the media about a certain defensive tackle and who is starting at quarterback. Shanahan needs to get a good rebuilding plan in place and not try to use a 3-4 defense with 4-3 talent.
To the Ravens, an identity on offense and the understanding they must get the ball to Ray Rice any way possible. Baltimore must stop this unbalanced stuff and get back to playing normal football. I actually see no advantage the Ravens gain when they go unbalanced or put a tackle at tight end.
To the Bills, extra draft picks in every round to help their rebuilding process speed along. Bills fans are amazing, and I sincerely hope they will one day witness a Super Bowl winner, but the team is really lacking in the talent department right now.
Fans would love to have a new general manager under their tree, but that won't happen. Therefore, my gift to them would be a larger scouting staff to help their new coach find talent. This might never happen, but we have to make the best list possible.
The Brownies need a few playmakers on either side of the ball this year and probably next. Cleveland can function this season, next year, with more talent, they might compete.
A new head coach who loves Tim Tebow and wants him to be his starter along with an offense that can best utilize his skill set.
Toughness is the best gift. The Texans need a heavy dose of toughness, both mental and physical, along with the understanding of what it takes to win more than eight games a season.
To Austin Collie, the right helmet and the right amount of time so he can play football again. I hope he, like Aaron Rodgers, never has another headache.
Jack Del Rio has done a good job of winning close games this year and, for him, the best gift Santa can bring would be a few more skill players on either side of the ball. The Jaguars are not a typical team, winning even though they do not protect the ball and cannot make explosive plays. Jacksonville is still a few players away from winning its first AFC South title.
Kansas City Chiefs
To Todd Haley, a "Serenity now" reminder each time he is ready to have one of his temper tantrums. He is a better coach when he stays calm and cool. The Chiefs have made huge strides this season and so has Haley in emotion department. He can still use a little less anger on Sundays, which will help the Chiefs more than his outbursts of yelling at the officials on EVERY call.
To all the season ticket holders, more home wins. This year, they have only seen one and had to watch the other six victories come on the road. The Dolphins need to show their fans that they are a capable home team.
New England Patriots
To Tom Brady, a mantle place to display his 2010 MVP trophy. I know Brady never cares about individual achievement, but he has been incredible this year. When his career is over, he will need a place to rest all the wonderful awards he has accumulated.
New York Jets
For the Jets, the gift of no salary cap in 2011, which would then allow them to re-sign receivers Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards. If the salary cap comes back, the Jets might have to make a few tough choices.
To everyone at the Raiders, the sense of accomplishment that they have taken a team that has lost 11 or more games since 2003 and finally are back to competing for a title. I know there is not a sense of appreciation in the organization, but under each Raider tree should be a note thanking them for their efforts.
To the defense, the ability to tackle without fear of getting fined. The Steelers are not trying to hurt anyone, but they do play the game with toughness and intensity. Their defense needs to find a happy medium between legal and illegal hits.
San Diego Chargers
To the Chargers, the ability to start fast next year and be the best team in September as well as being a club that knows how to not get a punt blocked.
To Mike Heimerdinger, the best gift of all would be the ability to cure his cancer and be on the coaching sidelines next year. We are all praying for you, Mike.
Have a wonderful Christmas and enjoy your holiday season.
Follow Michael Lombardi on Twitter @michaelombardi.