The following are final updates on area athletes and coaches in the National Football League for the 2011-12 season.
Aside from the dominant local storyline of Flintridge Prep product Ramses Barden making it to today's Super Bowl XLVI, there were several other interesting threads to follow involving coaches and players with local roots.
In the coaching ranks, Philadelphia's Andy Reid was retained after many thought the star-studded Eagles' early struggles would cost the veteran coach his job. Conversely, Hue Jackson led the downtrodden Oakland Raiders to the cusp of an AFC West Division title in his first year on the job, only to be shown the door in a surprising move by an Oakland franchise in transition.
The following are synopses of the aforementioned figures' triumphs and travails in an NFL season that rebounded from its offseason work stoppage in a big way and now has just a few hours left.
REID SURVIVES SEASON
From the time they first began to stockpile talent through free agency and trades in the lockout-shortened offseason, the Eagles were a trendy pick to go far this season, if not at least build on last year's one-game playoff run, but these birds never got off the ground.
Philadelphia struggled mightily to assimilate its new players into its defensive scheme and fared poorly at times on offense, as well, particularly when star quarterback Michael Vick went down with an injury midseason and missed several games.
Reid, who played at Glendale Community College, took the heat for much of the underachieving team's woes, which began with a 4-8 start and ended with Philadelphia missing the playoffs even after showing significant improvement down the stretch to finish 8-8. But regardless of the fan and media pressure — a group of fans took to camping out across the street from the Eagles' practice facility with a banner calling for Reid's firing early in the team's four-game losing streak that began in the second week of the season — owner Jeffrey Lurie chose to stay the course.
On Jan. 3, Lurie announced that Reid would be back for a 14th season in 2012 and have free rein to assemble his coaching staff, although he stopped short of saying whether or nor the final year of Reid's contract in 2014 would be honored.
Reid remains one of the most successful coaches currently tenured at 126-81-1 overall and has had just one losing season since being hired in 1999, while leading the team to nine playoff appearances, including a run to the Super Bowl in 2004.
JACKSON SENT PACKING
BY NEW RAIDERS REGIME
Hue Jackson seemed genuinely blindsided by the announcement by Raiders owner Mark Davis and newly-hired general manager Reggie McKenzie on Jan. 10 that his services would no longer be needed.
When the season began, Jackson, a former Glendale college quarterback, seemed well-entrenched with the franchise, enjoying the solid backing of legendary owner and de facto GM Al Davis and getting the team off to a solid 7-4 start. But Jackson's job security began to slowly erode with the sudden midseason death of Al Davis, who was succeeded by his son, Mark, followed by the controversial trade of high draft picks for quarterback Carson Palmer. The Raiders limped to the finish at 8-8 with a 1-4 showing over their last five, including a loss to the San Diego Chargers in the regular-season finale that would have sent the team to the playoffs.
Jackson and the Raiders' numerous successes were tempered by glaring shortcomings, such as the dubious distinction of setting league records for penalties (163) and penalty yards (1,358). But in the end, it seemed Jackson was mostly a casualty of Mark Davis' desire to build his own infrastructure from the ground up, a blueprint that Jackson, who had expressed a desire for more of a voice in the direction of the organization, didn't fit into.
According to ESPN.com, Jackson has since interviewed for the offensive coordinator job with the St. Louis Ramsand for the quarterbacks coach position with the Arizona Cardinals, but wasn't hired.
BANGED UP BRITTON
MISSES MUCH TIME
The year ended like it started for Britton — with the former Burroughs High standout on the injured reserve list.
Jaguars running backMaurice Jones-Drewrushed for a league-high 1,606 yards this season but did so without Britton on the offensive line for most of the season.
Britton missed the entire preseason and season opener with a herniated disk in his lower back, which he suffered two weeks before the start of the preseason. The 2005 Burroughs graduate made his return in the second game of the season against the New York Jets (Sept. 18, 2011) and made his first start of the season and first career start at left guard against the Carolina Panthers the next week, helping Jones-Drew run for 122 yards in the game.
The 24-year old shifted back over to right tackle on Oct. 9, 2011 in a game against the Cincinnati Bengals after Jacksonville's starting right tackle, Eugene Monroe, left the game with an injury. Britton wouldn't see the field the rest of the year after the game and was placed on Jacksonville's injured reserve list on Nov. 14, a day after Jacksonville's 17-3 win over the Indianapolis Colts, with a back injury.
Jones-Drew ran for 379 yards and one of his eight touchdowns in the four games Britton played in this year with Jacksonville going 0-4 in those games.
The Jaguars didn't have much success outside of Jones-Drew this season, finishing with a 5-11 record and third in the AFC South.