Seven NFL teams changed coaches last year. The Falcons are 6-2 and sit atop their division; the Giants are a very surprising 5-2 and have a playoff
berth in sight. Both of these teams have shown significant improvement and part - certainly not all - of that improvement has to be given to the
However, the other 5 teams that made coaching changes have improved little or none at all (stats before the weekend games). In fact, there is a
disturbing commonality here, check this out:
Arizona Cardinals 2-5
Buffalo Bills 2-5
Chicago Bears 2-5
Oakland Raiders 2-6
Washington Redskins 2-5
Is it possible - just remotely possible - that "the problem" in these five cities was not merely the coaching staff but "the problems" (note the use
of the plural noun here!) include significant contributions from the players on the field and the front office geniuses who assemble these rosters?
Since I will be gone for a week, let me go over my list of surprises in the NFL season now that it is approximately half over. Not surprisingly, some
of them have to do with some of the teams listed above:
The Giants are significantly better than I ever thought they could be and much of that is due to the fact that Kurt Warner is playing well again. I
thought his career was cooked.
The Falcons are a major surprise and if they keep this up Jim Mora Jr. could get some run as Coach of the Year.
The Redskins' offense is absolutely inept even with Gibbs and Brunell there; they are 31st in the league in scoring.
Drew Brees is playing better than even his mother ever imagined.
The San Diego rushing defense is REALLY good. They have not given up a run of more than 20 yards all year.
The Seahawks are the biggest bunch of underachievers in the league by a mile.
The big news from yesterday was that Steve Spurrier has taken himself out of the running to be the coach at Florida next year and his statement
included something to the effect that he was not pursuing any coaching possibilities for next year. The last part of that surprises me a bit; but
frankly, I think he made the right choice when he decided not to go back to Florida. I think that would have been a no-win situation for him. He would
be competing with his own legend; and every time he managed to win a national championship there, it would be an "expected outcome" since he already
won a championship there and that is why they hired him back.
There is a lot of chirping in the national media about where Spurrier might be coaxed into coaching. One place I have not heard mentioned yet is Texas
where there are some folks who believe that Mack Brown has underachieved with the talent he has brought in. I don't know if winning 10 games a year is
"underachieving" but there is an undertone of that quality among some Texas media folks and alums. Well, if the talent is really there, Spurrier could
shock most of the Big 12 schools with his offense, which they haven't seen much of. So that makes a modicum of sense to me.
But my diabolical streak says that the perfect scenario would be for Bobby Bowden to retire at Florida State and for Spurrier to get the job there.
Can you imagine the screeching that would happen in all of northern Florida?
The Mets hired Willie Randolph as their manager. This guy has been the bridesmaid in managerial searches more than once and now he is going to the
team he purportedly rooted for as a kid. He had been passed over so many times; you'd have thought he was a corpse. Speaking of corpses, did he take a
moment to look over the Mets' roster before he signed on the dotted line?
Meanwhile, the Phillies hired Charlie Manuel as there manager. He and Jim Thome are close. That better help him get some members of that team to pay
attention to him and the coaching staff because there are some underachieving players on that squad; and if he doesn't watch it, Pat Burrell will have
the Underachiever of the Year Award named after him.
Latrell Spreewell is taking deserved heat for his comment that a $10M a year contract would be an insult to him because after all, he "has to feed his
family." His current contract will pay him $14.6M this year and he says he "needs" a contract extension. According to the St. Paul Pioneer-Press,
Spreewell often drives a Rolls Royce to games at the Target Center. I would estimate that the cash that he could get by selling that car would feed
his family nourishing and satisfying meals for about 5 years - assuming he has a large family.
The NJ Nets just signed Lawrence Frank to a 4-year deal as their coach. The Nets were an NBA finalist a couple of years ago and Frank took over when
Jason Kidd got into a snit with the former coach. The Nets will be fortunate to make the playoffs this year and look to be in a downward spiral. My
over/under for Frank's tenure under this contract is two years and 25 games...
Finally, here is a comment from Bob Costas regarding Terrell Owens' imitation of the "Ray Lewis Stadium Entry Dance":
"When I first saw it, I thought what Owens was doing was graceless and tasteless until I realized that the signature move he was mocking was graceless
But don't get me wrong, I love sports...
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