Well, it’s over. At least as far as I am concerned. There is no team left I want to root for in the play offs. Oh, I’ll probably still watch the Super Bowl, but that’ll be about it. But today was “Black Monday” for three head coaches.
Rod Marinelli: I like Rod. Really I do. He got saddled with a bad team, with the worst general manager in the history of the NFL (Matt Millen), and a lot of player personel moves that baffled the mind. Yet he kept an even keel, handled a very aggressive and hostile press with aplomb, and did everything with in his power to keep that team from outright quitting on the season. Heck, even his good bye press conference was class. Marinelli still has a future in the NFL. It will certainly be a few years before he gets another head coaching shot, but someone will pick him up as a coordinator.
Romeo Crenel: The clock was ticking on Romeo several weeks ago. When the GM got fired yesterday, his fate was sealed. Crenel had some good moments in Cleveland, but he just couldn’t maintain the momentum, and keep the franchise moving forward. This season was a severe back slide, and threw the whole organization into a bit of chaos. Yes, they had some key injuries, but the degree of indecisivieness, especially when it came to quarter backs, really put a hurt on the team. Romeo may be able to go back to a coordinator position, maybe in Detroit, but his days as a head coach are probably done.
Eric Mangini: The supposed “Mangenious” is out as head coach of the NY Jets. This guy was over rated long before this season began. His best coaching move may have been to out Bill Belichik’s use of video tape. He got lucky last year, as so many players over achieved. This year, he couldn’t handle the Favre drama, or even coach his team out of a funk that killed thier season. I’m sure ESPN will hire him to do some commentary on ESPN News.
Other teams are casting about looking for new head coaches. The Raiders will do something stupid, as Al Davis is still running things, even though the game has passed him by. That is a shame to a degree, because the Raiders do have a good young core to work with. But they need someone who is current with today’s NFL, and more so the collegiate game than Al Davis to put it all together. Jim Haslet may or may not stick around with the LA Rams. The players would like him to stay, but his record after taking over is less than inspiring. Mike Singletary’s time in San Fran may be limited. I suspect he’ll get next year to do something, and oif he doesn’t, there’ll be a new opening there as well. Herm Edwards may be done in Kansas City as well. They had a disater of a year (topped only by Detroit), and don’t have much left on the team to look forward with.
Now, on to my rant. The Cowboys.
This should have been a spectacular year. The team imporved over the off season in terms of personel. They had a solid draft, and should have been building off of last year, play off loss and all. But that didn’t happen. Yesterday’s game just showed that they didn’t deserve to be in the play offs this year. I can’t recall any other game, where the Cowboys failed to show up and play like that game against the Eagles.
I won’t blame Wade Phillips like so many out there like to and want to. Too much that sunk this season was beyond his control. The injuries to Tony Romo, Jason Whitten, Kyle Koisur, Flozell Adams, et al, is not something that a coach can control. Those injuries, particularly Romo, cost the Cowboys probably 3 wins, if not 4. Then there’s Jerry Jones. He just couldn’t leave well enough alone this year. His problem is that he panics too quickly, and usually over the wrong things. Case in point, the trade for Roy Williams. If this was an off season move, I’d still have said they were over paying for Williams, but it woudl be a good pick up. But midseason? This proved to be too disruptive a move IMO. Williams never had enough time to get comfortable with the offense, or with Romo. Jason Garrett never had the time to get Williams properly integrated into the offensive schemes to take advantage of his talents. Give Roy the off season, and a full training camp with Romo and the offense, and he should take off next year, and be the complement to TO that he can and should be.
A note on the Adam (Pac-Man) Jones saga. I feel sorry for this kid. I think he’s finally getting his life turned around, and had a very up and down season, between the suspension, the highlight plays (early on), the rehab, the neck injury, and the fumblitis yesterday. I am of the opinion that he is not a guy you can bank on. He has a world of talent, but until his off field stuff is fully resolved, he’s not a number one type DB or punt returner.
So what’s to be done in Big D? A new Defensive coordinator is one. Yes, Wade Phillips took over play calling for the defense, but I think it detracted from the larger game management issues. Jason Garrett is being allowed to talk to the Lion’s about their head coaching position, so a new offensive coordinator may be on the horizon as well. Player personel wise, the Boys need upgrades at CB and at Safety, and maybe LB with Zach Thomas voiding his contract. They need to get younger on the offensive line as well, as opponents just got to Romo far too often this year. It would be nice to have a solid full back as well, someone to lead block for Barber/Jones/Choice, as well as be a screen option for Romo on passing downs.
Wade Phillips has one more year to producea positive result. If the Cowboy’s don’t advance in the play offs next year, he will be out. Who replaces him will be a subject of speculation all year long.