Wheels on the bus go round and round
Some years, there isn’t much upheaval in the NFL; last season only three head coaches were new, and by all accounts, they acquitted themselves well – Saban got a winning record out of the Dolphins, and Romeo Crenell and Mike Nolan did good work with the Browns and 49ers.
Perhaps their success is one reason that there were so many off-season changes this year. This is not a final decree – some teams are still twiddling their thumbs, but most have made a decision. Here then, are my off-the-cuff thoughts on the hires thus far:
Green Bay Packers: Fired – Mike Sherman; hired – Mike McCarthy. McCarthy was the offensive coordinator for the 49ers, and apparently manning the worst offense in the league gets you a plumb head coaching assignment. Formerly running the offense at New Orleans (a mixed resume, to be sure), McCarthy should have his hands full with the Pack. He’s known as a QB specialist, and has worked with Brett Favre before. For this reason – and perhaps this reason alone – he seems like a great fit to see the end of the Favre era and the beginning of the Aaron Rodgers era.
Forty-Niners: Lost Mike McCarthy (OC); hired Norvelle Turner (OC). While they didn’t have a head coaching vacancy, McCarthy’s exodus led to one of the worst things that has happened to me in a sporting capacity in a while. The 49ers hired Norvelle Turner as their offensive coordinator. Seriously, why not just give the job to, say, Liza Minelli or Johnny Fairplay? Could they be worse than Norvelle? Turner had a great run leading the offense when he had the Triplets in Dallas (not to mention that offensive line), and has failed – utterly – everywhere else. Now, he’s a better coordinator than head coach but most of all, he’s useless. Actually, I have to stop writing about this or I’m going to burst into tears.
Jets: Traded Herm Edwards to KC; hired Eric Mangini. I don’t know much about Mangini, but he worked with both Belichek and Parcells, and that’s good enough for me. It’s sad that the Jets job has turned (okay, returned) into one of the worst in the country, but having a young coach with an emphasis on defense is a smart way to go. I like this hire a lot, even if I couldn’t pick Mangini out of a lineup.
Kansas City: Dick Vermeil retired; traded with the Jets for Herm Edwards. Conversely, KC had its eyes on Edwards from awhile back, as soon as it became possible that Vermeil was going to hang them up after the season. Edwards, I have noted elsewhere, is a great coach in front of a microphone. He says all the things you want to hear, he speaks eloquently but with passion, and you know deep within you that he’s a good person. He is not, however, a good coach. Yes, the Jets have made the playoffs 3 of the 5 years he coached them. Whoop de doo. He can’t manage a game clock, consistently makes wrong-headed decisions and is generally a fraud. The question is, what will he do with a talented offense like Kansas City? Coordinator Al Saunders – long expected to replace Vermeil – isn’t happy and will likely leave. Not impressed by this hiring whatsoever.
Saints: Fired Jim Haslett; hired Sean Payton. I really don’t like saying positive things about Tom Benson, but this is possibly the best two decisions any owner or GM has made this year. First off, Haslett stinks. He talks like Mush-Mouth and coaches about as well. He should have been fired three years ago. Sean Payton, longtime protégé of Bill Parcells, will be a nice fit with the Saints, who desperately need some discipline and energy, something Haslett was in short supply of. Great hire.
Vikings: Fired Mike Tice, hired Brad Childress, formerly the offensive coordinator of the Eagles. No matter what, this is addition by subtraction as Tice was in way over his head. Childress is faced with a big challenge with a quarterback controversy (if Culpepper is healthy) and a mess of a team, though one talented enough to go 9-7. I think this is a good hire, again simply because Tice is gone and because the Eagles really did move the ball with talented players. They should be fun to watch.
Texans: Fired Dom Capers, no hire yet. Good riddance to Capers, who seemed way over rated. This team dramatically underperformed, and with the offensive trio of Carr, Johnson and Davis they should be better. Which is why hiring Gary Kubiak does make some sense if that pans out. Drafting Reggie Bush will make any team better, but they’d be wise to trade Davis for some offensive linemen, or ensure that Kubiak brings over some of his friends from Denver to help get that line together. The jury is out, but Kubiak doesn’t seem like a magic tonic just yet.
Bills: Fired Mike Mularkey; no hire yet. This is scary – they hire Marv Levy as the GM who admits it will take him awhile to figure it out because its all new to him. The guy is in his 80s. Good times all around. The names they have floated around as possible replacements are even scarier, and almost all retreads: Haslett, Dick Jauron, Sherman. I can’t see this working out well.
Rams: Fired Mike Martz; no hire yet. Martz was about a tenth as smart as he thought he was, and while I hope his health is in good graces, I would NEVER want him coaching my team. The leading candidates to replace Martz are Ron Rivera, Cam Cameron and Scott Linehan. I know little about any of these guys, but Rivera seems by far the best choice, as he’ll bring back the Lovie Smith defense that got the Rams to the Super Bowl a few years back.
Lions: Fired Steve Mariucci; no hire yet. Mooch deserved to be fired, as his team gave up on him. But every citizen of Detroit knows the real problem is Matt Millen. The only saving grace is that Millen may (stress the word MAY) feel the heat and actually hire someone who will save Millen’s job in the process. But, what’s he waiting for? Mooch was fired midseason, and a lot of good candidates have passed the Lions by. It’s hard to see a real candidate take this job if anything better is out there. Russ Grimm (the o-line coach for the Steelers) is the leading candidate and probably a good hire. But it’s hard to see good things coming out of Detroit anytime soon.
Raiders Fired Norvelle Turner, no hire yet. This is so sad. And funny, because I hate the Raiders. But what a crap job…and yet, Tracksuit Davis will never recognize that he’s having difficulty hiring anyone because he meddles so much. The only people wiling to go to Oakland are guys with no better offers or guys who don’t really want to run the team themselves (like Turner). Al Saunders is a leading candidate for the job; were I a Raiders fan, I would first probably be a felon, but secondarily I’d be concerned about why the team that knows Saunders the best (KC) went out of their way to find someone else to run their team. Not feeling this. Not at all.