Friday, January 14, 2011

Sorry, who did you say is the new Denver coach? WTF?

Tomorrow; previews of the Divisional round. Today; just random banter. Starting with... -- Jamie Dukes of the NFL Network, on air, calling a pick play for what it is. Yeah, this old chestnut again. Like I keep saying, it's in the rulebook so if they're not going to call it then guys like James Harrison have a case for complaining about why the league should be allowed to fine them excessively for the infringement of other rules, representing a clear bias in favour of the offense. If this went to a work tribunal for a normal job an employer would be hard pressed to justify allowing some employees to break certain rules but not others. -- The Cleveland Browns have found themselves a new Head Coach, Pat Shurmur. Pat spent nearly ten years as the QB coach for the Eagles, before taking a job on Steve Spagnuolo's staff as the offensive coordinator of the Rams. Head Coaching material? Hmm. Time will tell I guess, but there's growing rumblings around certain corners of the web that this a puppet assignment, with Mike Holmgren (The Dark Lord of the West Coast Offense) obviously the one pulling the strings. Personally I don't see how this is an upgrade over Mangini (do you realise how much it hurts me to defend him) and with the possibility that Rob Ryan might be shown the door soon as well, I'm not entirely sure that Browns fans are going to like the direction their franchise is headed. Of course this could do the opposite and instead provide an invigorating spark that the franchise needs. Just don't count on it. -- Yes, did I mention; Rob Ryan could be on his way out. I would reference you to the original article where I sourced the information, but bugger me if I haven't deleted the bloody link at some point. Trust me though the rumours are out there. If he does happen to be going free this off season, may I kindly and politely ask Jim Harbaugh to go snatch him. Ryan is a good coordinator with a good pedigree. It's just a shame that the Browns personnel has sucked balls for so long. -- Next, the first of two trips to starting with this article by Nate Jackson. To be honest I disagree with a fair chunk of this and have real trouble taking the players side in the CBA argument, but please note I only take the leagues side because I happen to be a Capitalist and because I think the owners are the lesser of two evils in this one. This letter though is aimed purely at Rodger Goodell and made me laugh at times as he stuck it to the worst thing to hit the NFL since Ryan Leaf. -- And now we return to for quite simply the funniest, truest and generally most entertaining letters I've ever seen. Found here. -- Not so much an article or anything, but it's worth reading the comments sections in the above two articles. It seems that unlike a lot of the mainstream sites, deadspin seems to have a strange power that draws in comparably larger numbers of intelligent people to comment on it's articles than say.... most of the major networks and their affiliates. -- Finally, the Broncos have swooped on the hottest coaching candidate for 2011; John Fox! Wait, what? John Fox? What happened to John Elway promising that money would be no barrier to the Broncos getting the best candidate? Or is this a hire made in light of the fact that the Saints Greg Williams flat declined an offer to interview for the job? Well, what's done is done, so let's just remind ourselves of who John Fox is. He started with around 10 years experience coaching in college, mainly handling defensive backs. Then he hit the pro ranks in the early 90's with the Steelers and later the Chargers, before getting a coordinator gig with the Raiders. He moved across to the Giants to perform the same role. He then spent from 2002 until this season as head coach of the Panthers. During that time he compiled a 73-71 regular season record, with a 5-3 post season record. That included taking the Panthers to the Super Bowl in the '03 season and to the NFC Championship game in '05. From 2006 onwards however the Panthers had just one winning season in 5 under Fox, when they went 12-4 in 2008 before crashing out Arizona in the playoffs. And that is what worries me. Fox has a reputation as a solid defensive coach and certainly in Carolina he was able to put together a reasonably strong D. But the offense in the last few years has been atrocious. In that '08 season the Panthers had been running ball very well and did so right up until the second drive of the game against Arizona. Having toasted the Cardinals D on the opening drive with their rushing attack, the Panthers now got cute and it all went down hill from there. Now former QB Jake Delhomme is playing (or rather watching from the bench) in Cleveland and Fox is off to try and recover the Broncos. Some of the blame for that has to fall at Fox's own feet. I understand that coordinators are responsible for running their side of the ball, but the Head Coach is ultimately responsible for wins and losses, and thus by default he must make himself responsible for the performance of all the facets of his team. That means that if his offense isn't pulling its weight, he has to step in and make sure that it does. His failure to exercise some measure of control over the Panthers offense is the reason I don't like Fox. He had the ability to pull his offensive coordinator to one side during any of the many weeks this season (or last) and quietly whisper into the guys ear "run the fu-reaking football". But what about Dick LeBeau in Pittsburgh I hear you cry. He has almost untouched control over the Steelers defense, so shouldn't all coordinators. Well Dick LeBeau has one major factor in his favour; proven success. You have to remember that success brought about LeBeaus current level of autonomy, not the other way around. Which is more than can be said for the Panthers. Play to your strengths. "Know Thyself". Know yourself and the enemy. All the things that the Chiefs failed to do against the Ravens on Sunday. These are things the Panthers have been doing for the last two years. Despite a strong running attack that proved its immense worth in 2008, the Panthers under Fox stubbornly refused to make use of their ground game, wasting the valuable talents of guys like DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. That pisses me off and I imagine it annoyed a few Panthers fans as well. Will things get better in Denver under Fox? I'm sorry but it don't think they will. Denver have some wonderful young talents on their team so I hope for their sake that it does pan out alright in the end.

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