Greetings for the New Year from a rainy/windy day in Dublin, Ireland. We are here visiting our son, daughter-in-law and grandson for a week. Postings between now and the middle of next week will be on an “as time permits” basis…
Black Monday came and went with only a couple of surprises. The news late yesterday that Marvin Lewis got a 2-year extension with the Bengals was more than a surprise to me and the quick release of Jack Del Rio by the Raiders was also a surprise. Less than a year ago, Del Rio got a 4-year extension to his contract with the Raiders reportedly worth $20M; Raiders’ owner Mark Davis, is not known for throwing money around so I did not see that move coming in the least.
It would be difficult for me to believe that Jack Del Rio is solely responsible for the disappointing and almost somnambulant performance exhibited by the Raiders for the last month of the season, but the team surely did not finish the season looking as if they cared about winning even a little bit. There’s that; and the fact is that it is a lot easier to replace a coach than it is to replace a half-dozen or so of the least enthusiastic of the players.
The retirement of Bruce Arians was also a surprise – although not as much as the Lewis or Del Rio situations. In the reports of his leaving the Cards, I read that he was the winningest coach in Cards’ history which seemed strange to me because he only won 49 games. I know that the franchise has not been a dominant one in the NFL, but that seemed strange to me, so I went looking at the coaching history of the Cardinals in Chicago, St. Louis and now in Arizona.
- From the team’s founding in 1920 until the early 1960s, no coach for the team had even coached 49 games let alone won 49 games. Wally Lemm was the 25th coach in Cards’ history starting in 1962; he lasted through the 1965 season and coached 56 games winning 27 of them.
- Ken Whisenhunt was the coach from 2007 through 2012 coaching 96 games but winning only 45 of them.
- Bruce Arians regular season record in his 80-game stint in Arizona was 49-30-1.
Whoever replaces Chuck Pagano in Indy will require two things to succeed. He will need Andrew Luck’s shoulder to be in tip-top condition starting in training camp and he will need an offensive line that can protect his healthy franchise QB. I know that is a tall order and that the responsibility for making it happen is not totally in the control of the new coach, but that is the reality of the situation. Oh, by the way, waving a magic wand over the defensive unit to make them a tad more formidable would not hurt either.
The Browns will not change head coaches this year, but they do have a new GM and the spotlight is on him. Let me give the old Front Office in Cleveland the benefit of the doubt; let me stipulate that they purposely blew up the team with the idea of accumulating draft picks to rebuild the franchise. Well, they now have the overall #1 pick and the overall #4 pick in the April draft plus they have two other picks in the first 40 selections. The situation in Cleveland is pretty simple and pretty bleak:
- The Browns’ run defense is good.
- If Josh Gordon can stay clean, he is a talented WR.
- Isaiah Crowell will not make Browns’ fans forget Jim Brown, but he is a serviceable running back.
- Other than that, the Browns’ roster is sub-standard.
Dwight Perry had this item pertinent to the Cleveland Browns’ situation in the Seattle Times last weekend:
“Obit in the Sandusky (Ohio) Register, listing Paul Stark’s cause of death: ‘Complications from a brief illness, exacerbated by the hopeless condition of the Cleveland Browns’.”
In college football, Arizona has fired coach Rich Rodriguez. The reports say that he had been the subject of an investigation into “workplace misconduct” during last season and that the school had “decided to buy out his contract”. Those two things do not always go together so it would appear that there is more news to be learned from the situation. Rodriguez had been at Arizona for 6 years and the team had been in 5 bowl games during that time.
During the college bowl season, the NCAA folks decided to make a self-serving announcement. They were proud of the fact that 8 of the teams participating in the bowls had 90% graduation records – or better. Indeed, that is impressive – – until you focus on one other number:
- There are 40 college football bowl games. Using the simplest of mathematical reasoning, that means there are 80 teams participating in bowl games.
- Ergo, only 10% of the teams participating in bowl games graduate 90% of the players on the team.
Somehow, that does not sound nearly as good as the announcement made by the NCAA…
Finally, Brad Dickson of the Omaha World-Herald had his own assessment of the status of the Cleveland Browns with this commentary:
“Quarterback Sam Darnold reportedly may stay at USC to avoid being drafted by the Cleveland Browns. The Browns are now bragging about ‘doing our part to keep young people in school’.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………