I do not have any voodoo dolls here in Curmudgeon Central; I would not even know where to begin if I wanted to put a hex on someone of something; my depth of understanding of witchcraft pretty much begins and ends with the opening scene of Macbeth. It is pure coincidence that I spoke highly just yesterday about the Atlanta Braves’ pitching staff and the Braves’ undefeated status in the MLB playoffs this year … and then watched to see the Dodgers score 11 runs in the first inning and go on to win yesterday’s playoff game 15-3. Earl Weaver defined “momentum” in baseball in the following way:
“Momentum? Momentum is the next day’s starting pitcher.”
Far be it from me to set aside a baseball observation from Earl Weaver, but yesterday’s first inning and final result has to make the Braves wonder if anyone got the license plate of the truck that just ran them over. Oh, and by the way, the Dodgers’ “next day’s starting pitcher” is slated to be Clayton Kershaw whose back spasms have reportedly subsided…
In the other playoff series, the Astros survived a “win-or-go-home game” against the Rays, but they still trail in that series 3-1. There is no NFL game tonight; this week’s Thursday game has been rescheduled as part of the NFL’s schedule gymnastics in these “times of COVID-19”. Ergo, the Rays/Astros game that starts at 5:00 PM EDT this evening should be the viewing focus for sports fans in the US.
Moving on … The Houston Texans won their first game of the season last weekend under interim coach, Romeo Crennel. Absent a Hollywood-like trajectory for the rest of the season where the Texans never lose another game and go on to win the Super Bowl, Crennel at a current age of 73 is not going to be the next permanent head coach for the Texans. And, even if that Hollywood scripted ending to the season comes to pass, Crennel would not get a 10-year contract as the next head coach of the Texans.
Last weekend also saw another owner decide to “go in a different direction”. Arthur Blank owns the Atlanta Falcons and he decided after last week’s loss that put the team at 0-5 to start the 2020 season that it was time for a change. Blank fired head coach, Dan Quinn; and then, he “took it up a notch” [Hat Tip to Emeril Lagasse…] and also cut ties with GM Thomas Dimitroff. Those actions make sense in the following way:
- The Falcons are 0-5 this year; they were 7-9 in each of the last two seasons.
- [Aside: To me, it seemed as if the Falcons never rebounded from that stunning loss to the Pats in the Super Bowl in February 2017.]
- However, if one believes that the team has been somehow “deficient” since that NFC Championship season, then there is plenty of “blame” to be shared by the coach and the GM.
[Aside: For the record, my prediction in the NFL Pre-Season Analysis back on September 3rd was that Dan Quinn would make it through the 2020 season “without great jeopardy”. So much for that prognostication…]
Note that both NFL teams that have made coaching changes this year have also made GM changes too because in Houston Bill O’Brien was the coach and the GM. Might this be the dawning of a new era of accountability for GMs in the NFL? If so, I would say that it is high time.
As the coaching searches in Houston and Atlanta gather steam, you will certainly hear the standard litany of names of every “hot” assistant coach or college coach or “temporarily unemployed” NFL head coach as being “on the list” or “in the mix”. At some point or another, expect to hear and read about the following as the next head coach of the Houston Texans and/or the Atlanta Falcons:
- Eric Bieniemy
- James Franklin
- Richie Kotite [Just seeing if you are paying attention…]
- Josh McDaniels
- Urban Meyer
- Lincoln Riley
- Nick Saban
- Dabo Swinney
I think there are two men who deserve consideration for head coaching jobs because of the way they have molded effective defenses in these “days of offense” in the NFL. They are:
- Matt Eberflus – Defensive Coordinator for the Indy Colts: He has been with the Colts for 2-plus seasons; he took over a defense that was not very good and through the first 4 games of the 2020 season was only allowing 14 points per game. He is only 50 years old meaning he could well be around to sustain a rebuilding of an NFL franchise.
- Robert Saleh – Defensive Coordinator for the SF 49ers: He was part of the defensive staff in Seattle that produced the Legion of Boom and a Super Bowl victory. Kyle Shanahan hired him in SF and the Niners’ defense has been an important element in the team’s success over the past couple of years. Saleh is only 41 years old; he seems to have an awfully long career ahead of him in the coaching business.
We shall see if either man emerges as a candidate for a chance to be an NFL head coach in the next spin of the NFL coaching wheel…
Finally, here is a Tweet from humorist, Brad Dickson:
“On the news tonight all they talked about were boycotts, protests, riots, violence, dissension, disease, lawsuits and court cases. And that was just the sportscast.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………