The NFL is clearly a copycat league; if one of the teams were to win a couple of games with an “outrageous tactic” – – such as never punting no matter what the field position, score or time left in the half or the game – – you would expect some other coach to try a variant on that tactic. The NFL owners have been known to copy other owners too. For example:
- In 1954, the Baltimore Colts added cheerleaders to the team’s marching band. Marching bands ceased to be “a thing” in the NFL but cheerleading squads proliferated.
- In 2020, thirty of the thirty-two teams in the NFL have cheerleading squads; only the Cleveland Browns and NY Giants rely on their fans to figure out when to cheer and when not to cheer.
Perhaps, NFL owners are in copycat mode along another axis in 2020. On Wall Street they say that when something happens, it is an event; when it happens twice, it is a coincidence; when something happens three times, it is a trend. By that yardstick, we have a trend starting in the NFL:
- Four weeks into this season, the Houston Texans’ owner fired Bill O’Brien who was at the time the head coach and the GM of the team.
- Five weeks into this season, the Atlanta Falcons’ owner fired Dan Quinn who was the head coach and Thomas Dimitroff who was the GM of the team.
- Eleven weeks into this season, the Detroit Lions’ owner fired Matt Patricia who was the head coach and Bob Quinn who was the GM of the team.
- Twelve weeks into the season, the Jacksonville Jaguars fired GM Dave Caldwell but retained coach Doug Marrone – – at least for the time being.
Might it be the case that owners have figured out that a losing team may not be uniquely the fault of the head coach and that the roster presented to that unsuccessful head coach might have been substandard? It seems to me that was the case in the Texans and Falcons situations; while I am not yet ready to declare that the Lions roster is overflowing with talent, I think there might be a larger measure of blame to put on the head coach in that case. The entire situation in Jax appears to me to be a sh*tburger.
When the Lions hired Matt Patricia in 2018, they had posted a 9-7 record in the 2 years prior to his arrival; Matt Patricia inherited a winning team from his predecessor; that is not a luxury every new NFL coach can enjoy. Since coming to Detroit, Patricia’s Lions have posted a record of 13-29-1. Even if you prefer to quibble about the margin of the “winning record” Patricia inherited, you must concede that 13-29-1 is nowhere near a winning record. And that bleak record looks even worse considering:
- In 2019, the Lions started the season at 2-0-1. Then they lost 12 of the last 13 games in that season finishing at 3-12-1.
- In 2020, the Lions were 4-7 under Patricia.
- Ergo, in his last 24 games with Matt Patricia as the Lions’ head coach, the team record was 5-19.
Whoever gets the GM job in Detroit – – or in any other NFL city with a losing team – – will face a special challenge this year. The NFL salary cap in 2020 is $198.2M; since the cap is calculated based on the league’s “football revenue” from the previous year, the cap is likely to take a hit during free agency cone February 2021. I saw one projection that said the cap could be as low as $175M for 2021. Forget the exact number for a moment; the NFL salary cap is going to go down.
The first thing that comes to mind regarding that situation is that this is not a good year to be a free agent looking for a big payday. The bean-counters should be less likely to hand out such deals in an environment where the cap is contracting. At the same time, a new GM taking over a team that needs a “roster reshuffling” has to deal with the reality that he does not have nearly as much money to wave around to attract free agents that might have a positive impact on the team’s fortunes. I think NFL GMs – new ones and carryovers alike – are going to earn their salaries once the free agent season commences.
Switching gears … When I listen to football analysts on telecasts or on a studio show, some of them assert that the key to gaining yardage is to “run downhill”. Other experts tell me that the key to gaining yardage is to “run north and south”. Let me ignore the reality that football fields are crowned in the middle of the field and sloped to the sidelines; that allows for water runoff when it rains. That fact means that “running downhill” would quickly get the guy with the ball out of bounds. What I would like is for these analyst/experts to clarify their metaphors because here is what I interpret from them:
- If both metaphors are appropriate, they can only be simultaneously achieved if the player is on the top of a mountain ridge that runs due east/west. In that case he can run downhill north and south toward either goal and would need only to recognize which goal he was seeking to get to.
- BTW, NFL football venues are not located at the tops of mountain ridges…
Moving on … Bob Molinaro of the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot was dead solid perfect <Hat Tip to Dan Jenkins> with this overview of the recently begun college basketball season:
“Risky behavior: Five of the original eight teams in the men’s basketball Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic — with a name like that, it must be a classic — backed out because of rising cases of coronavirus in South Dakota. What, then, was VCU thinking when it leapt at the chance to be a last-minute replacement for Wichita State in Sioux Falls? Desperate and reckless are two of the kinder words I’d associate with the school’s decision. Same for the other schools that sent athletes there. Given the circumstances, why is this tournament even being held?
“Patience: The giddiness at the opening of a college basketball season featuring the usual low-wattage, often lopsided games — diminished even further when played in empty gyms — is nuttier than usual given the health crisis. Colleges shouldn’t be in such a hurry. Non-conference play in risky times should not be a priority. Safeguarding the integrity of league schedules should be.”
Finally, consider this Tweet from humorist Brad Dickson as an example of TMI:
“When I attended UNL I played on an intramural basketball team called The Loose Stools. To my surprise the Daily Nebraskan printed scores of our games. You don’t wanna know the rejected names we came up with.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………