After four decades of wandering in the college football wilderness, the Georgia Bulldogs became the national champions last night. Using that construct, Kirby Smart as the leader of the Bulldogs would be analogous to Moses except Moses never got to live out his days in the Promised Land. Congratulations to Georgia; they played an outstanding football game and beat a worthy opponent. I will not be surprised in the least to see more than a handful of Georgia players taken in the NFL Draft in April this year surely to include:
- Nakobe Dean
- Travon Walker
- Devonte Wyatt
Yesterday was Black Monday – – the day after the final NFL regular season game and the day where coaches get fired for failing to meet expectations notwithstanding any degree of realism contained in those expectations. Before I get into who got fired and all that sort of thing, let me offer up a viewpoint that I do not think you will see anywhere else. There are two NFL coaches who should get some recognition when NFL insiders vote to select the Coach of the Year and I doubt that either will get much attention:
- Rich Bisaccia – – Raiders
- David Culley – – Texans
Rich Bisaccia took over the Raiders’ job in a time of turmoil when the most common reaction to the announcement of his name as the interim coach was “Who the Hell is he?” And all he did was to keep the team together such that the Raiders made the playoffs
David Culley played a 17-game schedule with a roster that had been gutted and left in the hot sun to rot. The standings reflect the degree of “roster rot” but the standings do not reflect that the team played hard long after any glimmer of hope for a break-even season was extinguished.
The Broncos fired Vic Fangio after three seasons with the team; the Broncos’ record in the Fangio Era was 19-30 and there were no playoff appearances. Fangio got the job in the first place because of his credentials as a Defensive Coordinator and a lot of that expertise carried over into his time in Denver; the Broncos’ defense was fine. The problem is that the team never paired that good defense with anything better than a mediocre offense; in 2021, the Broncos only scored 19.7 points per game. The Broncos also fired Offensive Coordinator, Pat Shurmur over the weekend but I really do not think that will solve the Broncos’ problems. The team needs a serious upgrade at QB for any coach there to be fully successful.
The Vikes fired Mike Zimmer after 8 seasons with the team; the Vikes’ record in the Zimmer Era was 72-56-1 which looks pretty good until you look more closely and see that the Vikes were only 33-31 in the last 4 seasons. Like Vic Fangio, Mike Zimmer was a “defense guy” when he got the job; over the past two seasons, the Vikes’ defense has been straight up BAD; this year the Vikes’ defense ranked 30th in the NFL in total defense and 24th in the league in points allowed per game. The Vikes also fired their GM, Rick Spielman, over the weekend so this move represents a major housecleaning for the team.
The Bears fired Matt Nagy after 4 seasons with the team; the Bears’ record in the Nagy Era was 34-31 with two playoff appearances and only one losing season. Like the Broncos, the Bears have a very good defense; they ranked 6th in the NFL in Total Defense last year. Even so, the team finished with a 6-11 record and like the Broncos, they need a major upgrade at the QB position. The Bears also fired GM Ryan Pace who contributed to the Bears’ problems at QB. Pace traded up to take Mitchell Trubisky with the #2 overall pick and then traded up to get Justin Fields in last year’s draft. Added to those “investments” are the draft assets traded away to acquire Khalil Mack making the goal of “fixing the offense” a significant challenge.
The Dolphins fired Brian Flores after 3 seasons with the team; the Dolphins’ record in the Flores Era was 24-25. The Dolphins had a wining record in each of the last two seasons, so this move was a surprise to me. Stop me if you have heard this before, but the Dolphins’ major weakness is at the QB position and firing the coach usually does not manifest itself into a significant QB upgrade; so, I do not get this move at all. Several reports say that Flores lost a “power struggle” within the organization. The Dolphins owner is Stephen Ross; he has owned the team since 2009; whoever gets the job will be the 7th head coach hired by Ross. That alone should raise an eyebrow or two; and then, when you look at the list of his coaches, you begin to wonder about how he makes those sorts of decisions:
- Tony Sparano – – he was “inherited” by Ross when he bought the team
- Todd Bowles – – interim coach when Sparano fired in mid-season
- Joe Philbin – – replaced Bowles who went 2-1 as the interim coach
- Dan Campbell – – interim coach when Philbin was fired in mid-season
- Adam Gase – – ‘nuff said
- Brian Flores – – team started the season 1-7 and wound up 9-8
- ??? – – good luck to the “new guy”…
The Giants appear to be sticking with Joe Judge for at least one more season, but Giants’ GM Dave Gettleman is retiring making that management situation fluid indeed. Judge is a polarizing figure to say the least; he talks tough but the play on the field does not match his rhetoric. The NY Giants have been in the NFL since 1925; Joe Judge is the first head coach of the Giants to oversee 6 consecutive losses by double digits; if you think that sort of thing can or will be ignored by fans in NY, you are sorely mistaken.
Finally, apropos of the rumored “power struggle” in Miami, consider these words from Mark Twain:
“If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principle difference between a dog and a man.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………