Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Football! Football! Football! [EdMcGon]

There is so much going on in the NFL, I hardly know where to begin. Let's start with the end: the Super Bowl.

SUPER BOWL XLI: Contrary to what the Media is hyping about being important in this game, the first two black head coaches in a Super Bowl, the truth is there is a more significant factor being overlooked from a football perspective: both of these coaches come from a defensive background.

Tony Dungy was a defensive player who eventually became a defensive assistant coach. Lovie Smith was a linebacker coach with Tampa Bay (under Dungy) before he became a head coach.

This is significant because if you look at the recent history of Super Bowl winners, most of the head coaches have come from defensive backgrounds: Bill Cowher and Bill Belichick, winners of 4 of the last 5 Super Bowls, both came from defensive backgrounds. Jon Gruden was the only offensive coach to win in that period, and he inherited a great defense from previous head coach (TA-DA!) Tony Dungy. Gruden also had a great defensive coordinator in Monte Kiffin.

Once again proving the old cliche: Defense wins championships.

Who will win this Super Bowl? I have to lean towards the Bears. While the Colts have played better defense during the playoffs, the Bears have been playing great defense all year. Add in the superior special teams of the Bears, and the Colts have their work cut out for them.

AFC CHAMPIONSHIP: Certainly one of the great games in NFL history, although it didn't look that way in the beginning.

The interception by Tom Brady at the end was strange, as it looked like he was throwing directly to Marlin Jackson of the Colts. Sadly, it was common for a lot of interceptions I have seen this year (most of Peyton Manning's interceptions during the playoffs were like this). This comes from teams relying on timing patterns too much, instead of the quarterback actually looking for the open receiver. This gives a huge advantage to a zone defense when the receiver doesn't run the pattern which the quarterback is expecting.

NFC CHAMPIONSHIP: Aside from the one catch-and-run by Reggie Bush, it was a snoozer.

The Saints achilles heel was turnovers, pretty much what it has been all year. Not counting the safety they gave up, the Saints turned it over 4 times. The Bears did not have a single turnover. Add in the fact the Bears dominated time of possession, and the Saints are history.

BILL PARCELLS RETIRES: Like we didn't see this one coming?

Seriously, I am glad he did. I hope he gets back into broadcasting. I think Parcells brings more to football by his analysis than he does by coaching.

As for the Cowboys? Adam Schefter of NFL Network is reporting a rumor that the Cowboys will go with Chargers defensive coordinator Wade Phillips as their next head coach. But you might want to take that rumor with a grain of salt, since Schefter also reported back on January 20th that Parcells wasn't retiring.

RAIDERS GO KIFFIN: The Raiders are hiring the youngest head coach in NFL history, 31 year old Lane Kiffin, formerly the offensive coordinator at USC. Lane may be better known to pro fans as the son of Buccaneers defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin.

As a Raider fan, I am pleased. The Raiders have had much more success with young head coaches, from John Madden to Jon Gruden.

THE STEEL CURTAIN GOES TOMLIN (DOWN): Anytime a team hires a new head coach, there is always some risk involved. But the Steelers seem to get it right more often than not.

With the hiring of Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin as the Steelers next head coach, and even with Tomlin's solid credentials (the Vikings defense was one of the NFL's top defenses last season), I can't argue with Steelers owner Dan Rooney. Rooney stuck with Bill Cowher even when many so-called experts thought Cowher should be fired.

CARDINALS GET WHISENHUNT: In contrast to the Steelers success, there is the Cardinals. They seem to have the anti-Midas touch when it comes to head coaches. Even though former Steelers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt was considered one of the top head coaching prospects this year, I have to take a more skeptical view of him since the Cardinals hired him.

The last successful Cardinals coach? Vince Tobin took them to the playoffs in 1998 with a 9-7 record, where they lost in the Divisional Round to the Vikings, 41-21. Prior to that, you have to go back to 1984, when they went 9-7 under Jim Hanifan (they missed the playoffs). That's either a lot of bad coaching, or a lot of bad teams. In my opinion, it is a combination of both.

If Whisenhunt can turn the Cardinals into a consistent winner, then Arizona fans should build a 40 foot statue of him. Personally, I think he will be coaching somewhere else in five years. If he is successful, then he is too smart to be in Arizona, and he will leave for more money at a better franchise. Most likely, he won't be able to turn the lemons of Arizona into lemonade, and he will be fired.

ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER BENGAL ARRESTED: I can't make this stuff up. From NFL.com:
"Bengals cornerback Johnathan Joseph was arrested early Monday and charged with possession of marijuana, the ninth Cincinnati player arrested in the last nine months.

The arrest came three weeks after coach Marvin Lewis promised to get tougher on player misconduct, hoping to stop a series of arrests that has embarrassed the team and drawn the attention of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

Joseph was arrested on U.S. Route 42 in northern Kentucky. He lives nearby in Union, Kentucky. The Boone Country sheriff's office arrest report said Joseph was the passenger in a vehicle driven by a woman who had a suspended license, was driving slowly and weaving.

Sorry, but I ran out of Bengals jokes a few months ago.

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