Week 1 Random Thoughts

If the Dallas defense is so bad, why didn’t the 49’ers score more than 1 TD on them after the 1st quarter?

The wire reports are about Cleveland’s futility in Pittsburgh when they should be about Pittsburgh’s near-miraculous escape with a win at home.

The reports of Carolina’s crapitude appear to be greatly exaggerated.

Maybe we should hold off on crowning New England AFC champs just yet.

Dolphins made an emphatic statement – once they stopped turning the ball over.

Browns are a good deal better than people think. Could challenge for the division. No Manziel sightings yet.

Despite having the ball inside the 10 twice, a long punt return, and a fumble, Cincinnati could only get 5 field goals and 1 big play.

The Ravens drove the length of the field twice in the first half and got an interception in Bengals territory and managed to get no points.

Everybody’s worst QB’s: Geno Smith, EJ Manuel, Derek Anderson, Fitzpatrick, Cassell, Locker all won. Hoyer came within a whisper of Overtime.

Rookie Derek Carr acquitted himself well.

After win over Redskins, pundits proclaiming Houston as favorites to go to playoffs. LOL

Vikings looked as good as I expected, but the Rams without a QB aren’t a real test.

And what was KC doing all offseason?

Jake Locker has been my most under-rated QB for over a year. Hoyer may join him soon.

I saw a lot of bobbled catches that bounced the right way.

TB may not be ready to take over the NFC South just by getting Lovie Smith as Coach. Where’s Mike Glennon?

Gus Bradley had the Jaguars start strong, but ultimately they couldn’t keep up with Chip Kelly’s Eagles after half-time adjustments.

Half-time scores:

Jaguars 17-0 – Eagles 34-17 (34-0)

Patriots 20-10 – Dolphins 33-20 (23-0)

Steelers 27-3 – Steelers 30-27. (24-3)

Most surprising results: Dolphins, Bills

Next most surprising (point spreads): Seattle, Minnesota, Tennessee, Texans

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Coaches Week 1 Hot Seat

No changes in the categories yet. Week 1 is always a week of over-reacting, so I’ll hold off for now. Comments on individual coaches added.

Hot Seat:

  • Tom Coughlin (retires) – If the Giants don’t look any better than that, Coughlin may not make it through the season! Not really – we’ve seen this act before: the Giants start horribly, look totally lost, go 2-6 and then finish 9-7, make the playoffs as a wild-card and go on and win the SuperBowl. Go figure.
  • Jason Garrett – I don’t think that Dallas looked as bad as other people say. Stop the turnovers and this would have been a much different game. I’d be more concerned about the 49er’s not scoring at all the second half against “a historically bad defense”. That said wins and losses are what counts.
  • Dennis Allen – Allen and McKensie may have gotten lucky with Derek Carr. Time will tell.
  • Doug Marone – WTF? “Saint Doug”?
  • Joe Philbin – Whoa! They totally outplayed the Patriots for 60 minutes –  just turned the ball over a couple of times in the 1st half. How did they get an offensive line that good from starting over??

Warm-up Deck:

  • Andy Reid – Now we start seeing the results of the Chiefs’ disastrous off-season.
  • Jim Harbaugh – After 2 gift TD’s and 2 big plays to score another – all in the first quarter – the 49ers had one sustained scoring drive against “a historically bad defense”. No scoring in the second half when the Cowboys scored 17 points. Not the MO of championship teams.
  • Rex Ryan – Sloppy win against a bad team with a rookie QB. Then again, a win’s a win.
  • Jeff Fisher – In spite of how respected Fisher is, how patient will the Rams’ management be after if this season is as disastrous as it looks like it might be?
  • Ron Rivera – Wow! I guess the reports of the Panthers demise might have been a teensy bit overrated.

Successful Sophmores:

  • Marc Trestman – Oops. They better correct that pronto!
  • Chip Kelly – Nice half-time attitude adjustment. Let’s hope they don’t make a habit out of it.
  • Mike McCoy — I would take Arians over most coaches. Better luck next week Mike.
  • Bruce Arians – See above.
  • Chuck Pagano – With a depleted O-Line, the only way this team stays above water is through Luck’s Magic™.

Stable Position:

  • Gus Bradley – Good start. Now let’s see if Chad Henne has the ability to do it again.
  • Mike McCarthy – Yeah, Seattle’s still good.
  • Mike Smith – Great recovery after a bad year.
  • Marvin Lewis – Shaky start for two new coordinators (if you can consider Hue Jackson “new”), but they got the ‘W’.
  • John Fox – Ho, Hum. Wake me up when it’s January.

Definitely Safe:

  • Sean Payton – Ouch that hurt. Let’s see if Rob Ryan can fix that.
  • John Harbaugh – Not a good start for Kubiak’s new offensive scheme, but Thursday’s game against Steelers will tell us more.
  • Mike Tomlin – After picking-up the way they ended last year in the first half, the Steelers forgot that the Browns get paid, too.
  • Bill Belicheck – And this is supposed to be the year that the Patriots make their final Super Bowl of the Tom Brady era? Maybe Tom’s sucking sooner than he expected.
  • Pete Carroll – See Mike McCarthy.

First-Year Head Coaches (Generally safe):

Note that it is a bit easier to fire a coach after one year when he’s already a retread. Therefore, Lovie and Jim Caldwell get the first billing in this section. I don’t know how the Washington “brain trust” (if I can call it that) will react to what’s coming.

  • Lovie Smith – Yeah, Josh McCown is good enough to build your offense around.
  • Jim Caldwell – The New York Football Giants. Just what the doctor ordered for a raising the hopes for already overrated teams.
  • Jay Gruden – Uhm. Maybe he can blame it on Mike Shanahan (or George W. Bush). It’s the eco… er, team he inherited.
  • Bill O’Brien – It’s a good thing that effort was against the ‘skins.
  • Mike Pettine – Good start. Hoyer, Cassell, and soon to be Ryan Mallet. That makes 3 former Tom Brady back-ups starting for other teams.
  • Ken Wisenhunt – Based on Wisenhunt’s past history, why did this surprise anyone?
  • Mike Zimmer – A Mike Zimmer defense with a Norv Turner offense. I think we have the leading candidate for the worst-to-first team.

Coaches Pre-season Hot Seat

I thought that I had posted this last week, but it doesn’t look like it got up.

Hot Seat:

  • Tom Coughlin (retires)
  • Doug Marone
  • Jason Garrett
  • Dennis Allen
  • Joe Philbin

Warm-up Deck:

  • Andy Reid
  • Jim Harbaugh
  • Rex Ryan
  • Jeff Fisher
  • Ron Rivera

Successful Sophmores:

  • Marc Trestman
  • Chip Kelly
  • Mike McCoy
  • Bruce Arians
  • Chuck Pagano

Stable Position:

  • Gus Bradley
  • Mike McCarthy
  • Mike Smith
  • Marvin Lewis
  • John Fox

Definitely Safe:

  • Sean Payton
  • John Harbaugh
  • Mike Tomlin
  • Bill Belicheck
  • Pete Carroll

First-Year Head Coaches (Generally safe):

Note that its a bit easier to fire a coach after one year when he’s already a retread. Therefore, Lovie and Jim Caldwell get the first billing in this section.

  • Lovie Smith
  • Jim Caldwell
  • Jay Gruden
  • Mike Pettine
  • Bill O’Brien
  • Ken Wisenhunt
  • Mike Zimmer

New Coach Evaluation

Houston TexansBill O’Brien (from NE by way of Penn State)

O’Brien was practically a done deal before the season was over. It makes me curious about why it took so long for them to actually hire him. Penn State’s season was over, so it could only be the contract negotiations. That means either a) Houston GM Rick Smith was playing hardball with salary negotiations, b) Bill O’Brien was holding out for more money or most likely (as I will explain), c) O’Brien was trying to get as much power over personnel as possible. I consider this the most likely scenario because of O’Brien’s history with Bill Belicheck. More on that later. The big problem I see with this hire is the track record of previous Bill Belicheck disciples. They have all been uniformly rotten. This has at least something to do with their assuming the Belicheck “My way or the highway” attitude in their new gigs. This has been shown to be a bad thing. Repeatedly. The fact that O’Brien went to be a college HC for a couple of years does absolutely nothing to lessen this effect. College coaches rule their players with an iron fist just as much as Belicheck – a stance that does not work with professional players (reference Greg Schiano, Bobby Petrino, Nick Saban. See future status of Jim Harbaugh.)

So whereas O’Brien is obviously a talented coach, I see this ultimately failing. If Houston fans are lucky, it will happen quickly and the owner Bob McNair can clean house with Rick Smith leaving as well. Grade: C-

 

Tampa Bay BuccaneersLovie Smith (former Head Coach Chicago Bears)

Lovie Smith may have benefited from having a year off from after being fired from Chicago after 2012 season. However, I’m already seeing the same characteristics that doomed him in Chicago (where he had 3 different OC’s in the last 4 years). He brought in [back-up QB] and immediately named him the starter over solid rookie starter Mike Glennon. His hiring of Jeff Tedford as his OC is also highly questionable. Since then, TB has made several key free-agent signings and had a solid draft during which Lovie backtracked and called Glennon his starting QB. Hmm. Let’s hope he doesn’t try to get him killed like he did with Jay Cutler. Bringing in Leslie Frazier as his DC will be helpful, but until he figures out how to hire an Offensive Coordinator, I see him struggling.

Lovie is a solid if unspectacular coach. I expect that he will bring the Bucs back into the NFC South division competition, where they will be up and down just like the Bears were under his tenure. Grade: B-

 

Minnesota VikingsMike Zimmer (DC at Cincinnati)

Mike Zimmer is one of those coaches who everyone says would make a great head coach, but never gets the chance. Well, he now has the chance with the directionless Minnesota Vikings and I expect him to straighten out this team immediately. He has already brought in Norv Turner (arguably the best OC of the past 20 years). He is also making strides to revamp the defense which was what let them down in so many games last year. Grade: A

Washington RedskinsJay Gruden (OC at Cincinnati)

I could just say that no coach no matter how good (even Joe Gibbs) can overcome the effects of a truly bad owner and just leave it at that, but I won’t. Because, this is just about the most perfectly bad hire that Snyder could make.

Jay Gruden is most famous for being the brother of Super-Bowl winning Head Coach John Gruden. How much similarity there is beyond that is debatable. Cincinnati has had an up and down performance since, well, forever. But especially since Mike Brown inherited the team from his father. He has been notorious for penny pinching, refusing to pay the going rate for star players; even opting out of the league’s scouting service for college players back when every other team was a part of it. It was so bad that when he hired Marvin Lewis (who had been the top HC candidate for the past two years), Lewis would not even apply for the position. He would rather risk becoming a “too frequently passed over” Head Coach prospect than would for the Bengals. Mike Brown had to personally call Lewis and agree to his change his behavior before he would consider the position. It has been a learning process for the two of them and they have to be given credit for trying to do different things and staying at it. Although not having a former coach taking up dead money probably has a lot to do with it, the Bengals’ recent success gives credence to the notion of stability in the coaching situation.

Now as far as Jay Gruden, he has been the OC at Cincinnati for the past 3 years, since they drafted Andy Dalton in the second round and traded away their long-time starter Carson Palmer (it was time for a new contract). Dalton came in and was immediately effective throwing to fellow rookie WR AJ Green. Every year since then, they have added star players to the offense, yet each year has brought no better results. There is no indication that Gruden has the knowledge/aptitude/ temperament to be a successful NFL Head Coach. This hire follows the Daniel Snyder’s pattern of signing based on people’s name rather than their production.

Grade: F for Jay Gruden being stupid or desperate enough to take this job. Team: Unrateable, as always.

 

Tennessee TitansKen Wisenhunt (former HC Arizona Cardinals, OC of Pittsburgh for SB XL, OC in SD in 2013)

Ken Wisenhunt was the Offensive Coordinator at Pittsburgh during Bill Cowher’s only Super Bowl with a rookie QB Ben Rothlisberger. He left after being passed over for the Head Coaching position in favor of Mike Tomlin, but was immediately snatched up by the Arizona Cardinals as their HC. With Curt Warner as his QB, the Cardinals made the only Super Bowl appearance in their history. However, he was not able to “coach-up” any of the other string of QB’s that paraded through Sun Devil stadium. So, he was fired after the 2012 season. As the OC for the San Diego Chargers last year, he made a complete turn-around in Phillip Rivers play.

Everybody had Wisenhunt going to Detroit as their HC to help coach erratic wunderkind Matthew Stafford. I’m not privy to the backroom dealings that occurred, but something is very suspicious that a OC that has excelled with star QB’s, but not with others would pass up an opportunity to coach a fine young talent to go to a team that has struggled to get a durable starting QB.

Jake Locker has shown that he is NFL caliber when healthy, but hasn’t been healthy enough of the time. This makes it even more important to have a capable back-up

Grade: B

 

Detroit LionsJim Caldwell (OC for Baltimore in 2013, former HC at Indianapolis under (sic) Peyton Manning and QB Coach (?) under Tony Dungy.)

It says a lot about this franchise that they are one of only 3 teams to never it make it to a SuperBowl and by far the oldest. It would seem that the possibility of coaching a team that includes Matthew Stafford, Megatron, Reggie Bush, Ndakamon Suh, is something that any potential NFL Head Coach would jump at. Obviously, there’s more to it. When Wisenhunt went to Tennesse instead – a move that puts him right back into the same situation that got him fired from ARZ – you gotta know that there’s major problems in MoTown. This is probably even more so due to the recent death of John Ford. Jim Caldwell’s last 2 stops were in Indy where he had Peyton Manning as his on-field OC and Baltimore where he took a Ravens offense that worked to perfection during the play-offs and  made it into one of the worst offenses in the league.  Additionally, whether Jim Caldwell has anything near the temperament to toughen up this Lions team we’ll have to see, but color me skeptical.

The big winner in this one is the Baltimore Ravens who get rid of Caldwell and are able to get Gary Kubiak to come in as their OC. Grade: D+

 

Cleveland BrownsMike Pettine, (DC in Buffalo)

After running a coaching search that made them the laughing stock of the league, new owner Jimmy Hazlet fired his entire front office and started over. The new ownership was supposed to bring a higher level of competency to this organization. Instead, they have shown more incompetency than even the Oakland Raiders after Al Davis went senile. This is not surprising seeing as the front office was comprised of guys that have failed repeatedly in multiple organizations. After firing Rob Chudzinski (both a questionable fire and even a questionable hire in the first place), they refused to name a new head coach until they were able to interview all the potential coaches. Since several of those coaches went to the Super Bowl, this meant that they left their early interviewees hanging. That is, until, the interviewees one by one declined to pursue the position. In the end they were again left with going after a lower tier prospect in the Buffalo Bills DC, Pettine. Thankfully for the Cleveland fan base, the owner then promoted the newly hired pro personnel man Ray Farmer to GM and fired all the other front office stooges. Put this one down as a learning experience for Haslett and lets see if he’ll get a clue from this. As a Baltimore fan, I’m hopeful that the Browns don’t get their act together, as we have enough concerns with Pittsburgh and a re-invigorated Bengals squad….   Grade: C+