Tag Archives: jon gruden

What Tampa Bay is Getting with Dirk Koetter, If He’s Named The Buccaneers Head Coach

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers aren’t the only team to the play fast and loose with their head coaching position, but the Glazers have certainly made some eyebrow-raising moves since winning the Super Bowl with Jon Gruden thirteen years ago. It began with Gruden, currently ESPN’s color analyst for Monday Night Football, being shown the door after consecutive 9-7 seasons, and there’s been a folly of errors with the Bucs top job, including the questionable dismissal of Lovie Smith earlier this week.

The team’s improvement to 6-10, from 2-14 in Smith’s first season, apparently wasn’t enough, so the core of Gerald McCoy, Jameis Winston, and Mike Evans will get their marching orders from a new leader when mini-camps and OTAs begin later this year. We’ve heard rumors from the ridiculous to the absolutely reasonable, so you can rule out Alabama head coach Nick Saban, but there are other candidates not named Dirk Koetter interviewing for a job they like won’t be offered when it’s all said and done.

Say what you will about the Rooney Rule, I personally understand the spirit behind it, but I don’t feel the mandate for a minority candidate interview fulfills its purpose, nor do I feel its necessary, given how much we’ve evolved since Art Shell was hired in 19891Shell was the second African American Head Coach in professional football history, and the first since Fritz Pollard stopped coaching the Chicago Black Hawks in 1928. It’s difficult to put a name to this, and I don’t care to insult the man, but with Koetter being the in-house favorite, we’re going to label Arizona offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin as the Rooney Rule candidate.

It isn’t fair to Goodwin, available to interview during the Cardinals’ bye week, but all parties involved can get something out of this. Best case scenario, speaking to supporters of the Rooney Rule, Goodwin blows them away, and gets the job. Under this scenario, Koetter walks, which is something of a wash, because Goodwin will certainly want to be the architect of the offense, in his first steps away from the shadow of Bruce Arians, aka “The Quarterback Whisperer”. Bottom line: This is an interview Goodwin deserves, but many will see it as a farce, and only the ones in the room will ever really have a feel for how legitimate the process is.

Until Cam Newton started to make Riverboat Ron Rivera’s offense tick, the strength of Carolina’s game is what you see when the Panthers don’t have the football. Sean McDermott has been coordinating that defensive unit since 2011. Give him credit for knowing how to utilize Luke Kuchely, and how to disrupt in the trenches, his defense is the reason they sit on the 1-line in the NFC as we enter the playoffs. He’s a candidate, but he’d have his work cut out for him with the 7th-worst scoring defense in the game, and that was in Year 2 of Lovie Smith.2This is more about personnel. Gerald McCoy is great, but he doesn’t play around a lot of great talent…not yet.

I could get hit by a bus, but I’ll probably be home for dinner.

Barring a very genuine surprise, the former Arizona State head coach will be promoted by the Tampa Bay brass from Offensive Coordinator to Head Coach very soon, but they have to complete the process. Honestly, what does it hurt to talk to viable candidates, even when you’re 99% of the direction you want to go? In Jacksonville, Atlanta, and now Tampa Bay, Dirk Koetter has received a lot of praise for the way he calls an offensive game for whoever was featured on the Jaguars offense from 2007 to 2011, for Matt Ryan, and for the very talented Jameis Winston.

One area of concern remains; there’s a big difference between being the Skipper and the First mate. The Glazer family, Jason Licht, and everyone involved with this rumored decision to put Koetter in charge of the show are willing to make a leap that no has dared to attempt since failing to elevate the Arizona State over six seasons3Koetter was 40-34, and impossibly bad in the state of California against the four conference rivals who reside there.. Koetter put a few players in the NFL, most notably Terrell Suggs and Zach Miller, but the Sun Devil football program never could conquer the Pac-10 on his watch.

He may be another Norv Turner, a guy who is brilliant until he gets the big whistle and a challenge flag, but I have to commend the Buccaneers commitment to stability for Jameis Winston, even if you might want to denigrate them for pink-slipping Smith after two seasons, and just one with the services of Winston. After all, you usually hear about the head coach/quarterback tandem more than the chemistry between the signal caller and the OC.

You might hear conversations about Brady and Weis, McDaniels, and O’Brien, but none of them roll off the tongue like Brady & Belichick or Belichick & Brady do. Things tend to change over time. Maybe under the guidance of Jack Del Rio and Mike Smith, he understands the head coaching role better now, as well as the NFL game. There’s a precedent for that with the aforementioned Belichick. He didn’t get it done with the Browns, spent more time with Bill Parcells, and quickly took the Patriots to the promised land with his first second chance. I might believe Josh McDaniels was on the verge of that, but he’s got some work to do if he ends up in Nashville.

If any of these jobs were easy or “good”, there probably wouldn’t be vacancies, so they’re all difficult undertakings. Keep in mind, there are no exclusive rights to Koetter’s service, despite the Bucs being his current employer. He’s talking to San Francisco and perhaps Philadelphia, but probably isn’t the favorite to land either of those jobs. The move makes sense, and honestly, Goodwin and McDermott are logical targets, but potentially giving Jameis Winston the same voice for the foreseeable future carries a value that can’t be matched. Sun Devil fans won’t believe they’re watching the same guy when they see the pewter, orange, and red on their screen on Sundays.

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1. Shell was the second African American Head Coach in professional football history, and the first since Fritz Pollard stopped coaching the Chicago Black Hawks in 1928.
2. This is more about personnel. Gerald McCoy is great, but he doesn’t play around a lot of great talent…not yet.
3. Koetter was 40-34, and impossibly bad in the state of California against the four conference rivals who reside there.

No NFL Sunday Ticket

The NFL season is about to start, and for the first time in many years, I am paying attention to what games are going to broadcast locally. When I had DirecTV’s Sunday Ticket, such things were of no relevance to me at all. I’m not even sure how much I should even care now, since I’ve dropped not only the subscription service that provides all out-of-market NFL games, but also the satellite company on the whole.

This is a pretty significant change for me, considering my only condition for a roommate back in 2005 was that he/she be willing to move to a place where we could get the holy grail of sports packages, which to this day, requires DirecTV. Prior to that, I had to drag my happy ass to a bar at 10 AM Arizona time on Sundays to catch my beloved Cleveland Browns, unless I was fortunate enough that their game was airing on the local CBS or FOX affiliate, which was never.

The problem is, my team has never been much of a draw in these parts, mostly because they’ve been terrible and haven’t yielded much, even in the way of Fantasy Football players for the casual fan. Sometimes, I was the only one in the entire sports bar that had any interest in a Browns clash with the Jaguars or Bengals, and there were occasional times that my game, and my business as a paying customer, didn’t even warrant a small TV in the corner.

It’s telling, now that CBS sort of seems like that bar manager that laughed at my request to show a Browns game, which wasn’t a problem when they were playing the Steelers. Last month, there were rumors that sounded official enough, indicating CBS’s intention of sending their #1 broadcast team to Pittsburgh for the Browns opener against Pittsburgh, but Awful Announcing let the air out of that one earlier this week, noting that the network’s commitment to that game hinged on the participation of one Johnny Manziel, who will not be the starting quarterback against the Steelers on Sunday.

To me, that A-Team of Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, and sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson suggested that this game would air in the early Sunday time-slot, unless it conflicted with the local team. The Cardinals are playing on Monday night and their only division rival playing at 1 PM Eastern on Sunday, the Rams, are on FOX. Of course, when Mike Pettine announced that a guy named Hoyer would start over Manziel, the under-appreciated Ian Eagle knew it would be him, and not Jim Nantz, on the call for Browns v Steelers in Western Pennsylvania to start the season.

I held out hope, before The506.com revealed their unofficial, but often accurate, viewing map. I thought, Browns-Steelers, it’s not the rivalry that I’d like it to be, but it still matters. As the page loaded, I saw pink in most of Ohio and Pennsylvania, but no match in Arizona, where we were covered in blue, which the color key said was the Patriots. The dream was dead.

I would not be so blessed as to have the game I want to see come to me free of charge. I started thinking about what bar I’d go to, something I haven’t had to ponder in a decade, but then it me. Why bother?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not jumping ship. I was born a Browns fan and I’ll most certainly die a Browns fan. It’s more likely that I’ll live forever than it is that I’ll stop loving the Browns. I’m just not sure I need to see them every week; is that blasphemous?

I’m just not very happy with the NFL right now, and keep in mind, this isn’t about the Browns losing Josh Gordon for the year to suspension. I have my reservations about the way we treat drug users in this country, but I really don’t want to take the focus off what really eats at me, the way the courts and the National Football League turn a blind eye to violent crimes.

Granted, it’s not an employer’s responsisbility to police their employees, even when the courts fail, but there is a certain level of accountability, in my opinion. If my bosses at the 9-to-5, a full-time consulting gig, ever saw me drag my unconscious wife out of an elevator, it would be curtains for me at that gig. If any of my clients caught wind of something like that, or something like vehicular manslaughter of a colleague, they likely wouldn’t care for my consultative assistance, but consumers of the NFL product have no such standard for decency, myself included.

Due to backlash over the 2-game slap on the wrist to Ray Rice, of unconsious girlfriend in elevator fame, the fearless leader of all-things-NFL decided 6 games without pay would be more appropriate for spousal abuse. Oh, and drunkenly ending the life of your friend and teammate, and offense committed by the Cowboys’ Josh Brent would equal 10 games away from this lucrative job. I feel someone should say something or do something to demonstrate that these are not acceptable consequences for such heinous actions, but all I can do is make noise.

I want to boycott the games. I looked into boycotting the sponsors, but I’d be cornering myself into a life of craft beers and farmers markets; the NFL takes money from everyone you know and every prouduct you buy. Plus, given the time I’ve taken to contemplate whether or not this is a Browns season that I can pass on, I don’t think a boycott could be considered genuine.

So, it’s funny. I’ve gone from the guy who does five televisions in the living room every (Saturday and) Sunday, to someone who might just as soon be working on his golf game while the masses are living and dying with every third and long. This isn’t jumping ship, but it is taking a break after 15 years on the observation deck. What’s there to see up there right now anyway?

Maybe it isn’t the Browns, but the overload. From the endless draft talk on Twitter, which starts around Game 12, which is better than the talk radio callers who are trying to start it during the pre-season to the constant fury of seeing Steelers stickers on vehicles all over the Phoenix Metropolitan area, it’s easy to get burnt out on this stuff.

The TV thing was a chore of sorts, too. We kept two in the living room all season, which was great for watching regular televison on the main TV during Monday Night Football, which I could see and not hear. There’s something bliss about not hearing Jon Gruden tell us how every player that participates in a game he calls, players best known as “this guy” or “this guy, right here”, is the best ever to play the game. We also bring out the bedroom TV and two old “fat-backs” that collect dust during the week and during the off-season.

I never needed six games, since I’d typically split-screen the main screen, at the same time, but I was paying for all of them, so I watched all of them. There’s only one I ever gave a damn about, and I would have paid an a la carte price to only watch that team win its four or five games per year. Of course, that was never an option; it’s all or nothing with Sunday Ticket.

Since the Browns have given me nothing, I have found that it’s time for me to choose nothing. Keep in mind, this isn’t me demanding better things from the team, but I’m just fatigued with the same sub-mediocre results every fall. It isn’t even necessarily about the money, I can make more of that, but I’ll never get the time back.

Alright, you can throw me off the blimp and into the pile of luggage now. I have no Sunday Ticket.

Cleveland Browns Next Head Coach: Home Run or Solution

ead Coach Pat Shurmur and Mike Holmgren by Erik Daniel Drost, on Flickr

Two questions: do you envision the return of Pat Shurmur to the Cleveland Browns next season and who is the next coach of the Cleveland Browns?

At this point in this season, many believe the Browns are just playing the season out and the general feeling is that Pat Shurmur will not return next season to coach the Browns.

Since this incarnation of the Cleveland Browns have never had to hire a new coach, we should talk about what the Browns should look for in their next coach.

In my real job I hire and fire people on daily basis, and the one question I ask myself before I make any move is “Who do we get and how much is it going to cost?” In any other situation I would apply the same logic to the next head coach of the Cleveland Browns, but in this situation that will not work at all.

The appropriate question is “Home run or solution?” On its face, you would think that would be an easy question, but history shows us that it is not.

What is the difference? Well that is an easy answer, home run hires are ones that excite the fan base and immediately make fans want to buy tickets, but do not necessarily achieve the goal of winning games.

On the other side of the coin are solution hires, or those that solve the problem that the home run hire creates. Solution hires often stay in their jobs for a lengthy amount of time and produce quantifiable results. In the Browns case, this would be consistent win totals and playoff appearances.

On More Than a Fan, I focus most of my efforts on college football, and currently there are about 13 Division I-A (FBS) job openings, none with a higher profile than the job at Tennessee. Tennessee faces the same question that Browns management will face in hiring its next coach: home run or solution.

For both Browns and Tennessee fans a common name is Jon Gruden. Gruden obviously has ties to Tennessee, where his wife was a cheerleader and he was a graduate assistant. Gruden’s Cleveland ties are his birth in nearby Sandusky and attending college at Muskingum and Dayton. He also, allegedly, grew up as a Browns fan.

The question for both fanbases is do you think Jon Gruden is a home run hire or the solution to your coaching problems? Yes, Jon Gruden has a Super Bowl ring, but some consider it illegitimate because he was playing with Tony Dungy’s players. That argument is ridiculous.

Browns fans have been tortured on Sundays since 1999, and new owner Jimmy Haslam now has the chance to right the ship with a solution hire, but Browns fans may have to resign themselves to the fact that best coach may not always be the most exciting coach.

Set reasonable goals for the teams and maintain those goals throughout the season. Winning in week one does not mean you should look for Super Bowl tickets. If the coach is the solution you will know when to make those plans, but even if the Browns only make it to the playoffs for five or six years, is that such a bad thing?

I am guessing as a Browns fan you would be willing to trade places with Colts fans who made only made the playoffs eleven times since 1999 and only have one Super Bowl title to show for it?

As easy as it is to get excited about big name coaches coming to Cleveland, look at the picture above and tell me if the big name coach on the right worked out for the team or if he was a bust. Then ask yourself if you want your next coach to be a home run or a solution.

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