COME BACK WAYNE
Do you ever wonder what might have happened if the Lions didn't fire Wayne Fontes in 1996? All the ups and downs, playoff losses, and seemingly mediocre coaching ability still amounted to a 67-71 record. Since then, 6 Lions coaches have amassed a 62-119 record.
Wayne probably wouldn't have lasted that long on his own, but he might have convinced Barry Sanders to stick around a couple more seasons and at the very least we'd be proud to call the NFL's all-time leading rusher a Lion. And to think, I was happy when Wayne got the boot.
ROWDY RODDY MARINELLI
Actually Rod was the exact opposite-- a no-nonsense nuts and bolts football coach who demanded the little things out of his players. The problem was his superiors, like the criminally woeful Matt Millen, never came close to providing him with the talent to even have a chance at success. I would call Marinelli a good football coach, but an awful on-field leader of a football team. I was never impressed with his decisions-- for example the end of the first half this season against Carolina. With time ticking down and the Lions moving down the field and behind on the scoreboard, Marinelli sends out his kicker with 8 seconds left at about the 20 yard line... ON 3RD DOWN! Why not take another shot at the end zone? You'll probably only use 7 seconds at most, and he still had a timeout to work with. He's like one of those coaches who kneel at the 50 with 3 seconds left in the half. Why not throw a hail Mary? It's unlikely, but take a shot for the love of Pete.
That said, Rod made the best of an unmerciful situation this year. Not once did he lose his cool in grand fashion with a media that constantly dogged him-- especially Rob Parker of the Free Press and ESPN. Tim Staudt said it best about the recent controversy at the end of a presser that Parker is an embarrassment to the profession and is a gleaming example of why the media gets a bad rap by the public. If you don't know, the defensive coordinator is (was) Marinelli's son-in-law. After a slew of attack questions, Parker concluded by asking (facetiously we can only assume) if he wished his daughter had married a better football coach. Yeah, Marinelli was a dead man walking, but even the condemned deserve better than that.
FAVRE: THE YEAR THAT WAS
If you recall, I wrote here I didn't think Favre would take the Jets to the Super Bowl. The playoffs maybe, but not much further. His performance against Miami, and the quarterback he replaced, Chad Pennington, is exhibit A as to why he is not one of the best QB's of all-time. Again he threw the key interception that led to his team's defeat and ultimately, his coach's demise. Eric Mangini was fired after a 9-7 season and missing the playoffs. Lions fans can only dream of an owner who looks at 9-7 as not good enough. Favre never met a coverage he wouldn't throw into during his career. While fans love his gunslinging style, it also cost his team dearly time after time with the costly turnover. Last year, they should have sailed into the Super Bowl until a pass into triple coverage against the Giants at Lambeau ended the dream.
Super Bowl teams sometimes have the superstar quarterback who makes the tough throw in crunch time to get the big win (Peyton Manning, John Elway, Kurt Warner, Steve Young, Favre) but too often they have the field general who manages a game and doesn't make mistakes to put the defense in a bind (Joe Montana, Eli Manning, Tom Brady, Phil Simms, Troy Aikman, Roger Staubach, Ben Roethlisberger, geez even Trent Dilfer). Favre got his ring in a year where he had an excellent defense but the very next he was unable to execute the final drive to immortality. It's easy to look at his record for consecutive starts, a Super Bowl win and the TD record as his ticket to NFL's elite quarterbacks. But, too many INTs leaves Favre in the group with Dan Fouts, Dan Marino and Fran Tarkenton-- great stats, but not greatness.
FANTASY FOOTBALL FLOPS
The big question next year will be: Who do you draft #1? Peterson, Turner, Brees? I think the bigger question is why do owners suddenly sit their stars at the end of the season simply because of matchups? The other author of this blog, Jeff Proctor has said it in the past and I'll say it again-- Another guy who plays the matchups, I'll take him in my league every year. Translation: you always get burned when you sit your stars because you're trying to be a genius. In two of my three leagues this year, I saw two guys lose out on big money because they sat DeAngelo Williams the last week of the fantasy playoffs against the Giants. Seriously?
The guy had busted out as the number one fantasy player with yards and TDs galore and you're going to sit him because it's the Giants? One started Steve Slaton against the Raiders-- a nice matchup, but Slaton is never going to put up monster numbers. The other guy played Marshawn Lynch and Pierre Thomas. In case you were wondering, DW scored 4 TDs against the vaunted G-Men. In my other league, the guy who won the league had DeAngelo-- and played him-- and it won him the title. That guy was me.