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Dolphins' job is a no-win situation
“Black Monday” came a few weeks early. And sadly for Dolphins fans, you can only anticipate it getting worse.
Plus, we look at two elite New York Giants, the man behind the playoff-bound Texans, the Tom Brady blowup, and wonder if the Broncos are really being pushed by a higher authority in this week’s SCHEIN 9 …
1. The monologue
Finally, the Dolphins pulled the plug on “dead man walking” Tony Sparano, who had been on life support since clueless owner Stephen Ross tried unsuccessfully to hire Jim Harbaugh while still employing Sparano. Yesterday represents the official firing. But Ross essentially ruined the Dolphins season with his flirtation in January.
Ross sat at a news conference on Monday and told the world he can’t wait to find a “young Don Shula” while somehow-retained general manager Jeff Ireland talked about candidates with experience. Ross is a classic jock sniffer who can talk about a young head coach all he wants. The man craves a big splash and a big name. Chris Mortensen reported that Ross wants to hire Carl Peterson to be his football czar and fill the void vacated by Bill Parcells. Frankly, it doesn’t even matter if Peterson ever gets officially hired. Peterson has Ross’ ear. Ross and Peterson are tight from their days together in the USFL when Ross was the owner and Peterson the GM of the Philadelphia Stars. Did Ross not see the Chiefs in the Herm years? The cupboard was totally bare. Peterson’s been clueless for years.
Welcome to hell, Dolphin fans.
Actually, I think this is rather sad. The Miami Dolphins are a proud, storied franchise. Ross has the cash to throw at Bill Cowher. I don’t think he will take it. But even if he does, you have to be very concerned about Ross’ meddlesome and inept ways. He’s compared Chad Henne to Dan Marino. He honored the Florida Gators during a home game when his team was hosting Tim Tebow and the Broncos. He tried to hire a head coach while he employed one, in essence totally neutering Sparano. The next time Ross gets a good idea will be the first.
The Dolphins job should be a plum gig. With Ross, it is a disaster. I don’t see Jeff Fisher or Jon Gruden agreeing to work for him. And remember when big-name assistants like Sean Payton and Ken Whisenhunt were turning down the Raiders gig because it was a dead-end job under Al Davis? If I was a hot assistant, why would I trust Ross and Peterson while asking to knock skulls with Bill Belichick and the Patriots and Rex Ryan and the Jets twice a year? It’s a dead-end gig.
And someone explain to me how Sparano gets whacked but Jeff Ireland keeps his gig. What has Jeff Ireland done as the general manager in Miami to keep his job? Just look at the quarterback position, ranging from passing on Matt Ryan to drafting Henne to picking Pat White in the second round, to not picking up a legit starter or legit competition for Henne this year. How can Ross separate Sparano from Ireland?
Will Brian Schottenheimer get an interview because of his relationship with Peterson? Does Ireland have any influence? Better question, what the heck are we talking about?
Congrats Stephen Ross. Your team is a laughingstock.
2. Amateur Hour
The Chiefs blatantly quit in the second half against the Jets and Scott Pioli had seen enough. The general manager axed Todd Haley. This wasn’t about wins and losses or how the team played through injuries. This is all about the Haley and Pioli relationship. They clashed. Todd didn’t seem to have a plan, whether it was playing starters in the final preseason game or who was calling the plays. Matt Cassel regressed and missed Charlie Weis, who feuded with Haley. While the firing on Monday caught me off guard, you had to figure it would come at the end of the year.
I can’t listen to people suggest Josh McDaniels. That’s the worst idea in the history of ideas. Josh McDaniels shouldn’t run a Pop Warner team, let alone be on the short list in Kansas City. Sure, he worked for Pioli in New England, but he embarrassed himself in Denver. How did you like McDaniels’ play selection on the goal-line on Monday night? Unlike Miami, the Chiefs gig is a coveted job in a great football city. I think Kansas City has players and Pioli is an excellent personnel chief. Names like Kirk Ferentz, Jeff Fisher and Dom Capers are logical on Pioli’s short list.
3. Can’t make it up
I’ve been a believer in the church of Tebow for quite some time now. But I never thought even the great one could engineer a comeback down 10-0 with 2:08 to go. The sports world is still buzzing about the improbable win. Tebow hits DeMaryius Thomas for a touchdown. Denver totally botches the onsides kick? No timeouts left? No problem. There’s a master plan from higher forces, which apparently included Marion Barber knowing that the world wanted the ball back in Tebow’s hands, so he foolishly stepped out of bounds, stopping the clock. Tebow drives the Broncos 39 yards. Matt Prater still has to make a 59-yard field goal to tie. As if there was any doubt. Prater nailed it, and it could’ve been good from 70.
The Bears win the coin flip and get the ball first in overtime. Did they read the script? Barber, of course, fumbles. Tebow, of course, leads Denver down the field. Prater, as if you didn’t know, drills a 51-yard field goal for the win for the first place Denver Broncos.
Amen, my brothers.
Don’t hate, appreciate. This is like nothing we’ve ever seen in sports history. The Denver Broncos knack for playing their best when it matters the most, incredibly outperforming the level they played at for three-plus quarters, is amazing and unprecedented. I can’t get enough.
How about Prater, nailing two pressure field goals of over 50 yards like they were extra points? Or as Prater told us on the SiriusXM Blitz, “Maybe it’s God working through Tebow.”
What Prater added next was enlightening. He said, “We have the mindset of a high school football team. We love being around each other. I think that helps us late in games. And there’s Tim. I wouldn’t want, we wouldn’t want, anyone else in there. He is the ultimate leader. He works so hard and he is such a good and genuine teammate. I do think everyone feeds off of his energy.”
4. I’m a genius
Congrats to my Texans on making the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. I knew that one of these years I would be proven right when I shouted that Houston would win the division!
The man who deserves the credit is their great owner Bob McNair. He bleeds Houston football and has been dying to deliver a winner. McNair was emotional describing the camaraderie in the locker room after the pulsating win over Cincy and then watching New Orleans defeat Tennessee to clinch the berth.
Monday on the SiriusXM Blitz, a reflective and jubilant McNair told us, “I’ve been convinced for the last four years that we had the talent. We were physically tough but not mentally tough enough. The defense had let us down in the past. Wade Phillips fixed that. Our young players, a healthy DeMeco Ryans and Connor Barwin stepped up.”
McNair called the Texans thumping of the Titans in Tennessee the turning point of the season and the moment he knew this was a different team, when the Texans clubbed the Titans. McNair raved about how the team dealt with adversity, with injuries to Mario Williams, Andre Johnson, Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart.
But McNair really saved his best stuff for coach Gary Kubiak.
The owner said, “Gary really had total control of the team. He had the lockerroom even in tough times through the years. That’s a sign of real leadership. I was convinced that Gary was our guy. We just needed to bring in someone on the defensive end to match Gary. And we did with Wade. On Gary, I acted on a basis of that conviction. I just said to myself, you can’t go wrong by doing what’s right.”
I was one of those who thought Kubiak was overmatched in-game. He hasn’t made one note-worthy gaffe this year.
Congrats to McNair and the wonderful and emotional Texans fans, who make the playoffs with T.J. Yates. Special stuff. Enjoy.
Eli Manning only saved the Giants’ season and Tom Coughlin’s job. Not too bad for a night’s work.
I thought the game was over with the Giants down 12 with 5 minutes to go. Manning rallied his team back with an epic comeback. He’s been a clutch, elite, top-five quarterback this year.
And how about the game Jason Pierre-Paul had, including blocking a potential game-tying field goal at the end? He also had 8 tackles, 2 sacks, a forced fumble and 2 tackles for a loss. The back end of the Giants defense was exposed, yet again. It’s amazing to think where the Giants would be without Pierre-Paul, who has become the elite defensive end in the NFL.
6. Backseat Coaching
I led Friday’s Sizzle/Fizzle column with how scorching-hot Raheem Morris’ seat was in Tampa. That was before the Bucs blew a lead and embarrassed themselves against the pathetic Jaguars. I think Morris is still in denial a bit about his team’s fundamentals and effort on defense. But I appreciated his humor when I asked him about his job security. The Hofstra University graduate quipped, “If I was worried about that I would’ve taken that physical education job in Suffolk County, Long Island to teach gym.”
Morris should join Tony Sparano and Jack Del Rio as the third coach in the state of Florida to lose his job. You can’t lose 41-14 to the Jaguars. It just can’t happen.
T.J. Yates: How beautiful was that game-winning, 80-yard drive on the road against a good Bengals defense!? Yates hit Kevin Walter in the end zone with two seconds left to complete the comeback win and put the Texans in position to clinch their first playoff appearance. Not bad for a third-string quarterback.
Rob Gronkowski: We focused on Gronk in our Sizzle and Fizzle on Friday. He made us look good on Sunday. I can’t get enough of his enthusiasm. Gronkowski holds the record for touchdown catches in a season for tight ends.
Shonn Greene: Jets center Nick Mangold agreed with me when I told him on SNY that this was the best performance by the running attack all season. The Jets offense runs through Greene, and it makes Mark Sanchez that much better. Greene should dominate Philly’s run defense this weekend.
Matt Ryan: Ice, ice baby. With the Falcons on the brink of a brutal loss to Carolina, the Falcons quarterback chucked a couple of clutch fourth-quarter touchdowns.
Marion Barber: God had a plan. It included making you the ultimate goat. You can’t go out of bounds. You just can’t do it. That was one of the dumbest plays I’ve ever seen.
James Harrison: I usually favor the defensive player when it comes to violent hits. It is football. But, Harrison had a chance to alter his approach against Colt McCoy. He didn’t. James Harrison deserves to be suspended.
Rob Ryan: Did you see the haphazard blitzes? I cringe every time I hear someone say Ryan should be a head coach. What exactly has he done as an assistant?
Officials in Detroit/Minnesota game: How in the world did they miss a blatant facemask penalty on the Joe Webb fumble? That’s a blown call that had a potential impact on the outcome. Heck, that’s a blown call that has a potential impact on the wild-card race.
Rams: Congrats on being the most insignificant team in the NFL.
9. 3 nuggets of wisdom
* An MCL injury will keep Packers star receiver Greg Jennings out 2-3 weeks. Green Bay has played without starting offensive linemen, linebackers and defensive linemen. If you don’t think the Packers have dealt with adversity, you aren’t paying attention. This is a coaching job for the ages from Mike McCarthy.
* Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien and Tom Brady got into a screaming match on the sideline after a Brady pick in the red zone. Maybe O’Brien wanted Uggs slippers and Brady got him boots? Or maybe both men know how weak the Patriots defense is and they feel the pressure to score every time they have a chance.
* I can’t believe the Browns allowed a dazed Colt McCoy back into the game on Thursday night. On the flip side, I don’t believe McCoy is really a Mike Holmgren guy and I expect the Browns to be in the quarterback business this offseason. Peyton Hillis derailed the season with his selfish behavior. Tom Heckert didn’t give McCoy legit receivers. I understand that. But I don’t think the Browns view McCoy as a franchise guy.
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