NFL Coach of the Year? That’s easy – the Tennessee Titans’ Jeff Fisher has the league’s best record with Kerry Collins at quarterback. Runner-up is the Miami Dolphins’ Tony Sparano, who, with Bill Parcells glaring over his shoulder, transformed a 1-15 team in 2007 to a winner in 2008. But what’s tougher to determine is the Reverse Coach of the Year, the fellow who doesn’t win as much as he should.
Let me quote perennial Reverse Coach of the Year candidate Jim Haslett, currently misguiding the Rams on an interim basis: “I’ll do anything I can to help these guys be successful. But I can’t tackle. I can’t take care of the football. … I am helpless on the sidelines when it comes to that stuff.”
It’s an acquired skill, getting less out of your team than you should.
So let’s count down the top five to the No. 1 Reverse Coach of the Year:
5. Mike Holmgren, Seahawks. Before the season, he announced he was retiring after the season; I’m pretty sure he was pretty clear on this. Well, apparently he retired before the season. The Seahawks have played like a team coached by a man halfway to the Moose Lodge. Holmgren hasn’t just mailed it in, he’s mailed it in COD.
If you know you’re quitting after the season, you simply don’t concentrate as well. It’s like when you’re in elementary school: If lunch or recess is coming up, you don’t pay as much attention to state capitals because you’re only thinking about getting a Sloppy Joe before they run out of them in the cafeteria or getting onto the jungle gym before Joey Markowitz does.
5. (tie) Al Davis, Raiders. Coach, general manager and imperial czar of the Raiders since 1963, Davis had a terrific run through some of the 20th century, but he’s only taken the team to the Super Bowl once in the past 25 seasons.
Like contemporary iconoclast Fidel Castro, Davis, for better or worse, has held steadfast to his system. And what is this system? A commitment to eccentricity, contrarianism and a lot of broken football lives.
Nobody said it was a good system.
4. Herm Edwards, Chiefs. In 2002, Edwards famously said, “You play to win the game!” Actually, it appears Herm plays to lose the game: he had a losing record as Jets coach over five seasons and now has a losing record as Chiefs coach over three seasons.
This month, Edwards, asked if he’s a candidate for the job at San Diego State, said, “I’ve got a college team right now.” Actually, it appears the Chiefs have a college coach right now – and not a particularly good one.
On the other hand, he’s quite entertaining.
3. Norv Turner, Chargers. I assume he interviews well.
2. Rod Marinelli, Lions. We’d like to excuse Marinelli’s potentially historic futility in Detroit – after all, he is simply a byproduct of the Matt Millen Front-Office China Syndrome Effect – but at some point of the calendar year, it behooves the coach of a professional team to win a game against another professional team.
I mean, even if you don’t “play to win the game,” by accident you’re bound to win the game once or twice a year.
And, heck, even Reverse Coach of the Year Emeritus Sam Wyche won 84 out of 191 games in his NFL career.
1. Romeo Crennel, Browns. This one’s personal.
If you take a team from 10-6 in 2007 to 4-9 in 2008, you are the Reverse Coach of the Year. If you are told repeatedly from preseason to midseason that you cannot win with Derek Anderson as your quarterback and then you keep playing Derek Anderson at quarterback until your whole season is irretrievably ruined, you are Reverse Coach of the Year. And if you cause Couch Slouch to lose a bet – a public wager – to ESPN Radio’s yammerin’ and yappin’ Colin Cowherd, then you are the soon-to-be Reverse Ex-Coach of the Year.
Ask The Slouch
Q. I don’t want to say there are too many bowl games, but the NCAA just extended an invitation to the online University of Phoenix in order to help fill all the slots. (Chris Shelton; Indianapolis)
A. I hate to go Alex Trebek on you, but your entry was not in the form of a question, so while I enjoyed it and have decided to publish it, you will not be receiving $1.25.
Q. When we finally make contact with alien beings, will the Yankees and the Mets be bidding on their top pitchers? (Phil Dorner; La Grange Park, Ill.)
A. Actually, I believe Hank Steinbrenner already has set up a scouting bureau on Neptune.
Q. Since your Team of Destiny, the Arizona Cardinals, has finally come into its own, I was wondering if you could make me your Person of Destiny? That would give me something to look forward to in four years. (Joe Twarogowski; Germantown, Wis.)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
Q. If Ian Eagle and Solomon Wilcots are the announcers, has your team officially been eliminated from the NFL playoffs? (Jim Ondrey; Chardon, Ohio)
A. Pay this wise soul, too.