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Various Sports Mutterings from Sportsfly.com!

Mangini Fills First Head Coaching Vacancy

Word came down today that Eric Mangini–the head coach who was fired just ten days ago from the New York Jets–will become the head coach of the Cleveland Browns.  The Browns were the first team to fire a head coach–the Raiders and Rams notwithstanding–and they are certainly the first team to fill a head coaching vacancy.

Eric Mangini

Eric Mangini

But how good will Mangini be?  Will he really be able to turn around a Cleveland Browns team that has only went to the playoffs once since returning to the league ten seasons ago?

Mangini comes with a bit of baggage, himself.  He was known as a guy who wasn’t good with the media, often excluding them from practices and being very limited in his answers in press conferences.  Mangini also is, of course, the man who ratted out the Patriots in 2007’s infamous “spygate.”

But Mangini has had some success, too.  In just three seasons with the Jets, he went to the playoffs once and was on the cusp of the playoffs this season.

The Future of Winslow and Edwards Uncertain

The Future of Winslow and Edwards Uncertain

Mangini will have his hands full this off-season.  Cleveland holds the No. 5 pick in the draft, and both Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow only have one year remaining on their contracts.  Edwards is coming off a horrendous 2008 season, capping it off with blaming the fans for his woes in the city.  And Winslow’s 2008 campaign was marred by invisibility on the field and injury off it.  Winslow reportedly had a staph infection late in the season, and lashed out at former General Manager Phil Savage for not caring about him, stating that Savage treated him like a “piece of meat.”

Whatever the case, the entry of Man-genius to Cleveland will be interesting to watch.  With reports out of Cleveland stating that Raiders defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is tapped by Mangini to be their defensive coordinator, we could be seeing a completely new attitidue in Cleveland this season.

January 7, 2009 Posted by | NFL | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How I Would Fix the Detroit Lions

Lions Fans Incognito

With the season now over and the Detroit Lions having turned in the worst season in NFL history, here are a few steps I would implement in attempting to turn around this downtrodden franchise.

1) I would first bring in general managers who know talent—both of the past and present. I wouldn’t hire immediately, but I would bring them in to evaluate my team. I’d like to know what some of the football minds around the league really think of my squad. Evaluate my players, coaching staff, and gameday strategy. Give me your honest opinion—it would allow this team to not live in the bubble of ineptitude that it has gotten far too familiar with.

2) The second thing I would do would be to reach out to Lions alumni. Get Lem Barney on the phone. Ask Herman Moore to come and talk to the team. And make sure that Barry Sanders gets some sort of advisor role with the team. I would connect the present to the past for both the players and the fans.

3) The third thing I would do is lower ticket prices. In the economically ravaged streets of Detroit, times are tough. Times are even worse when your team has never been to the Superbowl and has been putrid since Michael Jackson sang “Thriller.” I would display some good faith, and lower ticket prices a bit to appease my loyal fan base.

4) The fourth thing I would do is hire competent people. This sounds obvious, but Matt Millen was the GM in Detroit for almost a decade. He had no experience whatsoever for the position, and his team was dreadful year after year. Yet he always kept his job. I would certainly allow my hires to fail because you cannot succeed if you don’t, to some extent, crash and burn. But I wouldn’t tolerate poor play or inexcusable team management. The Ford family enabled Matt Millen—I wouldn’t stand for it.

5) The last thing I would attempt to do is change the losing culture. Losing really and truly is a disease. Ask the Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Browns, or Houston Texans. When a losing culture infects your franchise, you find ways to lose. You snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. I would do my best to surround my team with winners. Not coaches who talk a good game, but ones who have actually won consistently at the pro level. I would rid my team of lazy, apathetic players and replace them with savvy veterans and young players willing to make an impact (similar to how the Patriots built their franchise). I would constantly reiterate to my team that if the horrendous 1998 Rams can go from the toilet bowl to the Superbowl—and the 1-15 Dolphins of 2007 can go from laughing stock division champs, then there’s no reason that the Lions cannot regain their once mighty roar.

What would be some things you would do to turn around the Detroit Lions? I want to hear from you Sportsfly.com readers!

January 1, 2009 Posted by | NFL | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Best/Worst NFL Desicions of 2008

With the New Year right around the corner, let’s look back at a few of the best and worst decisions of the 2008 NFL season.

BEST:

1)  Starting rookie quarterbacks–Choosing to start young guns Matt Ryan and Joe Flacoo truly paid off for the Falcons and Ravens, respectively.  Both players managed the game well, looked poised in the pocket, and limited their mistakes.  Ryan and Flacoo never hit a rookie wall and just may have changed the thought around the league that rookie quarterbacks should never hit the football field early.

2)  Michael Turner to the Falcons–While everyone knew that Turner had great ability, no one knew quite what to expect from Tomlinson’s career backup.  Turner’s decision to go to Atlanta was met with skepticism, as the big man signed with one of the worst teams of 2007.  Seventeen touchdowns later, Turner was the best free agent signing of the 2008.

Matt Cassell

Matt Cassell

3)  Keeping Matt Cassell–A career backup everywhere he went, the Patriots made a great decision in both developing Cassell and not cutting him.  For years, Cassell looked awful in pre-season games, and he was close to being cut several times over the years.  The Patriots were smart in keeping Cassell around, as Tom Brady’s injury proved how necessary it is to have a quality back-up.

WORST:

1)  Not Trading Derek Anderson–This is not hindsight.  The Browns should’ve traded Anderson the minute after the pro-bowl ended.  His numbers last season looked good, but Anderson faltered down the stretch in 2007.  His ineptitude against the Bengals in December of 2007 cost the Browns a playoff birth.  And Anderson couldn’t hit his receivers in the pro bowl–a game that doesn’t allow opposing defenses to blitz.  GM Phil Savage refused to trade Anderson and closed the door on the possibility of a training camp competiton involving Brady Quinn.  Anderson eventually signed a long term contract with Cleveland, and Phil Savage simultaneously signed his own death warrant.

Derek Anderson

Derek Anderson

2)  Jets Release Chad Pennington–Pennington was always a pretty good quarterback.  Not great, but he did a lot of things well and was football smart.  While one cannot argue that his weak arm is better suited in warm Miami than cold New York, Pennington was always good for minimizing his mistakes.  Favre, while certainly a gun slinger, is a turnover machine.  The choice to trade for Brett Favre and subsequently release Pennington came back to bite them in week 17.  It also cost Eric Mangini his head coaching job.

3)  PacMan Jones Gets a 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Chance–This is all on Roger Goodell.  At some point, a man such as PacMan Jones needs to learn that his beahvoir is not acceptable, and that priveleges he has enjoyed in the past will be stripped away due to his reckless behaivor.  Regarding Jones and the NFL, his priveleges were always taken away–but only temporarily.  Whether it’s his dozens of arrests, his fight at a night club which resulted in someone getting shot and paralyzed, or his “incident” with his own bodyguard, it’s clear that PacMan Jones just doesn’t “get it.”  And for someone who acts so stupid off the field, he should’ve forver lost the privelege to suit up and play.

December 30, 2008 Posted by | NFL, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Burning NFL Questions

1.  Wasn’t this one of the most exciting final weeks of football you have witnessed in a long time?

2.  Was there any doubt that Romeo Crennel and Rod Marinelli were going to get canned?

3.  Speaking of firings, though, did Mangini really deserve to be fired after having two winning seasons in three years?

4.  Will Jerry Jones finally realize that team chemistry is what is needed in the locker room, and not just talent?

Tony Romo

Tony Romo

5.  Can everyone stop trying to replace Donnovan McNabb now?

6.  Isn’t it great to see Chad Pennington finally get some well deserved credit?

Chad Pennington

Chad Pennington

7.  Is it me, or are the Ravens the scariest team in the playoffs?

8.  Was it a bad decision to have Ben Roethlisberger play in a meaningless game against the Browns and get hurt, or just part of the game?

9.  Does anyone really expect much out of the Cardinals in the post-season?

10.  Although the Titans had nothing to play for, how does such a great team get shut out against a division rival?

11.  How many games in 2009 will it take for the Lions to finally win one?

12.  Wasn’t it a shame that Drew Brees came 16 yards short of breaking the passing record?

13.  Isn’t it a bigger shame that an 11-5 team like the Patriots can miss the playoffs, while the 8-8 Chargers get to host a playoff game?

14.  Aren’t you happy you don’t have to hear Terrell Owens’ garbage in the playoffs?

15.  Speaking of the Cowboys, why is Bradie James picking fights with fans–does he think think he is recently fired Browns GM Phil Savage?

16.  Speaking of Phil Savage, will he be remembered most for extending Romeo Crennel after just one good year in 2007 or refusing to trade a hot and cold QB in Derek Anderson while his stock was high?

17.  Can someone explain how Tampa Bay blew a playoff opportunity by losing to the Raiders?

18.  Can someone explain how the Broncos blew a three game lead in their division?

19.  Don’t we all hope Brett Favre doesn’t drag out his retirement drama for months and months?

20.  Now that it’s playoff time, why can’t the NFL bring back the Don Cheadle commericals?

December 29, 2008 Posted by | NFL, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

As Black Monday Approaches…

The Monday following week 17 in the NFL.  They call it black Monday, as well intentioned head coaches across the league get axed.  And with the head goes the body, as coordinators are subsequently terminated, too.

It’s a dark day for sure, but a necessary evil.  The firing of a coach, and the hiring of a new one, can bring hope to a team and city that is desperately fighting to stay competitive.  Let’s see who’s 2009 just might begin in the unemployment line:

1.  Marvin Lewis:  The head coach of the Bengals was hired a few years ago, and it seemed like a perfect fit.  Having coached for the dominant Ravens as a defensive coordinator, he seemed to be a slam dunk to help ressurect this putrid franchise.  His high moment was leading the Bengals to an 11-5 record, but since then he has been an enabler.  He encouraged Chad Johnson’s absurd antics, then got upset about them years later.  He consistently gave guys like Chris Henry second chances, and helped build a criminal reputation for Cincinnati.

Verdict:  Lewis should be fired.

2.  Herman Edwards

Edwards Thinks About His Future

Edwards Thinks About His Future

Edwards did a solid job while he was in New York.  He came to Kansas City and inherited a good team from Dick Vermeil.  But injuries to key players like Priest Holmes and Trent Green, along with retirements of guys such as Willie Roaf, have hurt this team’s development.  The regression of Larry Johnson has been hard to watch, and Herm certainly isn’t going to win many games with a combo of Croyle and Thigpen.  Afterall, you “play to win the game.”

Verdict:  A new GM coming in spells doom for Edwards.  Fired.

3.  Romeo Crennel:  Romeo was brought in to add some respect to this franchise.  Coming off three Superbowl wins as a coordinator in New England, Romeo certainly had the hardware to earn respect from coaches and players alike.  But in four seasons with Cleveland, he has only had one winning season.  And though he arrived to a team that was devoid of any talent at all, his team this season has signifcantly underacheived.  And with reports that defensive lineman Shaun Smith cold-cocked Brady Quinn last week, one has to wonder if Crennel has lost the team.  His lack of discipline towards Edwards’ drops, too, is cause for concern.

Verdict:  Dead man walking.

4.  Rod Marinelli:  What more can you say?  Awful team.  Devoid of talent.  And a coach seemingly living in denial.  He seems like a good enough guy, but this franchise is atrocious.

Verdict:  Doesn’t completely deserve to be fired, as he was doomed to fail from the start.  This entire franchise, though, needs to be blown up.  From the owner down to the valet.

5.  Tom Cable & Jim Haslett:  These interim coaches will, of course, get a raw deal.  Inheriting poor teams after their bosses were fired mid-season, Cable and Haslett don’t have a whole lot to work with.

Verdict:  Definitely fired.  Especially Cable.  It’s Al Davis, remember?

6.  Wade Phillips:  This is completely dependent on Sunday.  If they win and get in, all could be forgiven.  But you know Jerry Jones wants to win–and win now.  He’s dying to win another Superbowl, and the Cowboys have disapponted for years.  Phillips is a nice enough guy, but he’s soft.  That’s his reputation.  He’s not tough enough to handle TO’s diva-esque drama.  And the team overall has too much talent to seem so mediocre.  Someone has to be the fall guy.

Surprise Verdict:  Fired.

Who do you expect to be fired come Monday morning?

December 27, 2008 Posted by | NFL | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Braylon Edwards Needs to Shut Up

By now, you’ve heard about the infamous comments made by disgruntled wide receiver Braylon Edwards.  Following a loss to the Eagles on Monday Night Football, Edwards had some choice words for his city and fan base.  According to Cleveland.com, Edwards made the following comments:

“I’m not Paul Warfield, Webster Slaughter or Jim Brown. I’ve given my all to this city for four years, and I realize it will never be enough. I went to the Pro Bowl last year and resurrected this team from the darkness, and nobody cared.”

“People in this town believe they are entitled to too much. They have been disrespectful to me and my family. I’ve gone out in public with my family and have had to deal with being called foul names. My parents have been called vulgar things at restaurants.”

“My biggest problem is that I actually give a damn. I’m always rushing back from surgeries and injuries, never missing games or practices. But through this, I’ve learned how to overcome adversity. I’m also proud of how my foundation has taken off. I’ve been doing all this community service in Cleveland … my charity efforts will only be in Detroit from now on.”

While it’s completely out of bounds for fans to attack a player’s family, it’s insane how Edwards feels the way he does. Is Braylon a Paul Warfield or Jim Brown? No. But who is? Those guys are hall of famers.

Edwards Drops Another Pass

Edwards Drops Another Pass

The issue with fans being upset that Edwards went to college at Michigan is equally absurd. Fans don’t care where you came from as long as your work your butt off for the team on the field. If you play well, they love you. If you play poorly, you will certainly hear the boo-birds. If Browns fans can accept Jamal Lewis–a player who not only played for the city that stole their football team in 1996 but who also gashed them for 500 rushing yards in just two games in 2003 (Lewis also went to prison in early 2005)—then Cleveland can certainly accept a Michigan Wolverine onto the Browns squad.

Edwards is always rushing back from injuries? Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do? You get paid for playing on Sundays. If an injury forces you out of the lineup, it’s your duty to commit yourself to rehab and return to the field as soon as possible. That’s life in the NFL.

As for taking money out of charities in Cleveland—that’s simply a revolting comment, especially since the charities Edwards refers to revolve around child education in Cleveland. Here’s the truth, Braylon. In 2005, you were drafted with the third overall pick in the draft and given a fat contract. Your first season was decent enough and it unfortunately ended prematurely with an ACL tear. You bounced back a bit in your second year, but you showed that you lacked concentration on the field (dropped passes), and poise off it (attempting to fight Charlie Frye on the sideline).

Last season, you exploded. You set a franchise record for single season reception yardage (1,289), as well as the mark for touchdowns (16). You helped the team win ten games for the first time since 1994. You were voted into the Pro Bowl. Oh, and you were adored by the fans. No one cared what school you went to or what college colors you wore. What mattered is what you did on the field while wearing that burnt orange helmet.

The cure for Edwards is simple—catch the football. Braylon leads the entire league in dropped passes. Fans of Cleveland have been through a lot—no Championships since 1964, no Superbowl appearances, heartbreaking playoff losses, a move to Baltimore, a putrid resurrected franchise—all they want is their star player to display his talent on Sundays. You’re a wide receiver, Braylon. When the ball is sent your way, receive it!

Sigh…if only this was the real Braylon Edwards that consistently showed up every week.

Browns wide receiver Joe Jurevicius—who hasn’t played a down this season due to injury—put it best:

The way I see it, these fans would party on Saturday if Ohio State won the national championship, but the city would burn down if we won the Super Bowl.”

Hopefully Edwards receives this advice with open hands arms.

December 21, 2008 Posted by | Features & Opinions, NFL, Talkin Trash | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

20 NFL Questions

Braylon Edwards of the Browns

Braylon Edwards of the Browns

1. Why does Braylon Edwards blame the fans of Cleveland for his icy reception instead of blaming his own two hands?

2. Speaking of Cleveland, how in the world can the Dolphins go from 1-15 in 2007 to potential division winners in 2008, but the Browns haven’t come close to that in the ten years since their return to the league?

3. Do you think the winless Buccaneers of 1976 really want the Lions to win a game?

4. Why can’t T.O. simply utter these two words when posed a question?: No comment

T.O.

T.O.

5. After seeing the success of the Patriots during this decade, why does Jerry Jones continue to invest in trouble making divas?

6.  Is it possible that GM Carl Peterson actually fell on the sword to save his buddy Herm’s job?

7. Is  anyone else as tired as I am of these Miller Lite “More Taste League” ads?

8. And can I just watch a football game without being bombarded about commercials discussing erectile dysfunction, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer?

9. Don’t you hope that this disappointing season won’t be an aid in moving the Bills out of Buffalo?

10. Can we please do away with the Pro Bowl and just have skill competitions?

11. Speaking of the Pro Bowl, did Brett Favre really deserve to be voted in?

12. Aren’t you surprised that you haven’t seen Peyton Manning in more ads this year?

13. When Al Davis inevitably fires his interim head coach, who in the world will want to coach this team?

14. Is wide receiver Jerry Porter the worst free agent signing of the off-season?

15. Isn’t Michael Turner the best free agent signing of the off-season?

16. Do you think the San Diego Chargers regret letting Turner walk away? 17. If he had a decent quarterback, wouldn’t Adrian Peterson be well over 2,000 rushing yards by now?

18. Isn’t it hard to believe that recently convicted O.J Simpson was one of the best backs the NFL has ever seen?

19. Aren’t you tired of ESPN’s John Clayton reporting a story one day, and contradicting himself the next?

20.  How is it that no matter who coaches the team (who plays for the them), the Steelers always win?

December 19, 2008 Posted by | Features & Opinions, NFL, Talkin Trash | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments