ZB Notebook 11-1-2012
I didn’t fare well at the tables in Las Vegas last weekend so, while I was licking my wounds, I had plenty of time to follow the Sunday football games. Throughout the day and in the days that followed, what stuck with me is that there are a number of teams that have to be thinking about major changes, including potentially sacking their head coaches.
I wouldn’t have guessed heading into the season that Romeo Crennel in Kansas City would have topped my list. But not only did the Chiefs suffer yet another complete dismantling, this time at the hands of rival Oakland, but Crennel admitted after the game he had no idea why running back Jamaal Charles had just five rushes and eight total touches throughout the game.
Really? No idea at all? You are the head guy there. You have a certain amount of say in stuff like that. If I was the owner of that team, I’m not sure I would have let Crennel out of the stadium without a better explanation.
There was talk of how the Raiders loaded the box against the run. Understandable. So throw Charles the ball. He is great out of the backfield too, isn’t he? When you’re having a bad day but the score is close your best players have to touch the ball.
It was a bad performance all the way around for an organization whose coach and general manager, Scott Pioli, are on the hotseat. But it was just one of many bad days for coaches.
Chargers ready to replace Norv Turner?: Heading into tonight’s game, perhaps the hottest seat of all belongs to Norv Turner, the oft-criticized head man in San Diego. The Chargers are being investigated by the NFL for the possibility that the team used stick ‘em in a game a couple weeks ago. If they don’t beat the Chiefs tonight, he might need some of that banned substance to hang onto his job.
A pretty boring 7-6 loss to Cleveland Sunday dropped the Chargers to 4-3, a game behind Denver, whom San Diego came back to lose against on Monday night a couple weeks ago. Turner is considered a great offensive mind, but he’s had mixed results as a head coach and was already considered on the hotseat entering the season.
If this thing goes much further south, he won’t survive the season. There is some talk that he could actually be coaching for his job tonight.
Eagles and Jets not far behind?: The Jets and the Eagles are two more teams in the midst of disappointing seasons, meaning Andy Reid and Rex Ryan – who both knew before the season started that improvement over next year was a necessity – might not be far behind.
Reid is suffering from a couple things. Mike Vick has been a turnover machine all season. He almost appears to have lost it just two years after a triumphant return to the league. The Eagles also struggle to commit to the run game at times, with LeSean McCoy not getting, in my opinion anyway, enough carries.
Reid might last the season, but there was actually a report on one of the ESPN shows over the weekend speculating that he might be the guy in San Diego next year. Personally I think he looks tired and that he may benefit from a year off, ala Jeff Fisher. But at this point, at any rate, call it a hunch but I’d guess it’s less than 50/50 that he returns to Philadelphia in 2013.
Rex Ryan is more a victim of his own bravado. He’s stubbornly sticking by Mark Sanchez, refusing to make him compete for the quarterback job. His defense is falling apart. Yet he can’t seem to keep his mouth shut.
Speculation is mounting in the blogosphere and in publications like the New York Times that Ryan’s status is less than stable with Sanchez and the team struggling as it has.
Joneses in denial in Dallas: Another coach who probably should be questioning his status is Jason Garrett, whose Cowboys generally continue to win against bad teams and lose against good ones.
Garrett should not be alone in taking the blame for Dallas’ struggles. But it’s clear owner Jerry Jones and son Stephen aren’t going to fall on their swords for their shortcomings as talent evaluators and acquirers or blame Tony Romo, whom Stephen says is doing a fine job and will get better.
That team has gotten more and more irrelevant each year since Jimmy Johnson left town and they are well on their way toward continuing that in 2012. There is a lot of denial in the Big D.
Trade deadline extension pays off?: The NFL trade deadline will never be like the Major League Baseball trade deadline for many reasons, but I liked the NFL’s move to postpone it for a couple weeks as an experiment heading into this season.
It didn’t result in a lot of player movement, but a couple guys did move. Wide receiver Mike Thomas went to Detroit from Jacksonville.
One would guess that move wouldn’t have happened in previous years because A) Jacksonville might have been able to make a case for still being in the playoff race had the deadline been earlier and B) Nate Burleson didn’t get hurt until after the old deadline would have taken place.
The troubled Aqib Talib also moved from Tampa to New England.
This change likely won’t result in a lot of player movement. After all, DeAngelo Williams, Steven Jackson and Dwayne Bowe were all big-name players who were rumored to be on the block who are staying with their teams. But going forward it might give contending teams a better chance to fill a hole or two at the midpoint of the season.
No suspension for Hall: I disagree with the league’s decision to not suspend DeAngelo Hall for the altercation he had with an official that led to his ejection last Sunday.
I am reading accounts that indicate the official was talking smack back at Hall, which I also don’t like. But players need to know better than to confront and berate the officials in the first place.
The lack of respect for officials by players this season ran rampant during the first few weeks as replacement officials showed they were not up to the task of officiating NFL games. It has continued way too frequently since the regular refs returned. It’s time for the refs to start kicking players out and for the league to start suspending them when these incidents take place.
Bucs show big on Thursday Night Football: We covered this in our pick segment but I wanted to say one more time how impressed I was with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Thursday. They’re 3-4 and a long way from a playoff spot, but they bucked all sorts of negative trends for Thursday night road teams in destroying the Vikings.
In the process, the Bucs showed the rest of the NFL that they might be a team to be reckoned with the rest of the season. Doug Martin appears to be getting the hang of the pro game. Josh Freeman has now looked really good three weeks in a row. And the team proved that offensively, on a night when Vincent Jackson doesn’t do much, it still has the weapons to establish a passing game.
Meanwhile, the Vikings showed that there will be growing pains for this improving team despite a 5-2 start. It was a bad matchup for them from the start. The Bucs excel at stopping the run and Christian Ponder doesn’t look quite ready yet to win a game when he has to do most of the work through the air.
Both teams are better than expected this year but it is Tampa, not Minnesota, that will be in the playoff race when the season winds down.