Hit & Run (Quick takes about stuff)

I’m always so busy trying to tackle big topics– and finish the big thing I’m working on– that I never get to do quick stuff. And I do quick and mean well (Twitter account with 9,000 posts, almost 100% snarky):

NFL suspends Ndamukong Shoe for one game; Hopefully that’ll be enough to take wipe Detroit out of the playoffs. The problem is that Detroit is playing Dallas, which means Tony Romo will quarterback… and the only QB he’s ever been able to beat in thw playoffs is Donovan McNabb.

He stomped on Aaron Rodgers, if you didn’t see it. Sure it was an accident… just like the other 97 events.

Have I got a deal for you… Jerry Jones says he’s got concerns about WR Dez Bryant‘s off-field issues.

The Browns should offer him a solution to his problems: depth. Puff Gordon would give him a hedge against any issues with Bryant. What defense could cover them both– and it would leave the running game wide open. Plus he’s from Texas.

I dunno if Jerry Jamboogie is crazy enough to do it. But you’re damned right I’d ask.

And of course you ask if he wants to make it a package with Puff’s drinking buddy. You never know what a fruit cup will say “Yes” to.

Can’t get him interested, I’d call “Baby Dan” Snyder and Bruce Allen and see if the Washington Boehners want to play fantasy football. They don’t want him, call Mark Davis in Oakland and Jed York in San Francisco (AKA TweedleDumb and TweedleDumber).

He’s not interested, Woody Johnson of the Jets (though that’s less likely, now that he fired Rex “Twinkle-Toes” Ryan). Miami’s Steve Ross signed Mike Wallace; maybe he wants a matching headache.

A guy in one of the top front offices in the NFL said that 90% of the great deals get made by persistence. You call every single guy and see what you can get. A lot of the teams will laugh at you… but some of them won’t.

Maybe one of the smart guys will be so desperate for a win that he’ll ignore the character issues and bite. Or you’ll get a dipstick who imagines he can coach anyone up (I’ve already used Rex Ryan in this screed.)

The sad thing is that both Seattle and Denver– the franchises in the states where dope is legal– are both run by sane front offices.

Hey, Bill Belichick took a shot on The Randy Rules… you never know. Make the Call.

To the Moon, Alice: I said everything I needed to say about both Puff and Johnny Jamboogie a long time ago,The only thing I’ll add is a loud, long, “I told you so.”

In 6,400 words that went into exhaustive detail and were absolutely prescient, I explained exactly why the Browns would be better off getting rid of Puff.

This is why I tend to come off as an arrogant jerk and I don’t trim my sails. I know what I am talking about and I am right an unnatural amount of the time. A year ago, I looked at Mike Pettine and did a newsletter that said.

“Believe it or not, I think this guy can coach. I think he can make this team better. And I think Pettine took this job because he believes Jimmy Haslam is about ready to fire Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi”

You don’t get any better than that.

The next issue, I said “Maybe I’m wrong here, but the more I look at the guy, the less I think Ray Farmer has a clue about drafting.”

I might need to revise that someday… but based on what happened this year, that looks pretty shrewd at this point.

In the training camp issue– the same issue I did the excerpt on Puff that I linked to– I pointed out that the Department of Justice signed a release against Pilot Flying J— the corporation– but that they could still indict Jimmy Haslam and that I expected them to do it.

That’s another one where I went out on a limb. But they haven’t dropped the case yet… and I don’t think they will.

Also in that newsletter issue, I found myself linking to some goofy site called The Bro Bible, staking my credibility on the notion that Mike Lombardi had, out of pique at being fired, leaked them the Patriots’ scouting report on Johnny Football, and standing solidly behind its conclusion:

Already has money [he comes from an oil family], is used to spotlight, has already been exposed to NFL-level fame. Will never take football seriously enough for our coaching staff, he’ll hate meetings, will have to drag him to work out, etc… The definition of the word maintenance.

Does that assessment sound like the guy the team drafted? Yup.

You wanna hang onto Puff, get nothing from him 2015 and see him walk– assuming he doesn’t get re-suspended for life? I don’t. And if they don’t get rid of him right away, that’s what’ll happen.

This isn’t a case of a kid who made a silly mistake. It’s not a story about a troubled soul who needs love and counseling. It’s not a problem that needs tough love. It’s a cancer that needs excising.

I wouldn’t give Puff away– I’d wait for the suckers to convince themselves they need Puff and that they can reach him. He’s good at conning people– if he sees a situation where he can make big money or play on a bigger stage, he’ll help make the deal.

But the time to want this guy on the team is long since past. The minute I can get a #2 (what they spent on him in the supplemental) or higher for the guy, he’s gone.

Johnny Football: I wouldn’t hold a fire sale on a guy who has only played six quarters. Especially not a guy I paid a #1 and a #3 for. Especially a guy who hasn’t repeatedly broken the drug laws.

Also.if you read the scouting report, it says

“Different than any guy we have had, but an upgrade over Tebow, higher ceiling than Hoyer with a stronger arm. Good #2 in year 1 that could back up Tom and develop into a starter.”

It didn’t say he could start in year one– it did say he could develop into a starter.

The guys who were screaming for him to start– who knew he could lead the team to the Super Bowl– now want him cut? They were idiots a couple of weeks ago– and they didn’t grow extra brain cells since them. You ignore them.

The other thing about the kid is that he is at least saying the right thing every time something bad happens. His comment “It’s about action. It’s about being accountable and doing what I’m gonna say instead of looking like a jackass.” and “Either I’m going to learn or I’m going to be finding something else to do,”

The interesting thing about the clip is that he’s close to blowing his stack about the notion that he was responsible for Puff’s absence– so mad that he finally mentions his name after trying not to say it. But when he’s asked how he can fix this, he basically says “I gotta stop being a jackass.”

Whether he’ll be able to do that, I don’t know. But at least he sees what the problem is.

A hidden blessing: Pettine keeps using the phrase “sample size” in his comments about Johnny Football.  I’ve been meaning to point something out about that for weeks:

He understands what that term means.

One of the critical skills, when it comes to management, is knowing when to say “when.”  The ability to process events and put them into a proper perspective– to not overreact to random events or limited data– is one of the hallmarks of a successful coach.

Smart people make up their minds based on rational judgments– idiots jump to conclusions.

The point at which I decided that Mike Ditka was an absolute jackass– not just an irrational jackass but a genuine ignoramus– was the day, after the 1999 draft when he was explaining (a) why he traded all his draft picks for Ricky Williams (whom he took with the fifth pick in the draft), and (b) why Bill Polian (who had taken Edgerrin James with the fourth pick in the draft) had made a terrible mistake. I’m paraphrasing, but I remember what he said:

“He didn’t give me a firm handshake, he was looking down– I wanted to look me in the eye– he didn’t speak up. I knew right away that we weren’t going to take him. He isn’t a player you can win with.”

The thought that a James, who was born in a backwater town of 24,000 people, might be nervous at the thought of meeting a Hall of Fame player and Super Bowl-winning coach, didn’t enter Ditka’s thick skull. As he talked about Williams joking with him and treating him like an equal– not being overwhelmed– the thought that went through my head was “If he doesn’t respect you in the job interview, what makes you think he’ll pay attention to you once you give him $50 million bucks?”

Executives do that sometimes– and coaches do it all the time. They decide, on the spot, that some random event– some trivial bit of business– some event that the person under scrutiny might not even take seriously– is The Major Test of Character. And they base a multi-million dollar decision on that.

A football team is a billion-dollar business, with a nine-figure payroll. You do not make decisions based on the seat of your pants. You want an experienced manager who can make rational decisions based on some logical thought process– who can put random events into perspective.

There is, believe it or not, an academic subject that you can study that will train you to do that. It’s nothing but mathematics and models and hypotheses and evaluations and exercises in how to calculate decisions based on real life events.

It’s called economics. I know three people who work in professional sports (I’m sure there are others, but these are the ones I know) who were econ majors.

One is the “Senior Advisor in Baseball Operations” to the Boston Red Sox, Bill James. Bill has degrees in English, Economics and Education from the University of Kansas.

Another– who got his degree from Wesleyan (a school that requires academic heavy lifting)– also works in the Boston area and is also named “Bill.” He is the coach and general manager of the New England Patriots.

The third– a graduate of the University of Virginia– is the coach of the Cleveland Browns.

When I was thinking about this issue, I got curious, and checked the biographies of the other head coaches in the NFL. Some didn’t list their degrees– either because they didn’t have them or didn’t think they mattered.

Others had degrees in physical education, communication, sociology– your basic “gut” majors.

A few stood out. There is another another degree comparable to econ– business administration. You don’t do as much graphing and calculating, but you take econ classes.

Two current NFL coaches have business degrees: Pete Carroll of the Seahawks, and his former defensive coordinator, Gus Bradley of Jacksonville. (Bradley has degrees in both business and physical education– and a master’s in athletic administration)

Jason Garrett of Dallas attended two Ivy League schools (Jason transferred when Columbia fired his dad as football coach). Houston’s Bill O’Brien graduated from Brown. As of this moment, Marc Trestman is no longer employed, but he has a law degree, and he won two CFL titles.

Arguably the most impressive is Tennessee’s Ken Whisenhunt, who got Arizona to a Super Bowl– and has a degree in Civil Engineering… from Georgia Tech. I know an engineer (a pretty smart guy) who had to transfer because it was too rough for him.

So the probability that Pettine will be able to make a rational decision– that he won’t fly off the handle like, say, Dennis Manoloff of the Northeast Ohio Non-Union Group– is higher than it might otherwise be. He certainly sounds saner than most of the loonies in the Chamber of Groupthink.


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