What we can learn from the axed 0-16 coach
December 29, 2008
It was such a simple thing to say ” so simple, in fact, that it would be easier to dismiss it as a weak excuse than to recognize it for the impressive viewpoint it represented.
The Lions, as you may know, lost to the Packers 31-21 at Lambeau Field on Sunday afternoon, mercifully ending the NFL’s first winless season since the schedule was expanded to 16 games.
Oh-and-16 is a dreadful phrase to be remembered by. Detroit will forever symbolize maximum futility in a sport that celebrates everything but.
And as head responsibility-taker of said futility, Lions coach Rod Marinelli probably hasn’t been sleeping very well for the last three months. I could think of a number of things he might have said to explain the historically unsuccessful play.
But he didn’t need them. Marinelli, who was fired on Monday after going 1-23 in his final 24 games, realizes that a disappointing football season does not qualify as cause for whining and crying, or even self pity.
“No competitor wants to go through something like this,” the coach said after Sunday’s defeat. “This is not fun to go through, obviously. But there’s people going through a lot worse than this.”
And you can bet any of those people who read Marinelli’s quote in the newspaper nodded when they read it.
There are human beings who know heartache; who know what it feels like to suffer. Losing every game of the year will never compare to that kind of sensation.
The sports world, then, is lucky that the man most likely to overlook that fact and succumb to the pressures that come with such a high-profile position in professional sports, is the same man who refuses to do so. …
In honor of the NFL regular season’s ending Sunday, here are some of the things we learned.
Offense really does only score points. Take it from the New Orleans Saints.
Led by Drew Brees and his 5,069 passing yards ” 15 shy of Dan Marino’s NFL record ” New Orleans led the league in scoring this season with 463 points and touchdowns with 57. Only one other team, Arizona, broke 50.
But the Saints also ended up last in their division at 8-8 and finished out of the playoffs. By contrast, defensively stout Pittsburgh, the No. 2 seed in the AFC at 12-4, scored 19 fewer touchdowns but harbors an excellent chance at reaching the Super Bowl. …
As a postscript to that statistic, when dissecting what went so horribly wrong with the Broncos, it’s irresponsible to ignore the bevy of injuries the team dealt with this year, particularly on offense.
But that wasn’t what sealed Denver’s fate. No team in the AFC ” not the Bengals, not the Browns, not even the 2-14 Chiefs ” gave up more points than the Broncos.
Culminating with Sunday night’s 52-point outburst by the Chargers, Denver yielded 448 points in 16 games, an average of 28 per contest. …
After so much was made of Brett Favre vs. Aaron Rodgers at the beginning of this season, it’s only fair to compare them now. We can begin with the fact that neither made the playoffs; Rodgers’ Packers finished 6-10 and Favre’s Jets ended up 9-7.
Beyond that, Rodgers was clearly the right choice in Green Bay. He threw 28 touchdown passes against just 13 interceptions, with the TD number ranking fourth in the NFL, and completed an NFL-best 16 passes of 40 yards or more.
Favre, meanwhile, threw 22 TDs but also a league-worst 22 picks.
Most relevant to this argument, he looked every bit his 39 years during the last five weeks of the season, when New York went 1-4 and blew an almost certain playoff berth. …
Which NFL running back gets the most out of each carry? Giants change-of-pace specialist Derrick Ward, who averaged 5.6 yards per rush on his way to a 1,025-yard season, the fourth time in NFL history two backs on the same team rushed for 1,000 yards (Brandon Jacobs finished with 1,089).
They were the first tandem to do so in 23 years. …
You could say, however, Arizona’s receivers trumped that feat. Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston each recorded a 1,000-yard season, and each caught at least 77 passes. …
In parting, Wild Card Weekend is always one of the most entertaining 24-hour periods of the year. I don’t think we’re going to be watching a Super Bowl participant in any of the four games ” the Colts are the only ones with a sniff of hope ” but I do think we’ll see some quality football.
My best guesses: Atlanta 33, Arizona 31; Indianapolis 41, San Diego 27; Baltimore 20, Miami 17; Minnesota 26, Philadelphia 19.
” Breckenridge resident Devon O’Neil’s $0.02 column runs Tuesdays. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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