by Michael Lombardi
January 20, 02010
QUOTE: “While traveling, I’ve found that spontaneity keeps things fresh, while serendipity guides me through it all. There have been a lot of rough moments along the way, but they often bear the best memories.” -- Joseph Pisani
Thought I would cover several issues around the NFL…
Why would Denver let defensive coordinator Mike Nolan leave?
On the surface, this mutually agreed departure looks a little fishy, but in reality, it was best for both parties. Nolan wanted an opportunity to secure employment for himself in case there was a work stoppage, and the Broncos wanted to make sure they had coaches who wanted to be on staff. Sometimes change is good for both sides. Naysayers might look at Nolan’s departure to the Dolphins as a slap in head coach Josh McDaniels’ face, but I don’t.
McDaniels is a head coach, not just a play caller, which is why I think he’s going to win big in Denver. Most Broncos fans are skeptical about the strategy he employs, but for me, McDaniels clearly knows where he’s doing and knows the best course of action to take along the way. He must transform the Broncos into his team, and in spite of the initial progress they showed last season, it’s going to take time. It’s going to take him being involved in all three phases of the game to get them to behave and play the way he envisions. Losing Nolan allows McDaniels to become more involved with the whole team and lets Nolan obtain the security he wants. I really believe this is a win/win for both.
A similar situation occurred in Oakland when Jon Gruden was head coach and Willie Shaw was his defensive coordinator. Gruden needed to be the head coach in all three phases of the game, but Shaw’s dominating personality made it difficult for him to be involved on defense. So the change was mutually best for both parties. Denver fans need to be patient with McDaniels — he showed progress in his first year, and next year he’ll be even better. As the Broncos continue to add talent to their roster, they’ll become factors in the AFC West.
Does Chan Gailey in Buffalo mean Michael Vick will be next?
Now that makes sense. Why? Look at Gailey’s track record at Georgia Tech when it came to quarterbacks. Reggie Ball was a four-year starter. He was a runner first, then a passer. Recruiting this kind of player is an indication of what Gailey might want for his pro team. He had athletic players who could move around and make plays with their feet.
Despite the rhetoric that Gailey has helped quarterbacks play well — John Elway and Troy Aikman were good way before their involvement with Gailey – the Bills’ new coach wants someone who can move around, throw on the move and run for a few first downs. Even in Kansas City, where there was no pure runner at quarterback, Gailey went to the pistol formation to help Tyler Thigpen and create movement plays. Sounds like Vick to me. I bet this has a chance to happen.
How could the Bills turn down Marty Schottenheimer?
This one made no sense at all to me — much like the hiring of Gailey. Schottenheimer has a great relationship with current GM Buddy Nix, he has proven he can turn around a team and he would be perfect for the Bills. But owner Ralph Wilson vetoed the idea, and you wonder why I call the Bills the Raiders of the East?
Seattle has a new GM…
I agree with the NFP’s Matt Bowen that John Schneider is the right fit for the Seahawks. Schneider is not a guy who will require the limelight, but he’ll work hard for the head coach in finding players. He’s going to be able to concentrate on football and help Pete Carroll rebuild the team.
What’s going on in Oakland?
Coaches are being asked to interview for jobs, but they’re not clear what job they’re actually interviewing for. Is Ravens quarterbacks coach Hue Jackson coming to town to talk about being the head coach or is he coming to be the offensive coordinator? Tom Cable, the present day head coach, is also the offensive play caller, so this interview clearly means Cable is going to lose one of the jobs he currently holds -- or he might lose both jobs depending on how the week goes.
Does any of this make sense? Of course not, but that’s life at the Hotel California. I’m sure John “Baghdad Bob” Herrera will be issuing a statement sometime soon now that he’s back from helping the Martha Coakley campaign in Massachusetts.
One thing we can be certain about is that the Raiders aren’t done with JaMarcus Russell. Much like the TV show “Mission: Impossible,” Hue Jackson’s mission, should he choose to accept it, will be to get Russell to play well. Jackson is a confident coach, and I’m sure he’s convinced he can do wonders with Russell -- and that confidence is exactly what the owner will want to hear.
But stay tuned. All this dancing around and interviewing may mean that Cable keeps his job, or he might be gone. I’m certain five years from now Cable will look back on these anxious days and ask himself, “Why did I even try to stay?”
Follow me on Twitter: michaelombardi
For more on the Chan Gailey hire in Buffalo, check out this article from Bleacher Report.