Wednesday, December 20, 2006


By John McMullen

Much has been made about the mediocrity that pervades the NFL like a stale odor.

To be blunt, pro football stinks nowadays with a few notable exceptions. And, it all starts at the top in the coaching ranks.

Names like Halas, Lombardi, Shula, Noll and Landry are legendary in football circles and deservedly so. Today's mentors -- with the exception of Bill Belichick -- are a pale comparison. A paranoid, pathetic group of copy cats that disdain innovation and original thought, while protecting their playbooks like "Cold War" spies.

Jeff Darlington of The Miami Herald recently wrote about the comical lengths one of these colorless, cookie-cutter coaches went through to protect his so-called "secrets."

"Secrets" that virtually every other coach knows in a league that has become dominated by the cliched "West Coast offense" and "Tampa-2" defense.

The story goes like this. When Miami Dolphins coach Nick Saban was an assistant under Jerry Glanville in 1988, Glanville told him to pass out notebooks filled with strategy and terminology. Saban acquiesced even though the first page of the notebook was from the 1973 Atlanta Falcons.

"It was a 15-year-old notebook," Saban told Darlington. "It wasn't even the same as what we were doing at the time because he was afraid somebody would steal it. He was afraid somebody would get it and know our terminology or whatever."

As if anyone would need to steal "terminology" from these dullards.

Of course, in this town we are privy to one of the most paranoid coaches of the modern era, Eagles chief Andy Reid. We also got to see his pathetic offspring, Minnesota Vikings coach Brad Childress, grow before our very eyes.

Reid and his progeny are two of the most notorious when it comes to protecting "state secrets." This, despite lording over two of the most predictable offenses in the NFL.

Both coaches always cover their mouths with their laminated play call sheet to prevent any lip reading, despite the fact that the plays listed would make Joe Paterno look cutting edge. And, both kick the media out of practice after a few minutes of stretching so we don’t report too much.

So, with that in mind, I offer a public service to Reid and his brethren around the league with the hopes of bringing them back from the brink of insanity. No one needs to read lips or watch your practice to know you are calling screen passes or dump-offs in the flat on 3rd-and-20.

Luckily for this city, Reid awoke and finally gave his play calling duties to another member of the flock, Marty Mornhinweg.

Not surprisingly, the Birds have taken off as the rest of the sheep try to catch up.

But I warn you -- don't get too comfortable, it won't take them long.

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