Sweaty Men Endeavors

The sports blog with the slightly gay name

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

A coach by tomorrow?

Based on what you read and whom you choose to believe, all of last week's anxious interest over Russ Grimm being named the Detroit Lions' head coach may have been for naught. If you haven't heard or read it already, ESPN's John Clayton reported that former Saints coach Jim Haslett could get the Lions job as soon as today or tomorrow. Following up on that, Booth Newspapers' Tom Kowalski said he thought Grimm was no longer a candidate, and Matt Millen would hire Haslett or Tampa Bay defensive line coach (and assistant head coach) Rod Marinelli.

How did Grimm fall out of the race? With the Steelers still alive in the playoffs, Grimm isn't available for any more interviews until they're eliminated (which could be 2-3 more weeks). Meanwhile, other teams are hiring head coaches. And as they put together their staffs, the pool of quality assistant coaches shrinks. (If you remember, one of the biggest problems Millen reportedly had with Steve Mariucci was the inexperienced staff he put together.) Plus, Haslett and Marinelli are drawing interest from teams such as the Bills and Raiders.

Based on his head coaching experience with New Orleans, Haslett would seem to be the favorite. And that kind of drives me crazy. In six years, his teams only had two winning seasons. His best record was 10-6. His worst, which you can certainly attribute to the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina, was this past season's 3-13. Every other season was either .500 or one game over or under. To me, this means that Haslett is essentially a less clownish Wayne Fontes. That'd be an improvement over recent seasons, and Millen apparently thinks Haslett would bring in a toughness and discipline that the team is currently lacking. But is he the big upgrade that Lions fans are hoping for?

And that brings us to Rod Marinelli, whose name made me say "Who?" when I heard him mentioned as a candidate two weeks ago. Hardcore fans who follow the game very closely might already be familiar with Marinelli, but I imagine most Lions fans had a similar reaction to mine, especially since Monte Kiffin gets most of the credit for the Buccaneers' defensive performance.

Since I'm admittedly out of my element on this, I thought I'd e-mail an authority on all things Buccaneers. "Cutthroat Pirate," who runs the amazingly thorough Pewter Pirates blog, seemed like just the guy to help us out in this time of ignorance. He had nothing but sky-high praise for Marinelli and said some things that could provide some warmth on a snowy day in metro Detroit. Here are some excerpts:

"Rod Marinelli is the total package for a head coach. Marinelli, in my opinion, has been the reason that Monte Kiffin’s defense is number 1 and has been in the top 10 for over ten years... [He] will be a better coach than Lovie Smith or Herm Edwards. He has been a Buccaneer for ten years, and has learned from Tony Dungy and Jon Gruden."

"I think he is a players' coach, but more level headed then Herm Edwards, who is also a players' coach, but very emotional. You must also remember that Marinelli has a Super Bowl ring and Herm does not. He knows what the big game is and what it takes to get there. He is so good that the Buccaneers did not want to lose [him]; this is the reason for them blocking coaching offers in the past. They even went so far as to throw the title 'Assistant Head Coach' on him, because a team could only promote him to head coach. Since he is the assistant head coach over Kiffin, this tells you something also. I truly believe that the Buccaneers were hoping to keep him a Buccaneer for life, in case Kiffin ever left or retired, then Marinell could be our defensive coordinator."

"He will run a very aggressive 'Tampa 2' defense. I think he has learned a great deal about offense under Gruden. So with the WRs you guys have, I look for him to be a better on offense than Lovie Smith’s Bears."

That sounds pretty good, doesn't it? Better than Lovie Smith or Herm Edwards? We'd take that, wouldn't we? You have to like that pedigree. It can't be a bad sign when a team is afraid of losing an assistant to another team. And if you were worried Marinelli was just a defensive guy who'd implement a conservative, ball-control offense, it sounds like he's taken some tips from one of the better offensive minds in the NFL, as well.

Could he also be the Lions' defensive coordinator if Haslett gets the job? Possibly, but one would think he'd then take the Raiders job if it was offered.

Honestly, I have no idea who the Lions should hire anymore. Before the season ended, I hoped the Redskins' Gregg Williams or the Chargers' Cam Cameron would be heavily pursued. But Williams took himself out of consideration early, and who could blame him? Daniel Snyder pays him like a head coach, and he's the heir apparent to Joe Gibbs in Washington. Not a bad way to go. And Millen never seemed interested in an offensive-minded coach, which eliminated Cameron. Like Beyond Boxscores, I'm a bit baffled as to why Tim Lewis hasn't received more interest. And I expressed my concerns over Grimm last week, but how could you not be impressed with anyone affiliated with the Steelers after what they've done the past two weeks? Maybe he's still in the running. The Lions haven't officially eliminated him from their search.

I'm essentially throwing up my hands here. There hasn't been a "hot" coach this offseason that every team was pursuing. No one has that "it's his time" glow surrounding him, either. So who's to say the Lions aren't looking at the best available guys? Would you be happy with Jim Haslett and/or Rod Marinelli? (Do you feel more strongly, one way or another, after reading Cutthroat Pirate's opinion?) Do you hope Grimm is still a candidate, or are you relieved he's apparently been dismissed? Do you just want this year-long (ahem - since 2006 began) nightmare to be over?

▪▪ P.S. Could Dick Jauron really get the Bills' head coaching job? Did Ralph Wilson not watch the Lions' last five games?


  • At January 18, 2006 1:00 PM, Blogger Cutthroat Pirates said…

    Ian great article about your guys future head coach. I would also like to thank you about the comments you made about my blog.

    I think Haslett will get the job over Marinelli, because of his head coach experience. However, I have been a Bucs fan ever since 1979, and I will say this. We can not afford to lose the experience Marinelli brings to our def. I know Kiffin is well known and respected around the league. When I think about the coaches on the Bucs staff, besides our head coach, (who I think can't be replaced, even though it will happen one day), Kiffin and Marinelli are the only two other coaches who can't be replaced. I hope for Marinelli he gets his chance at being a head coach because he will be great. I hope for my sake and the Bucs he stays with us. Lovie Smith and Herm Edwards were replaceable this guy is not. He will be a great coach for you guys if Millen hires him.

    I also think Haslett wants the Bills, so you guys would be second choice for him, where Marinelli just wants to be a head coach and is sometimes the better choice look at Marvin Lewis from Cinn. Look what he has done for them.

  • At January 18, 2006 6:32 PM, Blogger The Armchair Quarterback said…

    How is Haslett even being talked about by any team? Thats insane. A down on their luck team needs a down on their luck coach?! If the Lions hire Haslett they will deserve him.

  • At January 18, 2006 6:57 PM, Anonymous Kevin A. said…

    Marinelli will be named as soon as Tomorrow AM, according to both XYT and DFN.


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