Monday, January 08, 2007

Lost Weekend For Jets & Giants Coaches - Past & Present

On Sunday, for just the second time in NFL history, the New York Jets and New York Giants competed in playoff games on the same day. The results were not pretty, as both teams went down to defeat. Former leaders of those teams experienced similar disappointments on Saturday. If you’ve ever been the head coach of the Jets or the Giants, this wild card weekend was brutal.

The Jets fell 37-16 against the New England Patriots, as coach Eric Mangini lost to his mentor, Bill Belichick. Mangini has been labeled as “Mangenius” for leading a team with low expectations into the postseason. However, if he were really a genius, he would have found a way to move the game out of Foxboro and get Tom Brady on his side. Besides, being a genius doesn’t necessarily help in the NFL, as shown by Stephen Hawking’s disastrous season as coach of the Cleveland Browns. Belichick imparted another lesson to his pupil – the sort of “lesson” an angry nun delivers with a stick.

Unlike Mangini, Giants coach Tom Coughlin has been anything but a media darling in New York. His job status is in serious jeopardy after a 23-20 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. David Akers won the game with a 38-yard field goal on the final play. Coughlin argued, to no avail, that the kick should not have counted because it was not at least five minutes early. One Giant who will definitely leave is Tiki Barber, who rushed for 137 yards in his final game. Upon his retirement, many Eagles wished him well and told him that brother Ronde would also look great in a TV studio. No twins have caused more havoc in Philly, except when the Bush daughters spent a Saturday night on South Street.

Saturday was a day for the former Jets and Giants coaches to suffer. A year after departing the Jets, Kansas City Chiefs coach Herman Edwards watched his season end with a 23-8 defeat to the Indianapolis Colts and good friend Tony Dungy. The game featured the first-ever use of the sentence: “Peyton Manning was bailed out by the Colts’ defense.” Indy was given little chance to stop Chief running stud Larry Johnson, but Kansas City only managed 126 total net yards. Edwards is known for uttering, “You play to win the game!” Saturday he was heard pleading, “You pray to move the chains!”

The Dallas Cowboys had the odds doubly stacked against them Saturday night, since coach Bill Parcells had previously guided both the Jets and the Giants. Therefore, it’s not surprising that the Cowboys’ 21-20 loss to the Seattle Seahawks was particularly gut-wrenching. What is shocking is that a Dallas player other than Terrell Owens has been besieged by ridicule. Quarterback Tony Romo will never forget his botched hold on the go-ahead chip shot field goal attempt. On the bright side, the experience of dropping the ball should help him to relate to his receivers. It should also be noted that Drew Bledsoe would not have been nearly so mobile after bungling the winning field goal.

The weekend was even harsh for former Jets and Giants coaches who weren’t on the sidelines. The Baltimore Ravens had a bye, reminding Jim Fassel that they were much better off after firing him as offensive coordinator. Also, Ray Handley and Rich Kotite encountered many unruly customers while working as Wal-Mart greeters.

The bad luck only seemed to apply to those who coached the Jets or Giants in games. Therefore, although Belichick was technically the Jets’ head coach for one day in the 2000 off-season, he was immune. Lucky for him, his one day in charge of the Jets wasn’t this weekend.