For me, this a bit of a depressing time. It's silly, I know. Winter is in full swing. It's cold. It's dreary. And it's the first Sunday of the off-season.
The amazing thing is the NFL Combine in Indianapolis is only 9 days away. I'm hopeful we'll have some insider stuff on the Combine, but I can't go into details right now. We also have some new stuff coming down the SB Nation pipeline (new sites, features, and shows) that are exciting. So, stay tuned.
Before I give my quick hits, I'd like to say one thing about my Jerry Jones only hires white guys article. The point of the article is to provoke discussion on a very serious problem that is infecting the NFL. Some people have argued that there is a problem.
Those people are just flat out wrong and need to wake up.
There have been some wonderful comments, positive and negative, in the comments section. I have also gotten several emails, positive and negative. These responses are exactly the kind of thing I was hoping for. We are actually discussing the issue rather than glossing this over as just another hire for a team.
In my opinion, Jerry Jones did not follow through with the spirit of the Rooney Rule. Yes, he interviewed minority candidates. He followed the letter of the rule, and shouldn't get fined or anything by the NFL. But there is a difference between following the letter of a rule and following the spirit of that rule. The Rooney Rule's spirit is to help owners see things differently in this NFL, to "take a chance" on a minority candidate and not simply hire the same old crap. Phillips is a defensive expert, yes. So is Ron Rivera. Jim Caldwell is an expert on QBs, and Dallas has a young, blossoming one in Tony Romo. But that means nothing. Phillips has proven several times that he is not a good head coach. He was fired twice from two different organizations, and has yet to win a playoff game. Guys like Ron Rivera and Jim Caldwell have never been given a chance. Phillips has, and he failed... twice. Why should Phillips get a third chance while minority coaches like Caldwell and Rivera not even get their first?
What I am most disappointed in with Jones is he, as a very high profile owner, had a golden opportunity to set a standard here. Teams like the Cowboys, Steelers, Giants, and Green Bay Packers are the bedrock of this NFL. Those teams have huge fanbases and they have been around for decades. Of those teams, only the Packers and the Steelers have had a minority head coach, and the Steelers they just signed theirs this season. It just seems that minority candidates only get the jobs no one else wants. Nobody wanted the Tampa job in 1996, and it fell to Dungy. Nobody wanted the Bengals job in 2003, and it fell to Marvin Lewis. Nobody wanted the Raiders job last year, and it fell (again) to Art Shell.
To have a qualified minority coach running the show in Dallas would have been a major breakthrough for minority coaches in this NFL, and it is Jones' responsibilty to know that. Instead, he hired a proven loser in Phillips, a "player's coach" known for disorganized player management and sloppy on-the-field results.
And regarding the notion that Jones hired Phillips because of his knowledge of the 3-4 defensive scheme: please! The 3-4 defense for the Cowboys in 2006 was a disaster. Before last season, the Cowboys ran a 4-3 for decades. So, if Dallas hired someone like Rivera, a switch to a Tampa 2 defense (assuming Rivera with his Buddy Ryan taught background would do such a thing) would not have been that extreme. And they're re-building anyway. So what does it matter if there is a learning curve for a switch back to a 4-3? Dallas isn't making the Super Bowl next year. They just don't have the talent or the team chemistry. And if people think that all this switching around will doom the team, I once again point to the New Orleans Saints. They installed an entirely new offense and defense with new coaches and players in 2006, and that very season they made it to the NFC Championship game.
So sorry, the whole Phillips as 3-4 guru thing is just crap, a weak excuse to justify Jones' bad hiring.
For Cowboys fans, I can see why they don't want to address this. Jones is their team's owner and he isn't going anywhere. All Cowboys fans want is to win, now! Sorry, ain't happening. Dallas is not going to win anything with the same stale, dry personnel work that has plagued them in the modern salary cap era. Jones simply cannot get his mind into the 21st century, and his severe limitations are going to haunt the Cowboys for a long time.
And now, the quick hits:
- Mike Doss opted to void the last year of his contract and dive into free agency. I'm happy for Mike in that he got to show what kind of player he can be. He had no future with the Colts. A rookie 6th round pick beat him out in training camp last year, and I assure you that will factor in his market value.
- How lame is the Pro Bowl? Several SB Nation writers emailed me last night saying, WTF, the Pro Bowl was Saturday? Did anyone watch it? I didn't. I thought it was today: Sunday. You know, the day most pro football is played.
- As Playoff Pride posted in the diaries, Cato June wants to re-sign with the Colts and only the Colts. So, with Freeney potentially getting fanchised, the Colts will very likely retain their two key defenisve free agents.
- Dominic Rhodes is gone. He wants to get paid, and that's fine. Unlike Edgerrin, Dom has his ring. He'll go play for some other team and fall off the face of the football map. Does this mean Kory Chapman will get a shot, or will the Colts draft another runningback to pair with Addai?
- This off-season, the Colts have only lost assistant coaches Leslie Frazier and Diron Reynolds to other teams. Frazier is the biggest loss. No word yet as to who will replace both coaches on the Colts' staff.
- On The Bill Polian Show, Polian stated the Colts have no intention of signing any key free agents this off-season. He said the same thing last year, and they signed Adam Vinatieri.
- Bill Simmons has yet to write an article about the Super Bowl. Yet another example of Simmons acting like a petty chump and a "journalist" as he fancies himself.