Snap Judgments: Coaching trees and J-Lo's missed NYC opportunity
Musings, observations and the occasional insight as we close within a month of the opening of NFL training camps...
Brian Billick may be gone from Baltimore after nine years and one Super Bowl title, with his future now cast as a game analyst with FOX and as a co-author of an upcoming book about the NFL. But in one key way his imprint on the league remains beyond his coaching tenure. No fewer than four former Billick assistants in Baltimore are current NFL head coaches, which ties the Colts' Tony Dungy for the league's second-fullest coaching tree.
Billick's former Ravens assistants include Marvin Lewis in Cincinnati, Jack Del Rio in Jacksonville, Mike Nolan in San Francisco and Atlanta's new head coach Mike Smith, who also happens to be Billick's brother-in-law. Interestingly, all four coached defense in Baltimore, which was always the strength of Billick's Ravens teams, despite his offensive background. Say what you will, but Billick certainly recognized defensive coaching talent when he saw it.
Dungy also has four of his former assistants in NFL head coaching jobs, and all of them worked for him during his six-season tenure in Tampa Bay (1996-2001): Kansas City's Herman Edwards, Chicago's Lovie Smith, Detroit's Rod Marinelli and Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin. Coincidentally, all four worked on the defensive side of the ball with the Bucs, but that was Tampa Bay's strength as well as Dungy's background too. Whenever Dungy retires, he'll have a fifth member of that club, because the Colts have already named assistant head coach/quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell as his successor.
Perhaps the more amazing thing is that Dungy and Billick worked together in Minnesota from 1992 to 1995, where they were defensive and offensive coordinators on Dennis Green's staff for most of that time. Dungy left Minnesota for a head coaching job with the Bucs in January 1996, and Billick did the same for Baltimore in January 1999. Combined, their eight former assistants now comprise one-fourth of the NFL's 32-man head coaching ranks, a pretty impressive feat in any era.
If you're wondering whose coaching tree currently out-does even Billick and Dungy's, look to South Florida, where Bill Parcells now works as the Dolphins new football czar. The Tuna still has five former assistants in the head coaching ranks: New England's Bill Belichick, the Giants' Tom Coughlin, Cleveland's Romeo Crennel, New Orleans' Sean Payton, and Miami's Tony Sparano.
Once the Giants signed David Carr and drafted Andre Woodson, you could see the end coming. But I'm still feeling a little wistful about New York parting ways this week with reserve quarterback Jared Lorenzen, he of the exquisite "Pillsbury Throwboy'' nickname.
One of my favorite training camp stops in recent years was the Giants in Albany, N.Y., just to get the chance to watch the roly-poly Lorenzen get his share of practice snaps. I always walked away entertained, and believing if John Daly could suit up and play in the NFL, that's what it would look like.
Wishing no ill will on Eli Manning, I always secretly hoped fate would force the Giants to turn to Lorenzen as a starter just once in his career, because if the big lug ever won a game or two he would have immediately ascended to cult figure status in New York. Now we'll probably never get to witness that particular phenomena, and it feels like an opportunity we shouldn't have missed.
I suppose it was all but inevitable at some point, the confluence of Don Imus and Pacman Jones in the same story. Talk about a couple of guys who have been in the news for all the wrong reasons of late. Try as he might, Imus can't seem to choose the right words to avoid costing himself trouble. And we're about to find out if Jones is making better choices these days in Dallas. By that, of course, I'm referencing quite a bit more than him just opting to go back to using his given name of Adam.
The more you hear about the slimy way Bobby Petrino chose to end his 13-game drive-by in Atlanta last December, the more you get the feeling the Falcons are so much better off without the University of Arkansas's new leader of men.
According to a league source, on the day Petrino resigned, his coaching staff was left waiting all day without sight or sound of him until he gathered them at about 5 p.m. that Tuesday. That's the day the staff would have normally been responsible for putting together a game plan for Atlanta's Week 15 trip to Tampa Bay, but no one knew where Petrino was from 8 a.m. that morning on.
When Petrino finally met with his staff, a source said Petrino uttered all of about two sentences of explanation, saying he had resigned from the organization and that he had enjoyed working with his assistants. With that, he left the room and headed for his introductory news conference with the Razorbacks.
If you tried to handle such a departure with less grace or class than that, I'm not really sure how one would manage it.