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It ain't easy being Green
Posted: Wednesday October 28, 1998 12:06 PM
Click here to send your NFL question to Peter King.
To the 9,465 writers who reamed me out for not including Denny Green on my top 15 coaches list (Mailbag, Oct. 16), I say this:
I screwed up.
Green should have been No. 5, right after Mike Shanahan , Mike Holmgren , Bill Parcells and Jimmy Johnson . In fact, he was. When I wrote my list out longhand sitting in the Silverdome pressbox a couple of hours before the Packers-Lions game, there he was, at five.
But when I typed them into my laptop, I inadvertently left him out. My fault.
As a few of you aptly pointed out, Green is a good coach due in part because probably 50 of his 53 players, give or take a few, respect the man and play hard for him.
That's how you ultimately judge a coach's ability.. When players respect you, have a slight amount of fear of you, and are well-prepared, good seasons usually follow.
One other point about all the coach-list-related letters: I like Ray Rhodes a lot, whether he goes 1-15 this year or not. Was Bill Parcells a bad coach when his Patriots played under-.500 ball a few years ago? No. Is Tony La Russa a lousy manager because his Cardinals pitching staff got hurt this year? These are opinions, people.
And here are a few more of them:
Why aren't the Vikings ranked No. 1? The Broncos have not played a
top-quality team yet. They should be ranked No. 2. The Vikings, however,
went into Lambeau and crushed a Packers home win streak with a backup QB
and rookie WR.
Good question, sort of. The thing I hate about comparing two great things is someone always wants to dog one great thing to show that the other great thing is better. Here's the state of the NFL Super Bowl race right now, in classroom terms:
Denver's a 99, Minnesota a 97. When I rank the teams each week in Monday Morning Quarterback, I always rank them with this thought in mind: I think the first team can beat the second team. I think Denver beats Minnesota today. That does not mean I don't like Minnesota. Denver is one of the deepest teams in recent NFL history. They lost their left tackle, Gary Zimmerman , forever, and their quarterback, John Elway, for three games, and they were still the best team in football. Let's let the season play out. Maybe you'll be proven right, Shane.
Hello Mr. King, I want to thank you for the great articles that you
write for CNNSI.com. I like the "10 things I Think I
Think". I know the season is young, but how about Steve Young or Terrell Davis for MVP?
I see that the Chiefs got Bam Morris in a trade. Do you think he can
pick up some of the slack for this anemic running game, or is he truly,
just a bench player with a big name?
The Chiefs got Morris strictly for insurance. The only way he'll have an impact on Kansas City's season is if Donnell Bennett goes down, and even if that happens, Bam won't be the electricity that this offense needs. The Chiefs are a couple bricks shy of a load this year, I'm afraid.
I was wondering to what extent you think the Packers' current troubles
can be attributed to Dorsey Levens' contract holdout? He held out for most
of training camp, played in a couple games out of shape, and as a result
got injured. Without him, the running game (and the offense in general )
My understanding of the play on which Dorsey Levens was hurt is that he ran the wrong way. It didn't necessarily happen because he missed training camp, but as GM Ron Wolf told me a couple of weeks later, you've got to be wary of a running back who hasn't been in camp. Running backs need training camp like a long-distance runner needs to jog to develop calloused feet. Running backs have to get hit and get used to the pounding they're going to take in the regular season. Levens got very little of that. Maybe it's why he got hurt, maybe it's the fact that he ran the wrong way, maybe it's a freak thing. But Levens' loss, as you indicate, is a huge reason why the Packers are merely mortal.
When will the Rams give up on Project Banks? When you've lost as many
consecutive times to the 49ers as the Rams have (16 now), you can't miss
the team plane and Monday films and meetings. How can he lead a team acting
I met with Dick Vermeil in August after I watched Tony Banks miss a wide-open Isaac Bruce twice in a preseason game with Dallas. I told Vermeil, "This guy is not the answer at quarterback. This guy's going to cost you your job.''
Vermeil's a loyal guy, and he figures he has to try to develop the kid. But his performance against the Jets in Week 6 notwithstanding (he completed 15 in a row against New York), Banks ultimately suffers from the same problem that I think plagued Dave Brown with the Giants: He's just not accurate enough to be a top NFL passer. All the other stuff--missing a plane this year, skipping a practice to be with his sick dog last year--is stuff you can overlook if a guy is a great player. This guy is not.
This is not a complicated issue. Sapp believes, as many other NFLplayers do, that Collins is the worst form of player, a quitter who walked out on his team when times got rough. When Sapp's words ("If he's got a problem with what I'm saying, he can meet me in the parking lot after the game'') got too vigorous for the league, NFL Director of Football Development Gene Washington sent him a letter last week telling him the league won't tolerate threats. I saw Sapp before Sunday's game in New Orleans and asked him about the league telling him to watch his threats. "They're cowards also,'' Sapp told me, referring to league officials. "I said what I meant. I meant what I said. I ain't backing down.''
I will reiterate that Sapp is not the only player in the league who will never forget how Collins left the Panthers.
Does the NFL have any plans to revise how teams play the overtime
period? Winning a coin flip should not greatly influence the outcome of a
football game. What if baseball worked the same way? If the score at the
end of nine innings is tied, the winner of the coin flip gets to bat first.
If that team scores a run, the opposing team doesn't get to bat, and they
lose. College football's system at least gives each team a chance to
possess the football on offense. That system may not be perfect, but it's
better than the NFL's. I'd hate to think that a Super Bowl could possibly
be heavily influenced by a simple coin flip.
Kevin, I absolutely agree. In the NFL, possessions in OT should be alternated until one team wins. In other words, if Miami kicks a field goal Sunday against New England in overtime, the Dolphins should kick off and hold New England. It's ludicrous that a single game can be decided by who wins the coin flip. If the 92nd playoff tiebreaker (or whatever it is) is a coin flip, why is the first tiebreaker in an overtime game the coin flip?
Robert Holcombe is clearly not the answer at running back for St. Louis. He's indecisive and couldn't beat Vermeil around the corner. Many "experts" said he was the best back in the draft behind Curtis Enis. After what I've seen, why didn't the Rams take Fred Taylor with the sixth pick or trade down and draft Robert Edwards? They don't play Grant Wistrom anyway! If Vermeil truly believes game experience is the only way a player improves, then where are Grant Wistrom and Az-Zahir Hakim? Who cares how fast Eddie Kennison is if he can't catch a cold?
Another suffering Rams fan ,
Even within the Rams organization, Vermeil got a lot of funny looks when he fell in love with Wistrom before the draft. If I was running the Rams, I'd have taken two of the following three players with my first two picks--Alan Faneca, Kyle Turley and Flozell Adams--to solve their three-holes-on-the-offensive line problem. I understand your frustration, but I think Holcombe would be fine with a good run-blocking line. Vermeil's problem, I think, is that he needs to throw these young players in the lineup-as he didn't do early with Holcombe because he said he wasn't ready (why is a guy not ready after a full training camp?)--instead of waiting for them to know the system perfectly.
The question everyone wants answered: What is Vikings coach Dennis
Green going to do once Brad
Johnson is healthy? I know Green said the job is Johnson's, but Randall
Cunningham is the league's top-rated QB. He must be second-guessing himself
after Cunningham's dominance week after week.
It's going to be a tough decision for Green, regardless of how he feels now.
But the best thing Johnson has going for him is that he's one of a very few quarterbacks (four, I believe) who have been in the top 10 of quarterback ratings in each of the past two years. So Green won't be putting in chopped liver.
Having said that, I'd stay with Cunningham, who's on a once-in-a-lifetime hot streak.
At a recent University of Texas game, my friend and I were debating who
should be the Browns' first pick. He was arguing that Cleveland would be
best served by picking a running back (Ricky Williams) and building the
team around him. I told him that it was more important to get a good
quarterback (probably Tim Couch or Cade McNown). Admittedly one pick does
not make a team, but if you had the first pick in 1999, who would you take
and why? I love your column and my only wish is that it would come out
twice a week instead of once.
Flattery will get you everywhere. Thanks. I think Ricky Williams is great. But when a potentially great quarterback is available, that's the smart pick. If Couch is there, there's no decision to be made.
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