Saturday, January 11, 2014

Off Brand Name Recognition

"I AM COACH GROOT!"
There is absolutely no truth to the rumor that, having whiffed on Jon Gruden as their next head coach, the Washington NFL franchise instead hired Guardian of the Galaxy Groot, on the grounds that it sounded kind of like Gruden, and his limited vocabulary (which consists entirely of "I AM GROOT") would make for fewer controversial statements at press conferences.



Instead, Dan Snyder's guys got Jon's kid brother, which is about what you could expect. Jon, whom Red McCombs was yodeling for down in UTexasLand, is no dummy. He knows that his brand is most valuable as a potential coach, someone who could get hired anywhere he wanted. Having someone constantly knocking on the door offering gazillions and the role of god-king has to help when it comes time to negotiate with ESPN over vacation days and parking space location. The second he actually takes a job,  however, he has to start winning actual games, and for a coach who's been away from the game as long as he has been, that might be a little tricker than expected. So Jon is smart to stick with the Worldwide Leader, sniff at each passing job as if assessing, and then decide to stay after all.

Wacky sidekick brother Jay, in the meantime, is no Jon. He's no James Franklin, and he's no Gus Malzahn or Art Briles. He's just the guy who wrung a few decent seasons out of the random trajectory generator that is Andy Dalton's arm. And he's the guy desperate enough for a head coaching job in the NFL that he'll willingly work under the unstable isotope that is Dan Snyder.

Snyder wasn't going to get anyone better. Not with his reputations for meddling and micromanaging. Better coaches could wait for better opportunities, ones where the cozy relationship between ownership and star QB wasn't going to undercut every coach's decision. And until Snyder's gone or suspended Steinbrennerally or given a personality transplant, or someone gets a restraining order out against him that keeps him 500 yards away from the team at all times, a second tier guy with a famous name is all he's ever going to get. 

Just don't feel too sorry for Jay, or Joe, or Jeremiah, or whatever the guy's name is. He'll be cashing some large checks. He'll be an NFL head coach, which makes him a member of an exclusive fraternity. He'll be able to flame out spectacularly with no one blaming him because, hey, NOBODY can win under that guy. And if, by some great miracle he actually wins a few games, that's going to make him look like a better tactician than Scipio Africanus.

So everybody wins, and everybody loses. Gru2den gets the job, even if it's an impossible situation. Snyder gets a coach with name recognition, just not the one he wanted. RG3 gets a new coach who isn't likely send him running into the teeth of a stampede of rhinos on a gimpy knee, even if the guy's never worked with a mobile QB before. And the fans, err.

Let me get back to you on that one.
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