As everyone knows, thanks in part to their favorite late-night monologues, the Bills are winless through eight games. Sadly, this was predicted far and wide, and for good reason - they play in one of the league's best divisions and their talent cupboard seemed dreadfully thin. Yes, they have lost by a field goal in each of the last three weeks, and the reality is a winless season remains a rare achievement I doubt they will achieve. But let's face it - this is the worst team in football…
Or are they?!!! With all due respect to the atrocious 2010 Carolina Panthers, how 'bout them Cowboys! You could make the case that they were a Super Bowl contender coming into the season, but no one read the tealeaves and predicted the hot mess that is 1-7. On the heels of erecting the NFL's tutto di tutto palace to date - a crib that demanded a fast Super Bowl hosting gig - all eyes were on the surging Cowboys to host the Big Game in Big D. We all know the premise of hosting your own Super Bowl never works out, but wow! Who slipped a vial of raw apathy into the Gatorade jug?
I know the loss of Tony Romo sent them into the dumper for the long run, but let's face it - he wasn't winning games, either. No, this is a case of tons of talent that has bailed on the coach and the franchise.
The NFL may be the sporting world's answer to rapid-cycle mood swings, but heads are spinning. Since Jimmy Johnson and Jerry Jones decided to part ways, the 'Boys have been a Jekyll and Hyde act of hard-ass coaches who made it work like Jimmy Johnson and almost-sort-of-work like Bill Parcells, spliced with pawns who stand down to the owner and help make a mess of things - Barry Switzer (I know he won one, but it wasn't his team), Dave Campo, Chan Gailey, and now Wade Phillips -- the latest to max out his "vote of confidence" punch card. Ironic that the last two names mentioned are, respectively, current and former Buffalo Bills head coaches. Maybe these two organizations should stop dating each other's leftovers.
There was a time when Buffalo and Dallas faced off in two consecutive Super Bowls. A time when these franchises were the flowers of their respective conferences. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. You can make a case that this is just the circle of life in the NFL: You win, you lose, you rebuild, and hopefully you win again… which would be fine if it weren't for those damned Pittsburgh Steelers. I have often said one is beyond lucky to be born a Steelers fan, because the suffering is so minimal, and the glory is so frequent. Yes, they have won more championships than any other organization, but a large part of me is even more impressed by the fact that they never just flat-out suck.
Oh sure, they originally sucked for decades, but once they got it right, they never looked back. You have to go back all the way to the 1960s to find a Steelers team with an absolute, no doubt about it, this is a nightmare, one- or two-win season. Since 1970, the worst it gets in Pittsburgh is six wins. So there it is - you can win more Super Bowls than anyone else, and never completely bottom out to the point where you are cheap fodder for Jay Leno. Or, more specifically, his writers who actually watch sports.
Now here is where it gets interesting, because I maintain the differential is the ownership. The Rooneys continually made the right moves for decades - impressive, and a source of great envy. How many of you, deep in your heart, understand that your big problem isn't at quarterback or head coach, it's at the ownership position? Too meddlesome, too absent, too cheap, too impulsive, or even too damn nice. The Niners were great under Eddie DeBartolo, a hot mess under John York. The Raiders were dominant under lucid Al Davis, crazy under crazy Al Davis, now maybe good again under who-knows-what-he's-thinking Al Davis. The Bills and Cowboys have been great and awful under Ralph Wilson and Jerry Jones, too.
Looking for the kind of radical change that embarrassing seasons demand? Maybe it's time for all the bottom-feeders to think outside the box and take a page from the fledgling UFL. In particular, the brand-spanking-new Virginia Destroyers franchise, which announced it has hired the former CEO of a major corporation to be its head coach. Apparently, Joe Moglia ran TD Ameritrade, but in the spirit of full disclosure he spent years as a high school and college coach, left to climb the corporate ladder all the way to the top, then left again to volunteer at Nebraska. No word yet on whether or not Moglia is the owner of the team, too. Regardless, the social-football experiment is fascinating.
Here now is a guy with the audacity to live every fantasy football owner's ultimate dream - line 'em up and coach 'em up. Keep in mind he will be competing against rival coaches with some pretty good NFL pedigrees, including Dennis Green and Jim Fassel. Something this crazy is easy to snort at, but I have a weird feeling it could be a breakthrough. Throughout time, great head coaches are smart enough to hire genius coordinators. There was a time when the New York Giants had Tom Landry running their defense and Vince Lombardi running their offense! Can you name the head coach? Yeah, I didn't think so. (It was Jim Lee Howell.) Maybe it's time for the head coach to devote his energy toward the culture of the team, the system, the psychology, and most importantly leadership. If it works it could catch fire. Desperate fans rooting for desperate teams are willing to try anything to yank the emergency breaks on failure, so why not take a crazy swing at a new way of thinking? I mean, Dick Jauron knows football, and we see how far that got us.
Whatever ails you, there is an unconventional hire that couldn't do worse than what you're currently living through, and just might shake things up. Dallas clearly has a ton of talent, even if Romo's injury has crushed every fantasy owner who had him or Miles Austin on their roster. Time for a return to a whip-cracking bad-ass. I say it's time for Jones to go rogue and hire Youtube legend Winnebego Man. Hey, anyone that angry is man enough to light a fire under a Dallas defense that has played with all the intensity of one of the Sopranos at a no-show construction job.
While I think Chan Gailey is actually doing a fairly heroic job with the ingredients on hand, he and the now-departed Perry Fewell would have made a brilliant pair of coordinators, and this team and this city needs a radical change in its mindset along the lines of a classic Vulcan mind-meld. It's an issue familiar to all small-market teams that feel more devalued than whatever they call money in North Korea. The time is right for Manuel Gonzalez, the last man out of the Chilean mine! The guy is human resilience and belief on legs! Maybe they should roll the dice with that hiker who cut his own arm off? Or how about bizarre New York governor-wannabe Carl Paladino who ran under the slogan, "I'm mad too, Carl!" Sure he comes with a ton of baggage, but he's local, he's nuts enough to say things like, "We must keep our pitchforks at the ready," he's mad like Bills fans are mad, and desperate times call for desperate measures!
Anyone who wields a baseball bat during his concession speech like DeNiro in "The Untouchables" is guaranteed to get the team's attention. I also can't wait to see what kind of bizarre notions he brings to the run defense, which hasn't stopped an RB since the 1990s.