Rex Ryan and Mike Tomlin were spared on Black Monday.
I would hope and expect it wasn’t an easy decision keeping the New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers coaches.
Once deemed to be “close” to New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick on the coaching ladder, both fought for their jobs the last month of the season.
And somehow they both survived.
Is that good news for the Patriots, as both franchises (and coaches) have been legitimate rivals for Belichick’s throne?
Tomlin’s teams have gone 16-16 without a trip to the playoffs for the second straight season while Ryan’s Jets are 22-26 the last three seasons without a playoff game.
Both men are a tad strange. I think Ryan’s underpublicized “foot fetish” issue was the creepiest thing I’d seen from a coach and Tomlin’s interference with the Ravens’ kick return was one of the weirdest acts I’ve seen from a coach at any level in any sport.
But both have found ways to motivate their teams and make the Patriots’ existence a little uncomfortable, to say the least.
But just because they won a few games in December, when both were unofficially eliminated, they’ve earned the right to stay on board?
Are the Steelers really a threat to do anything in 2014?
Everybody of note on that team, outside of running back Le’Veon Bell, is on the last legs of his career. And their once-proud defense, with its 75-year-old defensive coordinator, is not proud any more.
As for the Jets, is there one person ... just one ... who truly believes Geno Smith is a franchise quarterback?
The days of defense and running the ball can get you to 9-7, at best. On a good year, maybe with the copy of the ‘85 Bears defense, maybe a 10-6 record is possible.
In other words, Black Monday may have worked out very well for the Patriots with two franchises, it appears, stuck in neutral.
Before we get to ‘Steroids’ voting ...
Before we have frank discussions about Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and the Hall of Fame, I would like to make a brief case for four players many deem “on the bubble”: Jack Morris and Curt Schilling.
First off, Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux are definites. I would vote them in today.
Glavine has the wins (305), winning percentage (.600) and big seasons (five 20-win seasons) while a member of the best staff in baseball for a decade in Atlanta. He also won two Cy Young Awards and one World Series MVP.
Maddux has even more wins (355), more strikeouts (3,371) and won 18 or more games (nine times) on that same dominating staff. Both were masters on the mound rather than flame-throwers.
As for the other two ...
Morris, in my mind, was the most dominant pitcher of his era. While he doesn’t have the 300 wins (254), he does have the big games, including closing out two World Series championships. He also was in the top five for Cy Young voting five times, without winning.
While his ERA (3.91) is nothing to write home about, it was more indicative of the big offensive era before steroids.
He was consistent. He found ways to win (a grinder!). And he threw a ton of innings (11 seasons with more than 235 innings). He was the winningest pitcher of the 1980s. Enough said!
Schilling is going to have to wait this one out, like Morris has patiently done, with “only” 216 wins.
But upon a closer look, he won only 52 games before turning 30. That means he won 164 after the important birthday. That must be considered.
He never won a Cy Young Award, but finished second three times and fourth another time, all after his 30th birthday. His posteason record of 11-2 is legendary, including the “bloody sock” game in Yankees Stadium (Game 6), which probably ended his career.
He went 22-5 in 2001, 23-7 in 2002 and 21-6 with the Red Sox in 2004. I am on record as saying the Red Sox won the World Series, after the damaging Game 7 loss to the Yankees in 2003, because of Schilling. He brought a toughness and didn’t fear the Yankees.
As for the best of the rest of the Hall of Fame candidates, Frank Thomas tied Ted Williams in HRs (521) and was maybe the best all-around hitter over a dozen years with the Chicago White Sox. He’d get my vote, too.