Sunday, June 2, 2013
Sunday notes: Namath takes on Rex
By Rich Cimini
Checking out the Jets and the NFL:
1. Another cup of Joe: I realize some people might be Namath-ed out after the last few days, but I'd like to share some leftovers from our conversation the other day. Joe Namath has very strong opinions (gee, what a shock) on Rex Ryan. He doesn't care for Ryan's player-friendly approach, which he believes contributed to the team's two-year slide.
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"I’ve always said I've never seen that kind of coaching style before in my life," Namath said. "The first two seasons, you win. Hey, OK. In the meantime, those teams were inherited to some extent. The psyche of the team got in a place where they’re spending more time thinking about what they've done rather than what they're doing and what they're going to do.
"Coaches, they all want to feel like they're loved. Nice. Nice. Nice. Don Shula was hated by some of his players. Coach [Bear] Bryant was hated by some of his players. Bill Belichick, Tom Landry, Chuck Noll. Come on, you can't be Mr. Nice Guy as a head coach. You have too many players that have to be disciplined. Trying to be everybody's buddy at one time, I don't what that coach is. I think that's one of the situations Rex created, being a really friendly guy. He's got everybody's back. Yeah, he's got everybody's back until you get rid of them. Excuse me, this is a business."
Namath also suggested the recent coaching defections on Ryan's staff are a poor reflection of Ryan, saying: "When your coaches are leaving you, it's not a good endorsement of the head guy. This goes back to [Bill] Callahan and [Brian] Schottenheimer. They weren't getting the offensive input in the draft they would've liked and they saw the writing on the wall, so to speak. Our defensive coordinator for the last four years [Mike Pettine], where's he? New job, OK, but I don't know if it's moving up. When it comes to coaching, if you're not happy, you move around. You leave to improve your chances of becoming a head coach or it's jumping ship because you don't like how the captain has been handling it."
Tell us how you really feel, Joe.
2. Keeping up with the Joneses: I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but the Jets' actual draft was eerily similar to the player ratings on the Cowboys' draft board, which was exposed during a TV interview and pieced together by a web site called Blogging the Boys.
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CB Dee Milliner was rated fourth on the Cowboys' board; he was picked ninth overall. DT Sheldon Richardson was 16th on their board; he was picked 13th. QB Geno Smith received a second-round grade and was 37th on the board; he was chosen in the second round, 39th overall. OT Oday Aboushi got a fifth-round grade and was 112th on the Cowboys' board; he went in the fifth round at 141st overall.
The only discrepancy involved G Brian Winters, who received a low fourth-round grade from Dallas (89th on its board). Obviously, the Jets liked him more than that, taking him near the top of the third round (No. 72 overall). If you're a Jets fan, are you feeling good, knowing that your draft aligned with Jerry Jones' view? I didn't think so.
3. Farewell to Yarnell: Steve Yarnell, the Jets' VP of security, announced his retirement after 16 years with the team. He started in 1997, hired by Bill Parcells, who coached him at West Point back in the day. Before the Jets, he worked with the FBI as a special agent on criminal and terrorism matters. He could write one heck of a memoir if he ever decided to dish on his job experiences. Fans probably don't know Yarnell, but he was the stern-faced guy on the Jets' sideline, the man who always escorted the head coach to midfield for the postgame handshake. That alone could be a chapter in the book.
I interviewed Yarnell only once, three years ago, for a story on Laveranues Coles. If it weren't for Yarnell, the Jets wouldn't have drafted Coles, who was deemed a risk because of off-the-field issues in college. He dug into Coles' background, gave him a thumb's-up and stood his ground in a legendary draft-room showdown with Parcells in 2000. Yarnell told Parcells he'd stake his reputation on Coles, who turned out just fine. When I spoke to Yarnell, who became friendly with Coles over the years, he got emotional when he mentioned Coles' 2005 admission that he was molested as a child by his stepfather. Yarnell choked up for a few seconds, expressing his admiration for Coles' courage. It was a quick glimpse into the man behind the poker face. And that was the last time we talked.
4. Give Me the Damn Bieber: This Keyshawn Johnson-Justin Bieber spat is kind of amusing. The last time Keyshawn got this fired up about one of his neighbors was 1997, when he trashed teammate Wayne Chrebet in his book, "Just Give Me the Damn Ball." Their lockers were side-by-side, which made for some interesting situations.
5. Pace setter: LB Calvin Pace believes the Jets' offseason overhaul on defense will become the norm in the league. "I think this is the way the NFL is going to become now," he said. "You don't see a lot of guys playing 10 years. I don't think the young guys see that. I think it's going to get younger and younger to the point where you're going to look at a guy playing five years, and he's a vet. I think that's the way of the business." Everything, of course, is dictated by the salary cap, which has remained relatively flat -- but this was the deal the players agreed to.
For the record, the Jets cut two starters (both over 30), lost four starters in free agency (two over 30) and traded one.
Former Jets head coach Eric Mangini is taking a job as the 49ers senior offensive consultant.
6. Mangenius to San Francisco: I'm not surprised by Eric Mangini's decision to take a job with the 49ers as their senior offensive consultant. Coaching is in his blood. This isn't coaching, per se, but it gets him back into a competitive environment. He's always been a defensive coach, but his expertise on that side of the ball will allow him to help the offense. The 49ers make sense. GM Trent Baalke was a Jets scout in the late 1990s when Mangini was a low-level assistant with the team.
7. Holmgren on Mornhinweg: I couldn't fit this anecdote in a feature story on Jets OC Marty Mornhinweg, but Mike Holmgren tells a funny story about his former protégé. A few days before the Packers faced the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI, Holmgren got so disgusted with his team in practice that he took the play cards -- used by the scout team -- and threw them in the air. "These are junk," he screamed.
Holmgren told me he did it for effect, but Mornhinweg, who stayed up all night designing the cards, didn't know that. After practice, Mornhinweg emerged from the shower with the cards and, buck naked, gave Holmgren and another coach a mini-lecture on how hard he worked to prepare them. He was Holmgren's QBs coach for the Packers. Recalled Holmgren: "He was so passionate. We did all we could to keep from laughing."
8. The Kid is All Right: Bills coach Doug Marrone said first-round QB EJ Manuel has performed better so far than any rookie he's ever coached. He was around two good ones as a Saints assistant coach, G Jahri Evans (2006) and T Carl Nicks (2008). If Ryan made that comment about Geno Smith, it would be back-page news.
9. Tebow Time: So now Tim Tebow's father has chimed in, telling NFL.com, "You are old enough to believe not all you hear" -- a convoluted way of dismissing ESPN The Magazine for reporting that someone in the QB's inner circle suggested that Tebow thinks his career is likely over.
Here's a novel idea: Why doesn't Tebow speak for himself?
10. June swoon: Remember when June 1 on the NFL calendar meant a slew of cap casualties? Those days are gone. Can't say I miss them.