NFL Nation: Wayne Fontes
This kind of patience doesn't exist anymore. It's been nearly two decades since the last example.
Thanks to Michael Bonzagni of ESPN Stats & Info for poring through the list of longest-tenured coaches for me. Of the 87 men who have at least eight years of experience as an NFL head coach, 24 have a career record under .500 -- including Kubiak.
Among those with at least eight years experience and a losing record, Kubiak is one of four who spent that whole time with one team. The other three all returned for a ninth year.
John McKay, whose Tampa Bay Buccaneers went 0-14 in his first season, only coached the Bucs to three winning seasons. He had a losing record in his eighth year and went 6-10 in 1984, his final year coaching.
Bart Starr began coaching the Green Bay Packers in 1975 and went 4-10. He only coached two winning teams, one in the strike-shortened 1982 season. That was Starr's eighth season with the Packers and his team made the playoffs. After an 8-8 record in his ninth, he was fired.
Wayne Fontes had four winning seasons with the Detroit Lions from 1988-96. One came in 1995 when the Lions went 10-6 and made the playoffs but lost. Fontes led the Lions to the NFC Championship game in 1991, but his subpar seasons meant he was constantly on the hot seat.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers officially announced former coach John McKay will be the next inductee into the team’s Ring of Honor. For a franchise that has a history of not always doing things the right way, this one was spectacularly graceful.
“I really believe [McKay] should have been in last year,’’ Selmon said.
Buccaneer history might not always be pretty, but Selmon is Mr. Buccaneer and he and McKay, who passed away in 2001, are the only two people who could have brought together the collection of folks who showed up at One Buccaneer Place on Wednesday.
At the end of his coaching tenure, Tampa Bay fans were screaming, “Throw McKay in Tampa Bay’’, but it became obvious Wednesday the man built a pretty impressive bridge across areas where there were some choppy waters.
That brings us to the next speaker. It was Rich McKay, the coach’s son. Rich was the general manager of the Buccaneers in the 1990s and, along with coach Tony Dungy, turned the franchise from hapless to respectable and helped bring a new stadium.
A few years later, Rich McKay lost a power struggle with coach Jon Gruden. He ended up going to the Atlanta Falcons where he’s now the team president.
Prior to Wednesday, Rich McKay never had been in the new One Buccaneer Place. For those who haven’t seen it, it’s a palace under any circumstances and light years from the team’s initial facility. With current general manager Mark Dominik standing against a wall, co-chairman Bryan Glazer introduced Rich McKay as “our friend."
Yes, the president of the Atlanta Falcons is a friend of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Rich McKay walked onto stage carrying a fedora Tampa Bay hat like his dad used to wear, and talked all about the early years of the Buccaneers. There was no hint at bitterness about his own departure, just glowing terms about his father, who Rich repeatedly referred to as “the coach."
Rich McKay, who came into Tampa’s Jesuit High School as a senior and grabbed the starting quarterback job away from would-have-been legend Jeff Bender, talked about the Bucs winning their first game on Dec. 11, 1977, and how a crowd showed up at the airport. He talked extensively about the 1979 season in which the Buccaneers went to the NFC Championship Game.
With former John McKay assistant Wayne Fontes, McKay’s daughter Terri and legendary Tampa restaurant owner and family friend Malio Iavarone sitting in the front row, Rich McKay said that season might have been the most gratifying of any for his father, who built a dynasty at the University of Southern California.
“I can assure you he was as proud or prouder of the ’79 team than any national championship team,’’ Rich McKay said.
The Bucs officially will induct John McKay into the Ring of Honor Dec. 5. They’ll wear their 1976 throwback uniforms for that game. It will be against the Atlanta Falcons. A perfect fit for the McKay family and the McKay legacy.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Is it a bad thing when you roll into your hotel and the next day's newspapers are already stacked in the lobby? Last night was a late one here in the Fox River valley, especially after dropping Mosley off at his hotel somewhere near the shore ... of the Pacific.
During my drive back, I kept returning to one thing: How noticeably faster the Dallas Cowboys were during a 27-16 victory over Green Bay. The Packers have some speed on their roster, but it seemed no could keep up with the likes of Felix Jones, Miles Austin and the entire Cowboys defensive line.
Part of speed is positioning and alignment, and I'm sure that when the Packers look at the film they'll see more than a few occasions where they lined up wrong and exacerbated the Cowboys' advantage. But you can't coach players to run faster, and if there is a postseason rematch between these teams, the Packers will need to focus more on offensive ball control to help out both their own defense and their offensive line.
The Packers used eight running plays and 14 passing plays in the first half Sunday night. Swapping that ratio, while out of character for coach Mike McCarthy, would have left the Cowboys' speedy offense on the sideline longer and given the Packers' offensive line an opportunity to wear down Dallas' pass rushers.
Instead, the Cowboys had possession of the ball for 18 minutes, five seconds in the first half and 32:12 overall.
We'll have our takes on all four NFC North games later today. For now, here are some snippets to chew on for a while from around the division:
- Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel outlines the plan Green Bay employed to stop Cowboy receiving stars Terrell Owens and Jason Witten. In short, cornerback Charles Woodson took Owens and fourth linebacker Brandon Chillar played extensively against Witten.
- Tom Oates of the Wisconsin State Journal saw the Packers get dominated on both sides of the line of scrimmage.
- "Fire someone." That was the unsolicited advice from the Chicago Tribune's RosenBlog following the Bears' 27-24 loss to Tampa Bay.
- Bears cornerback Nate Vasher opened the game on the bench, with rookie Corey Graham starting. According to the Tribune's Vaughn McClure, the Bears preferred to match up Graham against one of the Bucs' tight ends when they ran a one-receiver personnel set.
- Bears cornerback Charles Tillman claimed he was defending teammate Adewale Ogunleye when he drew a critical personal foul in overtime. But the Bucs player Ogunleye was tussling with said he didn't start anything. "[They] grabbed me in places they shouldn't have grabbed me after the play and that's what started the whole thing," Bucs right tackle Jeremy Trueblood said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
- It's time for Bears coach Lovie Smith to make a statement, writes Mike Mulligan of the Sun-Times: "Fear is a wonderful deterrent. And the time has come for Bears coach Lovie Smith to put some fear into his team..."
- Minnesota had never used the blitz package that ultimately resulted in Antoine Winfield's game-changing touchdown in the second quarter of Sunday's 20-10 victory over Carolina. Winfield normally blitzes from the slot, according to the Star Tribune's Chip Scoggins, but this time he blitzed from the cornerback position and the Panthers never saw him.
- Vikings coach Brad Childress said he quoted George Orwell during a Saturday night speech to his players, giving Star Tribune columnist Jim Souhan plenty of material. I can't claim to be an expert in such matters, but Souhan researched the origin of Childress' quote and called the reference "bogus." Orwell scholars, we'd love to hear from you.
- Minnesotans must be well-read. Or something. Bob Sansevere of the St. Paul Pioneer Press compares Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe to George Bailey of "A Wonderful Life." Something about how none of Sunday's events would have happened were it not for Shiancoe's past mistakes.
- Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press calls the Lions "the worst they've been in the Matt Millen era." That's saying something.
- Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com offers Lions coach Rod Marinelli a script for saving his job: Emulate former coach Wayne Fontes. "[Marinelli] has to find a very delicate way of separating himself from the failures of the past and attaching himself to the hope of the future." Of course, that's probably not in Marinelli's makeup.
- Lions quarterback Jon Kitna on his sprained knee: "It feels pretty bad right now."