Tag Archive | "Mike Smith"

Revolving Door for Fired and Hired NFL Coaches

The revolving door to NFL head coaching positions has been spinning out of control since the end of last season with Marinelli11 head coaching changes occurring and several more being anticipated.Four teams started the NFL disposable coach act prior to the start of the season.

The Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Miami Dolphins and Washington Redskins all handed headsets to rookie head coaches Mike Smith, John Harbaugh, Tony Sparano and Jim Zorn.

Other teams reminded us how impatient owners can be in a 16 game NFL season when the axe was swung and three other head coaches were sent packing early. The St. Louis Rams’ Scott Linehan and Oakland Raiders’ Lane Kiffin got canned after just Week 4 and San Fran 49ers’ head coach Mike Nolan was asked to hand in his headset after Week 7.

While those three teams were setting up interviews at the
close of the season, several others were sharpening their axe. Detroit, Denver, Cleveland and the New York Jets barely got back into the office on the Monday following the regular season when they were filling out pink slips.

The Rod Marinelli (Lions 0-16) and Romeo Crennel (Browns 4-12) firings came as no surprise but seeing Eric Mangini (Jets 9-7) and Mike Shanahan (Broncos 8-8) get their walking papers was less expected.

Mangini turned the Jets into an AFC East contender with a 9-7 record this season. Getting upset by the visiting Miami Dolphins and losing a chance of winning the division title at home the final game of the season put his head on the chopping block.

The math is simple and when you do it, it reminds you how the NFL head coaching occupation comes with very little job security. There were 11 head coaching changes out of 32 teams in 2008 with speculation of other coaches like Jim Zorn (Redskins) and interims Jim Haslett (Rams) and Tom Cable (Raiders) being replaced before the 2009 season.

The 49ers did sign interim head coach Mike Singletary to a four-year $10 million contract after his team went 5-4 over the nine games he sidelined after Nolan was fired.

Singletary joined in the fray right away and fired his offensive coordinator Mike Martz. It must be contagious.

Copyright © 2009 – Sports Climax

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NFL rookie coaches pumped up for playoffs

MIAMI – (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)Four NFL teams took a gamble hiring rookie head coaches before the season started and the moves paid off for three  of those teams who find themselves with 11-5 records and gearing up to take the field this weekend in the playoffs.Miami Dolphins rookie head coach Tony Sparano orchestrated one of the most impressive turnarounds in NFL history. Taking over a 1-15 team, Sparano, who worked under Bill Parcells in Dallas, succeeded under pressure when he and his ‘fins went into the Meadowlands as underdogs the last game of the season and upset Brett Favre and the Jets to steal the AFC East division title and finish with an 11-5 record.

Atlanta Falcons rookie head coach Mike Smith and Baltimore Ravens John Harbaugh also took over struggling franchises and finished with the same 11-5 record.

Against the opinion of much of the media, both coaches made gutsy decisions, opting to start their first-round quarterback picks Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco Week One of the season.

Ryan, who won the AP Rookie-of-the-Year and Flacco capitalized on the opportunity and went on a record-setting journey, starting all 16 games and leading their teams to wild-card berths.

After completing several interviews during the offseason, Ravens’ owner Steve Biscotti said his decision to hire Harbaugh was just a simple “gut feeling” after Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett turned down an offer for the job. As fate would have it, Garrett has hung up his headset for the season and Harbaugh is playoff bound and sure to receive some Coach-of-the-Year votes.

It’s hard not to cheer for these guys since they stepped into such challenging roles on struggling teams in the rebuilding phase.

Interesting fact is, with the Ravens facing the Dolphins one of these men are guaranteed to make it to the next round of the playoffs.

Cast your vote for Sports Climax NFL Coach-of-the-Year on our homepage.

Copyright © 2009 – Sports Climax

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Atlanta Sports Teams Creating Big Buzz

Previously published in The Sunday Paper – Atlanta November 16, 2008

ATLANTA, GA. – There’s a buzz around the ATL, and it’s gaining momentum by the minute. For some it’s a cure for the Matt Ryan Atlanta Falconsstress brought on by billion-dollar bailouts, drawn-out wars, historic home foreclosure rates, the threat of recession. This fix comes in the form of two birds: Hawks and Falcons.

The Atlanta Falcons (4-0 at the Georgia Dome, 6-3 overall) and Atlanta Hawks (6-1 as The Sunday Paper went to press on Thursday) both sprinted out of the gate with ferocious starts in 2008, and are putting Atlanta back on the sports map. The Hawks are enjoying their best start since 1997.

And after underachieving seasons by both the Braves and Thrashers, the timing couldn’t be better.

For years, sports fans have leaned on their teams to provide an escape from the pressures of everyday life. When those teams are winning, it helps pull the city and fans out of their funks.

Detroit is a perfect example. The Motor City holds the crown for most troubling economy and severe collapse in real estate values. But when their Red Wings or Pistons take home a crown, millions take to the streets to celebrate, leaving their troubles locked up at home (if it hasn’t been taken by the bank yet).

That’s what Atlanta is experiencing right now. In the coffeehouses and on the streets of this city, sports chatter is picking up steam. Spirits are being lifted.

“The sports bars have been packed with local fans,” says Vinings resident Megan Harpring. Megan is no stranger to sports-she played basketball at Georgia Tech, and her brother plays for the NBA’s Utah Jazz.

“It’s filling everyone’s lives with something positive, something exciting,” she continues. “The success of the Falcons-it’s a motivator. We’re getting excited about the next game, the next weekend.”

Lawrenceville resident Derek Wheeler, another avid sports fan who played baseball for UGA, attended the Falcons’ miraculous last-second comeback against the Bears this year at the Dome and the Hawks’ Game 6 win against the Celtics last season. He is thrilled with his local teams. “It’s unbelievable, isn’t it?” he says. “I never would have thought the Falcons would have a year like this. And the Hawks-last year wasn’t a fluke at all.”


This aura of excitement stands in sharp relief to the dark clouds that have hovered over the city in the recent past.

When Atlanta’s All-Pro quarterback Michael Vick was sent off to live behind bars, doom and gloom set in for the city’s sports fans. And it only got worse. Their star player in shackles, their team a laughingstock, their head coach Bobby Petrino snuck out of town in the dead of night with his tail between his legs. Many of the Falcons’ star players abandoned ship or were traded away for pennies on the dollar.

A lot has changed since then. The Falcons, under the leadership of rookie general manager Thomas Dimitroff, rookie head coach Mike Smith and rookie-of-the-year candidate Matt Ryan at quarterback, continue to find ways to overcome their underdog status and win games.

No longer are fans wondering whether the Falcons have what it takes. The new questions on the street are: “Michael who?” “Bobby who?”

The NFL is certainly taking notice of the new Falcons. The league pushed the Nov. 23 Falcons/Panthers kickoff to 4:15 p.m. and upgraded the matchup to a national game. “I think that … is confirmation that we are doing things right,” Coach Smith said during a press conference last week.

The 23-year-old Ryan, fresh out of Boston College, has replaced Vick in the hearts and minds of Falcon fans and the general public. Vick is still listed as “suspended” on the Falcons’ team roster, but most expect him to be officially released soon after he swaps his prison garb for civilian clothes sometime next year.

At the Falcons’ side are the overachieving Atlanta Hawks, led by All-Star Joe Johnson, who always manages to shine while coasting under the NBA radar.

The Hawks’ performance in last year’s NBA playoff series against the heavily favored Boston Celtics brought life back to the lackluster franchise. Those young, inexperienced Hawks were expected to be swept off the planet in four merciless games. But they refused to go down without a fight, taking the Celtics (who eventually took the championship) to seven games.

Seven games into the 2008-09 season (at press time), the Hawks are continuing where they left off. Before Wednesday’s loss to the Celtics, they were the only unbeaten team in the entire Eastern Conference-that’s right, a hotter start than the Celtics, Pistons or Cavaliers. The 2009 NBA All-Star ballot includes five Hawks: Johnson, Josh Smith, Mike Bibby, Al Horford and Marvin Williams.


Local sports-talk radio programs have been bombarded with excited callers, heaping praise on the Hawks with comments like “They’re playing with passion” and “it’s awesome to watch.”

As Christopher Rude, co-host of the “Rude Awakening” morning show on 680 the Fan, put it: “Sports fans in Atlanta are guardedly optimistic.”

Marc Stein’s Week Two NBA power rankings on ESPN.com had the Hawks ranked fifth out of 30 teams in the league. “Atlanta has deservedly gate-crashed the top five with its first 5-0 start in a decade,” Stein wrote last week.

Considering that both teams’ rosters were recently stuffed with unknowns and rookies who were considered fortunate to be wearing pro uniforms, the fact that they’ve both stepped up and are quickly making names for themselves while returning a sense of pride to Atlanta fans seems nothing less than incredible.

I was at Ryan’s first game against the Detroit Lions, and witnessed his first NFL pass in front of his new hometown fans. The ball was snatched up by Michael Jenkins, who galloped 62 yards into the end zone. Last weekend against the New Orleans Saints, 22-year-old rookie Chevis Jackson intercepted a Drew Brees pass and raced 95 yards for a TD with 1:17 left to play, sealing another victory for the Falcons at the Dome.

Plays like these are like paper shredders, taking the heart-wrenching negative headlines we’ve been force-fed all week and slicing them to ribbons-at least for a moment.

We all need heroes. The larger-than-life champions in summer action films sweep us away from the doldrums of our current realities. And young, enthusiastic athletes like Matt Ryan and Al Horford, and men like Joe Johnson and John Abraham-guys who show up every day and play their hearts out, determined to overcome adversity-are doing the same.

Copyright © 2008 – Sports Climax

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