Pardon the Interruption - (re-branding imminent)
Hello again kiddies and time for the last PTI in this format. If NASN are losing their ESPN-supplied shows which seems as certain as a 29-yard fieldgoal, then it is bye-bye to Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon, also to NFL Prrrrriiiiimmmmmme Time and the other great shows have come to expect. The whispers I am hearing is that ESPN want to launch their own UK-available channel with these shows on them together with other programming, so I will keep my ears to the ground for news on that coming to fruition. But the cancellations of subscriptions to NASN have gone through the roof this week already although I will hold fire for the time being to see what transpires.
This week has also brought the first coaching casualty of the season, Steve Mariucci in Detroit. Which is a joke in itself. The person that the Ford family need to get rid off is GM Matt Millen. The Lions are the Bucs of the early 1990s - supposedly good talent and a season full of disappointments for their fans. Remember how close the Bucs were to getting Mariucci in January 2002? This guy has worked for the two of the three worst ownerships in the NFL - even he can't be unlucky enough to wind up in Arizona one day can he?
So who else is on the hot seat? Dom Capers can start packing his bags after his Texan team blew a 10-point lead to the Rams' 3rd string QB in the final half-minute Sunday. And hopefully, Mr Arrogant himself, Brian "Offensive Genius" Billick can join him in Baltimore. And isn't it nice how ever since Deion Sanders came out of retirement to join the Ravens for more self-publicity, they've gone down the toilet? I can see Dick Vermeil retiring at the end of this season but that could be about it for coaching changes.
Lost in the small print last week, was the news that Monte Kiffin has signed a two-year extension to his contract to remain as the Bucs' defensive co-ordinator. He has held that role for 10 seasons now and in his late 60s, is past the point where he wants the hassle of a head coaching job. But his biggest job of rebuilding a fast-aging Buc defense is about to start.
Spelling award of the week goes to Scot Brantley during Sunday's game with the Bears after Joey Galloway broke a tackle and raced 30 yards down the right sideline. "It's all about Y.A.K." stated our Scot. "Yards after ... Y.A.C. Yards after catch."
But he also wins line of the week aimed at his sparring partner, Gene "Mugged and Mauled in the backfield" Deckerhoff. "You've got to win your home games" stated Gene at one point Sunday. "Just as the Gators said yesterday" replied Brantley in a really quick dig at Gene who doubles at the Seminoles' radio broadcaster, 24 hours after the Gators had hammered Florida State 34-7 in their annual battle.
Right, now a pet hate - people who second-guess coaching decisions. Message boards everywhere have been up in arms about Jon Gruden's call on 3rd & 2 before Matt Bryant's abortive fieldgoal. Anyone can say what should have been done AFTER the event, especially if the play didn't work. But Jon has been right on so many close calls recently and too many more during a game will go un-noticed. As a former baseball manager, I know all about smart-arse wise guys on the bench saying what should have happened. But the key is making the decision there and then and no kind of Monday morning quarterback is usually prepared to stand up and be counted at that point.
And finally a request to Steve Reeder - stop playing Cadillac Williams in your fantasy team. Because when you dropped him against Atlanta, he had 100+ yards and a touchdown. And this goes for John Davies and his use of Michael Clayton too. Put the needs of the Bucs ahead of yourself please!
30 November 2005