Monday, January 19, 2009

Nobodies & Hot Streaks

A Couple of NFL Thoughts

Last year, as the Giants made their historic Super Bowl run (yes, I said historic; want to make something of it?), this site was pretty much taken over by my NFL ramblings. This year, not so much. But with the Super Bowl set, I wanted to share a few thoughts with you.

Nobodies Rule

In February of 07 I wrote a piece called Losers & Nobodies in which I argued…well, here’s what I said:

If you were the GM of an NFL team with a head coaching vacancy, which of the following should you hire:

a) A proven winner, like Super Bowl Champ Bill Cowher
b) A proven loser, like Cam Cameron
c) A complete nobody, like Jim Harbaugh’s brother.

If history is any guide, hire the nobody. If he’s not available, hire the loser.

As it turns out, FreeTime must be required reading in NFL front offices, because Nobodies were hired in huge numbers in the weeks after this was posted. John Harbaugh in Baltimore, Tony Sparano in Miami, Mike Smith in Atlanta, and Jim Zorn in Washington.

And it turned out splendidly for those teams. Harbaugh’s Ravens played in the AFC championship game, Sparano’s Dolphins had the greatest regular-season turnaround in the history of the sport, and they both lost out on Coach of the Year to Smith. (Zorn got off to a hot start then faded, but had his team in playoff contention in the extremely difficult NFC East).

And in two weeks, two Nobodies from the Hiring Class of 2007 will meet in the Super Bowl. Mike Tomlin and Ken Whisenhunt were both unknown entities to most NFL fans when hired two years ago.

More proof, as if we needed it, that history and facts are more valuable than conventional wisdom.

NFL GMs: there is no reason to throw money, power and private jets at the Bill Cowhers, Mike Shanahans, and Jon Grudens of the world. Get yourself a Nobody.

The Hot Team

A cherished myth of the NFL is that the hot team coming into the playoffs is the one to look out for. Peter King, in this morning's MMQB writes:

It's never been truer that the hottest teams, and the healthiest teams, are the ones with the best chance in January.

Oh my God, really, Peter? I love Peter King. I read MMQB religiously. He works hard, he talks to everyone in the NFL seemingly every waking moment, and he just seems like an amiable likable guy. But he does like that conventional wisdom nonsense.

How could anyone argue that the Arizona Cardinals were the hot team coming in? It was clearly Carolina, maybe the Eagles. The Cardinals were about the coldest team to ever enter the playoffs, and it had no impact on their knocking off 3 straight wins.

But conventional wisdom dies hard. It's more stubborn than facts.

No comments: