Ryan's return to give NFC East shot in the arm


February 06, 1994|By VITO STELLINO

Owner Bill Bidwill of the Phoenix Cardinals is doing his best to change the NFL's boring image.

Forget all those rule changes, such as the addition of the two-point conversion, the NFL is considering to spruce up its game.

Bidwill's easy answer was to hire Buddy Ryan as his head coach. There's never a dull moment when Ryan is around.

The move is perfect for Ryan, who will be back in the NFC East. He doesn't have to waste any time coming up with new grudges. He's got a lot of old ones to work on in that division.

To start with, his new team will play his old team -- the Philadelphia Eagles -- twice a season. They're owned by Norman Braman, whom Ryan once dubbed "the man in France."

Then we go to the Dallas Cowboys. Ryan will point out that Jimmy Johnson has yet to beat him.

Then there's the Washington Redskins. Remember the body bags? OK, that was the old regime. But Ryan's already said he's got a better job than Norv Turner, the new Redskins coach who turned Phoenix down.

Last, but not least, there's the New York Giants. Ryan will probably get around to mentioning he was 5-1 in his past six

games against them.

The only thing we can't expect is that he'll be taking any swings at the assistant coaches. When Ryan's the head coach, he's the boss and he gives the orders. He doesn't have take any punches.

Yes, it's going to be fun.

Of course, there are those who are wondering what Bidwill was thinking when he hired Ryan. We assumed Ryan's head coaching career was over because no owner would want to put up with him.

Bidwill, though, is desperate. For Bidwill, hiring Buddy isn't as nutty as it sounds.

Look at the alternatives. His first choice was Turner, and nobody knows if he'll be successful.

Ryan, meanwhile, has a proven track record. He'll do three things -- win 10 games a year, make the playoffs and sell tickets. In Phoenix, that's more than enough.

Ryan's never won a playoff game as a head coach, but in Phoenix, the standard isn't winning playoff games. Just getting there would be an improvement.

There were already lines at the ticket windows Friday and one restaurant had a "Buddy Burger" on the menu.

By the way, how long do you think it'll take for him to get that bounty out on Troy Aikman?

The Redskins mystique

When most coaches are evaluating jobs, they're likely to pick the one with the better players and the one that pays the most.

Turner did exactly the opposite last week when he turned down the Cardinals to take the Redskins job for about $100,000 less a year, even though the Cardinals beat the Redskins twice last year and appear to have better players.

In explaining his decision, Turner talked about how Washington was a "special place."

Despite the team's 4-12 record, that means the Redskins mystique is alive and well.

It remains to be seen if Turner made a mistake. In Phoenix, he'd be a hero just winning a playoff game.

In Washington, Joe Gibbs raised expectations to such a level that it's almost impossible for any coach to meet them.

For example, let's say Turner does as well as George Allen did. You'd think that'd be fine, right?

Not exactly. There are fond memories of Allen in Washington, but he won just two playoff games in seven years and lost his lone Super Bowl appearance. Do you think owner Jack Kent Cooke will be happy with two playoff wins in the next seven seasons after Gibbs went to three Super Bowls and won two of them in his first seven years?

Another difference is that when Gibbs arrived, he had Joe Theismann at quarterback, a running back named John Riggins, a wide receiver named Art Monk. General manager Bobby Beathard found the Hogs in his first draft plus Dexter Manley, Charlie Brown and Clint Didier.

What do you think the odds are this year of the Redskins finding players that match the talent of Theismann, Riggins, Monk, linemen to match Russ Grimm, Joe Jacoby and Mark May plus Manley, Brown and Didier?

Instead, the odds are it's going to take Turner time to rebuild. He has to hope Cooke will give him enough time to do that.

The Model-T coach

When Richie Petitbon was fired after just 10 months as the Redskins head coach, he left little doubt he didn't think he got a fair shot.

But he displayed his bitterness in public for the first time after the Cincinnati Bengals hired former Redskins assistant coach Larry Peccatiello as their defensive coordinator. Peccatiello replaced Ron Lynn, who was hired by the Redskins as their defensive coordinator. In effect, Peccatiello and Lynn traded jobs.

When a Cincinnati writer asked Petitbon to compare the two coaches, he said, "Comparing Larry Peccatiello to Ron Lynn is like comparing a Rolls Royce to a Model-T. If all their trades are like that, they'll go to the Super Bowl."

In six years with the San Diego Chargers and two with the RTC Bengals, Lynn had just one winning season -- an 8-7 mark in San Diego in the 1987 strike season.

The decision

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