Jags coaches leave Leftwich in an unmerciful position

Commentary

November 05, 2003|By MIKE PRESTON

A DAY FOR rumbling and rambling:

Please send all sympathy cards for Byron Leftwich to the Jacksonville Jaguars, One Alltel Stadium Place, Jacksonville, Fla., 32202.

Have the Jaguars no mercy?

They're getting Leftwich, their rookie and franchise quarterback of the future, killed. Not only is their pass protection poor, but Jacksonville also might be the worst-coached team in the NFL.

Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio may have been a good linebackers coach in Baltimore, and a one-year flash as a defensive coordinator in Carolina, but his ascension was too quick. He is overwhelmed and overmatched as a head coach, and doesn't have the assistants to bail him out.

Let's look at some other members of his staff. Defensive coordinator Mike Smith, also a former Ravens defensive assistant coach, also lacked experience.

And then there is quarterbacks coach Ken Anderson. In the previous 10 seasons as either the Cincinnati Bengals' quarterbacks coach or offensive coordinator, all he did was help kill the careers of such young quarterbacks as Akili Smith and David Klingler.

Del Rio, though, basically gives him the key to their future as Leftwich's tutor. No way. That may eventually earn Del Rio a ticket out of town to Rio de Janeiro. It was not fair to compare Leftwich with Ravens rookie quarterback Kyle Boller on Sunday. The Jaguars (1-7) want Leftwich to make plays and win games for them; the Ravens ask Boller not to lose them in their usually conservative offense. The Ravens have a defensive clue; the Jaguars have very little.

Now, while on the subject of the Ravens ...

After watching the Ravens' latest debacle in time management late in the game on Sunday against the Jaguars, it's fair to conclude that if the team didn't have general manager Ozzie Newsome and Phil Savage, the director of player personnel, drafting great players, the offense would cause this team to self-destruct over the years.

Play-calling and time management issues haven't been addressed since 1999. Maybe when new owner Steve Bisciotti assumes control after this season, they will be.

It might be a tossup for some, but it's more fun watching the Washington Redskins implode than the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Most Baltimoreans can identify with the Steelers' fans because of blue-collar roots that were and still are common in both towns. Plus, despite the Steelers being in the AFC North with the Ravens, Pittsburgh has been one of the league's model franchises. The Steelers' owners, the Rooneys, have always handled themselves with class.

But over in Washington, the city has a Napoleonic owner in Dan Snyder who doubles as businessman, general manager and pro personnel director. In the team's media guide, Snyder takes credit for bringing in wide receiver Laveranues Coles, running back Trung Canidate, offensive linemen Randy Thomas and Dave Fiore, defensive end Regan Upshaw and other "prominent" free agents.

Let's all give Danny a standing O for building this wonderful team (3-5), losers of their past four games. They have a coach who is more concerned about getting a big payoff than winning games, and two of the league's most selfish players in linebacker LaVar "I Just Roam The Field" Arrington and defensive end Bruce "Too Old" Smith.

Word has it that Dennis Green could become Washington's next coach, Snyder's fourth head coach since becoming owner in 1999.

If the Orioles don't hire Eddie Murray because of past problems in dealing with the media, then they deserve to continue losing. That's just such a lame excuse.

Here's a news flash: Most coaches don't like the media, but they tolerate them and manipulate them to get certain points cross. You can believe Murray has learned how to play the game.

And if he hasn't, so what? The bottom line is winning. Fans don't care about manager-media relationships, they just want a lot more W's than L's. It's one thing to criticize Murray for lack of managerial experience, or maybe because he can't get along with today's players. But to deny him a job because he isn't fond of the media is absurd.

Bob Knight has cussed out players, reporters and school administrators. He has insulted and offended a lot of people in a lot of ways. So maybe he was right about deciding not to attend the National Association of Basketball Coaches' recent meeting on ethics in college basketball.

"I would have rather listened to Saddam Hussein speak on civil rights than to some people speak about ethics," Knight said.

It would have been worse if Knight were one of the speakers. It would have had as much credibility as Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams criticizing Ravens coach Brian Billick for using expletives on the sideline.

Deion Sanders and Don King are back in the headlines at the same time this week.

Sanders, a studio analyst on The NFL Today for CBS, is lobbying for the head coaching job of the Atlanta Falcons if Dan Reeves is fired at the end of the season. Boxing promoter King wants the Florida Marlins to build a ballpark on 54 acres of property he owns in Palm Beach County.

If the ballpark has a roof, King would stage fights there in the offseason.

Baseball shouldn't do it. After a great postseason, in which people actually got excited about the game again, they shouldn't be doing any deals with the shady King. As for Sanders, his ego won't allow him to stay out of the news for long.

Why is it, though, that every time I listen to Sanders speak, I feel as though I'm being hustled? With King, I always want to call my banker to see if my money is safe after he is finished talking.

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