Bruce Coslet is to head coaching what Hungry Jack is to fine dining.
Let me put it to you this way: If I were boarding a cruise ship and saw Coslet at the helm, I immediately would inquire into life raft availability.
Coslet, momentarily the coach of the moribund Cincinnati Bengals, follows the Sam Wyche credo: Keep It Close for the First Five Minutes and I'll Find a Way to Fall Behind by Three Touchdowns.
Coslet's portfolio includes a 26-38 coaching stint with the 1990-93 New York Jets and his 18-30 mark with the Bengals. But it's not just the sum total of defeats but the severity of the defeats that sinks Coslet--26 of his 30 Cincinnati losses have come by at least seven points, with 20 of those defeats by at least 13 points.
If Coslet were a bass fisherman, the bass would be an 8 1/2-point favorite.
Like Wyche, Coslet is known for his supposedly innovative offensive mind. Through creative play-calling, Coslet can turn second and seven into third and 18. Heck, Coslet likes gadget plays so much, he should wear a tool belt. Yet, tellingly, when he's running his two-minute drill, the other team usually scores.
If Coslet coached rowing, his coxswain would go overboard.
This week, the 1-6 Bengals are 12-point underdogs at home against the 5-1 Jacksonville Jaguars. History--which has not been a friend to The Man of late--should tell us the Bengals' fate. The Jaguars won both meetings last year, by 24-11 and 34-17. This season, the Bengals' last five losses have come by a combined 147-33. Factor in Coslet vs. Tom Coughlin--sort of Barney Fife meets Eliot Ness--and one must vigorously take the Jaguars.
(TV Query: Why do the networks keep showing us shots of special teams coaches? They're special teams coaches, for crying out loud. I mean, what exactly do they do, other than teach players how to block from behind? If I see Joe Avezzano one more time, I'm going to slip my "Blue Lagoon" tape into the VCR and call it a day.)
(Officiating Query: Why does instant replay take more than the allowed 90 seconds? The NFL doesn't want you to know but The Man does--it's because the referee is not looking at the same replay we are on TV; rather, he is reviewing a LeRoy Neiman "artist's sketch" of the play in question.)
As always, the following picks against the point spread are for recreational purposes only:
Cowboys at Colts (-3): Out with the old Triplets (Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin), in with the new (Peyton Manning, Edgerrin James, Marvin Harrison), which means--forgive me for repeating myself--these Colts are galloping ingloriously into Super Bowl XXXIV. . . . Deion has scheduled appendectomy for halftime, should be good to go by fourth quarter. Pick: Colts.
Bears at Redskins (-8 1/2): What was Redskins owner Daniel M. Snyder doing in the trainer's room after the Cowboys game anyway? . . . Frankly, I don't think it would hurt the Bears to try the triangle offense. Pick: Redskins.
Vikings (-3) at Broncos: Jeff George statistical reminder: His career record as a starter is 38-70. Jeff George character reminder: When he goes out to buy doughnuts for his offensive linemen, he eats them all before he gets back. Pick: Broncos.
Buccaneers (-2 1/2) at Lions: Buccaneers' offense about as complex as a Tim Green novel. . . . To simulate game conditions, Lions QB Charlie Batch rides a mechanical bull to work every day. Pick: Buccaneers.
Rams (-3) at Titans: Quietly, Rams management has asked QB Kurt Warner not to park his spaceship at team's practice complex. . . . Trent Green lunched Tuesday with Wally Pipp. Pick: Titans.
Giants (-3) at Eagles: Eagles' offense voted, 9-2, to disband huddling and look into cyber-squatting. . . . Giants running backs couldn't find a yard if they used Microsoft Explorer. Pick: Eagles.
Dolphins at Raiders (-3): Responding to fan survey, stadium officials in Oakland considering construction of new section with beer taps on the backs of every seat. Pick: Dolphins.
Browns at Saints (-10): Ohio Super Lotto running "Pick the Quarter the Browns Will Score" contest. . . . "Ditka: The Musical" in development for New Orleans burlesque house. Pick: Browns.
Bills (-3 1/2) at Ravens: If you're in a bar with Wade Phillips, he might buy you a beer; if you're in a bar with Brian Billick, he might explain to you the history of hops. Pick: Bills.
Chargers at Chiefs (-6): Chiefs Coach Gunther Cunningham does more before 7 a.m. than most people do the rest of their lives. Pick: Chargers.
Panthers at Falcons (-2): Panthers realized they were in trouble last week when QB Steve Beuerlein used the same "SOS!" audible on seven consecutive plays. Pick: Falcons.
Seahawks at Packers (-6): Ever the total control freak, Mike Holmgren sat in on offensive meetings for both Seahawks and Packers Thursday. Pick: Seahawks.
Patriots (-3 1/2) at Cardinals: Sidelined at least a month, Cardinals QB Jake Plummer now runs two-minute drill in singles bars. Pick: Patriots.
Last week: 8-5.
Season record: 41-51-7.