NFL Coach of the Year? That’s easy — Jim Harbaugh turned a 6-10 team into a division winner with Alex Smith at quarterback. Note I: You cannot be Coach of the Year if Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady or Drew Brees is your quarterback; that’s too easy. Note II: You cannot be Coach of the Year if Tim Tebow is your quarterback; there’s no accounting for miracles in a meritocracy.
Ah, but Reverse Coach of the Year — also known colloquially as the Norv Turner Award — that’s tougher to determine. To be Reverse Coach of the Year, you have to not coach up to your abilities or don’t win as much as you should or foul up something worse than Jon Corzine misplacing $1.2 billion of customer money at MF Global.
So let’s count down the top five to the NFL Reverse Coach of the Year:
5. Andy Reid, Eagles. It pains me to include this man on the list. After going 5-11 his first year in Philadelphia in 1999, Reid has had only one losing campaign since, making the playoffs in nine of the last 11 seasons. He wins and loses with grace. He’s almost a father figure to me — a tough, tough feat, considering we were born, I believe, in the same year — and if he told me to get in the trunk of his car so he could safely drive me to Yellowstone National Park for brunch, I would trust him.
But when you assemble the Dream Team of 2011 and it’s a nightmare by midseason, SOMEBODY HAS TO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE. In Philadelphia, that usually means a beheading by dawn. Couch Slouch is much more forgiving — I’ll go with 15 seconds of public ridicule, plus wish my fellow mustachioed compatriot good luck in 2012.
4. Rex Ryan, Jets. Sure, he’s mildly entertaining, but so is a myna bird that can rap “Figaro.” And, sure, he’s a better-than-average coach, but he walks around like he parted the Red Sea on third and long. He’s the anti-Andy Reid: Too much machismo, too little modesty.
I don’t mind that Ryan always thinks he’s going to win the Super Bowl, I mind that he acts as if he’s already won the Super Bowl. He’s won absolutely nothing, not even a division title. Ryan’s the king of a small world — his own. P.S. I’m also tired of looking at his rebel-without-a-comb brother, Rob, on the Cowboys’ sideline; that man needs to get a haircut or a hairnet.
3. Bill Belichick, Patriots. He supposedly is the Albert Einstein of the gridiron, the nonpareil guru of NFL leadership. So explain this: Because of injuries, this season Belichick has converted two wide receivers, Julian Edelman and Matthew Slater, into cornerbacks. Uh, aren’t there other professional defensive backs out there to be had? This isn’t shrewd personnel management, this is egomaniacal coaching. This is The Wizard saying, “Look at me — I can turn water into wine!”
By the way, the defensive genius hasn’t had a good defense in New England since Mitt Romney was pro-choice.
2. Norv Turner, Chargers. Let me quote one of my astute readers, Gary Mitrisin of South Euclid, Ohio, who asks, “Could it be said of Norv Turner’s coaching abilities — he can take his and lose to yours or take yours and lose to his?” The answer, sadly, is yes.
The not-so-good numbers are piling up on Turner. As head coach of three different franchises (Redskins, Raiders, Chargers), he has no playoff victories in 11 of his 14 seasons. We always hear about how good his teams are in December; alas, the NFL continues to play in September, October and November (not to mention the critical postseason month of January). Norv’s regular-season record is 106-113-1, which makes him a slightly glorified West Coast Sam Wyche.
1. Jim Caldwell, Colts. Yes, the Colts lost Peyton Manning. But that’s not exactly like Gladys Knight and the Pips losing Gladys Knight, or Pisa losing the Leaning Tower, or Chick-fil-A losing chicken. And I seem to recall Belichick losing Tom Brady in 2008 and the Patriots went 11-5 with Matt Cassel, who not only had never started an NFL game but also had never started a college game.
The bottom line here is simple: When you inherit a team that goes from a shot at 16-0 in 2009 to a shot at 0-16 in 2011, you are clearly the NFL’s runaway Reverse Coach of the Year.
Q. Please let me know if the following series of mathematical statements are indeed equivalent: Shanahan minus Elway = Napoleon plus Wellington = the intersection of the French army and Verdun. (Stan Kaplan; Bethesda, Md.)
A. I’m just a Maryland ’81 grad, but my smarter friends tell me you’ve earned the buck-twenty five.
Q. If getting down on one knee is now called a “Tebow,” would skipping to the front of the line to get a free Las Vegas buffet be called a “Chad”? (J.B. Koch; Waukesha, Wis.)
A. Listen, pal, I get all my comps legitimately; on the other hand, I don’t stand in line anywhere in Las Vegas — The Slouch is The Man on The Strip.
Q. Does the new NBA collective bargaining agreement permit more than one Kardashian per year to utilize the amnesty clause? (Ira Lilien; Fresh Meadows, N.Y.)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
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