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The source for back issues of Clint's Corner. Forget a trade? Were Clint's predictions correct? Here's every edition, verbatim.

For 1/8/2000

About Face...

I have been getting a lot of e-mail lately asking about my thoughts on the current vacancy at 60 Washington Street in Foxboro. I was not going to write another column until the new head coach had been named, but I figured I just put my two cents out there to save me from saying the same thing over and over again in my e-mail responses.

Last week I wrote in my column that Bill Belichick was the best man for the job. Does this mean I think he’ll be a great head coach? No. I have my reservations based on his Cleveland experience and his role in Tunagate I (and now II), but I still think that he is the best fit of what’s available out there today. There is not exactly a strong crop to choose from.

The edge I give to Belichick over some of the other candidates, however, is small. I do not at all think that Belichick is worth surrendering draft picks to the Jets to acquire. A 5th round pick in the 2000 draft? Sure. Any more and that’s pushing it. Many have said that the Pats would draft a bum anyways, so why not give up the picks? That’s not the point. Regardless of the Pats recent failings in April, you would be giving Bill Parcells the opportunity to draft a player who could make an immediate impact on an already talent-laden team.

This is the same opportunity that New England had 3 years ago, and they blew it. Parcells’ record as GM in New York has not been stellar, but he has found talent in the later rounds of the draft. Jason Ferguson, Jason Fabini, and Randy Thomas were all drafted after the 1st round, and all are solid young starters for the Jets who could also start in their same positions for the Patriots. Nothing is a given, but if you hand Tuna a 2nd and/or 3rd round pick, chances are he’ll do a lot better than Damon Denson or Sedrick Shaw.

Aside from Belichick, the Pats have shown interest in Raiders defensive coordinator Willie Shaw and Bears offensive coordinator Gary Crowton. Both were said to have had impressive interviews, with the edge going to the offensive minded Crowton despite just 1 year of NFL coaching experience compared to over 10 for Shaw with 6 NFL teams. Crowton does have experience as a head coach with Louisiana Tech. Personally I know very little about either of those guys, but I would not suggest that Bill Belichick is a top draft choice better than either of them.

What has peeked my interest is the prospect of Charlie Armey returning to New England as General Manager. Armey is currently the Vice President of Player Personnel with the Rams. Armey was a leading figure in the scouting department for the Patriots prior to and during Bill Parcells’ tenure. Although he operated out of the spotlight, many have given Armey the credit for landing such talents as Curtis Martin, Ben Coates, Tedi Bruschi, Ty Law, Lawyer Milloy, and Ted Johnson. Only Ty Law was a 1st round pick, but he was a late pick in that round, just like Chris Canty. It is no coincidence that the Pats’ Midas touch in the draft went South after Armey’s departure. In Saint Louis, Armey is largely credited with the trade for Marshall Faulk, and the signings of free agents such as Todd Collins (replacing Roman Phifer) and Kurt Warner.

The Patriots are not permitted to talk with Armey until the Rams season is over, which essentially means I am now a big Vikings fan. Armey has all but said in a radio interview that he would love to come back to the Patriots. He did not enjoy a cordial relationship with Bobby Grier while he was here, but Armey would not be reporting to Grier even if Kraft elects to keep Grier on the payroll.

With Armey in the fold, I’d be happy even if Rod Rust was named the next head coach. The likely candidate, however, would be Rams offensive coordinator Mike Martz. The 48 year-old Martz has been coaching in the NFL since 1992, but with the Rams coming off a 13-3 season he is suddenly being named as a head-coaching prospect. I don’t recall his name being thrown around last season when there were twice as many coaching vacancies as there are today. I guess a 4-12 season doesn’t exactly put you at the top of the list. Does going 13-1 against losing teams qualify him as a head coach? Who cares as long as Armey is running the show as GM. For what it’s worth, Armey has called Martz "the best coaching prospect in the NFL since Joe Gibbs." That’s a pretty heavy statement, but with Armey’s track record, you have to give it some credibility.

Is Martz a better choice than Belichick? Maybe not, but if he comes as part of the Charlie Armey package, and the Pats don’t have to give up a draft choice, he is now my personal #1 choice. If lightening strikes and the NFL frees Belichick from his contract with the Jets, then I’d say he goes back to the top of the list.

Like the rest of you, I am very anxious to find out who the next head coach will be. As long as it’s not Marty Schottenheimer and no draft picks are surrendered, I can begin looking forward to training camp. One final note - I’ll believe Bill Parcells has coached his last game when the Jets kick off their 2000 season without the Tuna on the sideline.