Clint's Corner Archive

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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 1/4/1999

Patience is a virtue...

Let me first begin by saying I am not related to Pete Carroll, nor am I his friend, and I would receive no benefit whatsoever if he stays on with the team. It seems as though you would need one of those three criteria these days before you went out on a limb and said you thought he should be the coach of the Patriots in 1999, but that’s exactly how I feel.

Yes there are problems with the Patriots. There are players speaking out, and that should never happen, even if they are right. There are continual stupid penalties, misreads, and confusion on both sides of the ball. There are players who quite obviously think that Johnny Parker’s strength and conditioning program is a waste of their time. Overall, this team lacks discipline, and that ultimately falls on the head coach. All that being said, however, I think it would be a mistake to replace Pete Carroll after just two seasons at the helm. The bigger questions would then be whom do you bring in to replace him, and by what won/loss criteria would he then be judged?

There are players in the locker room who are grumbling, and that has lead to much speculation in the print media that Carroll’s days are numbered. Weren’t these the same players, however, that couldn’t wait to get rid of Bill Parcells and prove he had nothing to do with their making the Super Bowl? Chris Slade was quoted as saying the Pats were "outcoached" against the Jets, yet it was Slade who was all set to leave via free agency (Baltimore Ravens?) in 1997 had Parcells returned to coach the Patriots. A jubilant Slade wrapped his arm around Carroll’s head in his post-signing press conference, and said, and I quote, "My man!"

To the rest of those guys who had something to prove post-Tuna, if it was you who won 11 games in 1996, then it’s still you who lost 7 games in ’98 and bowed out of the playoffs. If I could make an example of one guy, it would be Shawn Jefferson. He may never make the Hall of Fame, but he’s a well-conditioned athlete. He comes to play hard on each and every snap regardless of the score, and he always challenges himself, not his coach or his quarterback, to improve. Even in the wake of Zolak’s ineptitude in the 1st half against Jacksonville, Jefferson challenged the offense as a whole to step it up, rather than blame a quarterback who went 5 for 16, often times not even in the same Zip Code of his intended receiver. The guys who point fingers and complain really ought to take note.

Juggernaut?

Forget for a moment that the Patriots played in a Super Bowl in 1996, and remember that they were 6-10 in 1995. That ’95 team had Bledsoe, Coates, Armstrong, Martin, and a host of other talent, but finished well out of playoff contention after beating Cleveland on opening day in a playoff game rematch. The ’96 team was 11-5, but how did they get there?

They began 0-2 after abysmal performances in Miami and Buffalo, and got back on track against the Cardinals and Ravens of the NFL before being woken up by the Redskins and Broncos in humbling home defeats. They escaped defeat against the 1-15 Jets in the Meadowlands after trailing 21-0, thanks in large part to a blown officials call on a Ben Coates 4th down reception late in the 4th quarter. They returned to the Meadowlands to face the lowly Giants in week 17 with the division title on the line. They needed a Dave Meggett punt return TD and a Ben Coates 4th down TD reception to come back and defeat the G-men, who were playing for absolutely nothing on Dan Reeves’ final day as head coach.

The Pats hosted the Mike Tomczak led Steelers in their first home playoff game, and crushed them 28-3 with Jerome Bettis nursing a sore ankle. Just one of the Patriots touchdowns were scored from inside the Red Zone and that was a 1-yard run set up by a bomb to Terry Glenn to open New England’s offense. The miracle of all miracles occurred when Jacksonville upset Denver in Mile High. That set up the Pats to host the AFC Championship game, which they won 20-6 on the heels of a 5 yard TD drive and a returned Stewart fumble for a TD. The Pats weaknesses were finally exposed in the Super Bowl, as their secondary was torched early and often in a 35-21 Packer victory.

Bill Parcells left town to take over the Jets, and Pete Carroll was then handed this "highly talented Super Bowl team" with the expectation that he take them back to the Super Bowl and win it. I’m a big Pats fan, and 1996 was indeed a special year, but Pete Carroll was not handed a juggernaut. That team could easily have finished 8-8 or 9-7 with just a few plays not going their way. And let me be the 534th person to tell you that had the Pats needed to travel to Denver for the AFC Championship game, you would not have a Super Bowl XXXI hat in your closet.

Be reminded again that the ’96 team was one year removed from a 6-10 season, with the only key personnel additions being Terry Glenn, Shawn Jefferson, and Lawyer Milloy. Glenn caught over 90 balls that season, including TD’s in comeback wins over the Jets and Giants, and was there against the wishes of the coach who gets all the credit for taking the team to the Super Bowl after getting none of the blame in going 6-10.

Yes, Bill Parcells is a better head football coach than Pete Carroll is, but Parcells had to know that the team had overachieved in 1996. The notion that the Pats were a mega-talented team that any head coach could bring back to the dance is grossly mistaken. If Parcells didn’t think New England could be had, he would not have taken a head coaching job in which he would face them twice each year. The San Diego Chargers were the 1994 AFC Champions. They are now looking for their 3rd head coach since, with the 1994 coach du jour, Bobby Ross, finishing up a losing season in Detroit. The Steelers were AFC Champs in ’95, and they just finished 7-9 with a QB who sobbed when he was taken out of a game. Does Pete Carroll get credit for beating those Steelers handily in Pittsburgh a few weeks ago? And why not?

Don’t kid yourselves Pats fans, coaching the New England Patriots is no easy task. This is not KC Jones and the ’86 Celtics. Carroll has come in here, and whether you like his methods or not, has had back to back playoff seasons in going 19-13. You have to go back to 1985 and 1986 for the last time that happened, and in case it’s news to you, Parcells was not the head coach. That guy, Raymond Berry, was run out of town on a rail after going 5-11 in 1989 despite a rash of injuries. If you remember 1990, 1991, 1992, and 1993, you’ll know that hindsight is always 20-20 and firing Raymond Berry was obviously not the answer. At the time, all the writers at the Herald and Globe, and all the talk radio shut-ins thought it was. Sound familiar?

Your girlfriend always looks better after you break up!

Am I all alone in thinking that taking this team to the playoffs back-to-back is an accomplishment? Why do you think that Parcells, who left New England at 32-32 and never enjoyed consecutive winning seasons, would have two Vince Lombardi trophies sitting in the offices at 60 Washington Street in Foxboro? If you asked Parcells to prove his coaching prowess by sitting down Vinny Testaverde, Keyshawn Johnson, Mo Lewis, and Bryan Cox for the Jaguars game, would he take you up on that? Again, Parcells is a coaching icon, and deserves much of the credit for the Pats and Jets resurgence, but he is not God. When he was 6-10 in 1995, it was the players’ fault, yet when Carroll goes 10-6 and 9-7, there is a coaching problem. Huh?

When Parcells had rookie FB Leon Johnson throw the halfback option pass on 1st and goal against the Lions with the playoffs on the line, was that the players’ fault? When he pays $36 Million and two draft picks for a running back who scores 8 rushing TD’s while averaging 3.5 yards per carry, he’s a genius. How about Jimmy Johnson calling for an onside kick with his team up 6-0 in a playoff game in the 2nd quarter? Two minutes later, he’s losing 7-6, but that’s OK. Mike Holmgren lead his NFC Central Champion Packers in a trifecta of Monday Night Football humiliations this season, but he’s a hot commodity. Pete Carroll’s Pats lose to an 11-4 team on the road, and it’s all his fault.

I guess the moral of the story is that if you have won a Super Bowl, you can do whatever you want and the media will fawn all over you and your players will follow you off a cliff. If you haven’t won a Super Bowl, the media calls for your head every time your team calls a timeout, is out of formation, or loses a game. How else can you explain this double standard? Jimmy Johnson is in the 3rd year of his "rebuilding" project, and he is considered a deity in the Parcells mold. Newsflash: The Dolphins are going to get killed next Saturday in Denver, Johnson will say he’s got work to do in the offseason, and all the Miami sports writers will kiss his butt on draft day. Just last week, Johnson said, "I’m going to spend all my draft picks on offense." What if Carroll said that after his offense struggled for an entire season?

If you’re still with me, you get the point. You can criticize Pete Carroll all you want, but he’s 19-13, has made the post-season in consecutive years, and despite all the hype, the Pats are not some team of All-Pros that simply need to put on their uniforms to win a game. If Bill Cowher, Tony Dungy, and Marty Schottenheimer are all going to be back next year, then it would be nothing short of an injustice if Carroll is not back as well. Of the 30 teams in the NFL, only 7 have had head coaches longer than 3 years. Only 1 of those 30 can win the Super Bowl, but it’s apparent where 23 owners have laid the blame.

There are over 60 reasons why the Patriots are not going to play in this years Super Bowl, and Pete Carroll is just one of them. If you think the Pats can bring in a new coaching staff and win the Super Bowl in 2000, then I have some used firewood to sell you. The Cowboys players and Dallas media successfully ran Barry Switzer out of town after he had won a Super Bowl. Did you watch the "new and improved" Cowboys on Saturday? So much for a coaching change. I wonder if we can surrender some draft picks and get Chan Gailey here in New England?

Before I go, I have one final thought on last weekend. If Jimmy Johnson had a son or daughter with autism, would he have been so brass as to destroy a box of Flutie Flakes in the post-game locker room? You’ll have to ask Jimmy Johnson that question. As if I needed another reason to hate the Dolphins.

Thanks for reading. I fully expect a Jets/Denver matchup will have taken shape by the next time you hear from me.