Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Look out Joe, here comes Jerry!

Yup, it's Tuesday, which mean the Buffalo News (which, being a major metropolitan newspaper, really should be able to afford a website that actually loads more than 60% of the time) runs Jerry Sullivan's football column. Today, he wants to fire Bills head coach Gregg Williams.

Now, I actually (somewhat) agree with that sentiment. I don't think the team is playing on a level commensurate with its talent, and that -- plus the lack of discipline evident after eight games -- seems to me to reflect mostly on the coaching staff. I don't think Williams has worked out, and I now doubt the Bills can make the playoffs. Assuming that at least ten wins are needed to make the postseason (unless one happens to play in the AFC North, a division which can be taken with an 8-8 record), the Bills would have to go 6-2 the rest of the way to make it in. I don't see that happening, not with games left against good teams like Dallas, Indianapolis, New England (as much as it pains me to admit it), the Giants, and the Dolphins (who I still expect to swoon, but you never know). With two-and-a-half years under his belt, and with an upgrading of personnel each year, Williams has yet to really achieve.

But Jerry's not content to can Williams when the current, lost year is over. Jerry wants him toasted right now. Firing a coach in mid-season should, to anyone familiar with football and its regimented, system-dependent nature, pretty much concede that the season is lost. But Jerry goes so far as to opine that such a move might not doom the Bills' season, citing -- of all things -- the Florida Marlins. You see, the Marlins entered the 2003 season with Jeff Torborg as their manager, but they fired him about a month and a half into the season (when they were ten games under .500) and brought in Jack McKeon, who proceeded to steer them to the best record in baseball after that point and the eventual World Series championship. Yeah, that was inspirational and all, but come on, Jerry. Are you really suggesting that a baseball franchise firing its manager one-fourth of the way through a 162-game regular season is comparable to an NFL franchise unloading its head coach at the halfway point in a 16-game season?

(Yes, he's really suggesting that.)

Jerry's column is peppered with all manner of stupidities. Sure, Jerry, the University at Buffalo Bulls are the more respected football team in Buffalo right now. Sure, Jerry, the Bills are "the national joke". Sure, Jerry, "Williams isn't a lame duck, he's a roast duck" is just the cleverest metaphor! And ultimately, Jerry doesn't even answer the question of, What would be the point of canning the guy right now? If you're only going to name an interim coach to play out the string -- which Jerry tacitly concedes would probably be the case -- how is that any less "giving up on the season" than just keeping Williams in place until the year's over and the whole thing can be handled in a manner that wouldn't be a mid-season distraction?

Jerry doesn't have an answer for that, but then, the column isn't about answers. It's about Jerry going, "Look how just darn MAD I am! Wheeeee!"


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