Best to be the feature back in Detroit?

It’s a little early to assume that either player has won the starting running back job for head coach Jim Schwartz in Detroit, but it appears that the Lions are leaning towards first rounder Jahvid Best over Kevin Smith in the early going.

The two running backs complement each other well. Smith, who is coming off a torn ACL injury, is more of an inside runner and at least at this point, is better in pass protection. Best, who missed the final four games of 2009 at Cal with a concussion and a back injury, can flat out fly. He ran a 4.35 at the scouting combine and is an excellent pass catcher.

If both players can rebound from their respective injuries, they could form a decent 1-2 punch in Detroit. Smith was ineffective last year when he was the lead back, but if Best can assume the full-time duties, then maybe the former Central Florida product will become more effective. It’s rare to see teams count on just one back these days, so both players should get plenty of touches in Scott Linehan’s offense.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Decade Debate: 10 Worst NFL Head Coaching Hires

Perhaps more than any other sport, a bad head coaching hire in the NFL can ruin a franchise for the better part of a decade. When you consider the free agent and draft acquisitions that are made to fit a coach’s style and philosophy, it’s no wonder that it usually takes years for a team to rebound after a bad coaching hire. As part of our ongoing Decade Debate series, here are the 10 worst head coaching hires of the past decade. To be clear, this ranking is based on the result of the hire, and not necessarily the hire itself. (Although the ranking could be a combination of the two.)

10. Eric Mangini, Cleveland Browns, 2009

One might argue that since Mangini hasn’t even gotten through his first year in Cleveland yet that he doesn’t deserve to be on this list. But others will argue that since he was absolutely despised in New York that the Browns should have never hired him in the first place. After all, was the one winning season he had with the Jets worth the Browns giving him a shot? Some of the moves that Mangini has made since arriving in Cleveland haven’t been bad at all: Trading Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow, trading down multiple times to acquire more picks in the draft, acquiring safety Abram Elam, etc. But considering he hasn’t won many players over with his crass attitude, has made two quarterback changes and only has one win under his belt, things couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start in Cleveland. It’ll be interesting to see if the Browns fire him after only one season.

Read the rest of this entry »

Lions add former Rams’ head coach Linehan to run offense

After hiring Jim Schwartz to become their new head coach and Gunther Cunningham to run the defense, the Lions tabbed former Rams’ head coach Scott Linehan as their offensive coordinator.

Scott Linehan, the former St. Louis Rams coach who turned down the San Francisco 49ers’ offer to become their offensive coordinator, has agreed to join the Lions in that position, team sources told ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen on Friday.

Linehan declined the 49ers’ offer Sunday, saying he wasn’t ready to commit to his next coaching move.

Linehan, a respected former offensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins and Minnesota Vikings, was fired four games into his third season as the Rams’ coach last September.

Linehan should do wonders for Calvin Johnson’s career (and fantasy owners of CJ) because he doesn’t mind putting the ball in the air, although it should be noted that the former Rams’ head coach didn’t have great relationships with Marc Bulger or Torry Holt. It’s part of the reason why he was run out of St. Louis. (That, and the fact that he couldn’t win.)

Either way, this is quite a staff the Lions are building. All three coaches – Schwartz, Cunningham and now Linehan – are no-nonsense types who won’t stand for players having lazy work ethics, which has been one of the main problems in Detroit for some time now.

Rams hire former Giants’ defensive coordinator Spagnuolo as head coach

One day after VP of Personnel Billy Devaney said that Cowboys’ offensive coordinator Jason Garrett was the Rams’ “leading guy” to replace Scott Linehan/Jim Haslett, the team hired former Giants’ defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo as their next head coach.

Steve SpagnuoloUPDATE: The NFL Network is reporting that Spagnuolo and the Rams have agreed on a four-year contract worth $11.5 million. I was unable to independently verify this information and have no idea if it’s accurate.

Spagnuolo, 49, was the Giants defensive coordinator in 2007 and 2008 and came up with the game plan that resulted in five sacks of Tom Brady and a shocking upset of the undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.

Before that, Spagnuolo learned his trade under acclaimed Philadelphia defensive coordinator Jim Johnson, working as an Eagles defensive assistant from 1999-2006. Spagnuolo came out of the Philadelphia experience with a variety of multiple defensive formations and blitz packages that he put to great use with the Giants.

Rams GM Billy and Spagnuolo have been friends for many years and that relationship obviously created a trust factor that helped Spagnuolo feel comfortable about taking the Rams job.

After devising a defensive scheme to beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl last year, Spags became one of the hottest names in the coaching ranks. The Rams are definitely getting a quality coach and one that understands what it takes to reach the Super Bowl. Given the team’s struggles over the years on defense, it’s not a big surprise that the Rams went with a defensive-minded coach, but one has to wonder if they gave up on the next great offensive mind in Garrett.

Still, defense wins championship so it’ll be interesting to see what Spags can do for a player like Chris Long.

2008 Year-End Sports Review: What We Already Knew

While every year has its own host of surprises, there are always those stories that simply fit the trend. Sure, it can get repetitive, but if we don’t look back at history aren’t we only doomed to repeat it? Every year has its fair share of stories that fell into this category, and 2008 was no different.

Our list of things we already knew this year includes the BCS’ continued suckiness (Texas-Oklahoma), how teamwork wins championships (KG, Pierce and Ray-Ray), and the #1 rule for carrying a handgun into a nightclub – don’t use your sweatpants as a holster. (Come on, Plax. Really? Sweatpants?)

Don’t miss the other two parts of our 2008 Year-End Sports Review: “What We Learned” and “What We Think Might Happen.”

Brett Favre can’t make up his mind.

The biggest story of the summer was all the drama surrounding Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers. This saga has been covered to death, but there’s one detail that never seemed to get that much play. At the start, it looked like the Packers were making a bad decision by moving on so quickly even when Favre decided he wanted to return. But when the news broke about Favre’s near-unretirement in March, the Packers stance became much more clear. They were ready to take him back after the owners’ meetings, but he called it off at the last minute. At that point, the Packer brass was understandably finished with Brett Favre, much to the chagrin of a good portion of the Packer faithful. – John Paulsen

The Chicago Cubs’ title drought is not a fans-only phenomenon.

The 2008 Cubs were easily the best team the franchise has assembled in decades, but they still couldn’t win a single game in the playoffs, and the reason is simple: the pressure finally got to them. Sure, they said the right things to the press about how they didn’t care about what had happened in the past, but don’t believe a word of it; there wasn’t a single person in that dugout that wasn’t fantasizing about being part of the team that finally, mercifully, ended the longest title drought in sports history. Once ESPN picked them to win it all, however, they were doomed. Ryan Dempster walked seven batters in Game 1, which matched his total for the month of September. The entire infield, including the sure-handed Derrek Lee, committed errors in Game 2. Alfonso Soriano went 1-14 with four strikeouts in the leadoff spot, while the team as a whole drew six walks and struck out 24 times. The team with so much balance in the regular season suddenly became the most one-dimensional team in baseball; take Game 1 from them, then sit back and watch them choke. And now that this group has lost six straight playoff games (the team has lost nine straight dating back to 2003), it isn’t about to get any easier. Get a helmet, Cubs fans. – David Medsker

If you’re going to wear sweatpants to a nightclub, leave the gun at home.

If winning a Super Bowl is the pinnacle of an NFL player’s career, than shooting yourself with your own gun in a nightclub has to be rock bottom. Case in point: Plaxico Antonio Burress. Just 10 months after helping the New York Giants beat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, Burress accidentally shot himself in the leg while at a nightclub. Apparently the (unregistered) gun was slipping down his leg and when he tried to grab it to keep it from falling, the lucky bastard wound up pulling the trigger and shooting himself. And that wasn’t the worst of it because as Plaxico found out, New York has some of the toughest gun laws in the nation. He was arrested, but posted bail of $100,000 and is scheduled to return to court on March 31, 2009. If convicted of carrying a weapon without a license, he faces up to three and a half years in jail. He shouldn’t expect special treatment, either. The mayor of New York wants to be sure that Burress is prosecuted just like any other resident of NYC. The Giants, meanwhile, placed him on their reserve/non-football injury list and effectively ended his season. While “Plax” definitely deserves “Boner of the Week” consideration for his stupidity, what’s sad is that in the wake of Washington Redskins’ safety Sean Taylor’s death, most NFL players feel the need to arm themselves when they go out. Maybe players can learn from not only Taylor’s death, but also Burress’s accident so further incidents can be avoided. – Anthony Stalter

Read the rest after the jump...

Related Posts