By Lenn Robbins, The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com
Black Monday needs a new name.
Call it Insanity Monday, or Reality Monday or Inexplicable Monday, but not Black Friday.
Not after one of the NFL’s five minority coaches (count ‘em, five!) gets fired the day after sweeping the New England Patriots. Not when he had a 24-25 record with all indications he has the respect of his plays and clearly had his franchise headed in the right direction – it screams for more than just a name change (see the toxic Washington Football Team) but it’s a start.
This wasn’t intended to be the theme of this playoff picks column. But as soon as the Miami Dolphins shockingly fired Brian Flores, I jumped on social media to “inform” the Giants that their next coach – their ONLY coaching choice – is available for hire.
I’ll use my first timeout here (I manage timeouts better than Mike McCarthy and Brandon Staley). Joe Judge is a standup guy who put every ounce of himself into trying to restore the once-proud franchise known as the NY Giants. It hasn’t worked. The Giants may not be the worst team in football but they played like that the final six weeks of the season.
One of the first responses was from a fellow journalist and another standup guy, Andrew Rosario of the New York Beacon. He asked why did I think the Giants would hired Flores when they have never hired a Black head coach or drafted a Black quarterback?
For the record, the Giants are one of 10 NFL franchises that have never hired a Black head coach. Obviously, this is a MUCH bigger issue than the Giants. But when it comes to Flores and the Giants, this is not about race.
The Giants were once one the few elite NFL franchises that was a model for the rest of the league. Even as they bounced from the Polo Ground to the Yale Bowl to Shea Stadium to Yankee Stadium to the Meadowlands, there was a dignity to this franchise.
Giants season tickets were cherished, not uncommonly the focus of disputed wills when an aggrieved party believed he or she should have been bequeathed said tickets. There are fans who have been going to Giants games longer than it took Georgia to win its third national title.
Yes, there were moments of unfathomable dysfunction, most notably the Miracle in the Meadowlands when the Giants did more for the victory formation than any coaching clinic could have. Those painful memories returned like that nightmare of having missed a college final when Judge’s Giants used a quasi-victory formation to set up a punt in Sunday’s season-ending loss to the WFT.
You may not agree with it but the Giants displayed a measure of their DNA respectability when they allowed Dave Gettleman to retire. He got more consideration than Flores, for sure.
The Giants need more than an arrogant, know-it-all GM and more than a practice-teaching preaching head coach to relay the foundation of Big Blue Nation. They need solid, proven football people who have no interest in being the story but every interest in writing a successful, sustainable football one.
That can start with Flores. Notice we haven’t heard one word from the Brooklyn-born Flores since his firing, no sports-show radio interviews to give his side or lobby for another job. We have had enough soap opera drama in NY. We don’t need another Adam Gase or Ben McAdoo.
Flores is not the perfect coach. According to reports out of Miami, he might have a bit of Bill Parcells in him – wanting to buy the groceries, cook the meal, steer the dinner-table narrative. Hopefully, he’ll take some lessons from his first head-coaching job.
But when you look at how Flores conducts himself on the sideline, how he didn’t lose a team that opened 1-7 by winning the next seven straight, the response we have heard from Miami players in the wake on his firing (“I’m Sick Af,” tweeted defensive back Nick Needham), then less important than the color of his skin is the quality of his character.
Brian Francisco Flores is no stranger to New York, the media, the demands, the expectations, the pressure, the sad state of the Giants. Consider what his Poly Prep coach, Dino Mangiero, said of Flores.
“From the day I met him, you knew he was special,” Mangiero told the Dolphins website. “He sat there, 13-year-old kid, sits there and is staring at you and absorbing every word you’re saying. He’s an A student and he’s the best football player in his little league. These guys don’t come around very often.”
No, they don’t. Sure hope the Giants are listening
BENGALS -5.5 over Raiders – The Raiders have turned out to be one of the more fascinating stories. An interim coach, Rich Bisaccia, has saved a team was floored by the firing of the head coach, the deadly, horrific accident involving the budding wide receiver and a 48-9 beat down in Kansas City that left the Raiders 6-7. In the last game of the regular season the Raiders chose a win over a tie and a playoff spot. Lovely story.
Here’s reality. The Raiders will be playing in freezing conditions in Cincy against a team that has a dynamic passing attack. There’s something cooking in the Queen City and it isn’t green chili.
BILLS -4 over Patriots – The Bills were a chic Super Bowl pick but got tripped up like a Mafia capo on a wiretap. They come into the playoffs having won four straight, but hardly dominating. The Patriots have lost 3-of-4 and rookie QB Mac Jones has thrown five picks (six touchdowns) in those games. Pats don’t have enough offensive star firepower to help their potent defense. The teams split with each winning on the road. It will be so cold in Buffalo that some Bills fans might consider vacationing in KC. Yep, that cold.
+ BUCCANEERS -8.5 over Eagles – The Eagles haven’t beaten a team with a winning record. The Buccaneers are the (bruised) defending champs. The injuries might catch up to Tampa Bay but not this week. Tampa Bay won 28-22 in a game that wasn’t that close. Bucs led 28-7 before Brady and Gronk began discussing incentive clauses. Best bet by far.
49ers +3 over COWBOYS – The 49ers play with a physicality on offense that the Cowboys do not. Look for Kyle Shanahan to run the ball early and often. Then there’s the coaching. A true Dallas fan is hoping the Pokes get upset at home (which they will) and Jerry Jones replaces Mike McCarthy with Kellen Moore. Have a feeling it will be 49ers at Packers for the right to go to the Super Bowl.
CHIEFS -12.5 over Steelers – One more “Goodbye, Ben Roethlisberger,” story we’re certain one of the Kardashians will come out as a Steelers fan, claiming they drink purified water from the Allegheny in their beauty regime just to cash in on the pub. Look, it’s been a terrific career. We saw Big Ben grow up right before our eyes and some of it remains unsightly, as will be the ending to his career. Chiefs have looked very beatable down the stretch despite winning four straight. More than Patrick Mahomes, we expect the Chiefs defense to decide the game – and then some. Big Ben strikes midnight.
RAMS -4 over Cardinals – IF, big IF, the Rams can recover from that confidence-cracking home loss to the 49ers in a game that felt like a San Francisco home game, they have the defense. The Cardinals have lost 4-of-5 and should have lost to the Cowboys. Kyler Murray has had the MVP knocked out of him, another reminder that it’s hard for a 5-foot-9 mobile QB to survive in the NFL. The teams split with Arizona winning the first meeting in LA and the Rams winning in Arizona. Matt Stafford needs be vaccinated against throwing foolish interceptions. If he gets that done, the Rams advance.
Home team in CAPS
$ Best bets
Last Week: 7-9; Best Bets: 2-1.
Season, 136-129-4; 27-14.