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** 1998 ** Stillers Coaches Grades

December 31, 1999 by Still Mill

1231_coachGrades98

Stillers Coaching Grades - 98 season

Off. Coord: Gay Ray was hired with a number of logical premises established:

a. His previous work with young QBs like Brad Johnson would allow him to help tutor Kordell.

b. He would be asked to run primarily the same I-formation, run-oriented attack as his 2 predecessors.

c. He had a semi-gifted TE and it behooved him to get the man involved.

The 1st game of the season, I was utterly disgusted. Gay Ray seemed to literally be pulling plays out of a grab bag, and worse, he made no adjustments the entire game. Unfortunately, this is pretty much what we got for the remainder of the season. Gay Ray was never quite able to comprehend why Bus could get solid yardage running north-south, but rarely when he ran east-west. Gay Ray could never comprehend that fierce run-blitzing by opposing defenses were severely disrupting his ground game, especially on the incessant whaleshit counter plays. Gay Ray would often give Bus a few carries in the opening drives, and then literally ignore the man the rest of the game. The extent of the asininity is almost too much to expound on here, but it did include:

- a refusal to get Kordell on the move and use his athleticism

- a severe failure to get the TE fully integrated with the offense, despite pledging all spring & summer to do so.

- an insistence the 1st half of the season to use the team's only deep threat as a BWB (blocking wingback)

- the invention of the 15-Cent Offense --- aka the Nickle & Dime Offense --- that ran almost exclusively 3 & 5 and, at most, 10 yard patterns, rarely ever stretching the defense.

- a love affair with the shutgun draw and the screen pass on 3d and long.

- a refusal to provide Bettis a spell during the game, especially once Huntley was in the doghouse.

- a refusal to use the multiple talents of Hines Ward, a man capable of playing tailback, QB, and WR.

- a refusal to use much play-action passing, despite having a run-oriented offense

- an insistence on, when in the rare instances he got Kordell on the move with play action, using the whaleshit counter as the running play, so that defenders could come flying thru untouched for the easy sack.

- a refusal, other than the GB game, to provide any pep, spark, or alacrity to a slow, lumbering offense that usually took a good 15 seconds to receive the play call and another 8-10 just to break the huddle.

Words cannot describe how pleased I was when Gay Ray quit. The man was a turd, and ya can't polish a turd. He had no business being a coordinator for a gradedschool team, much less in the NFL. He was a travesty; a disgrace; and en embarrassment. F-.

Def: Coord: Many in the press and in the sportsfan world like to sing the praises of Jim Asslet. "Oh, what a remarkable job he's done´┐Ż.oh, what a great job he's done with this defense", and so on. This man coached his 2d year with the fortuitous conditions of having nearly the entire starting defense back from his 1st season as coordinator. Flowers was a new starter, but he had been with the team for a few years; had played in the dime & as a key backup; and new the system well. DeWayne was literally the only new guy on the entire defense, and he had already been a proven 5-year veteran. Asslet had a pro bowl NT, all-world ILB, and a pro-bowl DB in Lake who was being afforded the entire summer to settle in at CB. With all of this, Asslet somehow found a way to smell up a good number of stadiums around the league. His defense gave up no 1st quarter TD's. Big shit. Games are won and lost in the 2d half, and time after time, Asslet's defense got annihilated in the 2d half and snatched defeat from victory. No one will ever forget the disgraceful loss at Cinci, and what was going thru Asslet's mind as Carl Dickens was continually left alone and snared 13 grabs, including the game-winner. Or the 2d half and OT on T-giving, when rookie Batch smoked Asslet's D for nearly 300 passing yards, much of it to Herman Moore, who never saw anything but single coverage. QB's with mangled hands roasted Asslet's defense. Greenhorned QB's barely old enough to purchase liquor, like Batch and Quinn, roasted Asslet's defense. Asslet's acute problems were many, including:

- an insistence on using a lot of the same tired old blitz schemes

- a love affair with delayed blitzes that took at least 5 seconds after the snap to provide any harassment to the QB

- a refusal to provide help in the form of "shading" or jamming on big-name receivers who were having enormous days.

All in all, I can only hope Asslet gets hired as a head coach somewhere else. The advantage of that would be twofold: we would have an easy opponent to whip up on (ie, whomever Asslet coaches), and we would rid ourselves of a bufoonistic simpleton who couldn't think his way out of a phone booth. D-.

Head Coach: Let us review Bill Cowhead's brief tenure in the NFL:

'92 - gets Steelers into playoffs as wild card; team loses at KC on a terribly-protected blocked punt by a mediocre KC team.

'93 - with home-field edge secured throughout the playoffs, Cowhead's Steelers get demolished by the Bills in 3 Rivers in the 1st round.

'94 - again with home field secured throughout the playoffs, Cowhead's team beats Cleve, then faces wild-card SD in the AFC Title game. Cowhead allows his men to hold video practices days before the SD game, and his team falls flat on its face in losing at home to a terribly average SD team that gets thoroughly destroyed in the Super Bowl. The game's big play is a 40-yd TD strike to little used Alfred Papunu, on a play-action play that Bobby Ross built specifically for this game.

'95 - Cowhead's team ekes out a weak win at home over an aging Buffalo team, then lucks out and gets the AFC title game at home when KC loses to wild card Indy. Cowhead's team flounders about and allows Indy to remain in the game, and only a last-minute TD saves the team from a disgraceful loss. Then, in the Super Bowl, Cowhead insists on starting and playing Erric Pegram despite all evidence that Bam Morris was clearly the better "mudder" who could run well on the shoddy grass. Cowhead's defense is thoroughly bewildered and surprised by the Dallas offensive attack, and the game is quickly well in Dallas' favor. The team did come back, but then, with Dallas on the ropes and unable to stop the Steeler ground game, Cowhead allowed Chan Gayboy to get pass-happy, and the 2d O'Donnell INT sealed the defeat.

'96 - playing in NE in the fog, Cowhead's entire team was in a fog. The very 1st offensive play from scrimmage --- a play that is typically rehearsed 30 times prior to the game -- is flagged for 2 men being in motion at the same time. The entire team smells in every aspect of the game and is given a severe can of whipass by NE.

'97 - At home, Cowhead's team ekes out a 7-6 win against an injury-riddled NE team, a win that was ugly, piss poor, and totally undeserving. Then, in the AFC title game, facing a Denver team they had already beaten and a team that was on the ropes in the 2d quarter, Cowhead managed to again snatch defeat from victory with a series of shoddy tactical moves on both sides of the ball.

Despite this miserable resume, Cowhead has the gaul just weeks after the Denver loss to hire an agent, and then use the threat of jumping shop to the new Cleveland franchise as blackmail to get a new contract, despite still being under contact. The Steelers give in and give Marty Jr. a $2 million per year contract, a deal only equaled by men, like Johnson and Parcells, who have actually won Super Bowls.

So Marty Jr. comes into the season with a new offensive coordinator, a still-young QB, a multi-talented rookie who can play 3 positions, and a powerful young RB who can spell the Bus. As is his norm, the entire team comes out in a funk in week 1, looking befuddled, lost, and resembling entirely too much like an octopus fucking a bagpipe. This continues the entire season. Cowhead allows his offensive coordinator to do NOTHING; he allows his defensive coordinator to sit around and make no in-game adjustments; he refused to use the resources he has at his disposal, like Fu, Ward, Kordell's athleticism, and CJ's downfield abilities. He complains about the offense but still seems to approve Gay Ray's game-plans each week. His men go thru a horrible cycle in which they win a big game, then pathetically lose the next week --- 3 cycles in a row. All the poppycock of "too many free agent losses" and "just not enough talent" is nothing more than bullshit. When you have a team that can win at KC, whip GB, and beat Jax, but lose to an inferior opponent after each of those wins, that's a case of piss-poor coaching combined with poor preparation, poor practice habits, and poor game plans. Then, with a healthy Norm Johnson, the last 5 weeks of the season panned out to be little more than Cowhead to establish a new nickname -- "Field Goal Bill" --- in which he basically ordered the offense to turtle any time it whiffed field goal range. Field Goal Bill even publicly stated after the Lions loss how he got "scared" toward the end of regulation about an INT, so he plunged Bettis a few harmless times and booted a tying FG against the 19th best defense in the NFL. Cowhead ought to be ashamed of himself for such a pitiful, piece of shit season. He ought to hand back about $1.5 million of his outrageous salary to the Rooneys for the fraud he pulled off this year. He was paid as a leading NFL coach, yet coached like a total imbecile and was hardly worthy of receiving high-school level salary. Perhaps now Cowhead's massive ego has shrunken a bit, and next year he will actually earn his paycheck. At any rate, it's hard to determine who was the bigger $2 million flop -- Cowhead or Gildong. F.

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