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Funbag

The Seven Types Of Shitty NFL Coach

Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Time for your weekly edition of the Defector Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. And buy Drew’s novel, Point B, while you’re at it. Today, we’re talking about laterals, singing, the NFL, hyperlinks, werewolves, and more.

Your letters:

Ian:

Fuck it, I’ll just ask the thing: Adam Gase worst coach ever?

No. If you go just by the hard numbers, Gase ranks a mere 37th from the bottom in terms of all-time winning percentage. Are you ready to Remember Some Shitty Coaches? Good, because Gase ranks ahead of such luminaries as Bruce Coslet, June Jones, Ray Perkins, Joe Bugel, David Shula, Gus Bradley, and HUE! He also ranks ahead of the man he replaced in New York, Todd Bowles.

But I don’t like going by the percentages in this instance. Bowles was clearly a better head coach than Gase was. And Gase, at least to me, was a much better head coach than, like, Saints-era Mike Ditka. New Orleans Ditka was an end-stage college football coach. He had no brain (and still doesn’t). He thought strategy was for pussies. He thought his charisma would get him by when he had none to speak of. He did no actual work. I remember when he traded away the Saints’ entire draft for Ricky Williams. Yes, the Saints let Ditka be GM for those years, too. ESPN interviewed Ditka after he turned in the pick and asked him, “What are you gonna do the rest of today?” And Ditka smiled and sang—SANG!— “Goin’ golfin’…” Like he was presiding over a fucking halftime show. He was the worst head coach I’ve ever seen, and he’s only gotten stupider since then. Ditka was such an awful head coach that teams don’t even hire his type anymore. The last mildly Ditka-esque coach to get a top gig was Rex Ryan. The day the Bills fired Ryan was the day they started on their way to 13-3.

Rex Ryan was still a better coach than Gase, but I don’t think Gase qualifies as The Definitive Worst Ever when Steve Spagnuolo made such a wildly convincing argument on his own behalf a few years back. Also, there are distinct flavors of Bad NFL Coaches. Lemme walk you through the categories right now:

BLOWHARD. Loud. Promises to be “physical,” which is a quality that literally every football team possesses. Hailed as a “disciplinarian,” which means that his players despise him. If this reminds you of Gregg Williams, who Gase fired a couple of weeks back, your instincts serve you well. By the way, Gregg also has a worse all-time winning percentage as a head coach than Gase does.

FAKE GURU. Young, or at least young-ish. Flourished under a good head coach or comes from a relatively unorthodox football background (middling college program). Lauded as a “quarterback whisperer,” which means that you, and your quarterback, are fucked. You just got the Marc Trestman Deluxe Package. Comes with a free pair of transition lenses.

SUBSTITUTE TEACHER. Generally liked by the local media, at least at first. Described as a “players’ coach,” which means players can walk all over the poor bastard. Norv Turner remains history’s finest example of a hapless pushover. The head cuckold.

STERN CONSERVATIVE DINOSAUR. Must always establish the run. Never goes for it on fourth down. Prefers field goals to touchdowns. Relies on a strong defense, which is never forthcoming. Beams with pride whenever his quarterback is described as a game manager.

FORGETTABLE BUREAUCRAT. Scott Linehan.

FAILED CEO. Organized, meticulous, hard-working, and diplomatic. Always says the right things. Asserts himself as the voice of the entire organization, with no one else allowed to talk to the media. Dom Capers, is what I’m getting at. Dom Capers was a consummate professional who served as the inaugural head coach of not one but two expansion franchises (Carolina, Houston). He too has a worse career winning percentage than Gase. Fuck Dom Capers.

OTHERWISE FINE HEAD COACH WHO IS AN ABOMINABLE GAME MANAGER. That’s you, Mike McCarthy.

Will:

If you were a werewolf, how long do you think you could date someone without them figuring it out? Either by always having “other commitments” the nights of full moons, or banking on cloud cover (like in the “Thriller” music video).

Ugh, time to do math. The worst. There’s a full moon once every 29.5 days. There are 163 cloudy days a year where I live. So, by my rough calculus, there’s a 50/50 shot that I’ll be gifted some cloud cover on any given full moon night. So I get through first month unscathed, and then I either split on Night 29.5 of the blossoming relationship because I have to take a “business trip” (let’s just assume the pandemic doesn’t exist for this thought exercise because the pandemic ruins every goddamn thing), or I gamble and have faith that the local forecast is telling the truth when it says there’s NO chance of seeing the moon that night. The Weather app on my phone is about as dependable as a 1978 Datsun sedan, so that’s a considerable gamble. I’d rather just use alibis instead until the well runs dry. That would take three months, tops. Then my new girlfriend would either kick me to the curb, or I’d fuck up my timing, transform in bed one night, and maul her to death. Tragic for both her and for myself.

If I were younger—a “teen” “wolf,” so to speak—I might have better odds. We wouldn’t be spending every night together, and I could just blame unexplained nights away on homework or on my parents being, like, mean. Even then, I’d still be a clumsy jackass. And I have a big mouth, too. The second I become a werewolf, I’m a lock to tweet about it before telling my own family. “tfw you’re a werewolf lol.” Whoever is in charge of werewolfing would be deeply irritated by my shenanigans.

Owen:

What are your thoughts in regards to hot cocktails? Hot liquor SOUNDS like a great idea when it’s one degree outside, but every time I get fooled into drinking a Hot Toddy or whatever, I quickly remember why people drink room temperature egg booze in December instead of hot rum. Does anyone enjoy spiced hot alcohol?

I liked it on rare occasions back in my drinking days. Like if someone said, “Hey! Let’s have some mulled wine!” the secret Williams-Sonoma fanboy living inside me would have been like OH HELL YEAH LET’S DO IT. Is mulled wine better than normal red wine, which isn’t even served chilled? No. But I liked hot drinks so I could feel warm inside, and I liked alcohol so I could feel drunk. So there you have it. Win-win. When I drank, any excuse to put booze in things was a legitimate one.

My fondest hot toddy memory was 2003. My wife and I were moving to Maryland from New York. She had to go ahead of me for the entire month of December for work reasons. She came back up to our studio apartment in midtown one weekend and I got sick. I couldn’t get out of bed. Did being sick ever stop me from drinking back then? Fuck and no, it did not. We rented a Pirates of the Caribbean DVD from the Blockbuster across the street, bought some apple cider, and then spiked the hot cider with rum while we watched the movie. Really cozy, delightful evening. My wife spent the rest of that month sick as a dog thanks to that visit. I feel bad about that part.

By the way, this is where I confess that I’ve never had an Irish coffee. I’m sure I would have liked it.

Mike:

Can someone take a nap in a garment with a hood? It can be something specific like a hoodie or just a piece of clothing with a hood attached, but the hood in question must be sewn on.

They sure can. I nap exclusively with my hood up now. I used to keep it down and nuzzle against it when I napped. Then one day this fall, I put it up to drown out the sound of my kids being annoying, and it worked so well that I haven’t looked back. Someone in my Twitter replies told me they sleep at NIGHT with a hoodie on and the hood up. I fear I’m on that path right now. I may have created a napping monster. This is a dangerous business we’re in.

JJ:

Let’s say you are getting two slices of pizza – one pepperoni, one sausage and peppers. Do you eat half of one, and then start the other? Do you risk missing out all of the delicious sausage because you got full inhaling the pepperoni? 

What? No. Once you start a slice, you finish that slice. That’s the arrangement. I don’t even put my slice DOWN until it’s finished. That’s not something my body will allow me to do. Loss of appetite is of absolutely no concern here. Eating one slice of pepperoni pizza isn’t gonna make me full. There’ll be more than enough room for that sausage pizza, plus anything else that happens to be littering the table: bread sticks, chicken wings, other pizzas, etc. But please, take it one slice at a time. That’s the polite thing to do.

Scott:

My take: offensive holding should be a five-yard penalty. Why do you agree with me?

Because you’re right. Holding is a subjective call, and it’ll always be. I accepted that a long time ago, in part because I was an O-lineman myself. My personal strategy was always to see how much holding I could get away with, and then keep my holding at that level. You get a flag, and then you know the umpire’s strike zone for holding, as it were. I understood that dynamic, and other linemen did as well.

But making holding a 10-yard penalty effectively kills any drive. And the highlight reel of all-time NFL plays negated by holding calls would take your breath away: a gallery of amazing runs and catches and returns, all consigned to the void for potentially specious reasons. I’m on the record as saying that holding should be legalized outright, but the least they could do is knock down the penalty so that fans like me aren’t putting a fist through the fucking drywall half a dozen times every Sunday.

Readers and I have proposed a lot of other penalty fixes over the years, so lemme just list them down below here for formal recognition:

  • Make OPI a turnover
  • Defensive holding shouldn’t be an automatic first down
  • No more offsetting penalties for flags of unequal yardage
  • End replay

I have other ideas on deck, like making DPI a 15-yard penalty in the final two minutes of any half. But for now, the ideas you see above are the byproduct of YEARS of thought and care. Roger Goodell will reject them all and then infect them with COVID.

HALFTIME!

Eric:

My wife is 41 and wants to try cannabis for the first time. She has designated me (someone who last tried pot when I was in middle school) as the person who needs to research this and help her get high without going overboard. Fortunately, we live in Oregon. So I can just walk into a dispensary and buy it. She knows she wants edibles as opposed to anything else. Any tips or words of wisdom you can provide to a couple novices who don’t know what the hell we are doing?

I personally don’t like edibles. I know they’ve evolved since legalization took root, but I’ve had too many experiences eating weed and then feeling like dogshit to ever try edibles again. The dosage control is unreliable, and the tastiness of the edible itself can cause you to disregard those dosages or be completely unaware of them altogether. The high was different from smoking weed, too. Made me fussy.

But that’s me. Everyone has their own tastes, and they need to experiment to sort out what those tastes are. The only advice I can give you is to start slow and pace yourself. Since you live in Oregon, you can go to the dispensary and just ASK them what’s a good low dosage option for rookies. Dispensary employees are uncommonly helpful in the customer service realm. They don’t want you to have a shitty time. They want you to feel as jolly as they do. I think I’d make a good dispensary clerk. When I retire, I’ll open up my own dispensary. Maybe give out handcrafted root beer to every customer.

Alix:

I work as a union steward in a professional office. This means I represent people in disciplinary investigations, and the people I’m representing mostly all have professional degrees. I recently was supporting a colleague who was being investigated for a possible violation of the workplace violence policy – during a complicated negotiation with another firm he threatened to stab his counterpart. His tone of voice made it clear that he was joking, but my question is – who jokes like this? My friend says maybe this is just that infamous “locker room” talk we’ve heard so much about. Do men do this? I have never heard real people joke around with each other like this. Is this normal?

Yeah, men do that. Shit, I jokingly threaten to murder Burneko at least once a month for his takes. I also say “I’m gonna kill you” to my son whenever he leaves shit all over the floor, which he does ALL THE GODDAMN TIME. Very exhausting. Literally killing the boy would do wonders for the cleanliness of this house.

This can go too far, of course. A couple of months ago I threatened to pee on Luis Paez-Pumar—if you know Luis, you understand why people are compelled to threaten him—and Jasper was like DREW PLEASE DON’T SAY YOU’RE GOING TO PEE ON LUIS. As a result, I did NOT pee on Luis. But the staff of Defector is relatively tight, plus we hold workshops with HR and conduct anonymous employee surveys to keep our interactions from devolving into genuine personal animus.

Because people—guys, mostly—are always on the edge of the line between playful shit-giving and pure dickishness. Motives become unclear. Every interaction becomes that one Goodfellas scene. Ironically, this gets trickier the tighter you are with people. The closer you get, the longer the leash extends. And workplaces have grown more casual this century. You’re encouraged to dress informally and to hang out and to have the occasional Zoom cocktail together. To become closer. But it’s still a job, which inevitably complicates shit when that closeness turns sour. Or worse, dudes think they can be as flippant around more distant colleagues as I am with, like, Roth. Hence, you got your in-house lawyer jokingly threatening to stab opposing counsel. That’s probably on the less normal end of the spectrum. Even if the lawyer was joking, that doesn’t mean the other lawyer can’t be weirded out. The delivery, the intent, the seniority … all of that factors in. This is why I am not a lawyer. I’m just some prick on the internet who needs to watch his mouth more often than he does.

Shane:

Is there external or internal pressure to include hyperlinks in articles? Is it just a natural reflex? Do you think an internet article could be done today without hyperlinks?

I’ve been blogging for so long that hyperlinks are simply a reflex. No one pressures me to include them. Sometimes I’ll get an edit from a boss that says “hyperlink?” if I’m referring to some other news story but haven’t provided ample enough background in my own article. But I don’t feel put upon when that happens. I just find the original article and link it. Done and done.

I’ve written articles without hyperlinks in them. For example, this one. If it’s a deeply personal essay, you don’t always need a lot of outside source material. All you need is your memory and your powers of observation. Also, I write books, and those don’t have hyperlinks in them (although many e-books now do). I wish hyperlinks had been around when I was in college. They would have saved me from having to do bibliographies at the end of term papers. I hated doing bibliographies. Hyperlinks make the whole reference process easier and more intuitive. They eliminate the need for boring exposition, and they make for a better hat-tip to other writers than consigning them to an end note that no one will read. The only time I get annoyed at hyperlinks is when joints like ESPN include them for every team, player, or coach named in an article, all so they can scrounge up a couple of bonus clicks to the Gregg Popovich story archive or whatever. I promise you’ll never see Drew Magary do that!

Austin:

Who’s the most famous person that’s had COVID that we never found out about?

Joe Biden.

Joe:

Would it be weird to go for singing lessons just to be acceptable at karaoke? I know I’m never going to be an American Idol. But I also know I am painfully bad currently. But a couple lessons to learn how to hit a note or control my voice a little better. Crazy?

Not crazy. Don’t think about it as just for karaoke. You wanna sing better in general. That’s no crime, amigo. I was in choir in middle school and I’m still glad Mr. Larsen made us do annoying warmup exercises and sing “Hungry Eyes” by Eric Carmen in assembly in front of a bunch of confused and mortified parents. The man genuinely taught me how to sing. You will never mistake me for Sam Smith, and I had to stop singing mashups on the podcast because listeners actively complained about them. But, if I get the right song and I harness the power of my mighty diaphragm, I can make it through “Purple Rain” without botching a note. Others have witnessed me pull it off.

Early in quarantine, while I was in the middle of growing despair, I got the idea that I would start singing on Youtube. Acapella. No jokes. No other accompaniments. Just me standing in front of my computer belting out “Policy of Truth” and other assorted favorites. I really almost did this. In my mind, I imagined my karaoke-free karaoke sessions as something that gained an inexplicable following, like ASMR or what have you.

And then I said to myself, you know what? No one wants to hear that shit, man. Then that video of all those celebrities singing “Imagine” got absolutely pummeled and it became clear that I had dodged a self-fired bullet. Now I sing in the basement while playing Everybody’s Golf instead. It amuses me and hurts no one else.

You should learn to sing too, if singing makes you happy. You shouldn’t be embarrassed. I took a ballroom dancing lesson before my wedding (we had a coupon for it) and my heart wasn’t in it. I felt stupid. Self-conscious. If I had TRIED to go with the lesson, I bet I would have enjoyed myself more. It pays to not give a shit about your own self-branding.

Darren:

Here’s my short hook-and-lateral idea: replace all your offensive linemen with backup running backs, wide receivers, corners, safeties, Taysom Hill, anyone with speed. That way you eliminate the inevitable toss to the right guard who uses both hands to launch a no-look pitch to empty grass five yards behind him. I’m honestly shocked this hasn’t been done.

The reason it hasn’t been done before is because you need to complete the hook part before you get to all those wacky laterals. You can’t do that without some pass protection, even if you’re staring down a three-man front. You need linemen in there, even if you’re swapping out tight ends for guards.

(NOTE: I checked the NFL rulebook and, just as ineligible players have to report themselves eligible to the refs if they line up at a receiving position, so too must traditionally eligible receivers who are electing to come in at, like, right guard.)

But again, you have to complete that first pass. Not only does it advance the ball farther down the field, but it gets the ball out into a wider space, away from the line of scrimmage. You need that space if you’re trying to re-create the River City Relay (I had no idea it had a nickname) from 2003, when the Saints scored a miracle touchdown at the gun only to blow the extra point to tie it:

That play doesn’t happen without the first completed pass to Donté Stallworth, and that completion doesn’t happen without a line firmly in place. God, I feel like such a buzzkill saying all this. Fuck it. The WFT may as well try out your idea on Saturday night. Lord knows they’ll have plenty of time trying to come from behind.

Brett:

Why has it become acceptable that people can rip apart bunches of bananas in the grocery store? I work in the produce department of a grocery store and this has always been mildly irritating but the pandemic has exacerbated this sentiment. There’s no other foodstuff in the store where you can just, barehanded, pull it apart and grab what you want. People most frequently pull one banana off a cluster, put that single banana back on the rack, and take the rest. And you know what happens to that single banana? We put it out in a pile with all the other single bananas in a corner of the display that no one ever grabs from. Those bananas have clearly been touched. 

Was it ever NOT acceptable to do that? I don’t remember signs at the grocery store demanding that people leave banana bunches intact. I don’t separate bananas, mostly out of laziness. But if someone next to me did, I wouldn’t ream them out for it. Bananas are six cents a pound and come in their own protective peels. And not everyone NEEDS eight of them at a clip. If they’re pulling off just one nanner—and not even one that’s gone bad—and tossing it back on the shelf, that’s fucking odd. But otherwise I don’t care if people split them up. They don’t make you buy six apples at a time, you know what I mean? I know that the pandemic has brought out the worst in American consumers, and I wish it hadn’t. But leaving orphaned nanners behind is, like, 870th on the list of their worst pandemic offenses.

Email of the week!

Luke:

I grew up in a very small town in N. Nevada in the 90s. My only exposure to any type of “Mexican” food was the tacos that my mom would make that would consist of ground beef, maybe seasoned with some McCormick taco seasoning, and these burritos she would make that consisted only of beef and refried beans, wrapped in a flour tortilla, and cooked in boiling oil. My house had the same bottle of Tabasco sauce in the fridge for the duration of my childhood. So, I developed the habit of putting ketchup on my tacos and burritos. I have since moved from that town and have spent the better part of the last two decades living on the West Coast and the South, trying all the foods I have missed. I use hot sauces regularly and liberally. However, whenever my wife makes ground beef tacos, I still put ketchup on them. My wife and daughter view this as some unforgivable sin and mock me every time they see me put ketchup on tacos. Is it that bad? Doesn’t everyone get at least one weird food combo in their life?

Also, to give you an idea of how sheltered I was when it came to food, a year or so after we were married, my wife and I are at a Mexican restaurant and she asks if I want to split some tamales. I tell her, “Uggh no. They are disgusting!” She doesn’t understand why I like everything else on the menu but tamales. And I tell her, “They are so hard to chew through. So much work for no pay off”. It was a good two minutes before she could stop laughing long enough to explain that you don’t eat the husks.

I think I can forgive the ketchup thing then.