Here are five things on the sports mind of Doug Franz heading into Super Bowl weekend...
1) The hardest thing for coaches is to know when to stick to your strengths and when to attack your opponent's weaknesses even if that doesn't play to your strengths. Tom Brady torched the San Francisco 49ers with checkdowns and passes in front of the secondary during a regular season game. Joe Flacco's strength is the deep ball. The way to beat the 49ers is simple: patient execution. The problem is patience and execution is not in the Flacco repertoire.
I think Flacco will try to change. Flacco will try to execute a short game plan and fail. In the second half he'll go back to what he's good at and hit some long shots. The Ravens will make a valiant come back but come up short.
San Francisco 27, Baltimore 24 ...and no, it's not on a late David Akers field goal. Baltimore will score late but fail on the onside kick.
2) I think Ken Whisenhunt is a very knowledgable football coach. If he wants to be successful again, however, he must drop the stubbornness. Just because you're one of the smartest football coaches in the league doesn't mean you can't keep learning. His tenure in Arizona will be marked by moments of brilliance and elements of ignorance completely caused by an addiction to following his mind over his eyes.
If you call a play that the players aren't talented enough to execute, it doesn't matter that the film proves you right. Too often, Whisenhunt would see patches of green grass and use that as proof his play worked, even though it ended up in a sack, turnover, or incomplete pass leaving a longer conversion attempt for an offensive line that struggled to protect the quarterback.
How do I know I'm right? His own former employer. Watch this video from the the Super Bowl.
After you get past the clueless stare from the guy in the middle, listen to Rod Graves explain what suits Kevin Kolb. In other words, the best thing for Kevin Kolb is to not be coached by Ken Whisenhunt.
3) Great win for the Suns this week over the Lakers. A win like that makes the transition to the new coach much easier for the players. It also shows the difference that a focused Michael Beasley makes.
Beasley can be described with a lot of words and phrases but "bad guy" or "locker room cancer" don't apply. It's a shame that he didn't bring the intensity to an Alvin Gentry-coached team. Beasley's lack of fire cost Gentry his job. That's evident in how well Beasley is playing now. If these last five games had been the norm, Gentry would still be the coach. However, if Beasley was a bad guy, players on this team would revolt against him for saddle-bagging effort until now. It's clear the players know Beasley is a different guy so they aren't judging him for his first 30+ games versus his last five. Maybe we shouldn't either.
4) Greg Jamison is not a fraud. His attempt to buy the Coyotes was a valiant effort, until a month ago. He had to know he couldn't get it done and strung everyone out. I don't have a problem with his investors wanting to wait until after the lockout. Why buy a team if you don't know all the facts about the financial future? However, soon after the agreement, proper PR is clear. You announce immediately that you are ready to go forward with the purchase of the team unless you don't have the money.
It is not in the last two years where Jamison failed all of us. It is in the last month. His holding on for dear life to a pipe dream may have cost us the Coyotes. If he would have removed himself, there would have been more time for a different group to come in and push forward with a lease agreement or taking over the old one. A good owner realizes they are a steward of the city's franchise. In Jamison's first major decision as the Coyotes "owner", he failed.
5) Please don't confuse competitive desire and immaturity. If you even think of supporting Russell Westbrook and his 548th outburst at his teammates, you've either never played basketball or you're still wondering why your old high school teammates don't talk to you anymore.
Westbrook had the ball and an 18-point lead Thursday night against Memphis. He violated an old "anti-Barkley" rule that a player posting up can't dribble with their back to the basket for more than five seconds. As Westbrook was approaching the fourth second, Thabo Sefolosha cut to the basket. At that moment, Westbrook wanted to spin into the lane and walked into a double-team. Since he froze, he was whistled for the five-second call. Westbrook chastised Sefolosha on the court therefore showing up his teammate and was pulled from the game. He yelled at Kevin Durant during the timeout. He stayed disengaged from the team during a timeout. He argued with assistant coach Maurice Cheeks (who knows something about the point guard position) and stormed off the court, punching a chair along the way.
If Russell Westbrook ever decides the game of basketball is about five players, the Thunder will win a championship. Since he won't, they won't.