Ask Gary: Cash is more secure than Maddon

by Gary Shelton on October 13, 2018 · 0 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Maddon's job seems more tenuous than Cash's./JEFFREY S. KING

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Saturday, 4 a.m.

Nobody would have predicted 2-3 years ago that Kevin Cash and not Joe Maddon would be the one to get a contract extension after the 2018 season. Now it looks like Joe will be out unless the Cubs win the World Series next year. If that happens do you expect teams will be lined up to offer him a long term, lucrative contract? Or will it be tough for Joe to find a soft landing spot elsewhere since the trend these days is to hire young, inexperienced guys who will toe the company line rather than spend big money on a veteran manager?

Larry Beller
That's a great point, Larry. Not only that, but Cash got his extension after three losing seasons (plus this year) while Maddon didn't after reaching the NL championship series three times. Cash has never had a better winning percentage.  It says a lot about payroll and expectations, doesn't it?
I think a lot of teams would love Joe calling the shots. He's worked well with general managers in his career, so I don't think you replace him for "one of those guys who toe the company line." When has Maddon done anything else?
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Cash has a new deal with the Rays./JEFFREY S. KING

Personally, I think the Cubs would be nuts to fire Joe. One manager has won a World Series for the Cub in the last 110 years. It was Maddon.

The problem with Joe, of course, is his price tag. It's a lot of money to pay a manager, and it would keep potential suitors at bay. There are only a few destinations (the Red Sox, the Yankees, the Dodgers, the Cubs, maybe the Giants or Nationals) who could afford him.
I think the odds remain that Maddon stays with the Cubs. If he goes, the Cubs had better win three World Series in the next two years. His old buddy Andrew Friedman might have some interest with the Dodgers. I also wouldn't be surprised to see Joe as a national television analyst. He's bright and he cares about the game.
It isn't the young guys who should scare Maddon. It's the number-crunchers. Maddon isn't going to Miami or Milwaukee or the White Sox or Oakland. Those teams would admire him, too, if they had an opening. But Maddon makes the big bucks.
For some, he makes too much
Charlie Strong was an esteemed defensive coordinator at UF during the Suburban Liar years.  So how come USF's defense is terrible?
Scott Myers
It shouldn't be, Scott. By now, Strong has had a chance to put his fingerprints on this program. There is no excuse for the defensive lapses we've seen.
Okay, okay. There are some issues. USF isn't the mecca for a lot of football recruits. It's easier to find an impact receiver, say, than an impact linebacker. Strong is only in his second year, which means he's had all of two recruiting classes.
But it's been proven that small schools, too, can have quality defenders. Has there ever been an undefeated team (so far) who has given up so many yards? So many points?
Here's an exercise for you Compare the defensive numbers between UCF and USF. Both are high-powered offenses whose time of possession is limited because they score so much.  Both have new coaches who took over fine programs. Both play in the AAC. Both are undefeated.
Yet, UCF is ranked 47th in defense; USF is 98th. USF is 19th in points allowed; USF is 61st. Defending the pass, UCF is 16th; USF is 46th.
It's simple. The Bulls need to play better defense. Starting now, or they won't stay unbeaten long.
After the NFL this week the QBs seem to be untouchable. Just put the red jersey on them and don’t tackle them.  As a fan is there any hope of having this go back to real football, or has the NFL really embraced the limited contact for good?  I have hope that the rules committee would make football a collision sport again.

Richard Kinning

Richard, I think most fans feel the same way you do. The NFL has made so many rule changes in such a short period to try to protect that player that it's gone too far. How long before we give quarterbacks a belt with flags on it?

It's a harsh game, I know. And I understand that the league has to try to protect players as much as it can. But no one ever designed football without gauze.

For those reasons, you can't expect the league to come out with a statement that says "hey, we were wrong." But you can expect officials to call the roughness penalties a little differently. If we wanted powder-puff football, the players would be a lot prettier. You know?

I think another part of the problem, besides the rules, is the practice. It's so limited when a team can be in pads anymore that I think it leads to injuries.

Look, you and I grew up in a league of Dick Butkus and Lawrence Taylor and Deacon Jones. We're used to bloody noses. You can't legislate that out of the game or you'll have hopscotch.

I've seen the old guys, Richard. I've seen them limp through their golden years. I'm all for safety, don't get me wrong. But it's football. It's meant to leave bruises.

Do you think Jon Cooper has to, at least, make it to the Conference finals in order to keep his job? Or, maybe we don't know enough about the new GM to hazard a guess?
Barry McDowell
Barry, I don't think so. That's a high standard for keeping one's job, isn't it? If Cooper makes the semis, are you going to fire him for it? Doesn't it matter what is going on elsewhere and now it happened?
We've all been through this before. The Bucs' fans were unhappy that Tony Dungy had reached a plateau where they could get to the playoffs but not the Super Bowl. Rays' fans were miserable that Joe Maddon won 90 games a year but got to only one World Series (and lost). There is no fan who is unhappier than when a team that finishes just outside of the money.
If I ran the Bolts, and I didn't get to the Final Four, yeah, I'd evaluate everything. The players. The coaches. The minor league system. All of it. I'd wonder if Cooper's voice still carried weight in the locker room. I'd do the same with any team no matter who the coach was. I'd wonder which players were at the top of their games and which have slid. Again, that's true of any team.
But after two games, it's tough for me to tell Cooper that he has to reach an elite level or be canned. What about injuries? What about bad calls? Cooper is an important part of the organization, but he's only a part.
I think Julien BriseBois recognizes that. He was hired to maintain excellence, not to blow things up and start over. The franchise isn't at that spot yet.

The Rays purchase of the Rowdies seems to be a hedge bet on the stadium situation in Ybor. They now have waterfront property in St. Pete, could they build a stadium there? Would it draw more fans?

Richard Kinning
Richard, the Rowdies didn't own the waterfront property. They just had permission to expand Al Lang into an MLS-worthy stadium that had private funding.
With the Rays taking over, we no longer know if that private funding is going to be available. I imagine much of it might depend upon what happens in Ybor City.
Would you vote differently now than you would have if the Rays' original plan to build a stadium there had been embraced? I'm not sure how many people would. Perhaps the notion of the Rays leaving for Hillsborough County has scared some politicians. Perhaps not.
Would more fans go to a new stadium there. Sure. People love new, and a waterfront stadium would be a cool thing to see. But would enough new fans show up to make the team more viable? That's a guess. Miami proved that a shiny new stadium doesn't always work.
This is going to be interesting to watch things play out. I think drama is still to come over the financing, and over the Al Lang plans, and over Montreal's interest. That may truly be the competition that Tampa Bay needs to win.
What’s the feel around the Bucs’ building? Is it business as usual? You think they can recover from the Chicago game fast enough? I hear OJ Howard will play, I think he’s key to keep up with Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. 

Carlos Ubinas

It never fails to amaze me how teams can compartmentalize. A team gets clobbered, absolutely embarrassed, and the next week, they're competing again.

Remember 1999? The Bucs were embarrassed 45-0 in Week 13. They looked so bad you wondered if they would ever win again, and frankly, you wondered how they had won the previous six games in a row. It was absolute devastation.

But the Bucs won in week 14, and they won in week 15. They went all the way to the NFC championship game, when they lost to the Rams in the Bert Emanuel-catch game.

So players act as if that was a 20-19 loss in overtime, just a little toe-stubbing of a loss. We all know better, of course. But teams do tend to respond. Last year, in their first meeting, Julio Jones caught 12 passes for 253 yards. Three weeks later, he caught just three for 54 against the same secondary and the same defensive coaches.

The memory is frightful, but do you remember the game Lovie Smith's Bucs lost to Atlanta in 2014? It finished 56-14, but really, the Falcons could have scored 200 if they kept pushing. It was 56-0 after three quarters, and only kindness kept it as close as it was. The Bucs fell to 0-3, and they looked horrible.

And guess what? The next week, the Bucs upset a good Pittsburgh team, 27-24, on the road. The Bucs won two games that year, and the Steelers won 11.

I think both times I wrote that giant holes had opened in the earth and people were spontaneously combusting. Clouds have never been darker. I was pestilence and I was death.

But players know this, too. And so they move on. It's the only choice they have.

The rest of us? Well, put gloom on this side of the room and doom on that one. Things aren't nearly as glum as you think

Maybe I'm an old curmudgeon but I really do not like the sideline coverage of the NFL these days.  There is not a former player working them that I have seen, it's all been sports babes. None of these have laced on the pads and been in a full contact practice let alone a game.  I miss the ex-players and the honesty that you got when they did an interview. (once you get past the clichés)   Now it's too much fluff for me.

Richard Kinning
Richard, sideline reporters (male and female) are greatly restricted by time and access. The best thing they can do is give you some insight into a player's injuries. But it's rare that anyone walking off the field, or back toward at before the third quarter, ever offers anything you'd care to hear.
I've known a lot of sideline reporters, and some are good and some are horrible. That's not a reflection of their gender. Sal Palantontonio is a good friend, and I think he's superb. Solomon Wilcots has been a friend of mine for a long time, and I think he's good. He knows what questions to ask on those rare occasions when there is something there. I always thought Pam Oliver was good. Suzie Kolber, too.
I know what you're saying. If the information isn't good, it doesn't matter to me how attractive a sideline reporter is. If they're parroting what was just said in the booth, it's waisted noise. Again, though, the NFL wants, by definition, sideline reporters who talk but don't tell you anything.
Let me ask you this. When's the last time a sideline reporter told you anything you really needed to know?
What decade was the best decade of the NFL for fans?
Richard Kinning
That's a tough question, Richard. It reminds me of the ones you see that ask "Who is the best James Bond ever?" or "Who is the best Doctor Who" or "What is the best decade for music." We're all stuck in a time warp. We associate the best with our own formative years, and we don't apologize for it.
For me, that would be the 60s. I admired Johnny Unitas more than anyone. I thought Deacon Jones was a nightmare (in a good way) and Gale Sayers was amazing. Lombardi was intimidating and Joe Namath was annoying and Jim Brown was unstoppable. The rules made more sense.
Oh, time moves on, and athletes get better, and even old guys like me can appreciate the wonder that we are seeing. I was lucky enough to meet a bunch of the players from that era: Earl Morrall and John Mackey and Ray Berry and Art Donovan. They were guys who helped shape my  youth.
Yeah, you could defend the 70s if you want. You can defend the 80s or the 90s or the 00s. They all had great stories and were filled with fine moments.
For me? I'm still the kid with the trading cards who watched tv on Sundays and fell in love with this sport.

In many hockey towns the local TV stations put their team on free local stations.  Do you ever see any Tampa station airing some Lightning games?

Richard Kinning
Not really. The Lightning's television contract with is with Sunsports, which means that's where the bulk of their games are broadcast. There are a dozen "national" games mixed in. Those will be on NBC and the NBC Sports Network.
It can be a distraction. There are nights you aren't sure where to find the game. And my cable company charges extra for the package that the Lightning is on.
Still, for 70 nights, I'll know where to go.

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