I’m not usually the type given to flights of fancy--especially when those flights are wrought with long, boring lay-overs at Crazytown Intercontinental Airport--but does anyone else get the feeling that Todd Haley is to coaching what Serio Roma is to agents in rock-star-based-Judd-Appatow-flicks?
(Please note that the movie Get Him to the Greek is referenced in this FanPost. Though I offer no details, I do reference plot elements and themes and, as such, if you’re interested in keeping the film a complete mystery until you see it, you might want to move along. Nothin’ to see here.)
In case you haven't seen it yet, Get Him to the Greek is a deeply subtle comedy about the pratfalls and emotional isolation of fame and fortune. Through a series of hilarious misadventures, Aaron Green (Jonah Hill) shows out-of-control mega-star Aldous Snow (Russell Brand) that true love is so very much better than all the sweet, unending, nameless three-ways-with-gorgeous-models one can handle.
And that money isn’t always the answer.
Its nuance is matched only by its mystery.
(Writer's Note: great film. Classic Appatow. Go see it. Unless you’re offended by any of the following: poop humor, drug humor, boobies, more poop humor, more boobies, awkward threesomes, more poop humor)
All kidding aside, the film surprised me in a number of ways. First of all, the poop humor: who’d’a thought Judd Apatow would hue so blue? And secondly, I was surprised that P. Diddy could "act."
Please don’t assume that when I use the word "act" that I imply he was convincing in any way. But, I didn’t think the man could "hit a mark," much less "remember a line" or "breathe without having to concentrate on it first" but he did so on a number of occasions. And his character was actually funny in a kind of "angry dude with power and money" way.
In the story, Sergio Roma owns a music label and is used to dealing with talent. He’s cagey and smart and driven and, after allowing Aaron a shot at corralling Snow, gives the secret to his success away to the audience: The Mind-Flip.
Two things. It’s not called a Mind-Flip. However, this blog is rated TV-13 and, as such, I was forced to make certain changes to certain four letter words that might resemble the word "flip" in certain ways.
Secondly, the Mind-Flip is Roma’s method of dealing with egomaniacs.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. He’s finally coming to the point, you’re thinking. Thank all that is holy, you’re thinking. He just referenced "big egos" so he must be talking about Pioli and Haley or about the guy who’s always saying "big egos" when he talks about Pioli and Haley. But you’re wrong. Now you’re thinking that I must be talking about DJ because he’s the only one left in the equation. But you’re wrong again.
Last year, all of us sat in wonder as, play after play, game after game, week after soul-crushing week, Demorrio Williams and Corey Mays started while Derrick Johnson played footsies with the hottest of the cheerleaders. (PS - I have no information that he played footsies with anybody.)
Is Johnson an elite linebacker? I think the jury is way out on that. Many people have successfully made the argument that Johnson shies contact too often and that he’s reactionary in pursuit. So I think calling him "elite"--or even calling him a starter on most teams in the league--is hard to do. But is Johnson a better linebacker than Mays and/or Williams? You bet.
So I think most of us would have preferred him on the field.
But looking back, was Todd Haley mind-flipping the biggest ego in the room: us?
Look, I don’t think anyone can make the argument that Derrick Johnson has a big ego. He played soldier-boy very well all last year and though he made it clear he wanted to start, he never made waves bigger than the kiddie pool could handle. Pioli would have been in on it too; I’m sure of that. So Haley can’t be playing him.
I think he was playing us and while I’m not ready to say he’s right, I am willing to give him a chance. And here’s why:
- A good coach understands his player in ways that no one else can or should, which is why the NFL issues soap-on-a-rope at rookie meetings. While I can’t claim that DJ has a big ego, I think a case can be made that he might be a "fragile" player in that, were he to have a rough stretch of years, he might never recover.
- We were ridiculously thin at safety last year. I’m not one who’s pissed we cut bait on Bernard Pollard; he missed more tackles than any other player on the defense. But to say he was a worse option than what we had would be stupid.
- Without making any character judgements, I think it’s safe to say that, in the scope of NFL players, Derrick Johnson is a slow learner.
Put those things together: we started Clarence Thomas and a bag of dried apples at safety; play after play went down the field over the top of middle linebackers' heads with ne'er a safety to be seen; Johnson, who's a slow learner and has fragile confidence.
Bad equation. Besides, with all his considerable on-the-field deficiencies, Demorrio Williams is pretty fast. Turned out he wasn't fast enough to make up for biting on play-action even when he was on the sideline, but he was pretty fast.
Now add in Eric Berry and two healthy corners entering their third years starting. Add in a pretty good defensive coordinator. Add a second year in the system. Could this be why we’re finally seeing Johnson on the field with the first team?
Furthermore, does Johnson’s style fit better with a guy like Eric Berry who can maybe cover enough ground to make up for it when Johnson over commits?
In fact, I think that last point is the most important one. Remember the few times DJ was on the field last year? Yeah. Good stuff. Does Haley want to free Johnson up a little? Would it have, in fact, hurt Johnson’s progress to keep him on the field last year? Would he have become too conservative? Does Haley prefer that he gamble? And does Berry’s presence as a true safety valve, mean Johnson will be free to do what he did last year?
I don’t know. But I sure hope so.