It does make perfect sense.
How else would conservative, detail-oriented, tight-lipped New Orleans Saints Coach Jim Mora feel about conservative, detail-oriented, tight-lipped Ram Coach Chuck Knox?
Surprise of surprises, Mora--whose Saints for seven years now have played the big-defense, safe-offense game Knox has coached for two decades--this week could not hold back his praise for the turnaround Knox has begun with the Rams.
The two men face each other Sunday night in the Superdome when the Saints play the Rams. Do not expect a bounty of points, fourth-down gambles or offsides on third and two. Or a stadium overflowing with coaching charisma.
Chuck Knox is Jim Mora, 13 NFL head-coaching seasons later--although, as amazing as it seems just by looking at the two, Mora is only three years younger in normal years.
Ask Mora about Knox’s new Rams, and you have a feeling Mora had been preparing this speech ever since the Rams hired Knox to replace John Robinson, whom Mora beat the last four times their teams played.
“They are exactly what I thought they would be with Chuck Knox,” Mora said on a conference call this week. “This guy’s an outstanding coach--one of the best coaches in the history of the NFL. And I mean that sincerely.
“He’s proven it. And they are a tough, disciplined, fundamentally sound, well-coached, hard-working football team with talent. He’s done a great job, as I knew he would.”
Mora specifically pointed to the Rams’ close-call defeat last Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers as the clearest evidence yet that this is a new team, post-John Robinson.
The old Robinson Rams vs. Mora’s Saints were a drama waiting to happen--from Flipper Anderson’s record-setting 336-yard receiving performance in 1989 to last year’s thundering, five-sack Saint charge for a 24-7 victory.
This time? Probably less excitement, fewer mistakes, and more regard from sideline to sideline.
“When I started looking at tapes this week of them, I just knew,” Mora said. “I knew coming in that they were going to be this kind of a team. A much-improved, good, good football team, which is the mark of a Chuck Knox team.”
With the tables turned, Knox said similar nice things about the Jim Mora team. And Knox agreed that his and Mora’s coaching styles are on the same side of the NFL spectrum.
“Jim Mora’s coached a long time, his background is very similar to mine, the way we came up through the ranks in coaching,” Knox said. “He’s a great football coach, and he’s done an outstanding job down there.
“He’s got a very well-coached football team, offensively, defensively and special teams-wise. I’ve got a lot of respect for him and his coaching staff.”
And Knox suggested that the consistent winner Mora has fashioned in New Orleans is the kind of situation he is trying to build with the Rams. Interestingly, neither Mora nor Knox has ever taken a team to the Super Bowl.
“It’s always difficult to coach against the teams that are well-disciplined football teams,” Knox said. “We’re building a program here, and we just have to continue to grow and work to get better, got to work to coach better and work to play better.”
Hair Apparent? With Jeff Chadwick very questionable for Sunday’s game with a cracked bone in the back of his rib cage, rookie receiver Todd Kinchen could see his most sustained action of 1992 in front of a New Orleans crowd familiar with his exploits as an Louisiana State star.
Kinchen, who made a splashy, big-play showing in the exhibition season, has played mostly on special teams through the first five games of the regular season and has not caught a pass.
“I have about 15 friends of mine that are going to be around, a lot of family, a lot of fans, probably from the LSU area that know me from there,” Kinchen said Thursday. “But it wouldn’t be worth it if I went down there and didn’t play very much.
“Still, it’s skeptical about how much I’m actually going to play. I’m not getting my hopes up. We found out today Chadwick’s going to be out for about three weeks.
“So I’m really looking forward to the next coming weeks, when they get a little more confident in me and start to play me and start to count on me a little bit.
“I’m not going to get my hopes up for this game, I really don’t think I’ll play a whole lot. But I’m definitely prepared and excited about seeing everybody down there.”
Recently, most of the attention Kinchen has received involves his new, self-styled haircut, shorn at the sides with a military-style flat top.
Kinchen says he doesn’t know what everybody’s so amused about, but he admits the three-week-old cut has raised a lot of eyebrows.
“I normally get a haircut during two-a-days, but I came out here, and the weather was so great, it was so dry,” Kinchen said. “It wasn’t half as humid as it is in Baton Rouge.
“But it got hotter and hotter, and the hair got long, I just got rid of it. A lot of people are commenting, ‘What did you do with you hair?’ I guess it’s not something you see in California very often.
“I did it myself. It’s easy, you just chop it all off around the side and then get two hands on top and just go whooooop. It’s not hard.”