- The Washington Times - Friday, September 6, 2002

One has won a Super Bowl (albeit with another team). Two others have been to the big dance. And another two have enjoyed playoff success. But Seattle's Mike Holmgren, Atlanta's Dan Reeves, the New York Giants' Jim Fassel, Jacksonville's Tom Coughlin and New Orleans' Jim Haslett are among the NFL coaches under the most pressure to win this season.
Holmgren's success in Green Bay (six playoff berths, two Super Bowl appearances and a title in seven seasons) increasingly appears to be more the work of quarterback Brett Favre and general manager Ron Wolf than the coach. Holmgren who left the Packers in 1999 so he could have total control is just 24-25 with the Seahawks and is even worse off now that Seattle has joined powerhouses St. Louis and San Francisco in the NFC West.
Other than the stunning "Dirty Birds" Super Bowl season of 1998, Reeves is an ugly 23-41 with the Falcons. New owner Arthur Blank extended Reeves' contract but also hired Ray Anderson the former agent for coaches-in-waiting Dennis Green and Marvin Lewis for the team's front office.
Fassel looked like a genius when he guaranteed that the faltering Giants would make the playoffs in 2000 and they reached the Super Bowl. However, if New York, which lost five of its last seven to wind up 7-9 last year, starts off poorly, Fassel could have the New York media calling for his head.
Coughlin's abrasiveness could be ignored when the Jaguars went 49-23 from 1996 to 1999, but it has become an issue since the 13-19 downturn began in 2000. Not much is expected from the depleted Jaguars this year, but owner Wayne Weaver finally might decide his players need an about-face from Coughlin's drill-sergeant approach.
Haslett led the Saints to their first playoff victory during his 2000 debut, but they were outscored 160-42 while losing their final four games of 2001 to finish 7-9. Randy Mueller, the GM who hired Haslett, is gone, and quarterback Aaron Brooks is unhappy. And the Saints' first three games and five of their first seven are against 2001 playoff teams.
Hoppin' the Gus Bus When Gus Frerotte opens at quarterback for Cincinnati on Sunday, he'll be with his fourth team in five years following Washington (1998), Detroit (1999) and Denver (2000-2001). Frerotte made the Redskins as a seventh-rounder in 1994 and eventually beat out highly touted Heath Shuler, but he hasn't begun a regular since 1998.
"I look at people like [Oaklands] Rich Gannon and [the New York Jets] Vinny Testaverde who have moved on and found a home and I feel I can do that here," said the 31-year-old Frerotte, whose 25-33-1 record makes him a winner by the standards of the Bengals, who are 53-123 since they last made the playoffs in 1991.
Frerotte will be Cincinnati's fifth opening day starter in five years, following Jon Kitna (2001), Akili Smith (2000), Jeff Blake (1999) and Neil O'Donnell (1998). He'll also be the 12th quarterback to start for the Bengals during the playoff drought. The others were Erik Wilhelm, Don Hollas, Boomer Esiason, David Klinger, Jay Schroeder and Paul Justin.
Road warriors Chicago players aren't happy about playing their "home" games 138 miles from Soldier Field this year as their venerable stadium undergoes a major renovation. For home games at the University of Illinois, the plan was for the Bears to fly to Decatur, Ill., site of their hotel, ride a bus 45 minutes to Champaign the next morning and then fly back from Champaign. However, the bus ride took a little more than an hour before the preseason opener against Denver because the vehicles got stuck in traffic. Club officials, hearing the grumbling from the troops and fearing more headaches during bad weather, switched the accomodations to a hotel two blocks from the stadium for the rest of the year.
No more mission impossible Most NFL watchers thought halfback Robert Edwards' career had been ended by the major left knee injury he suffered in a flag football game on a beach in Hawaii after his standout 1998 rookie year with New England. However, after sitting out all of 1999 and 2000 and failing to survive training camp with the Patriots in 2001, Edwards made Miami's roster. His touchdown Aug. 24 at Houston symbolized his recovery.
"That ball tells a lot of stories," said Edwards, who turns 28 next month. "I told my fiancee I was going to keep it and give to my daughter [Journee] when she gets older. This will prove to her that hard work and faith and believing goes a long way."



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