Howie Long: Belichick too hated for coach honors

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
Hall of Fame defensive end and Fox Sports analyst Howie Long addressed the state of coaching in the NFL, and made several AFC East references in the process.

Long declared New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick worthy of consideration for coach-of-the-year honors, but added Belichick won't be a candidate because of his coarse reputation.

"Matt Cassel in my mind has been the best quarterback in the division," Long said. "Bill Belichick has done as good a job coaching as he's done at anytime during his career, but he won't get any credit for it because he's one of the most hated head coaches in football."

Long also addressed upcoming job changes.

"It's late-December and the only thing that's more harsh than the weather back East is the fact that a number of NFL head coaches are going to get a pink slip for the holidays," Long said. "You can be certain that owners are looking at the quick turnarounds in Miami, Baltimore and Atlanta and saying 'That could be us.'

"The question is: How do they do it? For one, by not listening to talk radio. There is no way fans were screaming we need Tony Sparano, John Harbaugh, Mike Smith or Mike Tomlin a couple of years ago.

"Perhaps the days of the re-tread coach hire are dead. Who are the current assistant coaches that could be the next generation of head coaches?"

Among Long's five candidates were a pair of AFC East coordinators.

Josh McDaniels (Patriots offensive coordinator): "He's 32-years-old and just one year removed from overseeing the most prolific offense in NFL history," Long said.

Paul Pasqualoni (Dolphins defensive coordinator): "He had a front row seat on one of the NFL's most-historic turnarounds," Long said. "Both Sparano and Bill Parcells swear by him."