And I think it's the coaching. You'll say, "I didn't know Denmark had a team." And I'll say, "shut it mr. snappy, I'm quoting Shakespeare to sound all intelligent."
Bad coaching has always been a hot topic with me...maybe because the Bears have been swamped with them the 10+ years between Ditka and Lovie. During that time, the Bears never had to worry about being out coached, it was a given, which freed the players up to worry about other things....but this is a constant problem for all NFL franchises at one time or another, everyone gets stuck with a crappy coach...unless you're the Steelers, and you only have 2 coaches in the last 38 years...for the rest of us, crappy coaching is never far away. The current practitioners reside in Oakland, Arizona, and Dallas...there are others...but these are the current crème de la crème.
In Oakland, the Raiders have become a punch line. Write any possible joke about football, and just end it with the Raiders, and you'll get a laugh. They are just awful, comically so. And watching over it all is Art Shell. Watching over it...that's a perfect expression; as so far this season, no one has see Art blink, scream, talk, or move. The Offense has been described as "high schoolish"...which is to say, it's simplistic, and they make no adjustments whatsoever at the Half. The O-Line is terrible, allowing 29 sacks and when there isn't a sack, the QB has no time to throw. What is Art's specialty? Supposedly it's the O-line, as that was how he made his living in the NFL...huh, would have fooled me. The team was so ill prepared that no one blinked an eye when it was suggested that they could go 0-16...that was until Art ran into one of his equals...
Ah, Denny, you've made yourself such an easy target these days. In Denny's last 3 ½ seasons as head coach, his record is an amazing 17-37! He's started the last 3 seasons 1-4...which is fantastic. Then Monday night happened...and while the Bears made the plays, they got a lot of help from the Cards. It took some really bad coaching to make this thing work. Basically, for the whole 4th quarter, Denny had them throwing (for a great analysis of this, check out Greg Easterbrook's column, great read)...I know the Edge wasn't doing anything and Leinart had been shredding the D...but when you're up by as much as the Cards were, you're playing the clock, not the other team. And the coaching staff decided to throw pass after pass, like they were the team behind. But you say, "But he was great with the Vikings"...ah, yes, those teams were great. But, they were the only 15-1 team ever to miss the Super Bowl. And they lost a game that mirrored the Monday loss almost to a T...they were up 20-7...missed a FG to ice the game, and lost on a last second drive by the Falcons. When improbable comebacks happen once, all is forgiven...but when you make a habit of having it happen...well...but it's okay, cause Denny found the problem. He fired his Offensive Coordinator, it was his fault. Forget the fact that he's still working on the staff, and the fact that Denny hired him...and...let's stop there for now.
The Big Tuna is a Hall of Fame coach. His Giants teams were amazing, and bringing the Jets and Pats back from oblivion was equally amazing, but just as a player can hang around too long, so can a coach. Parcells needs to walk away. Let's take a look at the Monday night game...everyone knows that Bledsoe throws some horrendous picks, seemingly at the worst possible times. Bill of all people should know this, as he's coached him for a majority of his career. But yet, down at the goalline he calls the same square-out that was picked off for the game sealing TD in the Philly game...and guess what? Pick. And then he pulls Bledsoe, and puts in Romo...how promptly throws several more picks. Awesome. And then there is the whole TO thing, which no one can blame Bill for, but jeez, he hasn't handled it at all well. And ‘Boys were a favorite to go deep into the playoffs before the season started, and I have a feeling their headed for 8-8.
Okay, so I just spent the better part of an hour ripping present coaches to shreds...why? Well, because I can. Let me explain how I see the Head Coaching position, and what constitutes failure and success.
Here is how I see the Head Coaching position...
You are the perfect generalist. The decisions you make should be along the lines of, "What type of offense should we run?" or "Who should I start at QB?" Once you make decisions like that, the details are in the hands of your assistants. These are people that you handpicked because they share you philosophy about their area of the team. You picked them because they are an expert on their area of the team.
If you are an expert in one area of the game, and want complete control over it, then turn over complete control of the other areas to a trusted coordinator. For example, if you want to lord over the Offense, hire top notch Defense and Special Teams Coordinators and let them have full control over their areas. But you still are the final say on things, and you still are the one that controls who plays and who doesn't. So when something is wrong, don't blame your coaches or players....just solve the problem and move on.
All this may sound like common sense, but obviously it's not. Plenty of coaches have a hard time making any of this work. This fact amazes me. I know there is a lot of pressure on them, and it's a hard job with little love or job security...but come on people, this isn't rocket science. And there are several coaches out there that just shouldn't have jobs.
It seems simple, and it is probably over simplified to a degree...but what my real problem is...
Why do the same coaches keep getting hired? Is there that big of a shortage of coaching minds out there? Why is it that owners say things like "We wanted someone who had been there before..." when the coach they are hiring has a lifetime 23-33 record? Sometimes this works...Bill Belichick was a 2 time failure...but in these cases there is usually either obvious reason for the failure that were outside of the coaches control or proven success in some facet that is continuing. In Belichick's case, he had some issues in New York and Cleveland with ownership, and where ever he went his Defenses were obviously well coached. But 99 out of a 100 times, if the coach is a loser, he'll always be one.
There are 3 reasons why head coaches leave their jobs:
- Miserable failure.
- Regime or Organizational change
- Burned out, left to do other things\
If you're going to hire a fired coach, stay away from coaches in category A and C. And do all the research you can on the coaches in B.
The A coaches are going to fail at their next jobs as well (Shell, Jauron), and the C coaches are walking away from their profession cause their tired of it (Green, Parcells) and you really don't get the fire back.
For the first time I can remember, almost all the new head coaching positions went to first timers. Only Shell and Jauron got another go around...and Herm Edwards as well, but he was never fired, he jumped ship...and the results on those guys has not been bad. That is not to say that all the newbies have done great, Maranelli is finding it's hard to win when Matt Millen is involved, and McCarthy is finding that Favre's magic has run out...but here's the thing GMs...
Take a frickin' chance, find a new face out there. You know what you're going to get with the retread guys...a crappy coach and a poorly coached team. So why not take a gamble on some newbie? Worst case scenario, you'll have a crappy coach and a poorly coached team....but cheaper than if you had hired a big name.