Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Armchair Coaching Case Study: The Dumbening

Andy has post over at "Packergeeks" about coaches who can "coach in the moment." He gets points for originality, but at bottom he is discussing some vague, undefinable, I know-it-when-I-see-it qualities. He might as well make a list of the coaches with the most "je ne sais quoi" (which is a fancy French phrase than means "I Don't Know Quoi"). At bottom the list reads a lot like a list of the successful teams this season versus the unsuccessful ones. The critical flaw in Andy's argument, however, is that many of his je ne sais quoi coaches have faced much of the same (dumb) criticism in past seasons that McCarthy faces this year.

For example, Andy thinks so highly of Jeff Fisher that he included him on the list twice. The funny thing is, Fisher oversaw some atrocious seasons in Tennessee, and not surprisingly many fans wanted him fired, especially at the now-abandoned firecoachfisher.com.

This is my favorite comment about Fisher circa 2006:

Fisher has been far too conservative with all of his teams. Over the years there has been numerous games that we should have won easily that have been nail bitters or losses because of Fishers conservative play calls. The Titans get a lead and then start going 3 and out and giving the ball back over and over until eventually our defense breaks down and we lose.

Too perfect. Andy also includes Andy Reid on his list. There were serious questions whether Andy Reid would survive this season. I like this stupid internet petition to have him fired.

Andy Reid has secured the confidence of the Philadelphia Eagles fans that he is incapable of making the necessary adjustments needed to help the Philadelphia
Eagles compete in the NFL.

Fox (like Tom Coughlin who also makes the "in the moment" list) was on the hot seat just last year. Here's a great op ed piece about how "Fox too conservative when it counted."

If Carolina Panthers coach John Fox is fired at the end of the season -- and I'd put the odds of that at about 50-50 -- Sunday's game should haunt him.


Carolina's ultra-conservative, ultra-ineffective offense generated just two field goals. The Panthers defense let the team down in the final minute. Fox and his staff got tight when the time was wrong, and Carolina ensured it would go more than a calendar year without a home win.

Andy also lists 2007 McCarthy as "in the moment" but 2008 McCarthy is not. Let Occam's Razor be your guide. Do you really think that McCarthy and basically every other coach that has suffered through a bad season suddenly lost the ability to coach (or coach "in the moment")? And then somehow regained the ability the next season? Does that seem damn unlikely to anyone else?

ADDENDUM: This could go on and on, but I inadvertantly came across this about another "in the moment" coach, Sparano, and it's simply too ironic not to share:

The stock report has usually featured players, but this time a coach makes the list. I know this was his first real game as a head coach in the NFL but his team got out-coached by Eric Mangini, whose schemes and game-plan on offense and defense were far superior. Not only was Sparano's team undisciplined in the regular season opener, but one would have expected someone with such a meticulous personality to have dotted a lot more I's and crossed plenty more T's when it came to personnel issues. But that was my biggest issue with last Sunday's game. And it was HUGE. Without even knowing the outcome of the game, and the play, I found myself questioning more than a dozen decisions he and his staff made. That's not good. Some of the team's decisions were inexcusable, and in my opinion handed New York the victory. This team isn't talented enough to let coaching be a handicap, and last season we saw what happens when the players lose confidence in the coaching staff. Sparano's going to need some positive results in the next few weeks to maintain his power and influence.

In sum, if you haven't noticed, I think most fans (and most journalists) are dumbasses. Oh, and I also lump myself in with that statement. But in my defense, at least I recognize that I am a dumbass. In the spirit of Marinelli, I try to man-up and "take ownership" of my dumbassedness.

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