|05-27-2005, 02:16 PM||#1|
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: South of Boston
Coaching stability offers a lot of hidden benefits
I completely agree with this. So, for the Shanny bashers.......
Dan Pompei - Coaching stability offers a lot of hidden benefits
Posted: May 27, 2005
These days, most teams change coaches about as often as many of us change furnace filters. But there is much to be said for not making a change if you have a quality coach in place.
"You need 10 years to develop a system of football you can teach year in and year out -- to develop the skills, train the skills and streamline the skills for the athletes you have," Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh says.
Most teams prefer not to change head coaches. It's a costly thing to do. But it's difficult to justify keeping a coach if he isn't winning big consistently or if he has not established himself as a premier coach. Someone such as Mike Shanahan has more leeway than a first-time head coach because Shanahan has two Super Bowl rings. So when the Broncos fail to win a playoff game six consecutive years, Shanahan's history is a life vest.
That history also gives credence to the blueprint from which the Broncos operate. "There is a real value to having the same leader," says Patriots vice chairman Jonathan Kraft, whose franchise is entering its sixth year with coach Bill Belichick. "When you have a coach in place, organizationally everyone understands how the team is going to work, how camp will be run, how the team travels and how things are set up."
They say you can fire the head coach more easily than you can fire 53 players, but the truth is when you fire the head coach you probably are firing 35 players. When the head coach changes, the systems change. And when the systems change, the players have to change. A player might have great value to one head coach; he might have no value to the next one. This is more significant today than it ever has been because the salary cap penalizes teams that turn over a lot of players.
In many cases, a team can rebuild more quickly and efficiently with an existing coach than a new one, but it's almost always easier to sell change than stability. It's also easier for a new player to acclimate to a team with an established head coach.
"When a coach stays in one place, all the guys you bring aboard are falling in place with a lot of guys, your core guys, who understand what you expect from them," says Bill Cowher, the longest-tenured NFL coach, who is heading into his 14th season in charge of the Steelers. "It allows the transition to happen quicker. It allows the people coming in to see this is how we're going to do it, and it expedites their growth in the system."
A popular theory a number of years ago was that a coach's message gets old after a period of time. The "10-year rule" contended coaches shouldn't be with one team longer than a decade because the players would tire of their methods.
"People say that when you're in one place so long that your message gets old," says Jeff Fisher, going into his 11th season with the Titans. "But there's so much change on the rosters I've got very few guys who remember those old Saturday night speeches. If you combine the turnover and you can establish good relationships with your long-term guys, I don't think it's a problem."
Fisher is expected to weather a rebuilding process in Tennessee, in part because of his relationships. Longevity can work to a coach's advantage in the locker room. When players know a coach isn't going anywhere, they have to respect him. If they believe they can help get him fired, they might sabotage him in subtle ways.
"Players realize when something happens that's negative, they have to work through it," Cowher says. "There isn't going to be change and people fragmenting and separating at the first sign of adversity. When you have stability, it requires you to come together and work as one. There's less chance of fragmenting when you have stability."
A coach's image is more likely to get stale with the local media than it is with his players.
"That's probably the toughest part, the media," Shanahan says. "They get used to a guy. You're a little short with them, they're a little short with you because you know each other. You can't fool them; they can't fool you."
The media and the fans expect a coach who has been around a while to continue to achieve the excellence that enabled him to have tenure. Whereas a new coach usually has a three-year grace period, a long-tenured one probably will have to answer to his owner if he has three consecutive down years.
Cowher says all it takes is one tough year, and he starts hearing that he has been around too long. "The longer you are in one place," he says, "the greater the level of expectation becomes."
And preserving longevity becomes more of a long shot.
Senior writer Dan Pompei covers the NFL for Sporting News. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|05-27-2005, 10:39 PM||#2|
Attack at all times . . .
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: AFC West Championshipville
That was a good article. There's a lot of peope here have made the same points.
I'm not going to get into any big anti-Shanny rants for the foreseeable future, because I'm thinking any HC needs top notch assistants, especially the Coordinators, to really go on a roll.
|05-28-2005, 12:52 AM||#3|
Lets go Broncos!
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Gensis Planet