|09-26-2005, 01:43 AM||#1|
It's all over...
Join Date: Aug 2003
Passing on advice
Passing on advice
Game plans rarely have room for input of players
By Mike Klis
Denver Post Staff Writer
A coach never fails to understand, in good times and in bad, how his livelihood is attached to his players.
It is not unusual, however, for a player to forget how much he needs the coach.
Not to be cruel, but when a player indicates he wants more input on coaching decisions, rule No. 1 is to consider the source.
"Sometimes they don't know what they don't know," Kansas City Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil said. "You put yourself in a position to appease a group that doesn't know what they don't know."
Well, what do you know about that? Closing in on his 69th birthday, Vermeil says he listens to players much better now than he did nearly 30 years ago, when he was coaching the Philadelphia Eagles. But when he put together his game plan against the Broncos for the potentially pivotal AFC West contest tonight at Invesco Field at Mile High, Vermeil did not engage his players in a brainstorming session.
When it comes to game-planning, Vermeil is no different than the 31 other NFL head coaches in defining job descriptions. Players play and coaches coach.
Exceptions are presumed in Indianapolis, where Tony Dungy, a defensive-minded head coach, never has pretended to know more about offensive play-calling than Peyton Manning; and in New England, where Tom Brady's mentorship under Charlie Weis qualifies him to assist Bill Belichick, who now serves as head coach and offensive coordinator.
Otherwise, when it's time to outline strategies against the next opponent, players typically stay out of it.
"Game plan, they fax it to me on Tuesday night," Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer said. "That's my input on the game plan."
If leaving the offensive schemes to Broncos coach Mike Shanahan and coordinator Gary Kubiak was good enough for John Elway during the Super Bowl-winning years, then it's good enough for Plummer. This isn't to say communication between player and coach is separated by a series of iron-cast, code-secured doors that not even Maxwell Smart could completely decipher.
The way it usually works in the NFL is that after the game plan is set, players can approach coaches and discover a half-open mind.
"I was spending eight to nine hours a day there, and some of that was dillydally time," said former Broncos guard Mark Schlereth, he of the bimonthly knee surgeries. "The coaches are there 18, 19 hours a day. As a player, I'm not about to pretend I can put together a better game plan than those guys."
The relationship between players and coaches does not begin and end with the quarterback and head coach. After the Broncos were pounded 34-10 in their season opener at Miami, one or two defensive players reportedly were quick to question the wisdom of defensive coordinator Larry Coyer.
There were too many blitzes in the exhausting heat and humidity, some players said, and not enough adjustments were made when three of the team's four cornerbacks were sidelined.
While the complaining parties were not identified, Broncoland might be comforted knowing the finger-pointers were not the unit's two primary captains: middle linebacker Al Wilson and safety John Lynch.
"It surprised me because as a team leader you think you're abreast of situations," Lynch said. "I don't know what to think about it because in my mind, in talking to guys, I don't think it's pervasive in our room. We believe in Larry. I know we do. I don't know where that came from, but it's way too early for something like that."
In every team sport, in every locker room, redirecting blame will occur once it becomes obvious the season is lost. Rarely, however, does inner strength
melt after one game.
But if there was a problem, tell it to Drew Brees. Could the Broncos have so thoroughly dominated quarterback Brees and the San Diego Chargers in the second half last week if dissension had permeated the defensive huddle?
"I listen to everybody," Coyer said. "If anybody's got a deal we need to talk about, bring it up. We'll look at it. There's certain things within the framework of our defense we have to do in order to play team defense.
"But if anybody's got a thought, we talk about it."
It's difficult to believe the report of possible defensive unrest didn't bother Coyer, but he never called a team meeting to discuss a matter he considered overblown.
"It didn't warrant talking about," he said. "Fact of the matter, I have great respect for our players and I would disrespect them by talking about something like that."
He especially listens to linebackers, not only because it's his position by trade, but because no other player has that perspective during a play. Coyer will send in the plays to Wilson, but the defensive quarterback is allowed to audible as he sees fit.
"He does allow me the freedom to do a few things, as long as I don't hurt the defense and I make sure I'm on the right page," Wilson said.
Coaches coach ...
One year when the Broncos seemed a tad conservative for an offense led by Elway, coach Dan Reeves responded to criticism by letting his quarterback call the plays. Elway soon realized it was easier to play when he didn't have to think two plays ahead. The experiment quickly ceased, and the play calling went back to Reeves.
NFL teams say they are better off when everybody understands the chain of command. To motivate the modern-era player, however, the good coaches also understand the chain stays linked when players feel less like they're owned and more like they have ownership.
Shanahan has a 10-member players committee he meets with as issues arise. The players choose the committee, which is made up of the top 10 vote-getters for captain.
"I've got enough great football players, natural leaders, that if I don't get input from them, then I'm making a big mistake," Shanahan said.
When it comes to discussing on-field matters, Shanahan, like most NFL coaches, will listen, providing it's after Tuesday - game-plan day. Plummer said he more than once has recommended a play during a game that Shanahan and Kubiak agreed to call and the result was a big gain.
"During the week, if there's little things I might see, I might say something, but they're usually on top of it before I see it," Plummer said. "With the type of offensive minds we have here, I'm not going to compete with that."
Good advice for any player who is about to grumble out loud about a coach.
Staff writer Mike Klis can be reached at 303-820-8440 or email@example.com.
|Thread||Thread Starter||Forum||Replies||Last Post|
|IN NFL, Passing Pays Off||Bronco9798||Orange Mane Central Discussion||54||09-03-2005 10:31 AM|
|Hunt news||DBroncos4life||Orange Mane Central Discussion||10||05-29-2005 07:44 PM|