Four Rookie Head Coaches That Are Destined To Fail
You know that old saying about how cream always rises to the top?
Well, that isn't always true. Sometimes it transforms into that unsavory gelatinous brown goo, which swirls at the bottom of your mug, so much so that you never quite manage to shoot it down your gullet.
Often times, you just let it sit at the bottom of the mug as you finish your term paper or work to meet a deadline on a project, allowing it to fester into a seemingly impenetrable wall of mutant coffee grime.
In fact, it can get so bad that no amount of scrubbing manages to free your coffee mug from the grasp of this horrendous mutant sludge. The once sweet and flavorful coffee cream has turned into a yellowish-brown ring of foul-tasting particles at the bottom of your mug, which continues to taint your coffee drinking experiences for years to come.
A rookie head coach is a lot like cream. When you first open the pack, it looks so fresh and smells so sweet. Likewise, a new head coach almost seems like a breath of fresh milky goodness when they first take over the reigns from the failed regime before them.
However, they can either go on to invigorate your franchise and take it to the next level or leave it a wretched, fetid mess in two to three years. And to top it off, it may take several more years until you find some one else to wash away the bitter taste that the last guy left behind.
In this article, I will discuss those new rookie head coaches who you will be more likely to find at the bottom of your mug than at the top of the podium hoisting a Lombardi Trophy come 2012.
Rex Ryan has a big head in more ways than one.
Yes, his head looks like one of those giant vegetables that farmers grow so they can enter local agricultural contests and entertain themselves, but his ego has outgrown even his overgrown noggin.
His ego is a giant killer tomato—a mutant vegetable that any farmer would be thrilled to have until it bites their head off. And like the movie featuring these monstrous creatures, Rex Ryan is also full of nonsense.
Since taking over as head coach of the New York Jets, Ryan has already engaged in a verbal spat with a rival player, crowned himself king of the OTAs, and taken on the closest thing the AFC East has to a real king—Bill Belichick.
Ryan loves to hear himself talk, and the New York media appears to be slurping it up like a nice, big serving of tomato soup. However, these grandiose claims and predictions could very well backfire, and if they do, those same New York writers will be taking that big, bad killer tomato and dicing him up in the papers.
Ryan's mouth, to use another cliche, is writing a check it can't cash. A guy can talk up his team all he wants in June, but it doesn't make it reality.
Ryan and his team are already proclaiming themselves to be the "best and nastiest defense" in the AFC East. And this is before they even get in pads! Unless "nasty" is a reference to some hijinks involving sweaty dudes in jockstraps in the locker room, a mental image I think we all could go on without, especially where Ryan is involved, this proclamation is completely baseless and without merit.
If he took a moment away from his daily stand-up routines to take a look at his roster, he would notice that there is no man by the name of Ray Lewis on it to ensure a perennial top-10 defense.
Ryan's focus should be on preparing his team for the season, ensuring that every member of his team is ready physically and mentally for the long road ahead, not feeding their unquenchable egos with talk of visiting the White House after their multiple (imaginary) Super Bowl victories or inflaming rivals across the country.
If Ryan continues down this path, his players will be so full of themselves by the time the season starts, that they will not know how to cope with reality when it comes raining down upon them in a harsh hail of losses and miscues.
If you take a look at last year's successful rookie head coaches, none of them made such lofty proclamations at the beginning of their tenure. Yes, they all vowed to turn their teams around, but they took a day-to-day approach. Their message was, "Give your best effort each time you are on the field, whether at an OTA, training camp, pre-season, or the regular season, and eventually things will turn around for us."
None of them were openly planning their Super Bowl victory parade routes with their teams.
His most obvious blunder this offseason was when he incited a verbal sparring match with rival Miami Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder. Even being so brash as to say that "if her were younger, he would handle [Crowder] himself."
I cannot recall the last time a coach openly engaged in trash talking with a rival player, especially in the offseason—months away from even facing the opponent. It is easy to see why no coaches before Ryan would ever bring themselves to enter such a fracas.
Why would a coach ever want to give an opposing player more motivation to stick it to their team? At best it is a strategic miscue, at worst it is a childish and irrational mentality that he carries which will make itself known during other critical moments of decision-making.
Don't get me wrong, Ryan was a great defensive coordinator, and will be again in the future, but there was a reason why one of the best talent evaluators in the business passed him over for an unproven position coach to take over his team. It is, because like other great coordinators before him, he just doesn't have the mentality of a top guy.
Could you ever picture Lombardi, Landry, Shula, or Belichick bringing themselves down to the level of a loudmouthed linebacker? There is a certain quiet yet forceful leadership and gravitas that these men carried, something that Ryan completely lacks.
Ryan will fail because he has this whole head coaching thing backwards. Do something, then talk. Don't talk before you do anything.
Rex Ryan has set himself up to drown in his own superfluous expectations—and the New York media will gleefully kick him in once they get any inkling that he isn't the Chosen One like Anakin Skywalker, to use another movie reference.
Although Rex Ryan might like to think of himself as Darth Vader, he looks more like Jabba the Hutt, and acts more like Jar-Jar Binks. It is my belief that he will end up just like all three of the aforementioned Star Wars characters—an epic failure.
Whenever I see Josh McDaniels' face, I immediately envision him engaging in an awkward stripping routine involving a Web cam and a monkey.
No, this isn't some odd fetish of mine, its just that he reminds me a whole lot of Jim from American Pie. I suppose it is an apt comparison considering both Jim and Josh are virgins in their respective fields, and they both got caught doing some rather embarrassing things in private.
In retrospect, McDaniels probably would have preferred getting caught sticking his little bronco in a tasty pastry than failing to secretly snag his former pupil, Matt Cassel, in a trade. At least then, he would still have a franchise quarterback on his squad.
Alienating the leader of your team isn't the best way to start your tenure. In fact, McDaniels handled the Cutler fiasco about as smoothly as Jim did with a horny, stupendously hot, nude foreign exchange student in his bed. He just couldn't close the deal.
A more experienced and capable coach would have been able to assuage some of Cutler's fears. Instead, he managed to further alienate him and solidify his fears.
At the time, Cutler said of his meeting with McDaniels, "I went in there with every intention of solving the issue, being a Bronco, moving forward as a Bronco. We weren't in there but about 20 minutes, [McDaniels] did most of the talking and as far as I'm concerned, he made it clear he wants his own guy. He admitted he wanted Cassel because he said he has raised him up from the ground as a quarterback. He said he wasn't sorry about it. He made it clear that he could still entertain trading me because, as he put it, he'll do whatever he feels is in the best interest of the organization."
While it is understandable that McDaniels wanted to bring in a guy he already had an established working relationship with in Cassel, it was a massive blunder to further antagonize Cutler with statements that he would still entertain trading him.
Quite simply, there was not a single QB of Cutler's talents available after Cassel for any sane coach to ever entertain the notion. I find it hard to believe that upon taking the job with Denver he thought to himself, "You know what, I need a Kyle Orton type to take this team to the next level! I can't have a beardless QB in Denver! Orton baby, SUPER BOWL."
McDaniels' shaky handling of the situation, as well as owner Pat Bowlen's failure to act as an intermediary, has had an appreciable impact on the organization. Players, such as star WR Brandon Marshall, are now trying to reenact the Cutler strategy in order to get management to fold to their demands. If the coach doesn't back the franchise QB, they think, he surely won't back little old me when the time comes.
This kind of lack of confidence and trust in their coaching staff is not conducive to success when the team goes through tough stretches of losses and disappointment.
The Cutler drama aside, McDaniels suffers from another problem—The Bill Belichick school of failure. During his tenure as NFL head coach, not a single one of Belichick's pupils has gone on to experience any appreciable amount of success on their own.
What causes this? It is hard to say, but I surmise that Belichick likes to surround himself with those that are really good at the little niche that they occupy, not big picture thinkers, such as those that make successful head coaches. Often times, his underlings leave the confines of Foxborough, and try to force the Patriot way down the throats of their new teams, only the coach doing it is a meek coordinator, not a three-time Super Bowl head coach.
McDaniels has ripped off almost everything from Belichick, even his trademarked gray Salvation Army hoodie. While imitation might be the sincerest form of flattery, it never compares to the original. You can't just rip off another guy's approach and expect it to have the same success. Especially when you come off as a little boy plagiarizing your older brother's award-winning speech.
If a coach is younger than some of his players, he better be able to relate to them and keep his communication lines open with his core group of guys, something that McDaniels has already demonstrated he does not quite grasp.
McDaniels looks like the sequel to Eric Mangini, another BB plagiarizer who went three and out. Hopefully, for Broncos fans, the franchise won't end up looking like Jim's pie in a few years...
There is a lot to like about Raheem Morris. He's young, enthusiastic, and he listens to Jay-Z and Pac instead of Vivaldi and Bach to get his mental gears spinning.
However, many of these same things might act as a detriment during his first foray into being an NFL head coach.
One second he was preparing to be just another position coach, the next he's plucked from the crowd to take over the organization from the deposed former leader.
It was an awkward shift of power that may have lasting consequences.
The fact is, Morris might not yet be prepared for the lofty position he now finds himself in. He was working his way there, no doubt, improving every unit he worked with during his decade in the business, but when you watch the guy, you get the sense that he is a kid who just inherited his dad's Lexus and is zipping around town with it, without having the years of experience and responsibility necessary keep it in good working condition.
One thing that I noticed about Morris during his introductory press conference and subsequent interviews is that he speaks in an oddly robotic, yet exuberant, yet at the same time anxious, speech pattern. It almost sounds as if he is a recovering from Tourette's Syndrome, quelling every irresistible desire to yell "F***ANEERS!" at the end of each thought process during his speech.
This might be the result of a real speech impediment, or it might be the product of nervousness. If it is the latter, it may be some cause for concern for it might foretell that he is not quite ready to be calling the shots all on his own.
Morris has often been compared to Mike Tomlin, head coach of the Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers. While there are certainly some valid comparisons between the two personalities, the way they got their first HC opportunity and the situations they found themselves in were quite different. Tomlin, like Morris, was also a a young, enthusiastic assistant coach, however, he had been elevated to the position of defensive coordinator a year before he finally got a the job as head coach of the Steelers.
There is more responsibility with that role, and he undoubtedly learned a lot about dealing with a large number of parts within a single unit during that time. Experience that he was able to apply to his new role as head coach. Morris did function in a coordinator capacity on the collegiate level, but dealing with college kids is a far different task than dealing with full grown professionals.
Additionally, Tomlin was taking over for a franchise that was a year removed from a Super Bowl victory, hardly a team falling apart at the seams, in need of a seasoned and firm hand to help stitch it back together again. Had Tomlin taken over the Lions instead of the Steelers, he might be on a much different career path right now.
A better comparison for Morris right now, might be Jim Zorn of the Washington Redskins. The Buccaneers are closer to the Redskins than the Steelers in more ways than just geographically speaking.
Is Morris up to the task of being responsible for building up a franchise that has been gutted like a rotten corpse? In my opinion, his affable approach is more suited to a veteran club, than a young, inexperienced one in need of a steady hand to guide it out of the abyss.
Morris' eventual failure may not be all his fault. If he doesn't have the players and the support from the community and a GM to help him get his sea legs during the rough waters that certainly lay ahead for the Buccaneers, he may be thrown off the ship before he ever really gets comfortable with the role of captain.
However, I have a feeling that he will have much better success during his second venture out to sea once he becomes grizzled and weathered by the harsh squalls of failure he had to endure during his time in Tampa Bay.
At first glance, I thought Willis from Different Strokes was making a comeback, but this time as an NFL head coach.
I started looking around for a pint-sized, grumpy brat to make an appearance in the coaching ranks, trying to one-up his older brother, but my hopes were dashed when I discovered that was actually Jim Caldwell, not Todd Bridges.
In any case, there might be a whole lot of "What'choo talkin' about, Jim" chants coming from the Colts' fan base in the future.
It would appear that Caldwell is actually getting into a pretty good situation. He has familiarity with the franchise, the scheme, and its players. He has a legendary quarterback and GM to help ease his transition from assistant coach to head coach, and has been groomed by a Super Bowl champion and potential Hall of Fame head coach in Tony Dungy to be his successor.
And, the team is only a few years removed from reaching the pinnacle of success. However, when you fall from such great heights, it's all the more painful.
Colts fans have been accustomed to winning. Year in and year out, they expect playoffs, and they get playoffs. So what will happen when they eventually fail to reach the post-season?
It won't be pretty. It's never easy to replace a legend. They will find their scapegoat in Caldwell.
Here are some facts on Caldwell: He was an offensive position coach in the college ranks for two decades before eventually heading a Wake Forest program in the 90s that had just won a bowl game and was ranked in the top 25 prior to his arrival.
Once Caldwell took over, he proceeded to strip the program of any and all success, ending his eight-year tenure with a horrid 29-percent winning percentage.
Following this miserable failure, he hopped to the NFL to become a QB coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Dungy. He followed Dungy to Indianapolis the following year, where he remained as Dungy's offensive consigliere until his retirement this offseason.
The problem is, how much of a role did Caldwell have in the team's success?
Tom Moore has always been credited as being the genius behind Indy's offense, Dungy was the steady hand guiding the defense, and Peyton Manning was God. And God doesn't need a position coach.
Peyton likely learned about playing QB from Caldwell about as much as he learned to act from which ever inferior acting coach attempted to teach him how to deliver the "cut that meat" line with such great passion. Peyton doesn't need acting classes, because he is a damn natural.
Tom Cruise calls upon Lord Xenu every night in hopes of attaining even a semblance of Manning's God-given acting talent. Likewise, he doesn't need a QB coach. They just get in the way of his natural greatness.
So where does that leave Caldwell?
Reaping the benefits of everyone else's successes.
How will he fare without Dungy and Moore by his side? I have a feeling things will be more like the Wake Forest days than the recent years of Indy post-season glory.
A few 7-9 seasons, and Caldwell will be on the street along with Todd Bridges, looking for work in which ever C-list capacity they can provide.