The gap of accountability between coordinator and head coach in any sport is enormous. It is the same at every level of athletics. From high school to the ranks of the NFL, the weight shouldered by head coaches are massive.
To bridge this gap, coaches who have indoctrinated themselves with a specific set of schemes and have spent years looking through the eyes of a much-narrowed perspective must now take on the task of managing a whole other side of the ball.
Many coordinators have aspired to be head honcho of a professional football team, and just as many have failed. There are a number of assistants on pro staffs in 2011 who would be intriguing candidates for head coaching positions, but there are some that should pass on the offer.
Here are nine potential candidates who might be better off not answering the call.
I don’t get it. I just do not get it.
I will never understand how conversations regarding would-be head coaches in the NFL include Brian Schottenheimer. He is the offensive coordinator of one of the largest market teams in the National Football League, yet repeatedly fields one of the worst performing offenses every season under his guidance.
In the six seasons with Schottenheimer at the helm, the Jets offense has averaged a 20th league-wide ranking in total yards and 15th in scoring. His play-calling has created a culture where a Jets touchdown appears more miracle than arrangement, and has provided inconsistent quarterback Mark Sanchez no opportunity for success.
What comes if it? Excuses are made, blame is deflected and somehow Schottenheimer’s name remains among those considered to take over another team sooner than later.
The Jets offense under Schottenheimer barely finds enough occasional success to save his job, much less give him credentials for a head coaching position of even United Football League height. Now that I mention it, maybe his father can help him get that job as well.
I was the very last steadfast believer in Brian Schottenheimer as a potentially effective play-caller at the professional level given the right situation and tools. My patience, as well as the patience of all Jets faithful, has run out.
Unless Schottenheimer is posted on some remote island on the outer Arctic banks coaching a gang of sea lions on how to pass a rubber ball between them, he will be drastically under-qualified for his job.
The National Football League as a professional entity cannot handle another Ryan as head coach of one of their franchises. There is simply not enough ink in the world to provide for the newspapers, not enough fingers in the world to keep up with the typing that would be generated by pro football’s answer to the Tweedles.
In seriousness, history has dictated that the two head coaches that have come from the Ryan family have such a stubborn tunnel vision towards the defensive side of the football that the teams they lead ultimately suffer because of it.
There is no reason to believe that Rob will be the Ryan to overcome those genetics.
Beyond their limited understanding of offensive football, the defense that Brother Rob has fielded in each of the past few years (including this year) has not exactly been the barnstorming fear factory the brilliantly coiffed blitz caller would lead you to believe.
Ryan’s 2011 Cowboys defense has wandered outside a top 10 ranking throughout the season and has often come up short at crucial game moments, including division losses to New York and Philadelphia. His coordinating efforts in Cleveland and Oakland did not fare much better, failing to crack that illusive top 10 ranking each year.
If Rob intends on adding his name to the family head-coaching tree, he certainly has to add to his resume before applying.
At the very moment the Denver Broncos walked off the M&T Bank Field in Baltimore with their first loss of the 2009 season, the end was already near for Josh McDaniels as a head coach in the National Football League. Following a phenomenal 6-0 start in his first six games as head coach, including a shocking upset against mentor Bill Belichick in Week 5, McDaniels seemed to be on a fast track to coaching superstardom.
Denver went on to lose 16 of their next 21 games before McDaniels was fired prior to Week 14 of the 2010 season. In those 21 games, the Broncos defense allowed 561 points while posting only one decent performance against the New York Giants.
Just two short years later, McDaniels has been banished to St. Louis, NFL’s equivalent to Siberia.
There are few, if any, teams in football that can constantly keep up with a weekly track meet sprint, and a Josh McDaniels defense certainly cannot. This reality is so apparent that Josh may never receive another shot at leading a team as head coach.
The stigma that has been attached to 35-year-old Josh McDaniels is a strange one. A month ago, McDaniels’ efforts to snag Tim Tebow in the 2009 draft was seen as a move that symbolized his ineptitude as an administrator. “He doomed Denver for the next decade,” they all seemed to rationalize.
I wonder if the final nail in McDaniels’ coffin in Denver is now considered his final gift.
I am slightly torn on this entry. There is something intriguing about a coach who, in only his fifth season as a coach on the pro level, stands toe-to-toe with a New England immortal in front of 69,000 rabid fans. I believe that is why, at least for the time being, O’Brien should stay off the head-coaching block.
Both of the previous official Patriots offensive coordinators, Charlie Weis and Josh McDaniels, were swiftly scooped up for head coaching positions after their stints with Belichick and company, and it's safe to say there will be someone somewhere interested in O’Brien when his time comes.
Considering how well the New England offense is operating yet again this season that moment may be fast approaching. Hopefully he is better prepared than his predecessors were.
These three coaches disqualify themselves from competing for a head coaching position for all the same reason: We have seen it before. Each of these four coordinators has presided over some of the worst teams and seasons in recent NFL history. As the old adage says, misery loves company.
Linehan marched his 2007 Detroit Lions to an awful 3-13 last place season despite a roster that included Steven Jackson, Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt. Linehan, a former offensive coordinator, began the 2008 season with four straight losses and his offense was outscored by over 100 points before losing his job in Week 5.
Marinelli may forever be linked to the only team to lose every game in a 16-game season. Worse yet, that bottom-dwelling effort came two years after his Detroit Lions mustered a pathetic 3-13 record in 2006. He has returned to a bit of relevance as defensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears, but he should stay at arm’s length from a head coaching position.
Like Marinelli, Cam Cameron might also not be able to shed his tie to a dreadful year. In his one season as head coach of the Miami Dolphins, Marinelli accumulated 15 losses in a franchise-worst 1-15 campaign in 2007.
These two old war horses have over a half-century of NFL coaching experience and have coordinated some incredibly dominant defenses in those 53 combined seasons, but their experiences as head coach lead you to believe that they are best suited as bridesmaids.
What concerns me the most about these two coordinators as head coaches is the multiple opportunities they were both offered by several NFL teams over the years. It leads me to believe that should Capers and Phillips continue their successful runs with the Packers and Texans respectively, there will be some desperate team willing to give them yet another second chance.
While Phillips saw some semblance of success initially with Denver, Buffalo, Atlanta and Dallas, he was unable to secure long-term viability with any of the four teams. Meanwhile, Capers fell minutes short of the Super Bowl, guiding his 1996 Carolina Panthers to the NFC Championship game in only their second season as an NFL franchise.
The issue with these two coaches becoming head coaches again in this era is exactly the same that cost them the jobs I have mentioned. The teams guided by Phillips and Capers found short-term success and found little else. Each of these teams quickly dissolved and could not regenerate the feat again.