NFL Coaches Must Adapt To New League

After being officially eliminated from playoff contention on Sunday, the talks are bound to begin on Head Coach Jeff Fisher.

Tennessee has now lost seven of their last eight after starting the season 5-2. The Titans have seen the complete opposite end of the spectrum from last year, where they started the season 0-6 and finished strong.

So, is this streak of losses due to coaching?

Short answer : Yes, Long Answer : Coaches looking to control all aspects of their organization are becoming a thing of the past.

Many coaches are on the hot seat this time of the year, and many of them have Super Bowl resumes.

Let’s look at three separate coaching situations, Mike Shanahan of the Redskins, Tom Coughlin of the Giants, and Jeff Fisher of the Titans.

Mike Shanahan : 151-107, 2 Super Bowl Rings, 4 Division Championships

Why he has failed : Shanahan’s best two players, Albert Hayneworth and Donovan McNabb, are not on the field. Trouble started in training camp with Haynesworth when he was unwilling to play the nose tackle in Shanahan’s 3-4 scheme. Haynesworth wanted to be free to make plays in the backfield rather than clogging up the middle of the defense for his linebackers. And personally, I can’t blame him. When you are an NFL coach, you must adapt to your players strengths and find a way to scheme around them. And if they are unwilling to play in that scheme, don’t sign them. Look at the Pittsburgh Steelers and Troy Polamalu for example. Polamalu shines when he is able to read the field and react to what is in front of him. How good would that hair be if it sat back in a cover two scheme and was unable to make a read on run plays?

Tom Coughlin : 132-107, 1 Super Bowl, 5 Division Championships

Why he has failed : A consistent lack of consistency. Like the Titans, the Giants have played streaky football by starting seasons strong and flopping late into the season. After being outscored 77-24 in the past six quarters of play, Coughlin’s job security is falling harder than the snow in Philadelphia. The Giant collapse against the Philadelphia Eagles has started this downward spiral, and I don’t believe Coughlin has the pull to tie this team together in time to face who else, Mike Shanahan and the Washington Redskins.

Jeff Fisher : 142-118, 1 Conference Championship, 4 Division Championships

Why he has failed : Division in the locker room. After Vince Young was placed on Injured Reserve, the Titans have gone 1-5, and have seen their scoring average drop from 28.1 points per game to 15.8 points per game. Another example of being unable to work with the players that will best help your team win. Obviously there will be discussion on whether Young is the quarterback for this team, it is hard to argue with a 13 point difference and a 5-4 record vs. 1-5. The problems in the locker room has since been noted by tight end Bo Scaife, who said “I think (coach) Jeff (Fisher) has probably given that impression to him,” Scaife said. “That is between him and Coach Fish and no one knows what is going on between them two. But if people knew the real story they might understand the situation a little better.” Fisher is the head coach, and always must be the bigger person in these situations. More important than your personal pride is the ability to bring a team together and find a way to win football games. Fisher has obviously not done this. Oh, and lets not forget to mention the signing of wide receiver Randy Moss, who has five receptions for 62 yards since joining the Titans.

The day of the dictator coach is over. The NFL is run by players and GM’s. A coach’s role is now to gameplan, scheme, and to insure the cohesiveness of the team. Look at the Kansas City Chiefs as an example. Rather than looking for the highest name head coach, they found the best GM, Scott Pioli. Pioli put his head coach Todd Haley in the correct position to win football games by putting faith in his team and his quarterback.

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One Response to “NFL Coaches Must Adapt To New League”

  1. Chris Bach says:

    I would disagree about Shanahan. 1. He hasn’t failed, he’s won 5 games in a rebuilding season. 2. Work ethic and flexibility should factor in to who the best players are. The two best Redskins are Rex Grossman and Brian Orakpo, in my opinion. Rex led the team to 20 offensive points in back-to-back weeks (though the second game needed overtime; Cooley dropped four passes), something #5 didn’t do all year.

    Good take, though.