Great Year To Not Need A Coach

It’s a great year to not need a football coach.


He won an NCAA title and coached in the NFL, and no one wants him

The coaching carousel appears to be broken. Rex Ryan might have been the best coach available, and he was unemployed because he was deservedly fired. And he’d only be a good hire if you already had an offense but needed your defense to be completely rebuilt. That is the exact opposite situation of the Bills, who decided to hire him. Todd Bowles fits that description too but minus the experience, instead he takes over the disaster that Ryan was fired from. Doug Marrone quit his job in Buffalo to not be hired by the Jets and had to settle for offensive line coach in Jacksonville, hopefully for him just a stop before taking some ACC job next year. You should have just taken the year off Doug. John Fox takes his conservative-to-a-fault game managing to the implosion in Chicago, the Raiders spun the wheel of crappy retread head coaches and landed with Jack Del Rio, and San Francisco booted their best coach since Bill Walsh and replaced him with a guy who can’t speak.

Weak hires and bad fits. Great year to not need a coach. Not just a head coach but a coordinator too. When Todd Grantham is in a position to say no, it’s a really bad job market. That’s greatly illustrated here in Georgia, where there will be two “what the hell they doing” hires made, at the Falcons and at the University of Georgia.

First, UGA. Mike Bobo took the head coaching job at Colorado State, which was a good move for him and for the Rams. To replace Bobo, Mark Richt hired… Brian Schottenheimer. This makes no sense. His offenses were never good, play calling stinks, and he’s has no real track record of developing young players. What’s the appeal? That his dad was Marty? Nepotism runs high in coaching. Schottenheimer’s first five years of employment in the NFL was because his father was the head coach, he then worked for Eric Mangini, Rex Ryan and Jeff Fisher, three coaches who are even better at killing their own offenses than the oppositions’, in part because they hired Schottenheimer.

The only real appeal is that Georgia has a seemingly endless supply of running backs, and Schottenheimer likes runs the ball. But running the ball and being good at running the ball are not the same. Schottenheimer’s teams were good at neither. In five of his nine seasons as an OC, his offenses were at or below the league average in attempts. His 2009 and 2010 Jets were 1st and 2nd in rushing attempts, and 1st and 4th those years in rushing yards. But again, volume does not equate success, they were 11th and 5th in rush DVOA those seasons. Richt also named him QB coach, which is particularly hilarious because Drew Brees got good in San Diego immediately after Schottenheimer left. In New York and St. Louis he failed to develop anyone, Mark Sanchez and Sam Bradford are essentially the same players they were without Schottenheimer. In fairness only a handful of coaches would get improved play out them, but at the same time “garbage in, garbage out” isn’t a defense for hiring a coach. Virtually all of Schottenheimer’s “success” came with veteran players on offense scoring just enough points, the defenses of the Jets and Rams were the engines of the teams he was on. With underclassmen at nearly every skill position, that won’t be the case in Athens, though the defense should be good.

Mark Richt has a done a really nice job underachieving with the talent he has, this is a great way to continue that. He got a contract extension.

But hey, at least somebody wanted that job. That’s more than you can say about the Falcons. What should have been the most desirable head coaching job available was apparently the one that nobody wants. The Falcons have an established QB, a top WR for him to throw to, just drafted a top LT prospect, play in a winnable division and have a top 10 draft pick. That’s as good as you can ask for when taking over a bad team. And everyone is passed on them.

Rex Ryan didn’t feel like they really wanted him. Todd Bowles preferred to take the Jets job, which should had no appeal. So they are hiring Dan Quinn, mainly because nobody else will hire him. Quinn might turn out to be the best coach that was hired in 2015. The problem isn’t who they hired. It’s how they wound up with him.

And it shouldn’t be that much of a surprise. Thomas Dimitroff continues to live off his reputation from his first season. His drafts have been otherwise terrible. The Julio Jones trade didn’t hurt the Falcons, it helped them: all the picks they gave up meant less opportunities for Dimitroff to draft a bust. Instead of firing him, Blank waited a week or so and decided he was staying, but with a shifted role. When asked what that role was, he answered by rattling off Dimitroff’s bio and then Scott Pioli’s, even though the question had nothing to do with either Pioli or Dimitroff’s resume. Blank didn’t just duck the question, he answered a completely different one.

Pioli appears to have more power now. Why? Blank praised the job Pioli did this year, while talking about the process to replace the head coach because the season they had was so bad. Pioli’s time in Kansas City was poor and also filled with terrible draft picks. He did a great job in New England, but without Bill Belichick he’s been a poor GM. Tyson Jackson did nothing in KC, and Pioli brought him to Atlanta where he predictably did nothing. Ditto Javier Arenas. Is Jonathan Baldwin next?

So with no clear direction from the owner and no clear direction from the front office, can you fault a coach for not wanting to work there? Can you blame Rex Ryan for not feeling like he was wanted?

That said, credit to the Falcons for not falling under the nonsensical trap of hiring a coach because he’s available after the first round of the playoffs because “that’s what teams do.” Plenty of coaches get hired a year later than they should have because teams are afraid to wait for their team to be eliminated. As if one or two weeks where there is no practice is going to make a difference, especially when the front office remains in place. Assistants were hired, including Brian Schottenheimer’s lousy nepotism counterpart, Kyle Shanahan, so it’s not like the team wasn’t represented at the Senior Bowl. Though considering how slow the Falcons were to do anything this off-season, and that coaches didn’t want to come to Atlanta, that may not have been by design.

As a neutral fan, these moves will be interesting to watch.

What a great year to not need a coach.

The 20 Days of Eaglea


On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

20 Dawkins-a-crawling

19 Wins in two years go back to college Chip

18 Maclins-a-self tackling

17 Carmichaels-a-red zone threating

16 Halls-a-scrapping

15 Van Burens-a-grouching

14 Coopers-a-epitheting

13 Damarises-a-kneeling

12 Randalls-a-scrambling

11 Huffs-a-dropping

10 Jacksons-a-frauding

9 Foles-a-fumbling

8 Donnies-a-footballing

7 Vicks-a-turning over

6 Henerys-a-missing


4 Kolbs-a-scrambling

3 Sanchezes-a-stumbling

2 Akers-a-game winning

And a safety in the first round.

H/T to @ohwowhmm, @prototyler and @log__off.

Big Balls van Gaal

“van Gaal simply didn’t want to work with me, he treats players like interchangeable objects,” said Toni. “The coach wanted to make clear to us that he can drop any player, it was all the same to him because, as he said, he had the balls,” said Toni. “He demonstrated this literally (by dropping his trousers). I have never experienced anything like it, it was totally crazy. Luckily I didn’t see a lot, because I wasn’t in the front row.”

-Luca Toni, 2011

Louis van Gaal figuratively whipped his balls out on the biggest stage of the world, making out of left field substitution and it paid off brilliantly. It deserves special praise that go beyond 140 characters on Twitter, so it’s time to fire up the blog. Most of what you can read about the shootout is little more than “Krul rattled them.” He did, but how? By van Gaal–and Krul–giving his team some big advantages.

Marginal advantages can be the difference between winning and losing. Everybody loves an underdog but at the World Cup the best team almost always wins, in part because the have more than a few advantages over the weaker side.


What If The Eagles Kept Trading Down?

In my most recent post at Bleeding Green Nation I looked at possible draft trades for the Eagles. The genesis for the post was a very different idea, one that as I kept going turned out to be really bizarre and not worth a post there. But I give you here, my loyalest of readers, the leftovers and unused bits.

The Seattle Seahawks won the Super Bowl this year with a roster stocked with late round picks. Nine players who started at some point in the season were drafted by the Seahawks in the first three rounds. 17 players who started were drafted in the 4th round or later. That is in part due to there being more picks in rounds 4-7 (plus undrafted free agency) than there are picks in rounds 1-3, but the Seahawks picked up more than their fair share of players this way: Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Walter Thurmond, Brandon Browner, Byron Maxwell and Red Bryant were late picks or UDFA. With so many players on cheap contracts, the Seahawks were able to supplement their roster nicely with free agents. Some might see this as a blueprint to build a team. One way to go about setting the foundation based on this blueprint would be to trade back in the early rounds and pick up some extra late picks.

What if we took that to an extreme? What if we looked at the past three years and retroactively had the Eagles trade down and didn’t stop until their first pick was in the fourth round? What kind of team would you have?


Let Them Eat Crow

The release of DeSean Jackson has been, unsurprisingly, massively unpopular. In the lead up to DeSean’s exit, there was also anger, at the writers who said that this day was coming. They’re professionals and it would be low class for them to gloat. I, on the other hand, have no such qualms or standards. It’s time for a lot of people to eat crow.


But first, John my friend, you are off the hook on a technicality.

Now let’s get down to business…


Moving on Up

Big news for the few, the proud, the loyal Southern Philly readers: I’m at Bleeding Green Nation now. Huge thanks to BGN Editor in Chief Brandon Lee Gowton and also his partners in crime, Mike Kaye and the on-haitus Dan Klausner for their support, along with James Keane.

My first step into the spotlight, Anti-Heroes Are Hard to Find is up:

The NFL, we like to say, is “a copycat league.” Someone has a great idea that works and they are lauded as a genius, in invention this is called “the hero theory,” that individuals are considered singularly responsible for extending man’s reach, and labeled as a genius, or hero. Football is not much different, one person’s idea rises above the rest and they are hailed a genius, then coaches around the league assimilate it and everyone moves on to the next big thing.

There is a counterpart to this theory: “multiple discovery,” that ideas spring up completely independently and simultaneously by multiple people. This is an usual occurrence in the NFL where at any given time a third of the coaches and GMs are on the hot seat. The league may be on the verge of another blueprint to copy. Should the Seahawks win, their approach will be lauded as the New New Thing that other teams would be wise to do until something deemed to be better comes along. What they will not realize is that some teams are already independently operating in a similar fashion.

 A front office making shrewd roster moves turning over every stone they can to build a deep and balanced roster, coupled with an ultra competitive coach with a trademark philosophy getting the most out of the castoffs and rejects given to him. That is not an easy combination to find, but it is not unique to Seattle. It sounds a lot like the Eagles.

As for this blog, I aim to have non-Eagles content here. Can’t promise anything.

Scrutiny now settling on shaky Browns CEO

What a difference a year makes.

No coaching search has been as meandering and bizarre as the Browns’ circuitous trek across America. If you are replacing your coach after one year, you might want to actually have a plan to replace him.

Chasing every lukewarm college coach, scrambling to the media to confirm some coaching interviews, obscure others; releasing skewed information about your whereabouts and resorting to day-late spin tactics after being repeatedly left at the altar isn’t going to fly in Cleveland. Not when the entire league knew Rob Chudzinski was praised in middle of the season then fired at the end of it, and not with a nominal general manager, Michael Lombardi, trying to fight a growing perception around the league that he is woefully out of his depth. (Say what you want about the Vikings exhaustive search, but they haven’t been strung out by college coaches who were unlikely to leave campus anyway).


Youth Gone Wild

Age considers, youth ventures.

-Rabindranath Tagore

The 2013 Eagles season ended in disappointment, but that it ended in 2014 meant it was an overall success. There is a lot of reason for optimism for next season.

This is only Year One

This is only Year One

I have a general rule that a person or a team or whatever must be good or bad for two seasons in a row before I can really say they are good or bad. Anyone can have a singular great season, and anyone can have an isolated terrible season, and this is magnified in the small sample size that is an NFL season. But Chip Kelly has me second guessing myself. Beyond the obvious highs this season of winning the division, career years from DeSean Jackson, Shady McCoy and historical performances from McCoy and Nick Foles, something else stood out to me that gives me confidence for next year.


It’s Blitz!

The Eagles clawed out a victory in a must win game against the Cowboys. One of the talking points of the game was the Dez Bryant touchdown on 4th down and how it reflects upon the larger picture of the job Billy Davis has done this season.


While I am no fan of Davis, he and his staff do have positives. All of the young players on the defense, Cox, Thornton, Logan, Curry, Kendricks, Boykin and Wolff have all improved as the season has progressed, which is an excellent sign for the future and very good reflection of the coaching staff. The one positive constant during Davis’ tenure in Arizona was his defenses were good at getting turnovers, and that has been the case this season. The run defense is strong, and while that matters less than passing, at least they’re strong at something for a change after years of futility.

However there are demerits to be given, and they have been consistent all season long, which is troubling. But first, the play everyone is arguing about, Dez Bryant’s 4th down touchdown.


Eternity Is A Long Time

The Eagles are on the doorstep of the playoffs, with the Cowboys standing in their way on Sunday night. Win and they are in, but it is not enough to simply defeat the Cowboys. The Eagles need to beat them. In a season full of memories, one more is not too much to ask. MNF opening day destruction of the Redskins, Nick Foles throwing 7 TDs, Shady in the snow and blowing out the Bears on SNF were great. But a loss to the Cowboys would negate all of that. This Sunday night, the 2013 Eagles can live forever by beating Dallas. Because while beating the Redskins or Giants is great, beating the Cowboys is special. The Body Bag Game and Eagles Porn and the Miracles at the Meadowlands are games that we will never forget, but Cowboys games are a different level of schadenfreude that has gone on a long time.