In the NFL, 31 teams go home at the end of the season as losers. If you think about it that’s 97 percent of the league that doesn’t accomplish the ultimate goal every single year. It doesn’t matter if your favorite team won their division if they didn’t win the Super Bowl, they still came up short.
As previously stated in earlier blogs, football is a business and owners do whatever it takes to make their product earn. Unfortunately there are times when the monster eats itself or some teams just don’t have the structure in place internally. Many times what’s seen on the field reflects that lack of planning by General Managers or Owners but at the end of the year when the results are in, the coach takes the fall.
The coach may not be able to win with the lack of depth they were given or maybe the GM didn’t give them players that fit their system. Too bad, the coach is the one to go. Think about all the different parts of a football team and the number of players that have to do their job. If one player doesn’t perform their assignment the whole chain will snap. Many times the players don’t realize that the average career of an NFL player is less than 4 years. Players see guys like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning that have longevity in a rough and tumble league. However, because of the violent collisions injuries are common and career threatening.
When these players drop their end of the rope, coaches have to scramble to find someone else to pick it up. It’s what many refer to as a “next man up” mentality. The problem is there are guys who aren’t able to deal with the pressure or the pace and they too fall. Even though most players in the NFL are close to the same skill set in most areas, it’s the mental aspect that makes guys great. It’s up to coaches to push men to find that.
But what happens when guys tune that out? Or what happens when some guys don’t have the ability to push through that final wall? Scouting players isn’t a science, as is evident by the many busts in the NFL draft. These players can become what is known as “coach killers” contributing to the average length of a coaching career being less than 5 years. Think about that player who was drafted and fizzled out within his first 4 years in the league even though the first year coach relied so heavy on him. Now the coach might have one more year to prove himself, but more than likely that coach is already out the door.
When we watch football very few of us think of those guys that walk up and down the sidelines. Not just the main guys like Bill Belichick or Mike Tomlin. There are those men behind them, the ones that give their all to coach the wide receivers or the defensive backs that rarely have their names in the paper or the news. When a defense plays lights out it’s normally the defensive coordinator who gets the credit even though that defensive backs coach gave up his free time and his life to be there researching and preparing too. When the coach gets fired guess who is going to go too? All those coaches. Maybe some of them will never get another job in football even though they were great at what they did. The problem is no one knew them except for that coach and now he can’t find another job. But the players who let go of the rope, they might get another shot. That General Manager who didn’t bring in enough players that were good enough to cover for injuries? You can bet he’s still there.
I understand that coaches watch film and prepare a game plan. They call the plays and try to put the players in the right position to win however sometimes it isn’t the coach’s fault that a team loses. Sometimes there truly are bad teams based upon the roster they’ve been given. Sure it’s up to them to make the best of hands they are dealt but I think many times fans, executives and the media expect way too much of coaches instead of realizing that players have to be held accountable too. Coaches aren’t miracle workers, they are human and can only do so much- it’s time to stop blaming them for everything and start praising them.