Critical look at two "great coaches"

Let’s take a closer look at two NFL coaches, both of whom have a great reputation, yet continuosly come up short when the chips are down. First up, Marty Schottenheimer.
Sure, we’ve all heard the same hype..great defensive mind…terrific understanding of the game..deep football roots…the list goes on and on. Schottenheimer’s current team, the San Diego Chargers, barely won a game this week against a depleted New Yory Jets team, the latter finishing the game under the guidance of a third string QB by the name of Brooks Bollinger. Yes, Brooks is a gutsy kid, but the Chargers held a 21-10 first half lead, and an enviable three headed monster on offense – QB Drew Brees, RB Ladainian Thomlinson, and TE Antonio Gates ( all due respect of course to veteran WR Keenan McKardell who still has plenty left in the tank ). The Chargers have lost four games by a total of only twelve points, and were on the verge of losing this one but were saved by the inexperience of Jets QB Brooks Bollinger. My point ? This game should never have been close. The Chargers had 21 points at the half, yet only managed to score one TD in the second half. Coach Marty’s supporters will contend that he is not actually on the field making or not making plays. Bottom line is this, Marty has a history of playing scared, folding during crunch time and losing close games. Going back to the mid 80’s, John Elway was made famous by “The Drive” leading his Broncos from behind, to defeat the Cleveland Browns in the AFC Title game in 1986, 23-20 in OT. The Browns head coach ? Of course it was Marty Schottenheimer. In fact, certain Denver players stated that once OT began, they knew they’d win because they could tell the Browns were not trying to win, rather they were just trying to “not lose”. Translation – gutless….the team mirrors the coach. Just an aberration ? Hardly. It was deja vu the next year, when the Broncos beat them again 38-33 in the AFC Title game ( yeah, I know Ernest Byner made one of the most dramatic and costly fumbles in NFL playoff history, but the song remains the same ). Schottenheimer has absolutely zero killer instinct and has always played way too conservative to win when it really counts. His years in Kansas City yielded similar results, and his years in Washington were a disgrace. Former defensive coordinators have historicaly made bad head coaches; the most notable examples being Bud Carson, Buddy Ryan, Ray Rhodes, and Dave Waanstedt; the most notable exceptions being of course Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick , the latter just happened to be the Defensive coordinator on Parcells’ 1986 and 1990 New York Giants Super Bowl Championship teams, where he learned what it takes to win. It is really quite simple. To win, one must be willing to attack, attacking is not a natural instinct of the defensive minded, thus defensive coordinators have a tough time as Head Coaches. Great coaches not only get the best from their players, but also adapt a game plan which plays to the strengths of their team. The situation in San Diego ? A QB in Drew Brees who shows great poise has a good arm and isn’t afraid to throw the ball downfield, a RB in Ladainian Thomlinson who is now being compared to Barry Sanders and Walter Payton, an unstoppable 6′ 4′ 260 lb TE in Antonio Gates, and a head coach in Marty Scottenheimer who sees his life flash before his eyes every time his QB throws the ball over eight yards. Imagine the points and yardage this current offense would be rolling up were they instead under the guidance of a head coach who was not so afraid to stretch the field. It is so interesting listening to NFL broadcasters trying to rationalize why the Chargers don’t have a better record. It’s really quite simple, if you’re afriad to lose, you’re afraid to win. As long as Schottenheimer is the head coach in San Diego, the team will not go to the Super Bowl. ‘Nuff said.
The coaching resume of the NFL’s longest tenured active head coach (Bill Cowher, Pittsburgh Steelers, currently in his 14th season ) looks quite impressive on paper; 13 seasons in Pittsburgh, nine postseason berths, captured eight division titles, advanced to five AFC Championship games and made one Super Bowl appearance. He is one of only six coaches in NFL history to claim at least eight division titles. Is Cowher a “good” coach ? Of course. A “great” coach ? Of course….not. Bill Cowher, who just coincedentily was Schottenheimer’s special teams, and secondary coach in Cleveland 1985-1988 before becoming Marty’s defensive coordinator in Kansas City from 1989 – 1991, apparently learned to run scared while under Marty’s tutelage. Cowher’s Steeler teams have lost four out of five AFC Championship games, amongst them an inexplicable 17-13 loss at home to the San Diego Chargers ( coached at that time by Bobby Ross ) in 1994. I will have to say that Cowher is a more gutsy coach than Schottenheimer, but when the chips are down, Cowher folds – just like his mentor. When all is said and done, Bill Cowher’s coaching record is as deceptive as the 40,000 plus passing yards of Vinny Testaverde and Warren Moon. One could look at this coaches’ surname and make a really bad pun about his approach to big games…but I shall instead take the high road. See ya’

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