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  1. #1
    singersp's Avatar
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    Longevity lacking in head coaches' demanding realm

    Posted on Mon, Feb. 27, 2006

    [size=18px]Longevity lacking in head coaches' demanding realm[/size]

    BY ALAN SCHMADTKE
    The Orlando Sentinel


    INDIANAPOLIS - The fraternity is like no other.
    It is one of the rarest in the world and also one of the most visible in the world, with a network all its own. There are only 32 members.

    Long-established members suggest savoring the brotherhood as if it were a rare wine, one that has but a sliver of time for enjoyment. Because that's what coaching a team in the NFL has become.

    Five years ago, 32 head coaches came to the NFL Scouting Combine during their most relaxing time of the year and evaluated 2001's draft prospects.

    Today, only seven of those 32 hold the same job.
    Bill Cowher, the league's longest-tenured coach, landed in Pittsburgh in 1992. Since, the New York Jets and the Washington Redskins each have hired six coaches. Oakland has had five.

    "When I was here four years ago (as an assistant coach), I remember sitting in the dome by myself looking around. Didn't really know anybody," new St. Louis Rams Coach Scott Linehan said from the RCA Dome, where this year's NFL prospects went through their first sets of job interviews.

    "My challenge then was figuring out what I was going to do with the Minnesota Vikings' offense. . . . Now, every decision, somebody says, `What's Coach want?' It comes across my desk."

    Linehan is part of the largest class of first-time NFL head coaches in recent memory. Nearly one-third of the league's teams take new coaches into the 2006 season.

    Beginning with the draft process, 10 teams introduce new head coaches; seven of the 10 are first-timers.

    Specialties vary
    Some are West Coast-offense aficionados, others defensive specialists. One comes out of the Bill Belichick lineage, another from Tony Dungy's tenure at Tampa Bay.

    Those are some of their specialties and differences. They have one thing in common. Job security is tenuous. They have it now. It won't always be so.

    History suggests in another five years, by the 2011 combine, more than half of them will be doing something else. That leaves little time for turning blueprints into reality.

    And this: "There's no handbook for the head coaching job," second-year Browns Coach Romeo Crennel said. "People can tell you a little bit about it, but there's no handbook. When it happens, it happens. You have to understand and deal with the things you have to deal with and be better prepared the second time or the second year - assuming you get a second year."

    Year 1 is a blur. By the time first-year coaches have their staffs in place, the combine is here. Just about the time they wish there were more player evaluations to make, the draft comes. By then, off-season workouts are in full-force.

    Next come mini-camps, passing camps, veteran camps and, finally, training camp.

    "Got to get a lot done in a very short period of time," new Detroit Coach Rod Marinelli said.

    Being in the fraternity means never-ending video clips on the NFL Network. Traveling in obscurity is over. Walking from the media room to the dome here means dealing with the cadre of autograph seekers and souvenir hounds.

    Soon, days of going to and from practice without a camera running are over.

    Everybody knows their name. Everybody wants to know what they think. Even their own people. Especially their own people.

    Progress is expected, especially considering their million-dollar contracts.
    "I can't get you a specific example, but it's seeing the things you're trying to get done actually take place - however that manifests itself," said new Jets Coach Eric Mangini, a Belichick disciple and at 35 the NFL's youngest head coach. "I've seen it enough times to know what it should look like.

    It's got to look the way I expect it to look, and as long as we're moving in that direction, then I'll be happy."

    Three of this year's changed coaching slots - Oakland's Art Shell, Kansas City's Herman Edwards and Buffalo's Dick Jauron - have been here at least once before.

    For the seven newcomers - Linehan, Marinelli, Mangini, Mike McCarthy (Green Bay), Brad Childress (Minnesota), Gary Kubiak (Houston) and Sean Payton (New Orleans) - this is all new. They're navigating a learning curve.

    "Without a doubt," second-year 49ers Coach Mike Nolan said. "But I'm hopeful to think there's a learning curve for second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, all the way down the line. That's what keeps you energized. I never believe that you ever have it all down because it just keeps turning."
    Working the combine is the easy part.

    "I've been doing this for many, many years," said Kubiak, a longtime offensive assistant in Denver. "I'm here in a little different capacity, but the process is the same: sitting in on interviews, getting to know these guys."

    For the seven new faces, the primary difference between their lives now and their lives here last year is the sheer volume of responsibility. Priority lists have become imperative.

    While running San Francisco's offense for Nolan a year ago, for instance, McCarthy watched every college snap taken by the draft's top two quarterbacks, Alex Smith and Aaron Rodgers. Now in charge of Green Bay's team, McCarthy doesn't have the time to devote that much attention on one position; he assigned such tasks to his first group of assistants.

    Likewise, all position coaches and coordinators comprehend the salary cap and can identify restricted and unrestricted free agents. Head coaches have to see the bigger picture. Some are asked to have a hand in painting it.

    Oh, and this is all while infusing their personality - and their systems - into the franchise. A closed-door style would be a challenge; too many people need answers to too many questions.

    All 10 just want to see progress.

    "It's not about what I know, it's about what the players know. So you've got to be able to present that," said Childress, who credits his former boss in Philadelphia, Andy Reid, with developing Donovan McNabb into one of the league's premier quarterbacks. "In this video day and age with players, you've got to be able to get their attention. I think some of the ways we were teaching people I think helped us and obviously most of those were Andy's thoughts."

    Only two of the 10 new coaches inherit a team with a winning record. Childress is one.

    That's not to say he walked into the best situation. The Vikings fired Mike Tice after 9-7 didn't get them to the playoffs, a result that followed the "Love Boat" sex-capade in which four Vikings players, including quarterback Daunte Culpepper, were charged with indecent, lewd and/or lascivious behavior.

    Different styles
    Management styles - personal methods to extend coaching lives - differ dramatically. Mangini already has built into his Jets operation the same regimented and tight-lipped customs he learned to appreciate (and embrace) under Belichick.

    When a reporter suggested to him here that it was believed the Jets, who are coping with quarterback Chad Pennington's shoulder injury, favored Vanderbilt quarterback Jay Cutler, Mangini's eyes narrowed.

    "Who's been talking about that?" he softly demanded.

    "The Internet," was the reply.

    "Oh."

    In New York - and as in Miami, where Nick Saban practices habits learned from Belichick from their days with the Browns - Jets assistants are forbidden from talking to the media.

    In Detroit, Marinelli - Tampa Bay's former defensive line coach - takes over having never been a NFL coordinator but as proud owner of an old-school mentality that suits his new blue-collar city. He's already preaching high-energy habits to players and coaches. He believes one of his chief challenges will be to get the Lions to practice at the fast pace he saw in Tampa.

    He includes himself.
    "Each day there's something that pops up that's kind of neat," he said. "Problems you can attack with energy sometimes. And you just chip away and learn. That's the fun part, the unexpected. When something hits you in the ear, now you got to deal with it. Sometimes you use instincts, sometimes awareness, sometimes experience."

    Maybe there's a reason there's no handbook for this. In the Indiana Convention Center, Chicago Coach Lovie Smith thought about it. He has but two years' experience as a head coach, but already he's the dean of his division, the NFC North. He'd like to keep the post.

    "I'm not going to give them any advice," he said of first-year coaches. "We're division champs right now and we want to stay that way."
    Brotherhood only goes so far, and further fraternity initiation is not far off.

    Longevity lacking in head coaches' demanding realm

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  2. #2
    gregair13's Avatar
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    Re: Longevity lacking in head coaches' demanding realm

    only 7 of 32. wow. thats really not that many. i guess with the massive load of firings this year, it shouldnt be that big of a number. it is very rare in any sport that you can keep a coach for numerous years. when you dont win, for some reason its the coach's fault. and even when you do win, the coach stil get kicked
    We're bringing purple back.

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    COJOMAY is offline Jersey Retired
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    Re: Longevity lacking in head coaches' demanding realm

    I know I wouldn't like that job or having the public second-guessing my every move. It's a very tough job.
    Kentucky Vikes Fan

    When you require nothing, you get nothing; when you expect nothing, you will find nothing; when you embrace nothing, all you will have is nothing.

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