Tag Archives: coaches

In The New NFL, Sometimes Winning IS Losing!

5 Jan

Winning can never be a bad thing, right?  After all, in the NFL, winning is the assignment.  It’s the name of the game.  Just win, baby!

Except, sometimes winning can blind you to things in sports.  If you somehow pull off a victory or more victories than expected, it can fool you into not making needed changes. 

That’s true whether you’re 11-5 or 5-11.   Take Dallas.  They’ve the NFC East Champs.  They are 11-5 and they seem to have left behind the kind of bad football they’ve been known for at the end of the season.  All of which means that Wade Phillips’ job just may be safe.   Only Jerry Jones knows for sure.

Let’s say the Cowboys even go so far as to win a game or two in the playoffs, let alone get on a run and win the Super Bowl.  Each additional playoff win makes it that more likely that Phillips is staying put in Dallas.

That’s great for Phillips, but maybe not so great for the franchise.  Now, I hate the Cowboys as much as any Giants’ fan, but even I can’t lie about the fact that Bill Cowher and Mike Shanahan are far better coaches than Wade Phillips.

Why do I mention Cowher & Shanahan?

Because they are two available head coaches that Dallas could bring in to replace Wade.  Worse yet for Dallas and their fans, Shanahan is most likely going to be taking the Redskins job very very soon.  Once Shanahan gets the Skins turned around, Dallas will be faced with facing off with Shanahan twice a year.  Who would you bet on in a tight NFL game – Shanahan or Phillips?

No question about it.  Shanahan.  Yet, the Cowboys will be stuck with Phillips.

So, clearly winning can mess up the future of a franchise.  But what if your franchise admittedly doesn’t have much a future?

The Browns are a mess.  Yet, somehow at the end of the season they’ve managed to win four in a row.  Eric Mangini, who it seemed the players hated, even gave him a victory Gatorade bath after their last game.  So, maybe the players have come around (or maybe they were trying to give him a pneumonia we’ll never know for sure).

But, with Mike Holmgren coming in as the Czar of all things football for Cleveland, the four game streak is going to make it much tougher to fire Eric Mangini. 

Mangini should get credit for the streak and for hanging in when it seemed like he was hanging on by a thread.  Eric Mangini is not, however, the best coach the Browns could hire.

Will Mike Holmgren see that or will he be seduced by the win streak?

As the Boy & Browns prove, winning can be a bitch…


Scott Skiles? Oh Really!

22 Apr

The Milwaukee Bucks, who would have a proud basketball history, if only they’d disbanded after Don Nelson left town, just hired Scott Skiles as their next head coach.  Not only was it awkward in that he’s really good friends with the guy he’s replacing, but really…. Scott Skiles?

I loved Scott Skiles, the player.  I must admit that I loved Scott Skiles, the coach, when he began that phase of his basketball life.  I thought he got a raw deal in Phoenix where his reign ended much too soon for my taste.  I was happy to see him get the Bulls job.  He did well there.  His teams made the playoffs in something like three out of four years.  (You want exact stats, go to ESPN.  No whining please.)

Then, this year, the wheels came off.  After not making a significant trade during the off season, the Bulls still seemed primed for another good year in the NBA’s Eastern Conference.  They fell far, far short of that.  In fact, they may have been the most disappointing team in the league.  Skiles got the axe.  Deservedly so, I thought, even though I am as we’ve established a major Skiles fan.

I was eager to see Skiles get another chance.  Just… not so soon.  I wanted him to earn it.  Maybe it’s karma making up for the raw deal he got with the Suns years ago, but I can’t help but feel that this was an extremely unimagivative pick by the Bucks.

I will never understand how some guys get chance after chance, while others seem to get one and are done forever as head coaches. 

Congratulations to Scott Skiles, he’s officially become part of the coaching treadmill.  It’s a proud day to be a Skiles fan…

Is An “All Black” Staff the Key to Byron Scott’s Success?

10 Apr

I was listening to ESPN radio host Stephen A. Smith recently interviewing NBA head coach Byron Scott.  For those of you who keep up with this space, you know that I’m kind of a Scott fan.  As a former fan of New Jersey’s Nets, I look back on the Scott years with fondness.  Brooklyn is welcome to take the Nets away whenever they can scrape up the cash to tow them out of the impound lot.

Anyway, there I am listening to Smith when he asks Scott about the fact that he has an “all Black” coaching staff.  Smith wondered if that was helping Scott produce the terrific year he’s getting out of  the New Orleans Hornets.  The coach answered yes. 

In his own affirmative action, Scott said he purposely put together an all African American coaching staff when he got a shot with New Orleans because he felt that former players who were African American would relate better to today’s NBA players.

I must admit to a few reactions.  First, a certain smugness.  I’ve sometimes wondered if having a staff that heavily reflects the backgrounds of the players they coach would help a team do better.  According to Scott, it does and I’m right.  Always a nice feeling, by the way.

Second, I was kind of shocked Scott would come right out and say he purposely hired only Black men.  I couldn’t help but think that he was leaving himself and the organization open for some law suits.  Picture an NHL executive admitting publicly that he put together an all white staff to relate better to his largely all white team and I think you can see how that might spark some outrage if not legal action.

Finally, I was a bit confused.  What does this say about our society at the very time we’re busy trying to get the Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds to just get along?  Clearly African Americans haven’t been given the kinds of opportunities that white coaches have even in sports in which the players are now largely non-white.  African Americans have been shafted historically.   So, it’s hard for me to get worked up about Scott’s statement. 

And yet, something won’t let me let it go completely.  Is Scott throwing out the idea that sports ultimately is colorblind and based only on performance come game time?  Why shouldn’t people be able to coach even if they don’t look or come from the same background as the people they are teaching?

Ultimately, I guess I wanted Byron Scott to allow for the possibility that he might find a white guy who could relate to his players and teach them effectively despite their differences in background.

For me, a mostly but not entirely African American coaching staff would feel like the best mix for an NBA team these days.  After all, Byron Scott, somebody’s got to relate to the Peja Stojakovic’s…