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Thursday, January 25, 2007

The coach free agency period

The month following the end of the NFL regular season is both a sad and exciting time for coaches. Some coaches are fired and find themselves in uncertain financial straits, while others are hired and secure their financial futures.

Others still are fired to get hired.

What is truly incredible is the diversity of opinion on some of the decisions that are made.

Let's see ... Cam Cameron impressed the Dolphins enough to get the head coaching job -- perhaps one of the best jobs in the NFL given the quality ownership and the caliber of people on the team's executive side.

Yet Cameron was not very impressive as far as the Rams, Falcons, Vikings and Cardinals were concerned. All four teams interviewed him the last two years and hired someone else.

Mike Tomlin, by all accounts a rising star, didn't rate a second interview with the Dolphins. He was hired by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Ken Whisenhunt wasn't a finalist in Miami. He got the job in Arizona.

Jason Garrett didn't get an interview with the Dolphins for their head coaching job. He got one with the Dallas Cowboys. Norv Turner, a former Dolphins assistant, didn't get a sniff from the Dolphins but is highly regarded in Dallas.

Chan Gailey wasn't interviewed anywhere but Miami and Pittsburgh and was only a finalist in Miami, some say the second choice behind Cameron.

Dom Capers hasn't really been a popular interview around the league this year, ostensibly based on his past firings in Houston and Carolina. Well, the Dolphins thought enough of him to interviewed him.

The reason for such a difference of opinions on so many coaches is that this year there was no superstar candidate out there. There was no Bill Parcells, no Mike Holmgren.

Next year might be a different story. Next season Jeff Fischer may be out there. Next year Bill Cowher will be available. Next year there will be a consensus that these two guys are the best candidates going.

This year, any team hiring a coach, including the Dolphins, was making an informed guess on their coach. No doubt somebody will hit a home run -- I think Tomlin is one such choice.

But some teams have mortgaged the next three or four years of their teams' futures by making a poor investment on a bad hire that there was no NFL consensus about. Here's hoping the Dolphins are not in this category.


Blogger Bloodlust said...

It is always a gamble hiring anyone as headcoach. I believe Bill Parcell just quit Dallas, but he did not shine outstandingly there.

Our new focus on utilizing a GM and Headcoach widens our diversity in the office, as well as, on the field. Depending the caliber of your teams performance before you take over the headcoach spot, can make you look like a genius, or a complete idiot.

I think we made the proper moves to step forward, instead of back stepping as we have. Will we make the playoffs this year? Well, if we come close, but look and play as a team I will be happy. It shows we are on the right path for potential greatness again. Not this win by defense, no offense, and look like a bunch of drunken bums on the field.

Cameron is Wayne's choice, and I agreed he would be the right man for the job, and if I am wrong, then I will take the heat for it. Just as those who liked Saban.

Go Fins!

9:16 PM  
Anonymous Hank in the 400 said...

The thing you don't know is why some are favored by teams and some are not. Sometimes it is a personal thing with management and sometimes it is the record. Sometimes it is their percieved coaching style like the differences in Parcell who is dictatorial and Mangini who is more motivational and educational (a players coach).

When performance is the problem either choice might fit but when it's the coaching thats is the problem you try to go in a different direction.

I think wayne made a good decision to go with a seperation of powers because then you can give 100% to whichever job you arae doing looking for or coaching the talent.

We went with Cam Cameron. Good or bad will take some time to sort out and sometimes we base how we feel they are doing by if we like the choices they make though we only have 1% of the info involved in that decision.

We have a tendancy to expect GREAT things on the first day.

I also agree with th response in the last blog that we might like more interaction from you Armando so it is almost like dialogue. Not every response but occasionaly a rebuttal or ackowlegement of agreement

10:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

mangini is not a "players" coach...The guys on the Jets never worked so hard in their life...He works their butts off in NY. I'm still worried about the GM situation, how come it's not being written about??? Can we extend Mueller or let him go already??

11:12 AM  
Blogger Afatt said...

In years past there were a lot of coaches who were retreads. It seems that trend is changing. Probably with good reason; no coach has ever won a super bowl with 2 teams. Very few retreads do any better with their second chance than they did with their 1st. Bilichik & Dungy being some notable exceptions. There are also many notable failures in coaches who have come from the college ranks. Most teams that end up being worthy of a championship are built by a coach who does not have a reputation coming in. With that in mind I think the execs are looking more toward young guys who can spark a team and work well with a personnel department. The retread syndrome comes from the fear of investing in an unknown only to see it fall flat when a known commodity was on the table. But as we've seen with Parcells, Gruden & Saban among others there is no guarantee even with a known commodity. Owners are realizing they are taking no more of a chance with a younger guy than they would be with a retread, hence the change toward untested young coordinators.

2:07 PM  
Anonymous Hank in the 400 said...

One of the difficulties in being the HC is that if your players stand around and don't perform you are not coaching well and if you have good talent that does what is expected of them the "even the kid riding the skateboard down the street" could win with that team.

The difference in the old school dictators is the team works their tales off because it is demanded of the and they are driven into the ground. The younger guys can motivate with their own drive and level of energy.

I think sometimes management thinks the retreads will do better because they think the players will listen more because of the level of experience and having bee there a long time where as in reality the players might prefer the younger coaches because they might be able to realte to them on a different level and can understand the player's venacular.

2:47 PM  
Blogger Afatt said...

Good point on the vernacular Hank. I agree there is a growing gap between the kids coming into the league and the old school coaches. Younger coaches have a better rapport with the younger players and the players will follow them more readily.

There is a danger with the "players coach" in that they can sometimes become too good of friends in a game that requires extreme discipline. I think that may have been the case with Jim Mora Jr. he tried to walk that fine line between being a friend to Vick and also his coach/disciplinarian. I'm thinking it is getting harder to coach these guys like Vick who come in with the superstar tag before they have performed on the field. How do you bench a guy who makes 10 million dollars? The owner is going to blame someone and the coach is usually the 1st to go.

As far as Cameron goes I don't think there is any way to know whether he is any good or not. As you pointed out, having an LT can make any coach look like a genius. Belichik certainly was not a genius before Tom Brady. This would lead me to wonder whether Cameron will look any better that Wannstedt or Saban because we simply have a lack of talent on this football team. If he wants to be a genius he better find a QB and some "go to" guys or else he'll follow his predecessors out the door real quick.

3:31 PM  
Blogger Bloodlust said...

Hank and afatt...
both good points made. I think with doing as the organization has accomplished is going to limit most of the problems mentioned.

Cameron still needs to prove he can produce a SB team, as he and Wayne both commited to do. Because of restructuring the team, I believe Cameron will not be in a position to be a players coach.

As you said afatt, he is untested, so in that fact Cameron knows he has to do whatever it takes. Saban, Parcell, and other retreads rely on their past history. Like you said, it hasn't produced anything having these retreads. In fact, I think taking a retread is a high risk gamble. These guys never seem to change their way of thinking. If they're fired because their scheme or ideas did not produce where they were, they have it in their mind they can make it work elsewhere. That's the key problem.

Fresh minds, like Cameron, still have the ability to change the way they think. That opened mindedness can be a great asset.

Hank you said, that their is a difference in how players and coaches think today from yesterday, and you are right. Cameron being younger than the retreads will understand the newly drafted men.

My opinion, the young players are more money motivated. The guys of old, yes I am sure money was part of their thing to, but they wanted to play. That is the difference I see in the players today, and the hardship of someone motivating someone who believes he should be the highest paid player on the team.

Bottom line for me... I have confidence in Cameron. When he speaks he looks directly at the camera, which portrays him a straight forward person, not hiding or widthholding anything.

11:01 PM  
Blogger Afatt said...

Blood, to your point about retreads taking a system from one team to the next... Coaching seems to have changed or perhaps we were very spoiled by having Shula as our coach for so long. What was the famous Bum Phillips quote, "he can take his'in and beat your'in and take your'in and beat his'in?" Something like that.

Shula took a power running and defensive team with Zonk and made them champions. When Marino fell in his lap he completely changed his MO to a high scoring quick passing team. He didn't win the SB but he flirted with it every year.

Not many coaches are like that and maybe not many coaches ever were. The art of being a winning coach is adapting to the talent you have. But it means finding a building block, a Marino, a Czonka, an identity you can mold a team around and have that team believe in it.

Think about how Miami has floudered since Marino hung up the spikes and it comes down to identity. We don't know who this team is. We don't have one guy or a scheme that this team can rally around. We have no Manning, no Brady, no LT, hell we don't even have a Grossman!

So what does that mean for Cameron? He has to find a player, he has to find a star this team can build an identity around. I actually think Wannstedt tried to do it with Ricky but Ricky was not up for the challenge and you know what happened to Wannstedt.

One thing to point out about all the players I mentioned excluding Ricky. They were all drafted by the team they eventually became the leader of. There's the difference, I think, about how you handle free agency. You draft your stars and you suppliment them with FAs. FAs have either failed where they were or they are looking for that check. That's how you know if a guy is playing because he loves it or it is cash driven.

The most important thing for Cameron to do is find a player in this draft. If he knows QBs so well and thinks Quinn is the guy then do what it will take to get him. If it's someone else go get him.

Why did Saban run his sorry ass out of town? Because in his heart he knew Culpepper was a bust. He knew the building block he had chosen was no better than Wannstedt's choice. Cameron must find the guy to hang his hat on and it will come through the draft. If he was a really good coach he could take your'in and beat his'in, but there was only one Shula and that is why he won more games than any other coach.

6:41 AM  
Anonymous dolfaninthenorth said...

we have stars right now to build around, or should have said,should have built around, and that's zack& jason.
we always had them,we just couldn't build something solid around them.
the d carried this team for years.
during the Marino years we had all kinds of offense, but no real d to back it up.Marino had to score 30 to 40 points to win,alot of times by the hair of marino's chinny,chin,chin.
we need Cameron to try to build a ballanced team.
he was probably picked for his offensive aspecks.He needs to build an offence, but not forget about the defense,and then we slip back into years of an unbalanced team.A team that can score, but not stop anyone else from scoring.
I guess that's what all coaches are trying to do. To the extent they acheive that is the extent they are considered a success.

8:45 AM  
Anonymous Hank in the 400 said...

No one really knows what type of team Cameron will field yet. It will be interesting to see if he judges them by the names on thir shirts or by the size of their hearts and desire to compete.

It really pissed me off when Saban said "we just didn't bring our A game today". These multi-millionaires need to bring their A game every day or move on.

These players today don't play with heart unless their heart is being compensated enough to do it. That's the main reason Ditka quit coaching. How do you make a millionaire get off his ass and work.

I think it will take time to see if he can coach his way to the SB.
Let's just hope we can be competitive.

10:22 AM  
Anonymous Randy said...

It's all about the horses you have in the barn..........period. If you don't have the thoroughbreds....who's coaching them matters little.

7:42 PM  
Blogger The Dude said...

If Mueller and Co. can have a good draft and use the salary cap correctly, we'll be fine. Cam is a fine coach. He just needs the talent. Bill Belichick wouldn't look like such a "genius" if he didn't have Tom Brady or Ty Law or Willie McGinnest or even Adam Vinatieri all those years. Where would Lovie Smith and Tony Dungy be without Brian Urlacher or Peyton Manning?

Get Cam the weapons and we'll be good to go.

1:02 AM  
Blogger Afatt said...

I agree the horses are not in the barn on offense. I would go as far as to say our supposed horses are way over rated. I have never seen what the coaches see in Chris Chambers. I absolutely would have to defer to their opinion because they are getting paid to coach football, but I don't see it. He's doesn't have the heart to be a great player. He does not go over the middle after he took that one hit a few years ago and he allows the ball to come in to his body on easy throws. We learned how to catch a football with our hands in pee wee league.

Other offensive players can be placed in the same catagory... Players like Chambers and McMichaels are talked up but the other teams laugh at us. They know who can play and who can't. It will be up to Cameron to get rid of the pretenders and bring some quality talent to the offense. Unfortunately it will not happen over night and could take as long as 3 years.

In 3 years Zack and Jason will be gone and as dolphininthenorth pointed out, we will back to a lopsided team much like the Marino years.

May I pose a question? Do you think it would be worth it to dump Zack and Jason now for draft picks and start to rebuild the entire team?

2:39 PM  

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