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Cory's Corner: It's time to let coaches coach

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Cory's Corner: It's time to let coaches coach

Larry Bird said something that made me think recently.

The Indiana Pacers president has held the belief that players tune out coaches after three years. He proved it in 2000 after losing in the NBA Finals to the Lakers. He quietly hung up his whistle and moved upstairs, after, you guessed it, three years roaming the sidelines.

I vehemently disagree with Bird. Coaching is about molding a system to the players that you have, not worrying if the players are all on the same page and “tuned in” to the head coach.

The reason this is interesting to me is because we have entrusted too much power to the athletes. From sixth grade, elite athletes have been coddled and told they are special. Most play at major colleges before ending up on pro teams.

The coach has been devoid of praise but somehow laps up all of the disapproval. Look at Mike McCarthy. Here’s a guy that took over a team that only won four games the year before he was hired.

And now, after a Super Bowl win, seven straight playoff appearances and four straight division crowns, McCarthy has the Packers as one of the most consistent winners in the game.

Yet, people still nitpick. They say he cannot utilize his players correctly or doesn’t know offense or has too long of a leash with his defensive coordinator Dom Capers.

(Full disclosure: I did write that McCarthy should give up the offensive play-calling, only because I thought it hindered his ability to see the team from a macro view).

Bill Belichick only had one winning season as the Browns head coach before he took the Patriots’ job. Then in 2001, some guy named Tom Brady started consistently and now New England is favored to win its fifth Super Bowl this upcoming season.

Coaching is the reason there’s a Lombardi Trophy and coaching is the reason Glenn Scobey flourished through innovation and new ideas — and he’s also the reason there’s such a thing as Pop Warner Football for kids.

Any employee can tune out his or her boss. It happens everyday. If it were up to Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers, they’d throw it 60 times a game. But obviously, throwing it that much isn’t going to generate reliable success. It may look interesting on highlights, but you’re not going to win that way.

And that’s where the coach comes in. He’s the parent that has to evoke tough love and walk the line between gentle counselor and strict enforcer.

Remember, most of these guys haven’t been told they cannot do something. It’s the coaches’ job to not only push that button but also figure out what happens when they do.

Bird got rid of a good coach that desperately wanted to stay. It’s unlikely he’s going to find that same passion — whether every player is finely tuned into everything he says or not.

Yet coaches continue to be the scape goats. Look at Jay Gruden. He was highly criticized for turning his back on and finally getting rid of former 2012 second overall pick in Robert Griffin III and going with 2012 fourth rounder Kirk Cousins. That decision looks like it’s paying off pretty well.

Coaches know a thing or two. It’s time we let them coach.  


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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (35) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

4thand1's picture

Your last paragraph you brought up Jay Gruden. Look what happened to Shanahan. He was forced to play the golden boy on one leg because of all the hype, RGIII, RGIII, RGII was all we heard. He ended up getting fired. Belicheck puts fear in his players and they have to respect him or there's the door. You hear he's a players coach all the time, and I don't believe you can be a players buddy and a coach at the same time. These spoiled brats need a kick in the ass once in a while. Winning is the only thing as the greatest coach ever once said.

barutanseijin's picture

Yep, even Packers need a kick in the ass from time to time.

Since '61's picture

Cory - good article. As I have posted here many times over the years going back to the AllGBP days. I'm very happy that MM is the Packers HC. I believe that he is an excellent Head Coach and one of the best in the NFL since he has taken over. He has integrity, commitment, believes in his system and his players. He also cares about the health and welfare of his players beyond the game. He is proud to be the Packers coach and has a great respect for the history of the franchise. He is not perfect, no one is, but we're lucky as fans to have had excellence at the head coaching position for all these years. Also, I don't believe that a good coaches message gets stale after 3-4 years because the NFL roster changes so much in that time frame. Plus MM modifies and updates his message with every season. Go MM Go and Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since '61

Tarynfor12's picture

Players tune out their coaches because their given or falsely awarded the believed right to do so by the coach them self or a GM.

Ibleedgreenmore's picture

I think whats great is the consistency after all these years. It starts a the top and filters down. There are only a few teams that have such level play.

DrealynWilliams's picture


dobber's picture

I think that MM demonstrates a willingness to adjust/change things up on a regular basis, and this helps with accountability to his players. He's willing to admit that they can do things better, or that doing things differently might help. Is it always a good thing? I think most here would argue the QB/WR coach experiment was a flop. Others here might scoff at MMs accountability, but he does self-assess his team and staff. That's hard for people to do.

Oppy's picture

MM is definitely one of the most progressive HC's in the league, and you are 100% right about his constant, methodical self-scout. Everything is analyzed and graded, and tweaks and changes are made annually. He is certainly not afraid to challenge long-held axioms and beliefs if the data shows there may be a better way to go about your business.. And these people who always shout that MM doesn't take responsibility are idiots. I've never seen an NFL HC offer up to the media so frequently that a broken play or a poor decision on game management was his own fault.. He's accountable as all get-out.

Good coach.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Edit; too harsh.

dobber's picture


jeremyjjbrown's picture

"Full disclosure:"

Just because you think someone should do something different does not mean you think they should go.

I think Ted should sign a reasonable veteran to fill gaps. I think McCarthy and staff need to be more diverse on offense and Dom needs to keep his coverages simple enough for these youngs guys to understand. None of these things means I think they should be fired.

croatpackfan's picture

Cory, very fine article. And, you were not the only one who wanted and pushing MM to delegate play calling duty. I was voting for the same and from the same reason as you. I still think someone else can do it, but obviously not Tom Clements. Also, I agree with you about coaches, what they need to do and how to coach team. And, because of his willingness to be honest to himself and to change what he sees is wrong with his coaching, I have huge respect for Mike McCarthy. I'm glad he is Packers coach!

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

This is one reason why I don't want to see the contracts of NFL players completely guaranteed. A player who can't be cut or traded due to his contract is a more likely candidate to tune out his coach, and to not work as hard as he should. I think players in the NBA tune out their coaches more than NFL players for that reason.

I've always thought that "players, not plays", had quite a bit of truth, but I also think "plays, not players" also has truth.

I think in GB MM and his coaches have been allowed to coach by management. That doesn't mean the fans should not criticize. Fans generally come with opinions, and the sport can't do without its fans. Coaches just need to grow a pair and develop thick skin. I think MM should have given up play calling, but was always dubious about Clements doing the play calling. The idea might well still be correct. MM just gave the job to the wrong guy.

dobber's picture

Well said. You win the thread.

Tarynfor12's picture

" A player who can't be cut or traded due to his contract is a more likely candidate to tune out his coach, and to not work as hard as he should. "

I pretty much said the same thing but put on the coach and GM more directly and yet...thumbs down.

Oppy's picture

I mean no offense, but it's because nobody talks in the manner with which you write.

It comes off as needlessly cryptic in both message and structure. If understanding is what you're looking for, it would help immensely if you were more conventional and direct in your writing.

I don't think anyone is voting down your post but up-voting someone else's for any reason other than your message is not getting through.

sgunderson17's picture

This is fantastically written. I can't believe how many people think the packers should just fire MM and Dom Capers thinking we could just pick up the next Bill Belechick who just happens to be available and waiting to go coach some teams to super bowls. The fact is we have a top 5 head coach and a top 10 defensive coordinator who would be immediately hired by another team if they hit the open market.

Winning the super bowl is hard. It takes all the stars to align at the right moment to do so. The stars just haven't aligned lately, but that's no reason to do anything drastic.

All this hindsight thinking by mollycoddled Packer fans is getting really old.

barutanseijin's picture

Right, but by that logic the Pats should never have gone with Bellichick...

Oppy's picture

I don't understand. Pete Carrol inherited a superbowl winning team, and each year under Carrol, the Patriot's W-L column became worse and worse.. When they hit .500, that's when they hired Belichick.

DrealynWilliams's picture

I like this one. Nice job.

I love Coach MM. My respect for him runs past what he does with X's and O's. I love the way he handles situations. From the we're nobody's underdog to the Fail Mary.

I can't name too many coaches I'd rather have if MM wasn't here. I also love Mike Tomlin, maaaaaybe Sean Payton. I'm going over the Head Coach Power Rankings (2015) as I type this and it's hard picking 5.

dobber's picture

Technically, any coach who fails to get a ring in any given year has failed.

I would raise your level of accountability to the organization. It doesn't all fall on the coach.

holmesmd's picture

So Holmgren "failed" with Favre?!

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Mike Holmgren was Favre's coach for just 7 years. Favre wasn't too good the first two years as he needed a lot of coaching, so Holmgren had 5 quality years of production from Favre. Holmgren has 2 SB appearances and one win in those 5 prime years. Getting to the SB in 40% of the QB's good years is excellent in my book.

MM has had 11 seasons, including 8 quality seasons, with AR. He has just one SB appearance and one win. There are a lot of other factors involved in getting to the SB, of course.

Tundraboy's picture

Except for a few exceptions, most painful losses were a result of lack of talent and depth at critical positions, positions not addressed by the GM, as well as inopportune career ending injuries such as Collins and Bishop, player lapses and bonehead plays, not MM. As many have said we can be critical but it does not mean we want to get rid of him. I am as critical as the next guy as I felt that too many times he has not gone for the jugular enough, allowing wierd shit to happen, see NFCCG, but I still am pro MM. He almost always has them prepared.

The TKstinator's picture

I don't MM has ever "allowed" unusual shit to happen.

phillythedane's picture

Players tune out after three years? C'mon, Larry. Tell that to Poppy.

PaulRosik's picture

The margin for winning or losing in the NFL is tiny. In 1966 the Lombardi Packers had to stop 4th and goal to preserve the Championship game against Dallas. And in 1967 they had to score on the famous Ice Bowl goal line play to win the game - again over Dallas. I don't say these things to imply that Lombardi wasn't an amazing coach and even better judge of football talent. I just point out that even these great teams were two plays away from having the Cowboys go to the first two Super Bowls. And then the trophy may end up being called the Landry Trophy.

Coaching is certainly a part of the puzzle to win a championship. But it is only one part.

4thand1's picture

Lombardi's players made plays. That's what championship teams do. He got the most out of every player on the field.

Tarynfor12's picture

Did Lacy tune out McCarthy in regard to his weight issue that every one saw and McCarthy denied all season long until the season was over and had the contract year as leverage to say publicly for the first time that it was an issue?
Did McCarthy tune out the rb coach in regard to Lacy's weight?
Players tuning out coaches is more often enabled by the coaching staff at some level or the front office. ..or you're simply getting what you drafted and asked for.

barutanseijin's picture

Rodgers looked like he was on his own frequency last season.
He lacked discipline : #12 had sloppy execution, sloppy decision making, & sloppy mechanics. I have no idea what was going on between him and MM, but MM could not have been pleased

4thand1's picture

The whole season was f-ed up. Even when they were 6-0, you didn't get the feeling they were as good as their record. I think AR was frustrated but sucked it up. Remember the AZ reg season game? He was getting murdered and refused to come out. MM finally pulled him. The play calling and injuries sucked, and they still almost made it to the NFCCG. This year will be fun, expect a deep run.

WKUPackFan's picture

@tayrn - Or perhaps MM knew Eddie was having personal issues that needed to be addressed privately, as well as not wanting to speak about a weight problem in public? That would make MM a good person, in addition to a good coach.

dobber's picture

For the most part, the Packers organization does a remarkable job of not airing their dirty laundry and taking care of issues behind closed doors. MM calling out Lacy for his weight in January is out of character for this team...which really says something.

Amanofthenorth's picture

MM has stated he plans to continue to live in Green Bay after they show him the door. Let's hope he is the one that makes the call and it's 15 years and multiple SB wins from now

DrealynWilliams's picture

Don't mind me...

Bears are in a 5 year Playoff drought. (couldn't use more than 3 links)

Excuse me...

Pay me no mind...

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