Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Coaching Conundrum

Last year, the New York Giants players were upset because new head coach Tom Coughlin was busting their chops. They cried and gnashed their teeth, but they eventually learned to deal with the hardship of getting to their team meetings on time. Now look at them. Looks like the chop busting did them some good (along with the maturation of Eli Manning, of course).

Several weeks ago, I heard Barry Sims on Sirius radio. He said that he liked Coach Turner better than Gruden and Callahan because Coach Turner is more approachable. That’s nice. Maybe Barry can approach Norv and explain exactly why he has turned into a pillar of salt this year.

My gut tells me that fear is a better motivator than approachability. Holmgren, Belichik, Coughlin, Shanahan, Parcells…These are guys you probably approach with caution. There are exceptions, like Dungy, but I’ll put my money on the rule, not the exception.

Which brings me to my take...There are rumblings that the Raiders players would like a reprise of Coach Turner. Maybe they, like Sims, appreciate his approachability. And there are those in the Raider Nation who are wavering, knowing that change is now essential, but unsure if yet another spin on the coaching carousel is necessary.

As I've said before, this is my take: When a new coach is tasked with turning a team around, you can usually ascertain his impact (or lack thereof) by the second year. You look for wins, certainly, but you also look for traction, for momentum. The playoffs might still be out of reach, but you at least want a sense that the coach has delivered a proverbial smack upside the head of collective team culture and performance. Does Coach Turner really give you that “great things are just around the corner” vibe?

When I scroll through my postgame takes for the year, I am reminded of instance after instance of spineless time management. When I read about the need for a “Norv Turner Translator” in a hilarious take at RaiderNews.com, I am reminded of Coach Turner saying that Kerry Collins "made good decisions" in the third quarter of the second Chargers game, after Collins didn’t complete a single pass in the third quarter. Do effective leaders talk like this?

At some point, the analysis and excuses must give way to the cold reality of performance. You either do it or you don’t, and Coach Turner hasn’t done it. Look at our record against division rivals over the past two years. Look at our record, period. Look at our offense, spinning its wheels in the proverbial ditch. I don't want to pile on for the sake of piling on, and I don't intend this to be a personal attack. But I ask: On what basis can we be optimistic about things improving next year with Coach Turner at the helm?

8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's painful to have to bring up the name Gruden, but he took a 4-12 team with arguably less talent on offense and doubled the amount of wins the following year. By the 3rd year he was playing for the AFC Championship on his home field. If Shannon Sharpe doesn't go 90 yards to the house on 3rd and long (with much help from Marquez Pope and Anthony Dorsett's inability to tackle or take proper angles of pursuit) along with Siragusa going WWF on Rich Gannon without a penalty then that team probably beats the NY Giants for Oakland's first title since 83'. That is progress. You could clearly see those teams from 98-01 taking on the shape and personality of their coach. That hasn't changed as you can clearly see this team has taken on the personality of it's coach, undisciplined and uninspiring. So to RT's point, no I don't see any bright future around the corner with Norv Turner at the helm. He's had 2 years to make progress, but this team has lowered itself to the level of the team Bill Callahan left behind. That is not progress.

Little did I know that Oakland's first series against New England as they marched down the field for a TD with the look of a team that had promise would be the pinnacle of this season.

3 straight division titles followed by 3 straight division last place finishes has left a bitter taste. Removing Norv Turner is the first step in the right direction.

Also, to anyone who is going to the game on 12/31 vs. NY Giants, there will be DUI checks. I'm a PSL'er, and last weeks game against the Browns was the first time I've ever seen cops doing DUI stops coming out of the parking lot (at least they were doing it in the south lot). They handed out fliers last week as we drove in that said that everyone will need to be out of the parking lot on the 12/31 game within 1 hour after the end of the game. Also mentioned that the parking lot will be enforced under similar guidelines as streets / highways, which means more DUI checks. Sorry, didn't mean to make a short story long....point is to be careful.

4:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah I agree that Norv has got to go. I would like to see Jim Haslett take over or maybe even Art Shell. We need disipline period.Norv is to soft. I would also like to see Rob Ryan stay and how about Rich Gannon as off.cord. Hey if Al does give Norv another chance at least get rid of Jimmy Raye.

7:35 PM  
Blogger Doobie said...

At this point, I think it's clear that Norv has to go. If for no other reason, to at least get someone in here who might have a better shot at evaluating talent.

We all know the Raiders drafts in the last 15 years or so have been bad, but Norv's draft history with the Redskins from 1994-2000 wasn't great either. You take away some top ten picks like Arrington and Champ Bailey and those were some pretty barren drafts for the 'Skins. Plus, Norv even took Heath Shuler with the #3 overall pick in 1994 and Michael Westbrook #4 in 1995. At least Westbrook had a couple of decent seasons, but still pretty disappointing picks for a #3 and a #4. Plus you have to factor in that Norv's teams continued to be bad enough to keep earning them high draft picks which he couldn't turn into winning teams.

So you combine Norv's and Al's recent talent evaluation and you get what could be another disappointing draft in 2006.

5:20 AM  
Blogger Doobie said...

Whoops, sorry, I put the wrong link in there for the Redskins draft history. It should be:

http://www.drafthistory.com/teams/redskins.html

5:21 AM  
Anonymous LK said...

Difference between Norv and Callahan is that the team hated Callahan at the end. The fact they like Norv only means he's a nice guy who can't coach--still gotta go. But Collins needs a bus ticket, too, he's had 10+ years in the league--he's as good as he's gonna get

5:39 AM  
Blogger Doobie said...

I think Callahan lost the team when dared to impose discipline that had dwindled from the team since Gruden left. I actually feel sorry for Callahan sometimes...but then I remember how badly he was outcoached in the Super Bowl...

7:31 AM  
Anonymous Mad Stork 83 said...

When I started to hear players supporting Turner in the last couple of weeks, I momentarily softened. Then I remembered Timmy Brown and the boys marching into Al's office to ask for Joe Bugel as their coach. Raider players considering the coach to be an "approachable" guy is not high on my list of priorities for this team!

11:12 AM  
Anonymous Stick'em said...

I respectfully disagree with the idea that an "approachable" coach is, in and of itstelf, a bad thing. It depends on the players available for coaching...

Whatever we may think of the silly horse trailers and video game fame, John Madden was the quintessential successful and approachable coach. I remember Madden saying he made an effort to at least say "Hello" to every player, every day, helping to keep the door of communication open and the open sores from festering.

Yes, he preached and practiced child psychology, but then it WAS effective...think about it... Madden does the same thing with his viewers...and is perhaps the most successful NFL broadcaster, ever.

The problem is the NFL players of today cannot handle the classic Raider "Be yourself and show up on game day" system. Not suprising, look at the demises of the NBA and MLB. Their players care about 'MY posse' and 'MY fifteen seconds of fame on Sportscenter' and 'MY Benjamins'...and the Raiders have slowly followed suit.

Team loyalty and winning, ummmm... not very important, except in crunchy, small bites.

Don't believe it? Watch Kerry Collins lead that "game winning drive" by slowly shuffling like he's got Parkinsons up to center, leading the zombies on parade... and get back to me...

It has taken the NFL longer to crash simply because it takes more players to play this game and it takes more time for 53 player teams to become singular. Concequentley the "team concept" has held water longer on the gridiron than in hoops or baseball.

But make no mistake, Callahan may be gone, yet the inmates still are running the asylum. The problem is other than a few players who care about the team concept (Danny Clark comes to mind), the Raiders have an aggregate of young players who don't know and don't care who the f' Jim Otto is. But ask them to remember Meion Sanders dancing like a peacock and they'll remember...

Approach me with the jabberings of a baboon and I wouldn't want to listen to these players either. They know a lot more about their moves on Madden 2005 than they know about winning.

5:13 PM  

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