Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Lose one game? Fire the coach! [EdMcGon]

You are undefeated going into the third game of the season. Your opponent is also undefeated, and looking very tough. You lose in their stadium by 3 points. What happens next? Naturally, the fans, the team, and Media call for the coach's head!

Say what?

That seems to be what is happening with the San Diego Chargers. According to Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune:

"No one is happy.

Only Keenan McCardell is really saying so publicly, which should endear him to the thousands of Chargers fans who are beside themselves over Sunday's 16-13 loss in Baltimore and too many like it under Marty Schottenheimer.

But be certain about this: Not a soul at Chargers Park is pleased.

Many players, including McCardell, pointed out there are 13 games to play, which might be precisely the point.

Acee's article goes on to quote Charger management that nothing surrounding the coaching will be reviewed until after the season.

To be fair, the article does point to some bad coaching decisions by Schottenheimer.

Dealing with first year starting QB Phil Rivers:

"Asked yesterday whether [Schottenheimer] lacked confidence in Rivers, Schottenheimer balked.

“I have complete trust in him,” said the coach, who approved a sequence of play calls that had Rivers throw just once in the third quarter Sunday.

However, Schottenheimer was asked later if Drew Brees were still the quarterback would Sunday's play-calling have been different and would he have been willing to take more risks?

“I think that is a fair assessment,” he replied. “We're not asking Philip to do all the things we asked a five-year veteran to do.”

...After the game, Ravens linebacker Bart Scott said this to the Baltimore Sun: “I'm glad (Schottenheimer) stuck with his game plan, because that Rivers kid could play.”

...[Phil Rivers] played it cool when told of Schottenheimer's comments about how things would have been different if a veteran QB had been under center. But he was clearly crestfallen and then a little angry.

“My hope is there isn't a lack of confidence or trust,” he said.


In case you had not noticed, Schottenheimer does not deal well with young quarterbacks. He has a bad case of "George Allen syndrome" (and I am not talking about racism!).

While Schottenheimer did develop Bernie Kosar with the Browns, he did it VERY slowly. Consider that in Kosar's first year, 1985, the Browns had two one-thousand yard rushers (Earnest Byner and Kevin Mack). In 12 games, Kosar threw the ball 248 times, roughly 20 times a game.

Yet, Charger fans and Media expect Marty to air it out with a first time starter? Get real.

The Chargers run the ball too much, and at bad times:

"...the Chargers ran five of the nine times they had third-and-4 or longer. Schottenheimer attributed most of the play-calling decisions to poor field position.

But field position did not explain the time the Chargers ran on third-and-6 from the Ravens' 24. It also did not explain the time they started at their 40 and ran three straight plays before punting. Running three straight times after having first-and-20 at the 20 was a little curious as well. So, too, was there reason to question the fourth-quarter decisions to run from the Ravens' 41 on first down and again from the 35 on second-and-20.

Apparently, the people in San Diego are shocked by this. I have no clue why. This IS Marty Schottenheimer football. He did this in Cleveland, Kansas City, and Washington. Schottenheimer has always run the ball at obscenely stupid times, usually with some success, because he forces defenses to account for the run at all times.

Did the Chargers think when Schottenheimer arrived in San Diego he would be possessed by the spirits of Sid Gillman or Don Coryell?

In Marty's defense, he does have arguably the best running back in the game with LaDainian Tomlinson. Also, they only lost by 3 points to the Ravens, who are looking about as good as they did in their Super Bowl season.

No matter what you think of Schottenheimer's style, it is a point. That point usually happens in the playoffs, where Marty has never taken a team beyond the conference championship. And he never will.

But to lose one game to an excellent team and then call for the coach's head is the very definition of insanity. Add in the fact that the Chargers and their fans knew what they were getting when they hired Schottenheimer, and I am reminded of Albert Einstein's saying about insanity:

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."