The League

Mark Maske
Staff Writer

Mark Maske

Writes the NFL News Feed blog

Guts, Ego, Job Security

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It takes great coaching guts to do what Mike Shanahan did Sunday to beat the San Diego Chargers.

It also takes an unbelievable coaching ego. You want to be the guy who gets the credit for winning or the blame for losing. You want the focus to be on you. We saw that last season when Shanahan started all the silliness with coaches taking timeouts the instant before important field goal attempts by opponents were kicked, and we saw it again Sunday.

It takes tremendous job security as well, the kind that comes from once winning consecutive Super Bowls and having an owner who hasn't blamed you for the string of disappointments that has followed.

Why don't coaches do things like that more often?

Some have the guts.

Many have the ego.

But few have the sort of support from their bosses that Shanahan has from Broncos owner Pat Bowlen. Most other coaches are too worried about being blamed for a loss that could send a team's season spiraling downward. And when you look at the number of head coaches fired after each NFL season, you can't blame them for being worried.

Right or wrong, Bowlen has stuck with Shanahan as his coach even as the Broncos in recent seasons have fallen from the ranks of the NFL's elite teams. And that is perhaps the biggest reason that Shanahan is among the few coaches around the league willing to try what he tried Sunday.

By Mark Maske  |  September 15, 2008; 9:16 AM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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There were some special circumstances that also favored Shanahan taking this risk. First, both offenses were doing well and it was more likely than usual that the team that got the ball first in OT would have a good chance to win the game. Therefore, if Shanahan thought he had a play that had more than a 50% chance of scoring, he should go for it. Had the game been 7-6 at the time as opposed to 38-37, perhaps the thinking would be reversed.

Also, he might have felt fortunate to even be in that situation so what does he have to lose? He should have lost the game already had the ref not blown the whistle too early.

Posted by: Dsmac | September 15, 2008 9:53 AM

This echoes some of what Gregg Easterbrook states on his column. Coaches are naturally risk-adverse on these decisions because if they backfire, the media and fans will blame the coach for the loss.

If the coach does the "normal" call and loses a close game, then the players will often share the blame.

Posted by: Joran | September 15, 2008 2:30 PM

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