The League

Emil Steiner
Editor and Blogger

Emil Steiner

The author of NFL Crime Watch and Founding Editor of The League.

It Just Don't Work


Football's a funny sport -- just look at yesterday's trade deadline. The big news from "NFL insiders" like Peter King and Adam Schefter? No news, nothing -- and "don't expect anything" either.

Why? They say there's a big draft class coming and the deadline's too early, but it's something more.

This is football, not baseball, hockey or basketball. You can't just plug in a tight end like you would a relief pitcher. You can't expect a offensive lineman, of any talent level, to instantly pick-up the blocking schemes, snap counts and audibles of his new squad the way a goalie would pick up his mask and get between the pipes. More than any other sport, football is about the team over the individual, the system and strategy over personal skill. Hardly a ground breaking revelation, I know, but that team -trumping-all concept is exactly why changing coaches midseason is such a rarity in the NFL.

The head coach is the puppet master of his squad and the mastermind of his system, except perhaps in Washington. His job (and I only say "his" because there has never been a female coach, but that's a different discussion) is to get everyone from waterboy (see above) to ego-maniacal wide receiver to believe that it's his way or the highway. They must believe in order for the vastly complex playbook to be effective. It can't be a democracy, as Hall of Fame head coach Dick Vermeil told me recently, "every team needs a head -- a decision maker."

Coaches are boss in any sport, but just as trade toggling players is tricky in football, it's exponentially harder to plug in a new ring master midseason and expect immediate results. Put simply, it just don't work. Never in NFL history has a team dumped its head coach once the season had started and made the playoffs. In baseball and hockey it's commonplace, to whit the 2009 Colorado Rockies.

For the other three majors, changing coaches midseason is like sending back a meal -- you don't want to do it but it's usually satisfying. In the NFL it's like impeaching the President -- an admonition of utter failure that takes months, if not years to rectify.

By Emil Steiner  |  October 21, 2009; 9:55 AM ET  | Category:  Coaching , Emil Steiner , Tennessee Titans , Washington Redskins Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Interim in Vogue | Next: Why Wait, Dan?

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