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Head Coach Material

Rating: 46 votes, 4.39 average.
Posted 11-09-2022 at 07:44 AM by neugey

I was thinking about the reasons Dennis Allen isn't working out, and I think I've solved the puzzle. There is a formula for having a successful NFL (or even college) head coach.

If you are a defensive head coach, you need to have very special leadership abilities to earn your team's buy-in and keep it. If you are an offensive head coach that calls the plays or has a very strong influence on the offensive gameplan/playcalling, and you are adept at it, the bar seems to be lower.

Players will stay engaged when they know they've got a whiz kid or great mind running the offense. When you have this type of coach, there is a confidence that naturally flows to the whole team when you've got a savvy pilot in the cockpit. It doesn't matter if the guy is just a so-so leader, because the great playcalling and confidence it instills in the team will transcend.

To prove my point, let's take a look at the successful defensive coaches in the NFL. Each of them has special trait(s) that take them over the top:

Belichick - Absolutely no nonsense at all times and runs his team with an iron hand. He is 1 of 1, no one else that has tried this approach has succeeded.

Carroll - Extroverted and very charismatic

Tomlin - Very bold and charismatic
Vrabel - A tough guy who knows how to empower people

Hiring a defensive savant like Dennis Allen, Steve Spagnola, Jim Haslett and so on doesn't work. In order to be a defensive guy and make it, you must have an incredible presence like the coaches listed above.

Former Vikings coach Mike Zimmer was close, as he had a firm, tough-love, rousing leadership style. But inevitably he wasn't quite in the same class as the top-tier defensive coaches listed above and eventually wore out his welcome.

But when you have a pretty good offensive coach who knows his stuff, often calling the plays, the leadership flows more naturally. New young coaches like LaFleur, Kevin O'Connell, Zac Taylor, Kyle Shanahan, Nick Sirianni all fit this description. At the college level, you see the sheer offensive genius of Josh Heupel and Steve Sarkisian re-energizing Tennessee and Texas. Andy Reid isn't a great coach in a traditional sense, but he has had an amazing career because when he is at the controls the players flat-out play with great confidence. And a guy like Kliff Kingsbury, who has probably been in over his head from the start, has even been moderately successful and kept his job (for now) because he has been fairly decent at times controlling the offense.

If Arizona fired Kingsbury, they'd have a scapegoat for their underachieving, but they would still feel "lost" without him at the helm of the ship and the transition to whoever would be calling the plays next would be super-jarring. The Colts are about to experience this in the coming weeks. An offensive coach will have a longer leash because you're hesitant to axe the pilot in the cockpit. Because whoever slides in that seat to try to replace him, it will be a tough transition.

So hire an offensive coach, and all is well? Not necessarily. You have to watch out for the Josh McDaniels or Nathaniel Hackett whose offensive ability was improperly gauged because of others around him and now he's getting badly exposed.

So be careful going forward. But I just don't see Allen as the answer. He isn't in the caliber of defensive coaches like Carroll, Belichick, Tomlin. Truthfully, he is probably a few rungs below Haslett.
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  1. Old Comment
    turbo_dog's Avatar
    Nice write-up, Neugs!
    Posted 11-10-2022 at 08:00 AM by turbo_dog turbo_dog is offline

  2. Old Comment
    K Major's Avatar
    Fair argument.

    Dennis will last another season, but he shouldn't.

    It's time to hit the reboot switch. The Saints have talent on both sides of the ball but seems to always come out playing FLAT to start. That's on the HC and OC.

    Dalton is bad, Winston is still throwing picks etc. Only bright spot was landing Olave in the draft. His future appears to be very bright.

    But yeah, Allen doesn't have that "it", "aura" of being a leader of men. His record as Head Coach is what it is.
    Posted 11-10-2022 at 09:12 AM by K Major K Major is offline
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