Published: August 12th, 2009 | Tags: Brandon Marshall, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Indianapolis Colts, Jim Caldwell, Jim Schwartz, Josh McDaniels, Kansas City Chiefs, Kellen Winslow Jr., Peyton Manning, Raheem Morris, Ron Meeks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Todd Haley
Success in the NFL for new coaches, unlike players, is dependent on many variables. For players, winning may be dependent on other variables, but it’s their talent that got them in the league. In some cases, little things can derail the success of a new head coach.
So I’ve put together a few observations from training camps to keep an eye on for some of the new coaches.
- Detroit Lions – When Jim Schwartz was selected to take the helm of the Lions, I was a little concerned because it was not a stylistic match. The Titans ran a base 4-3 Whipya Defense, which is comprised of my front four whipping your offensive line. The Lions don’t have the personnel up front defensively to employ that strategy and hence, my concern. Based on conversations with members of the Lions organization and what we’ve seen in camp thus far, “The Schwartz” is going to be with the Lions and they will use the blitz to create pressure and stop the run.
- Denver Broncos – In moving past the Jay Cutler situation, I’ve been interested in the possible departure of Denver’s second-best player, WR Brandon Marshall. According to reports, Marshall has been demoted on the depth chart. Injured Pro Bowl starters generally don’t get moved down the depth chart, and this seems like another petty attempt to demoralize the lone remaining natural offensive leader. By definition, natural leaders are vocal players whose game is so strong other players follow them. This latest attempt to get under the skin of Marshall surpasses another incident earlier this year. Josh McDaniels revealed to Marshall that before he would give him a new contract, he needed to get to know Marshall — which I think is totally reasonable. Marshall replied the best way to do that would be to talk man to man. Marshall intimated that given his body of work, he still felt a new contract was in order. An agitated McDaniels responded that he was having trouble getting past Marshall’s “rap sheet.” While I confess the comment was clever, the Broncos need Marshall. Like him or not, Marshall has that natural leadership dynamic — on and off the field — that players gravitate to.
- Indianapolis Colts – Jim Caldwell inherited a Rolls Royce from Tony Dungy. I love his philosophy of trying to raise the level of special teams production, which is a lost art on many teams. I don’t know what led to the departure of defensive coordinator Ron Meeks, but I feel his services have been under-appreciated league-wide, given the fact that the Colts have rightfully chosen to give the great Peyton Manning all the weapons he needs to be successful. For the Colts sake, I just hope egos were not involved in Meeks’ departure, because it’s not easy assembling a bag of leftovers into a competitive defensive unit.
- Kansas City Chiefs – Todd Haley is serving notice that there is a new sheriff in town — which is a double-edged sword. It’s important that your players know that you have a plan, and I like what I see with the Haley plan. However, I have a concern about Haley’s temperament. Forget the well-documented riff with Anquan Boldin; I have never been comfortable with the verbal spats on the sideline with Kurt Warner. There have been other incidents, which included a verbal run-in with T.O. in Dallas. Haley is a volatile coach. Players respect a coach’s consistency and will rebel against moody coaches. More importantly, players loath a coach who embarrasses them.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Raheem Morris has created a buzz with his tough camp, and being physical is often an aspect of the game that can slip through the cracks. This phenomena is more indigenous to offensive coordinators who are recognized for their genius. I was disturbed by the public comments from Morris about the temperament of Kellen Winslow Jr. While there is probably merit to his assertions, making that kind of statement publicly can hurt the team in a couple of ways. K-2 is a natural leader too. He is the guy who will raise his game based on the stakes. The bigger the game, the more K-2 leads and shines.
What say you?