Post-Christmas Thoughts on Fans & Coaches
This being the holiday weekend, I really didn’t plan on posting anything as I figured people would be too busy with family and presents to need further diversion. But this has become part of my Sunday morning routine so I may as well continue with it even if no one else cares.
I belatedly got around to listening to the latest installment of Cheesehead Radio last night http://www.blogtalkradio.com/cheeseheadradio where much of the discussion (as it has elsewhere this week) centered on Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy. The Packers play their most important game of the season today against the New York Giants and if they lose (a very real possibility given the matchup), no doubt many quarters will renew their call for McCarthy’s dismissal. This also tied in with something my friend/PD colleague and Packers’ Therapy host Chris Richards passed along to me earlier this week. It was the following reader query of Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel football writer Bob McGinn along with his response:
- Q: Tina, NYC – Quick question, how come in grading the Packers you
don’t do a coaching section? Would be very interesting to see how uneven
this coaching staff is.
– A: Bob McGinn – Tina: I’ve been asked this quite a few times over the
years. The main reason I don’t have a coaching category is I can’t see what
they do. Let’s face it. 85% of their work is done behind closed doors. I
also don’t have access to the reams of computer printouts and digital
gadgetry that lead them to make their game plans and play calls. I’m afraid
if I did it, most weeks it would be the same old tired prose that wouldn’t
contain a whit of insight.
I found this to be a striking admission from someone who apparently feels no compunction about critiquing other aspects of the Packers’ operation. As Chris correctly pointed out in his e-mail to me, if someone who has daily access to the team feels unqualified to make an informed evaluation of the coaches, how can the average fan hope to do the same?
I believe as fans, much of our frustration with the coaching staff stems from the different approaches we take to the subject. For us, it is a passion and though many devote a great deal of time to it, it is still ultimately a part-time one. We watch the games and wonder why they are doing this when they should be doing that or why can’ t they do this instead of that? From our perspective, there’s nothing wrong with that and, indeed, it’s part of the “fun” of being a fan. I just think that it needs to be tempered from time to time with a dose of reality.
The thing that always gets lost in any conversation about McCarthy is that this is his first head coaching job. I remember back when Bart Starr was fired as Packers’ coach, he noted that he was a much better coach when he got fired than when he was hired. It may only seem that McCarthy isn’t learning from his mistakes when the actuality is that it’s simply not happening quickly enough to suit many Packer fans.
It’s easy enough to point out the flaws; the reasons behind those flaws and their solutions tend to be a great deal more difficult and complex. This is not to suggest that coaches should be immune from criticism. They can make mistakes and have pre- (or ill-) conceived notions as do the rest of us. But for them it is a full-time job and it’s important to remember that they have reasons for doing things the way they do that may not be readily apparent to the average fan watching from the stands or on TV.
Firing the coach is only half of the equation. In that circumstance, you then need someone as good or better as a replacement. In such an event, it’s also quite possible that you’ll only be exchanging one set of frustrations for another. The bottom line is to be careful what you wish for for you may very well get it.
To the fans who say that it’s not their responsibility to determine the next coach, I once again defer to my friend Chris. When he hears that argument from fans, he told me his response is that ‘if it’s Ted Thompson’s job to find a replacement, then it’s also Thompson’s perogative to retain the coach that he already has’.
Of course, that answer would likely lead to an entirely different discussion. One which I believe I’ll save for another time.
‘PD Sunday Sampler’ will return next week.