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The Master Debate thread: Coaching v. Talent


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Don't go chasing waterfalls, swim in the water your used to. 

361WATERFALLS.gif

 

This is a spill over for anyone that wants to continue debating the importance or value of one over the other. I find balance is key, but don't disregard the importance of Coaching for the sheer sake of Talent. 

 

My personal opinion on Gruden lies at the hands of Scot. I hope he has the power to control what he believes is best for the team. I still believe in him, so I will trust whatever he chooses to do with both the talent at player or coach. Myself looking at coaching I remain unimpressed and I think more production could be had with this current injured and limited roster. They are about where they were last year, yet we all know the roster has improved somewhat. 

 

I understand the schedule is tougher, as Sub pointed out. I understand injuries effect all teams and how they scheme. I still see players like Crowder and Young being underused. A career sidetracked in Alfred Morris, suddenly bright up and comer like K-Rob now can tackle or make dramatic stops. 

 

Maybe this is born out of the continued frustration that comes with loving the Redskins. Did I have high hopes when the season started, not really, just wanted improvement. The one thing that is completely disheartening to me is this teams ability to find new ways to lose...that to me speaks volumes about the Coaching and not the players. Yes the players drop or fumble or jump offsides, or run wrong routes. 

 

I am suspect about things Gruden as said, If he had a FB like young in Cincy he would use him, but he hasn't and that is with a sub par running game, injuries to blocking TE's....Said we'd be a running team, yet we are not, always playing from behind I guess? 

 

What does that say about preparation?  I still hope Gruden is successful, I haven't given up on him and the true analysis should ultimately be withheld to after the season, I am speaking more to what I am seeing week to week. The D looks soft, can we blame that on a few players or injuries? Overall I think No. I don't see a D dictating, I see them reacting. If that is the future D Barry is going to run here, count me as not a fan. 

 

Maybe this is the new NFL ? Throw the ball more after claiming to be a running team. Play soft zones, don't blitz and keep the other team from marching up and down the field, maybe it is the new NFL I don't like. When I coach other sports I like to impose my will on the other team, as a team, as a Coach....I want them to fear me. Whats he going to do now. They line up to stop what they think is coming and bam, I take them another direction catching them off guard. 

 

I don't see that from this staff and that is what bothers me most. I think the players have played hard, and well at times. 

 

I will link this in the twitter thread so there is a place for this discussion, and remember Sub, I used to be you until I was not, then I was me. LOL>  I love the discussions you carry on, no ill will buddy. Yesterday was a tough day, let alone I think it was the first Monday I really despised losing, showed up at a job the first guy there from a granite company has a NE hat on and tracks dirt all through the customers house, of course he mentions my stickers and never cleans up before leaving. 

 

I did text his boss with some pics, **** that guy. hhhaa

 

 

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I was reading the discussion on the twitter thread.  Interesting debate.  If I understood the points right, the heated debate points were:

 

A.  Coaching is pretty much a wash in the NFL because coaches at this level all have similar ability and acumen, etc.

 

B.  Playing off A.  So it's all about talent.

 

Personally, I think A is both right and wrong.  I do agree with A from the standpoint that there is certain average/mean of head coaches and most gravitate towards that mean.  It's like that in most things in life -- more people are average are close to it than extraordinary or horrific at what they do.  I am not using hard numbers where I've thought about every coach but for arguments sake:   I do think there are about 8 coaches or so that often out coach the opposition.  And perhaps 5 coaches who don't have their team playing up to par.  Are more coaches somewhere in between -- probably so.    Does talent separate average coaches for example out of the pack, I bet it does.

 

This subject isn't really much of a debate when you hear ex-players, GM's, owners etc discuss this -- almost all of them say good coaching can make all the difference in the world and they regularly cite examples.   Matt Bowen among others loves talking about the prowess of certain coaches he's played for or makes current observations about how certain coaches today can out scheme the opposition.  Likewise, just about everyone will concur that personnel is even more important.

 

I don't think Jay is one of the worst coaches in the NFL.  I also don't see anything out of him that makes me think he's one of the best either -- the kicker for me is I don't see the attributes that make me think he's headed on becoming one of the top echelon coaches.  Granted, a lot of that is just pure guessing-feel and trusting my own observation skills.  So I could be dead wrong about him.  And I hope I am dead wrong.  I don't want one of the middling-average Jim Fassel type of coaches.  I am a spoiled child from the 80s and used to love reading about and observing those Gibbs-Pettibon schemes where John Madden would crow on air all the time about how the Redskins were the best prepared team in the NFL. 

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For anyone questioning the impacts of a coach, just watch the football life specials on NFL Network about the Pats and Bill Belichick.  Its not just about the head coach, its about the entire staff around them.  The guys scouring tape to find weaknesses in the opposition and the best ways to exploit them.  Figuring out ways to maximize what you have and limit deficiencies when starters go down.  Putting players in the best possible position to succeed by masking their deficiencies.

 

I think its a given that talent ultimately trumps coaching, but good coaches get the most out of what they have.  Ultimately, its up to the GM to determine whether thats occurring or not.  We can only speculate on the level of coaching as we simply read the tweets and watch the games in real-time.

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 A coach who can 'reach' his players, get into their heads and make them believe they are better than the person they are lining up against. Gibbs had more coaches per capita than any other, which gave players more of a chance to not be 'grouped into a general goal; players had a closer relationship because of it. Hec, he won 3 SBs with different QBs; that alone should tell you a coach's ability and his success.

 

But just as much, a winner has to have a winning cast of assistants to drive home the mission. We see it all the time; an assistant from a team goes elsewhere and is either going to be successful or a failure, depending on the foundation of that team before he got there, which depends on the previous one's goal. 

 

Utilizing players, being different, going against tendencies, is the best option for a team that is struggling. We see Gruden constantly running on 1st downs, because he's trying to establish a base to work off of; but it doesn't work because teams know he will call run on 1st and adjust to it; until success comes from one area of offense, the other will struggle. Once a strong passing game comes, it will open the running game, and vice versa, but until a strength can be grown, going against tendencies is the best option. 

 

Right now Gruden isn't confident in the QB to release him, and I doubt the QB is totally confident; thats where the coach is needed most, to develop ways to get players the ball, but right now he's being very vanilla about it. Not the right way to develop players.

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I don't understand how some of you keep undervaluing the head coach position.  I think it's laughable.  Coaches not only game plan and are responsible for the X's and O's but they must keep they're guys motivated.  That's what I loved about Joe Gibbs that Portis eluded to a few weeks ago.

 

You can have great talent but it's up to the coach to draw it out and direct it effectively.  Portis said guys would run through a brick wall for Gibbs while they scoffed at Zorn.  They didn't want to let him down.  They loved how he'd always take the blame in media sessions and people/media would make him look like a joke.  It made the players not want to let him down. 

 

Coaches are also responsible for player development.  Some posters talk about talent, but how much of said talent is due to the coaches.  Many people think Pete Carol's program in Seattle is the reason for the success they've had with respect to player development.  We talk about finding diamonds in the rough every year, but are they found or forged.  Was Richard Sherman great in college or homegrown due to the system.  Bobby Wagner??? Kam Chancellor??? Russell Wilson???  Think about the players that left that system that have struggled elsewhere.

 

Not sure if this statement was posted here or if I heard it on the Patriots Skins game broadcast, but Gronk was a nobody blocking tight end in college, but Belichick's crew did the research about one decent game he had as a receiver 2 years prior and drafted him thinking they could develop him as a pass catcher.  He wasn't really the man three years ago.  It was Aaron Hernandez who got the megadeal remember?  Coach or Talent? 

 

Coaches get the talent out of their good players to make them great and great into Hall of Famers, and the great coaches like Belichick or Mike Tomlin or Coughlin (this era) or the greats of the past like Parcells, Gibbs, and Walsh are evidence that coaching weighs more heavily than talent because they induce talent. 

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I will say for the Skins, I can't think of one reason besides coaching as to why, with the talent we have, we are not top 5...even #1 in rushing.

Well, we keep playing from behind and blah blah blah

Nonsense. We abandon the run quicker than *insert funny joke here* THAT has nothing to do with talent....

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Phil Jackson vs Kobe Bryant - Phil Jackson vs. MJ

 

Yes they were great HOF players but Phil Jackson fostered an environment for them to become champions.  He put them in the best position to capitalize on their physical skillset.  MJ and Kobe both echo this sentiment.  His system and coaching style put defenses and other schemes at a disadvantage from the tip.  Some would say MJ and Kobe were the reason he has 11 rings, but his triangle offense made things easier for his players to succeed allowing players to develop into leaders and become clutch performers with the killer instinct. So yes while he had the talent he helped development some of the greatest stars basketball has ever seen.

 

Football is similar in everyway.  To me what Tomlin is doing is Pittsburgh is second to maybe only Belichick.  They're a wide receiver production facilty, home of linebacker U, they're young defenses keep thriving while Harrison got old, Polamalu retired, Ryan Clark left.  They've had injuries galore up front and this year lost Big Ben half the season and they're still in the thick of it. 

 

People talk about the Ravens but they've been in every game this year and most of the games they lost were less than 3 points.  So yes while they lost Suggs who is arguably the leader on the team, they're not a team you want to deal with and they're schedule has been tough as nails too.  Teams don't look at them as an easy win like they view us.

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I think each is worth a letter grade.

Great talent can turn a B coach into an A.  Great coaching/scheming can turn B level talent into an A.

 

Gibbs I was an example of great coaching elevating players. The 'skins 82-91 had good talent and a few greats, but not many. Heck, even Darrell Green wasn't considered the best at his position most years and neither Riggo, Byner, Smith, Riggs, Rogers, or any of the other backs were great, but they were all good. Gibbs and Pettibone made them great. Now, great coaching at its finest can turn average into good/great... look at the scab victories.

 

On the other hand, Switzer was a fine example of a B coach (and maybe even a C coach) who was elevated by great talent. A good coach knows how to get out of the way and not fuss with his thumbprint just because his ego has to have him show how smart he is.

 

That said, it goes the other way too. A bad coach can make good talent average or even poor. Bad talent can make an average or good coach look poor.

 

At the moment, Gruden doesn't seem to be the kind of coach who elevates his team to be better than its parts. I also don't think he's the kind of coach that makes the team fall well below its potential. Likewise, esp with the injuries... the talent on the 'skins right now is in that average range. It's not good enough to either elevate or harm a coach. Gruden gets few freebies from the talent on the 'skins. The 'skins create few mismatches and confusion due to the innovation and brilliance of the coaching.

 

That's how I see it today. As me tomorrow and I might give you a different read on where our coaching/talent is.

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The coaching v talent argument is an interesting one. I started off by imagining two hypothetical scenarios.

 

Scenario A: You take two completely evenly matched teams. At the start of the season one team is given a group of good coaches, while the other team receives a group of bad coaches. They then play each other 16 weeks in a row.

 

Now I would imagine that over an entire season, the team with the better coaches would probably win more games.

 

 

Scenario B: You take two mismatched teams, one with good players and one with bad players. Each team is then given a group of completely evenly matched coaches.

 

In this case I could imagine the team with the better players winning most or even all of the games.

 

 

Now this seems to show that I believe talent is better than coaching. But hold on a minute, where did this talent come from?

 

NFL players have been receiving coaching their whole football lives. Sure, there have always been naturally gifted kids who can run faster or jump further (farther?) than the other kids. But without coaching in sound football techniques they are just track and field athletes, not football players. IMO without good football coaches, you don't have good football players.

 

Maybe at the highest level (player wise) coaching appears less important, because players can practice the techniques and skills that they have already learned off their many previous coaches. But I believe that it's because of the coaches that the game evolves and new techniques and skills need to be learned (running and defending against the read option for example).

 

So where do I stand on the coaching v talent debate.........Who knows?  :unsure:

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Gibbs I was an example of great coaching elevating players. The 'skins 82-91 had good talent and a few greats, but not many. Heck, even Darrell Green wasn't considered the best at his position most years and neither Riggo, Byner, Smith, Riggs, Rogers, or any of the other backs were great, but they were all good. Gibbs and Pettibone made them great. Now, great coaching at its finest can turn average into good/great... look at the scab victories.

 

 

I think coaching and a stable system is important, but I think you are underestimating our Gibbs I talent. I agree with the positions/players you listed but our talent was much better than most teams in the trenches and other unheralded positions. That, just as much as scheme and coaching, led to the elevation of our other players. 

 

It's almost like Beathard and Gibbs were onto a Moneyball philosophy before that existed. If everyone was out hunting for QBs, WRs, and RBs...they set out to build our roster to be skill-position-agnostic. We will be so good and deep at OL and DL that we give ourselves more margin for error in selecting a QB. 

 

Suddenly some very average QBs and RBs look incredible and allow our talented WRs even more time to get wide open. Also, a very strong front 7 plus a great CB allows a pretty pedestrian set of DBs to lock down opponent passing games once they become one-dimensional. 

 

We found positions that were undervalued and made them a strength of ours. 

 

Having said all that, I still think coaching and front office matter more than great players. I'm going to use zoony's point but flip it. Very few NFL-caliber players are "bad" to make it to this level. They mostly just need the right situation to put them in situations to succeed. 

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Coaching > Talent.

 

For the most part I believe that the NFL is a coaches league.  An average coach will not win with great talent, but a great coach can win with average talent. 

 

Isn't the Joe Gibbs scabs year an example of this?

 

The GM is the most important position in the Front Office, though, assuming he makes all hiring and personnel decisions from the coach down.  Setting up a system, and hiring/recruiting coaches + players into that system, and maintaining continuity is how it's done in today's NFL.

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At the NFL level, every player is a professional and talent is basically even.  Any given Sunday any team can win simply because the talent level is so close.  Look at Nascar.  Cars are literally hundredths of a second apart over a 500 mile race.  You don't think crew chief and crew make the up those milliseconds. 

 

All those guys run sub 4.75.  All lineman lifts trucks.  Behemoths of men.  Brandon Scherff power cleans what 450lbs??? an still get thrown around sometimes.  It's the reason guys like Norv Turner keep getting offensive coordinator jobs , he an offensive guru even though he sucks at motivating men. 

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Tough job to the task... But thanks SWFL for creating the thread it was really needed.

 

shortening the quote to not make a freaking huge post...

 

Well, relation between coaches/players and ex-players, have more to do with Charisma and human relationship that pure coaching skills.

It's a huge part of it, but that something you don't usually develop. You have it, or you don't.

There's two way to make players believe.

A: The Gibbs' way, you're a great buddy that tends to make guys believe they're better than what they are, and they'll get ready to die on the field for you, because they love ya.

B: The Parcells' way, you're an ass and make it so you're seen as one, act as one and frightened everyone in sight. Your guys we'll die on the field afraid of what may happened if you blow an assignment. And if you wet your pants on the field because you're scared, you'll get cut, so every other guy in the building know what's waiting for in case they ****ed up.

 

Both systems are good for it, it's up to any coach to choose the one they prefer, the one that suits their personnality the more. But, guys in A are also able to blow your head when needed. And B guys can also be kind once in a while on Christmas eve at 22:53 until 22:54.

That's the point that makes the difference between good coaches and great coaches. I agree, that's one point that separates them from the hordes of other coaches in the NFL.

 

For anyone questioning the impacts of a coach, just watch the football life specials on NFL Network about the Pats and Bill Belichick.  Its not just about the head coach, its about the entire staff around them.  The guys scouring tape to find weaknesses in the opposition and the best ways to exploit them.  Figuring out ways to maximize what you have and limit deficiencies when starters go down.  Putting players in the best possible position to succeed by masking their deficiencies.

 

I think its a given that talent ultimately trumps coaching, but good coaches get the most out of what they have.  Ultimately, its up to the GM to determine whether thats occurring or not.  We can only speculate on the level of coaching as we simply read the tweets and watch the games in real-time.

 

That's were I tend to differ in this debate, we're not really talking coaching, but game planning, scheme creating, evaluating players, and using them to their forces. Which is different to pure coaching to me. That stuff comes with experience mostly.  Many plays exist in every team game plan. Terminology change, but that's merely it. In every book you'll find quick slants, I formation run between LG/LT with a FB, with a 2 TE set... And you'll get to recognize them easily, and be able to defend them easier with experience. And once you got it, it doesn't really goes away. But that's not really coaching to me. That's a HC job, obviously, I'm not discussing it.

 

Here are a few guys that used to coach in the NFL with some kind of experience:

Don Shula: Winnngest coach ever. 328-156-6. 3 SB on 6 appearance. Even had the great Dan Marino at the helm for many years with the Dolphins. Still, between 1986 to 1991 he fielded 3 8-8 season, one 8-7, one 6-10 and one 12-4 lost in the middle of it in 1990. The only other season with a losing record for him was 1976

Chuck Noll: (Steelers 1969-1991):193-148-1 (8th Winningest coach All-Time). Started his career with 3 losing season (first one as 1-13). 8 double digit W season. 4 SB wins. Wasn't able to get better than 9-7 past 1984. And he was 52yo at the time. Not really old.

Tom Landry: 3rd on the list, 250-162-6. It took him 7 years to have a winning season. Heck, his first one was even a 0-11-1! Sure we would have fired him in 1960. But after that, he had to wait until 1987 to have another losing one (7-8) then a really crappy one in 1988 with 3-13 and retiring.

Mike Shanahan: 13th. 170-138 ever. 2 SB. Got fired in his second season as the Raiders HC for a 1-3 start. He's best known around here for being a crappy HC that only got his wins due to John Elway.

Marv Levy: 143-112, guy is 21th on the list. From 1990 to 1993 he went 4 times in a row to the SB. Impressive no? Guy is 42-53 without Jim Kelly. Or guys like Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed, just to name a few.

Bill Parcells: 11th in wins ever. 172-130-1. 19 years HC for the Giants, Jets, Cowboys and Patriots. 2 SB on 3 appearance. Started 3-12-1 for the Giants. His tenure with the Patriots is particularly telling: 5-11, 10-6, 6-10, 11-5. How's so?

Mike Holmgren: 161-111. 15th on the list. His worst record with the Packers? 9-7. Besides 2000 and 2002 he was pretty good for the Seahawks. Records of 9-7 and 10-6 mostly. Even an appearance in the SB in 2005. Was 10-6 in 2007. Then follow it up with a 4-12 season before retiring. What happened? Word is Shaun Alexander left...

Curly Lambeau: The emblematic HC of the Packers is 4th with 226-132-22. He was a HC at the age of 23. And started his career with 12 winning seasons, 3 titles, then in 1933 he puts up a 5-7-1 lost between another bunch of winning years. Until 1947 to be true, where he then had 5 losing seasons in a row... With different teams.

George Halas: 40 years as a HC, started at 25, ended up at 72. I guess he knew a few things about being a HC. 2nd all-time. 318-148-31. It was an old era, but still... 6 losing seasons ever. Was NFL champion in 1963, with a 11-1-2 record, followed up by a 5-9 season, then 9-5, then 5-7-2 and 7-6-1 to end his career.

Bill Belichick: I love his case. Guy was a HC for the Browns for 5 years. 4 losing seasons and one 11-5 season lost in it in 1994. After a 5-11 in 1995 he'll wait until 2000 to get another gig for the Patriots. He started 5-11. Then he only had a 9-7 season in 2002, rest is double digit... All-time he's fifth in the winningest coaching list with a record of 219-109 and 4 SBs in 6 appearance. Still, it's interesting to note that the guy is 51-62 with somebody else than Tom Brady at QB.

Pete Caroll: 82-65. He's an interesting case. He had one stints with the Jets in 1994. 6-10. Then from 1997-1999 he went 10-6, 9-7 and 8-8 for the Patriots. Then he'll have to wait until 2010 and the Seahawks to become a HC again. And he started 7-9 for the first two seasons before taking off in 2012... Some will say Russell Wilson, Beastmode or Legion of boom effect.

Dan Reeves: 23 years as a HC for the Broncos, Giants and Falcons between 1981 and 2003. Went to for SB with Broncos. 9th winningest coach ever (190-165-2). Started his career with a 10-6 season, followed up by a 2-7 during the strike in 1982. Went 14-2 for the Falcons in 1998 but had losing records every other year for them except 2002 where they went 9-6-1.

Chuck Knox: 10th on the list, 186-147-1 ever. Between 1973 and 1988, guy had only 2 losing seasons as a HC for the Bills. Then 2 7-9 and one 9-7 season inbetween. Only to close it up for the Rams from 1991 to 1993 with records of: 6-10, 5-11 and 4-12.

Bill Walsh: He didn't coach long enough to be on the list, but with 3 SBs I had to note him also. He had all his career with Joe Montana as QB, and started 2-14, 6-10 before going 13-3 in 1981. But 1981 is also the year Ronnie Lott entered the league. 7 Ints. 3 Pick six. Not bad for a Rookie. Some may say it took Montana 3 years of growing pains in the NFL. In fact Montana started 1 game in 1979, and 7 in 1980. They got rid of DeBerg in 1981 and committed to Montana. Rest is history.

Marty Schottenheimer: The 7th on the list, 200-126-1, is an interesting case as well. He was a pretty great coach throughout the whole season wherever he went. Never being less than 8-8 in regular. But guy is 5-13 in playoffs. His first losing season was 2004 where he went 4-12. 8-8 in 2002, then 12-4 in 2004. With Drew Brees and LT on the roster. What happened in 2003?

Jim Zorn: Guy is a bum as a HC right? Still it took the NFL 12 games to figure him out. Or not. Guy went 8-8 to 4-12 the next season. Fletcher, Portis, Moss, Cooley... And Campbell at the helm. What's often forgotten is what happened in the offseason between 2008 and 2009. Need a clue? Albert Haynesworth $100M. Talk about blowing a locker room off.

Bill Callahan: Another interesting coach to discuss. 2 years a HC in his career, 11-5 and 4-12 with the Raiders in 2002 and 2003. He took them to the SB in his first year. Then, he lay an egg... Word around here is that he sucks as a HC, but he's great at building OL.

 

I don't understand how some of you keep undervaluing the head coach position.  I think it's laughable.  Coaches not only game plan and are responsible for the X's and O's but they must keep they're guys motivated.  That's what I loved about Joe Gibbs that Portis eluded to a few weeks ago.

 

You can have great talent but it's up to the coach to draw it out and direct it effectively.  Portis said guys would run through a brick wall for Gibbs while they scoffed at Zorn.  They didn't want to let him down.  They loved how he'd always take the blame in media sessions and people/media would make him look like a joke.  It made the players not want to let him down. 

 

Coaches are also responsible for player development.  Some posters talk about talent, but how much of said talent is due to the coaches.  Many people think Pete Carol's program in Seattle is the reason for the success they've had with respect to player development.  We talk about finding diamonds in the rough every year, but are they found or forged.  Was Richard Sherman great in college or homegrown due to the system.  Bobby Wagner??? Kam Chancellor??? Russell Wilson???  Think about the players that left that system that have struggled elsewhere.

 

Not sure if this statement was posted here or if I heard it on the Patriots Skins game broadcast, but Gronk was a nobody blocking tight end in college, but Belichick's crew did the research about one decent game he had as a receiver 2 years prior and drafted him thinking they could develop him as a pass catcher.  He wasn't really the man three years ago.  It was Aaron Hernandez who got the megadeal remember?  Coach or Talent? 

 

Coaches get the talent out of their good players to make them great and great into Hall of Famers, and the great coaches like Belichick or Mike Tomlin or Coughlin (this era) or the greats of the past like Parcells, Gibbs, and Walsh are evidence that coaching weighs more heavily than talent because they induce talent. 

 

Well, I've already answered many points above. But regarding coaching up guys. I'll add two things:

A: You can only teach someone up to his ceiling. If Einstein was still alive, he could teach relativity theory to a hundred of people, not all of them would grab what he's saying.

B: It takes two to learn. A good teacher, and a good pupil. One without the other never works. It's even more important that the pupil is willing to learn, as a good one will be able to grab things here and there from a bad teacher. Won't be perfect, but there'll be some growing nonetheless. You really believe any of those coaches above would have make a champion of guys like Ryan Leaf? What happened to Bill Belichick with Albert Haynesworth?

 

Side note: scouting is about scouting not coaching.

 

Last, HC have something else on their plates than teaching guys how to play, how to do their mechanics, how to tackle, stuff like that. That's why there's positional coaches. We've witnessed it last year with Gruden acting as a HC/OC/QB Coach. Too much on the plate for him.  Hc is supervising, telling what he wants for each position, game planning, stuff like that. Mechanics and getting players up to their talents is up to positional coaches. Hence the answer to Bill Callahan.

 

Coaching can only go as far as what the players want to go, if they want to.

Scheming, game planning is not coaching, that's wargame.

 

It's way easier to have a winning team if you have good players in it and a bad coach, than the opposite. At the end of the day, it's the players that are on the field executing. Some even used to say, at times, when he had Albert, that well... You don't coach big. Gronkowsky? There's not so much coaching it. He's a 6'6" guy that weighs heavy and runs with power. Basically, the coaching his:

"OK guys in front, go out and tackle this guy. If you miss he'll rip your head off". Put Gronk in any team, he'll be used the same way wherever in the league. It doesn't take rocket science to get this. Coaching was about, teaching him a few routes, teaching him a few tricks to not get penalties when he blocks, how to be good at catching the ball. Guy was willing to learn, and that's it.

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For sustained success at the highest level, you need both. No question about it, although in the past I've read comments to the effect that downplay coaching.

 

Pure talent alone will get an individual far, provided that they remain focused on honing their craft and not relying on their natural abilities to get them by. A team stacked with talent will obviously succeed, largely on just outperforming their opponent.

 

However, a good coach will elevate the less talented players and find ways to get the most out of them. Take for instance a defensive back who doesn't have the natural speed to recover from making a mistake in coverage. Old adage: you can't teach speed. But you can teach better, faster recognition of route development and "keys" that give away what the receiver is about to do and you can teach ways to relax the hips in order to change direction quicker. All of a sudden, that comparatively slow defensive back seems a lot faster than he actually is and develops into a top-flight player.

 

I speak from experience. No, I don't play football, but I do karate. I have no upper body strength to speak of (although reasonably defined leg muscles, I just need to learn how to use them properly) and I am not in great physical shape (not overweight, but not athletic/sporty either). I don't work out and physical activity has always been a challenge for me. Yet, through good coaching I have learnt to punch hard enough by using my whole body rather than arm strength. I've learnt (with a success rate that needs improvement) to catch a physically stronger opponent's attack with perfect timing that enables me to destroy their body condition and send them toppling over with no effort at all. But much of what we do is a physical feeling that is hard to put into words. Some instructors have a natural knack of describing things to me in a way in which it all just "clicks". Others are no help at all. Yet, I've made it to black belt and feel that I have plenty more to learn before I reach the peak of my ability, despite my physical limitations. My senior instructor is about 6'3, 17 stone. He will gladly admit he is not fast and that he has struggled in the past. Yet now he can recognise an attack and respond instinctively rather than in a reactive manner to the extent that he seems a lot faster than he really is, but its taken years to get there and I'm lucky to bear witness to the changes in him and try to learn from him and avoid his mistakes. There are others in our organisation who definitely are more naturally talented, and they've developed quicker, but I can still often give them a challenging time by getting the fundamentals correct.

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In the majority of cases, i believe great coaching makes talent great.

Occasionally a coach can ride talent to glory, but not very often. Barry Switzer comes to mind with the Cowboys.

Bill bellicheck is an interesting study.

Clearly the guy is a great coach, and frankly, anyone who wants to argue againsty it is just earning my right eyebrow notched way up on my forehead in their direction.

Bellicheck started to turn the Browns around, and in typical Cleveland fashion, he was let go before he could complete the job.

He had assembled an amazing staff, and therein is what I think is one of the head coach's strongest responsibilities, in that he has to delegate, and he has to get good people to coach his individual units.

Head coaches who have great records as coordinators fail a lot, because delegation and the ability to be hands off is difficult when given such a large responsibility and practically all blame or glory is on the HC.  Check Norv Turner.

In New england, Bellichek has Brady. Now, some might say this is why he's successful, he has one of the greatest of all time. 

But then, he was a 6th round afterthought nobody wanted, and when he came in he did not instantly light up the sky.. he was an inexperienced young QB given simple game management duties, and he did them, and they won the Super Bowl. 

Brady grew into the QB he is now. 

Coaches have a lot to do with that. The Head coach for 
A/ believing in him enough and tailoring gameplans to help him be successful at all phases of his career and letting him develop into the player he is, and

B/ hiring the right offensive and position coaches to help that process along.
Obviously Brady showed someone that he had the ability in there to BE developed, but it still has to be brought out.
And much of that is not just developing their skills, but making the gameplan work to their skills andnot demanding more of them than they can provide at any given stage. Brady won Super Bowls right out of the box, but as i said,, he was not necessarily the reason for it.
Lately, he is the winner he is and is driving the team.
But, bellichick has changed everything around Brady multiple times.

Gibbs is lauded and in my mind one of the greatest of all because he essentially won with 3 different teams. Very few players were mainstays all the way through Gibbs' first run. he had some,, namely his OL, which he built his winners around.
Same can be said for Bellicheck and Brady, maybe even moreso, because bellichick molded Brady on the go.. he was forced in when Bledsoe had a car accident on the sidelines. Early Brady won by managing games, he won by using a west coast short passing game with fleet footed smaller receivers, and then when he had Randy Moss they turned into bombs away and (nearly) won like that.

Now they've completely revolutionized the TE position. What they have done with Gronkowski is amazing and it began before him with ben Watson. 

And dont' forget, even with Gronkowski they also drafted Aaron Hernandez who was also turning in good numbers before he got all killy and what-not.

 

This is Bellichek showing us why he's a great coach. He makes talent. he takes talent and molds his game to it, and brings out the best of their abilities.

 

i think if you look down through the years at teams that win the Super Bowl, it's less about individual stars than it is about team cohesion, and that includes meshing superstar players with other lesser players in such a way that it minimizes friction and maximizes potential.

We saw it here with Gibbs. Best offense in the league was 0-5. So he changed the whole thing to match his players and created a dynasty.

And that is coaching in it's essence.

 

~Bang

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I like a good master debate session.  

 

You probably have this down pat. 

The coaching v talent argument is an interesting one. I started off by imagining two hypothetical scenarios.

 

 

 

So where do I stand on the coaching v talent debate.........Who knows?  :unsure:

 

That is why this is a master debate. 

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If you factor in you cannot win in the NFL today without a QB no matter how good the coach is, my biggest problem with BB in NE is he's such a great coach that he doesn't need to cheat. 

 

He opitomizes "whatever works", and has had pretty much every player that comes through there for over a decade completely buying into not being the stupid ones.  It's very rare they lose for any other reason then going up against someone who has as much or more talent then they do.  It's never mental mistakes, too many turnovers, stupid penalties, and last year was probably the least talented super bowl winning roster they've ever had, and still pulled it off.

 

All the talent in the world cannot make up for a terrible coach, but you can win with terrible talent with the right coach.  It's insane, but they just keep doing it.

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Guess I should put this here, then. Don't feel like any of it has been refuted in the least bit and still stand by it adamantly (maybe I'll do more research later and look back a few more years, evidence is overwhelming in my opinion):

Coaching matters.

Player personnel matters way, way more. It's not even close, in my mind.

I used to be like some of you, thinking a great coach is all it takes and he can make any roster turn into something special. But the evidence is overwhelmingly against that idea, and zoony was one of the first to really open my mind to that. Now, maybe he's being an extremist in the way he puts it, but his overall point is correct.

A great coach with terrible personnel is not going to be able to do much, period. A terrible coach with awesome personnel will win a Super Bowl. That's how significant personnel is. Those are the extreme cases, and there's certainly an argument to be made when it comes to the other more middling cases (average personnel, great coach? Maybe a solid team. Good personnel, below average coach? Probably a mediocre team, etc...)

But for all the examples you guys are giving when it comes to coaches making a difference, there's a hundred other ones showing how little of an effect they can have dependent on their personnel.

We've got a few of them just this year, actually.

John Fox went from the Broncos to the Bears. His last year with the Broncos? 12-4. He currently sits at 2-5 with the Bears. His D-Coordinator, Vic Fangio, just left a team in the 49ers with which he had them as a perennial top three Defense the last few years. Bears D is decidedly mediocre now.

Have they forgotten how to coach in just one offseason?

On the other side, Gary Kubiak, who ended his Texans coaching career on a terrible note (as well as Wade Phillips at D Coordinator), are now with the Broncos. Their record now? 7-1. Last year they were together with the Texans? 2-11.

I guess they figured everything out in 2014 during their time off, lol.

How about Chip Kelly? His offense the last two years has been excellent, people calling him a genius innovator, blah blah blah. He dismantles the roster that got him there and now look. Offense has had more games where they struggle than not. What's the difference? Did he forget how to coach? Rest of the NFL just took two years to finally catch up to what he was doing?

What happened to John Harbaugh and the Ravens? He forgot how to coach, too? Maybe his brother leaving the NFL devastated him? The Ravens decline just so happens to coincide with the talk for the last few years that Ozzie Newsome isn't bringing in the talent through the draft that he was before.

Similar to the Steelers on the defensive side of the ball, who declined under the same staff for the most part, but everyone saw that it was an aging core that wasn't being replaced properly. They're currently re-surging behind some solid draft picks on defense the last couple years.

How about all the teams who were middling to poor, recently changed their coaches, and are still middling to poor? Chargers, Bucs, Dolphins, Bills, our very own Skins and even arguably the Raiders.

Jack Del Rio is a defensive coach, and it's no question that the Raiders are winning right now because of their offense, not defense (though they're improving)... but to start off the year that defense was absolutely terrible and is still decidedly average. Did he forget how to coach defense, or is it because his personnel on the offensive side is way better?

How about the Seahawks, who change D Coordinators every single year? Do they happen to have the greatest hiring process in the NFL, or is it their personnel on that side? Same with the Ravens during the 2000s. Those coordinators would get plucked to be head coaches elsewhere and almost never were able to replicate the success on Defense those teams have shown.

This isn't even getting into how important the QB position is. When we say personnel matters the most, well that's the most important position on the team. A great QB means more to a team than anything else. You get a great QB, everything becomes easy. You don't, you've got to have elite positional groups (Oline, Dline most importantly) or a truly elite Defense to have a chance.

We saw the Cowboys last year win the division with almost the same personnel. Now they're failing miserably and it just so happens to coincide with romoSUCKS going out. I guess those coaches also just happened to forget how to win that same instant.

I can go back a few more years and find tons of these type of examples. It's not hard to see. Our very own great one, Joe Gibbs, left here in his second stint with a losing record. There's no doubt about why, is there? Did he lose his coaching abilities, or was it having Vinny Ceratto and Dan Snyder making personnel decisions the biggest reason? Gregg Williams has us playing some great defense in 2004 and 2005. He proceeds to destroy that side of the ball, making personnel-related decisions that were utterly stupid in hindsight, and how did they play in 2006? Did he suddenly stink?

And this ties into the whole idea that some get that players go elsewhere and succeed because of coaching. No, it has more to do with the surrounding talent than anything else. Scheme certainly matters, and players do fit better in certain schemes, but again, nothing matters more than the surrounding talent. Sean Taylor had the worst year of his career in 2006, which happened to coincide with that deficiency in talent. Did he suddenly forget how to play that year or was he trying to make up for the failures of everyone around him, and it made him look bad? Same scheme, same coach he previously excelled under.

I think it's funny people mention Dalton and the Bengals success this year, but were quiet last year while he struggled. Then, Gruden had nothing to do with it, right? Now it's some kind of proof that Gruden meant nothing to that team, lol. No, he did. But Dalton to Green was more important than anything else. Green has been healthy this year, Dalton is showing his experience, they have two backs who can get it done, and that matters more than anything Gruden or Hue is/was doing.

Nothing will mean more to this team than what Scot does personnel-wise. Gruden or no Gruden. Like zoony said, it's cute that people think a coaching change will really make a difference. It might provide a small spark like we see so often. Heck, even one whole season's worth of a spark... but if the personnel isn't consistently maintained, it'll fizzle out real quick as the rest of the NFL figures out the weaknesses of the roster and how said coach likes to mask them. There's only so many ways to do it. Eliminate those weaknesses, you'll be fine for a sustained period of time.

Or just get an elite QB. He'll mask them for you.

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Coaching > Talent.

 

For the most part I believe that the NFL is a coaches league.  An average coach will not win with great talent, but a great coach can win with average talent. 

 

Isn't the Joe Gibbs scabs year an example of this?

 

The GM is the most important position in the Front Office, though, assuming he makes all hiring and personnel decisions from the coach down.  Setting up a system, and hiring/recruiting coaches + players into that system, and maintaining continuity is how it's done in today's NFL.

Agree on all.

 

Bum Phillips referring to Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula "He can take his'n and beat your'n and take your'n and beat his'n.

 

You think Bum knew a thing or 2 about coaching?

 

And while we're talking, Bum's son is quietly coaching the #1 defense in the league again.  Still frosts me he was out there for the taking. Anyone doubt he wouldn't be getting more out of Skins D right now?

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Great points from all! Could Jay Gruden make the playoffs with the Pats? Yes. Would he have six SB appearances? No. Would BB make the current Redskins roster better? Yes, I believe a BB would have this team 5-3 or 6-2 at the present time. That is how much coaching matters IMHO.

Other than the wildcat game against the Fins years ago, I cannot recall a time where the Pats were blown out. They are very well prepared for all aspects of the game. A team can have plenty of talent and win in the short term, but game in and game out, no complacency setting in, no slumps for 15 years? Ridiculous. I would add that they have had Brady all this time... But they rarely have elite talent at any other position. They have good players who a great coach wills greatness out of.

The current Redskins are complex. Injured, yes. Rebuild still a work in progress? Yes. Relying on some youth? Yes. Better than last year? Yes. Still their own worst enemy? Yes. (And coaching is a big part of this)

Good enough to compete for the East this season? Yes. The reason we are a long shot? I think we have the worst HC in the division and outside of Coughlin... All these guys are hot seat candidates going forward. That says something. Some have made a point to state some of the coaches considered great or near great had to wait for second chances... Sometimes years... I believe this is because it is sort of like ranking presidents... The era and climate they inherited matters and can only be judged over time. Unlike some of these other guys, I don't think Gruden gets another shot as a HC if he fails here. He is JAG.

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