Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Dolphins look for a new coach

I was a little surprised at the timing of it. But I fully support the firing of Tony Sparano. He was a good ole boy from the Parcells tree. I'm sure he is fine with the motivation stuff. But strategically I don't think he is up to the task. It took the owner trying to get Jim Harbaugh while he was still the coach to open up the offense a bit and get it out of deadball era. That doesn't win consistently in the modern NFL. That first year with Pennington as Qb was an aberration, which is why the team has been bad to mediocre each year since.

So now the search begins. I doubt we are going to look to the hot college coach, mostly because I don't think there is one like a Harbaugh out there. So that leaves NFL retreats and young coordinators. The retreads are easy rumor fodder since they are the easy story for the lazy writer. That's not to say its automatically wrong to speculate on that front or that it would be a bad idea. But unless that ex-coach can explain in detail what he learned from his previous work, what he learned from being fired, and how he will perform the job better this time around, I'm not really in favor of going after someone like Bill Cowher, Jeff Fisher, or Jon Gruden. And this quote from Gruden makes me even more weary of the idea of him taking over:

But Gruden abhors the “stats sluts” who try to replace the judgments of a trained eye with mathematical formulas. He says, “You know what I hate, man? Guys that you know haven’t seen the film: they just quote a bunch of statistical bullshit.” Of course, there’s something absurd about a man who loves data railing against “statistical bullshit.” As Gruden demonstrates every Monday night, it’s not possible to assess football without statistics. If anything, his voluminous appetite for game film suggests that football needs more and better statistics: a way to measure all the things that Gruden notices when he is watching and rewatching plays. But coaches, no less than fans, like to believe that there will always be a role in the game for spirit and determination—and, by extension, for coaches and for fans.

The only bullshit I see here is his unwillingness to understand the game beyond his preconceived beliefs. If I were Ross and I saw this, the first thing I would ask during an interview is to give him a situation like Falcons faced a few weeks ago and tell him to explain what he would do and why he would do it. If he didn't give me at least some statistical evidence in favor of his decision I would probably pass right then and there.

There is no excuse for, at the very least, having a statistical analyst on your staff that can explain the probabilities behind every situation in a game. You don't have to fully understand everything yourself. But you should at least be aware of them and take them into consideration. If you don't you are setting yourself up for failure. And in relation to film and rating players, you are making your job harder for no reason. I want a coach that is willing to learn and adapt. And I have a hard time seeing that in Gruden and the other retreads out there.

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