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Decided Schematic Advantage: The Continuing Saga of Charlie Weis

[ 115 ] January 3, 2013 |

Let’s review a great story of American meritocracy, Mr. Charlie Weis:

  • Weis acquired the reputation of an offensive supergenius by being associated with the best coach of his generation in New England.  One of the two greatest QBs of his generation also emerged during his time in New England, although he only became a great quarterback after Weis left his position as offensive coordinator.    As for how much credit Belichick’s assistants deserve for the remarkable success of the Belichick/Brady era Patriots, let’s just say that of the Belichick assistants to get head coaching positions Eric Mangini has been far and away the best one.
  • Weis then decamped to Notre Dame amidst an enormous amount of media hype.   During his tenure, the Fighting Irish devolved from being massively overrated to flat-out ghastly. Only 3 years after Weis led Notre Dame to a 16-21 record against generally weak schedules over a 3-year period, an undefeated Notre Dame team is playing in the national championship game.
  • Weis managed to parlay is Notre Dame tenure into a multi-million dollar contract to serve as Florida’s offensive coordinator.   The perennial SEC powerhouse justified the AD’s love by having the 102nd best offense in the country.

One would think that this would be the end of the story, but as Paul noted last year Weis received a massive contract to serve as the head coach at Kansas, apparently because Rich Kotite was unavailable and David Shula didn’t pick up his phone.   How did that work out?   You might have been able to guess:

This season, the university paid Charlie Weis $2.5 million for one win — the highest cost per victory among schools whose teams won at least one game, according to USA TODAY Sports’ annual analysis of football coaches’ compensation.

In conclusion, if Johnny Manzeil were to receive so much as a free pair of shoes in compensation for the immense amount of revenue he generates for Texas A&M and the NCAA, this would be a horrible affront to the Noble Spirit of Amateurism the NCAA stands for.

…as Brien says in comments, I did neglect to include the best year on Weis’s resume — the 2010 season in Kansas City, where he got an unusually acceptable performance out of Matt Cassel. I could quibble that this was driven almost entirely by a flukily low interception rate it’s not clear Weis had anything to do with, but…when a team overachieves, the coach deserves some credit. The problem is that it pretty much stands alone in Weis’s body of work.

Comments (115)

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  1. Maybe a nitpick, but this:

    Weis managed to parlay is Notre Dame tenure into a multi-million dollar contract to serve as Florida’s offensive coordinator.

    isn’t quite right, as Weis detoured through a stint as the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator, a season in which they did win the AFC West with Matt Cassel actually looking like a competent NFL quarterback. That’s something, I guess.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      Yes, fair enough.

    • Murc says:

      In fact, I’d argue it was this detour through the Chiefs that was probably more significant than his time at Notre Dame as a factor in the size of his contract with Florida.

    • SOS says:

      another nit

      I would not consider an SOS around 40 to be weak though if you schedule Conneticut and Navy you should at least beat them.

      For comparison purposes, Georgia and Oregon are on each side of 40 for 2012 according to Sagarin.

      • LosGatosCA says:

        It’s not the SOS that counts, it’s the quality of wins – of which he didn’t have many.

        As Billy Tubbs once said about a 14 loss ACC team that got in the NCAA b-ball tournament ahead of his Lamar team – ‘we could have lost all those games, too.’

  2. RedSquareBear says:

    But but but. If they had to pay their labor they couldn’t attract such high-quality coaching staff!

    Won’t someone please think of the coaching staff?

  3. Sherm says:

    A mere coincidence that you followed up two straight obesity posts with a post about Charlie Weis, who nearly died because he underwent a gastric bypass in an attempt to avoid the health complications associated with obesity?

  4. Todd says:

    Is this part of the obesity myth as well?

  5. Dano says:

    Don’t really follow sports, so these occasional glimpses you folks provide are entertaining. Reminds me of the old quotation:

    “Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it.” ~ Mark Twain

    Best,

    D

  6. Ken Houghton says:

    Scott, you left out the part at the beginning about how Charlie Weis was only hired because there is “no longer a race issue” in the U.S. and his predecessor was terminated solely on the basis of bad coaching and worse recruiting. (What, you thought that [iirc] 8-0 start for Weis was his doing?)

    • mark f says:

      I forget who pointed this out, but Ty Willingham, Weis’s predecessor at Notre Dame, is the only black person to have been hired as head coach at a DI football program after having been fired at another. Ever. Which might not seem crazy, except it happens with white coaches all the time.

    • Sockie the Sock Puppet says:

      In the world according to my parents, if a black coach wins a lot of games immediately after succeeding a white coach (their point of reference: Mike Davis after Bob Knight) then it’s a function of the previous coach’s players doing well. If a white coach wins a lot of games succeeding a black coach (Willingham to Weis, say) it’s because the white coach is obviously better than the black coach.

      Needless to say, my parents are Republicans.

      • cpinva says:

        you’re right, it was needless to say that.

        Needless to say, my parents are Republicans.

        i believe “coach” weis is a nearly perfect example of The Peter Principle, wherein one attains one’s absolute level of incompetence, and proceeds to either fail upwards, or perform latteral arabesques, failing on plane, from job to job.

        while “coach” weis isn’t the first to do this (obviously, or peter wouldn’t have come up with his principle, or written a book about it), he happens to be one of the more high profile people to. also, one of the most self-promoting.

      • Manju says:

        Needless to say, my parents are Republicans.

        Boilerplate liberal history teaches us that racism is not about party affiliation, but political ideology.

        Please provide us with your parents DW-Nominate score.

    • witless chum says:

      Weiss didn’t start out 8-0, because he lost to my beloved Spartans in a game where John L. Smith appeared to have the decided schematic advantage.

      Weiss does currently seem to be recruiting strangely well given that he’s coaching the wrong sport at Kansas and he has a track record of non-success. But college football recruiting is weird.

      • EliHawk says:

        To be fair to his Kansas tenure, it’s not like current Liberty University coach Turner Gill of the 5-19, (1-16 in conference) record over two seasons left him a lot in the cupboard.

      • cpinva says:

        it sure is!

        But college football recruiting is weird.

        you’d think they’d recruit, well, football players. turns out, they’re recruiting irish hurling champions. go figure. probably explains why so many freshmen players look so baffled.

        ok, enough fun. why is football recruiting any weirder than basketball or baseball recruiting, except for the NFL’s “Three Year” rule?

        • witless chum says:

          It’s weird in that on-field success doesn’t seem to translate to recruiting success, defined as getting the guys you want over other schools, as much as I’d think it would.

          Also, guys with better offers choose to play for Charlie Weiss.

          The whims of 17-year-olds are the whims of 17-year-olds, in other words.

  7. hylen says:

    Manziel

  8. Decrease Mather says:

    Weis recruited Manti Te’o and the current batch of ND seniors.

    So he won with Willingham’s guys. But did he recruit well and just not win with them? Or is there a lag, where he was fired when his good recruits finally arrived.

  9. Bitter Scribe says:

    To me Weis epitomized what I dislike about ND football: overblown and underachieving.

    (Which is why I’m rooting for them Jan. 7. Their fans have suffered enough. Plus I’m sick of the SEC winning everything all the time.)

    • Incontinentia Buttocks says:

      It’s taken a lot of work, but SEC fans have managed to make themselves and their conference more insufferable than even ND and its fans.

      • NonyNony says:

        Yeah. For the first time in my life I might actually root for Notre Dame to win something. And the SEC fans have pushed me to it.

        • Joshua says:

          The whole concept of an “SEC fan”, complete with simplistic chants, just boggles the mind.

          I mean, I went to UCLA, so I am more inclined to see, say, Stanford or UW do well, since it makes UCLA look better in the end. But I wouldn’t call myself a Pac-12 fan.

          • Bitter Scribe says:

            I think “SEC fans” was shorthand for “fans of one of the SEC teams.”

            • Linnaeus says:

              “SEC fan” does usually mean that, but fans of SEC teams do seem to exhibit a conference solidarity that runs in parallel to their regional identity. There’s been a few articles (see here and here) that have made this observation. I grew up in Big 10 country and went to a Big 10 school, so I do lean towards cheering for other Big 10 teams during bowl season, but many SEC fans take it to another level, one result of this being an annoying “coattailing” of lower-level SEC schools on the achievements of the conference’s more traditional powers.

              As for the championship game, I normally consider Notre Dame a big rival, but I’m inclined to favor them over Alabama and the New Confederacy SEC this year.

        • gmack says:

          My friends: I know that the SEC stuff has become intolerable, but I think this stuff about rooting for Notre Dame is simply revealing a lack of imagination. There are a lot of really smart people around here. I’m sure if we put our heads together we can work toward a scenario in which both teams lose.

      • Cody says:

        Obviously you don’t live close enough to South Bend.

        • cpinva says:

          Obviously you don’t live close enough to South Bend.

          my wife and i were recently in terre haute, having driven through indianopolis, and a bunch of other towns on the way. we went there for a specific purpose, to watch my son run in the NCAA D3 national cross-country championship meet. had it not been for that, i can’t imagine going to, or living anywhere in indiana, south bend or otherwise.

  10. Leeds man says:

    offensive supergenius

    Isn’t that redundant?

  11. Eric says:

    Notre Dame actually had a pretty good offense the final year Weis was there. He just couldn’t field a good defense to complement it, or figure out a way to win more than 6 games.

  12. Brutusettu says:

    In conclusion, if Johnny Manzell were to receive so much as a free pair of shoes in compensation for the immense amount of revenue he generates for Texas A&M and the NCAA, this would be a horrible affront to the Noble Spirit of Amateurism the NCAA stands for.

    Ohio State is currently under sanctions because the old head coach lied about a timing issue on OSU players selling their own stuff.

    • anon says:

      “lied about a timing issue”?

      • Brutusettu says:

        Players were given awards, awards that they can freely sell once they are former players. Tressel found out that current players had very likely sold those awards, at below market prices, and Tressel didn’t report that and then later lied about how much he knew.

    • NonyNony says:

      No. Because Tressel actively worked to cover up a violation of NCAA rules.

      The whole idea of the players at OSU being amateurs is laughable and those rules should be gotten rid of (and the athletes should be paid like the minor league team members that they are). But Tressel was paid a hell of a lot of money while he was coach, and part of his responsibility for that salary was to make sure that his players followed the rules and, when they didn’t, that HE followed the rules.

      It’s not like we’re talking about some underpaid staff member who screwed up here.

  13. MosesZD says:

    I don’t care about Weis, etc., when it comes to college football. Very few can actually coach at a high level while most of the successful just recruit better players.

    But, at the end of the post, you talk about the shoes and the hypocrisy. And that’s something that just gets my goat. As far as I’m concerned, the NCAA and college athletics are rotten to the core. For example, here’s the punishment for the Penn State fiasco:

    “The NCAA imposes a $60 million fine, equivalent to the approximate average of one year’s gross revenues from the Penn State football program, to be paid over a five-year period beginning in 2012 into an endowment for programs preventing child sexual abuse and/or assisting the victims of child sexual abuse. The minimum annual payment will be $12 million until the $60 million is paid. The proceeds of this fine may not be used to fund programs at the University. No current sponsored athletic team may be reduced or eliminated in order to fund this fine.”

    In short, the football program (Sandusky, Paterno, et. al.) that both failed the common decency test and was also protected by the Administration in the cover-up is not be punished by the fine. But, instead, the teachers and students who are there for academics and had nothing to do with it…

    So, Weis… Yeah… But really, the whole damn thing. Student athletes are exploited, programs are corrupt, and it’s become a joke where illiterates are helped through school analogous to being exploited like sweat shop workers in some sort of quasi neo-colonialism system for the benefit of the few ‘rich’ NCAA teams while the rest lose money.

    • tonycpsu says:

      It was the university that fucked up. Yes, it was to protect the football program, but protecting the football program was an effort to protect the university’s finances and reputation. Hitting the school itself with the fine makes sense, and money is fungible, so it’s not like the NCAA could have meaningfully enforced any attempt to hit the football program but not the university (beyond the loss of scholarships and bowl bans, which do serve that purpose.)

    • CJColucci says:

      Has anyone done anything worth reading on what college football coaches are good at coaching, as opposed to recruiting?

      • witless chum says:

        Well, there are some obvious outliers that are just better at coaching.

        Satan has won, immediately, every year he was a head coach going back to a year at Toledo in 1990(His two .500 years were, of course, when I was going to Michigan State). Urban Meyer and Brian Kelly have, too. The three of them have one losing season (Kelly’s first at Central Michigan) between them as head coaches. There’s also guys like Bob Stoops who don’t appear to add much value over a mannequin wearing an Oklahoma hat.

        So, no. Not that I’ve read.

        • Cody says:

          Satan has won

          I know understand what that dreaded Alabama coach is so good. (Assuming that’s who you are talking about!)

          Why aren’t Republicans calling for Satan’s head on a stick!?

          • witless chum says:

            Saban is Satan because he left Michigan State after the 1999 season to go coach at LSU and I’m still bitter.

            My plan is to just pretend the BCS title game is not happening because that’s some depressing shit.

            • Linnaeus says:

              I’m glad to see an MSU alum say this. My saying it, being an U-M grad, would be seen (with some justification) as colored by some, ahem, bias.

              I’ve also read some articles about Saban that charge that he is among the SEC’s worst examples of a coach who oversigns recruits and grayshirts current players to make room. I don’t know how much of an outlier he is in that regard, though.

        • Eric says:

          There’s also guys like Bob Stoops who don’t appear to add much value over a mannequin wearing an Oklahoma hat.

          Guys like that don’t win national championships in their second season as head coach after taking over a losing team. Or produce national championship winning defenses as a defensive coordinator.

    • Njorl says:

      In short, the football program (Sandusky, Paterno, et. al.) that both failed the common decency test and was also protected by the Administration in the cover-up is not be punished by the fine.

      This wasn’t to protect the football team. It was to protect all of the other sports programs. The football team is protected by its continuing ability to bring in money.

    • cpinva says:

      don’t let the NFL off the hook:

      some sort of quasi neo-colonialism system for the benefit of the few ‘rich’ NCAA teams while the rest lose money.

      college football functions as a cost-free farm system for the NFL. in turn, they support the NCAA by virtue of the “Three Year” rule, which guarantees that the most talented players will be forced to play college ball (or do nothing) for at least three years after they graduate from high school.

      IBM & HP don’t have such a rule. if a brilliant 18 year-old coder wants to go to work for them, while he’s on scholarship to podunk u., he’s free to do so, with no penalties to him or the school.

      • Green Caboose says:

        I want to see stock brokers and the other 1%ers on wall street be subject to being drafted and paid minimum “rookie” salaries that are agreed to by a union who doesn’t have any rookie voters when they signed the contract. Once there they are stuck working for the same place unless they are traded or fired – I mean, released. After a time, let’s say 20 years (half an average career), they can be free agents but even then their firm can slap a franchise tag on them for 5 years until they have real free agency.

  14. Monday Night Frotteur says:

    Notre Dame is still paying Weis. They’re going to pay him close to $19 million through 2015 to buy out his contract (i.e. paying him not to coach).

    http://content.usatoday.com/communities/campusrivalry/post/2012/05/notre-dame-charlie-weis-buyout-millions/1#.UOXjM-Tg3To

    In no other sport that I am aware of do coaches make more than limited role players; head coaches are like the 6th or 7th most import thing on an NBA roster, managers are the 13th or 14th most important thing on a MLB roster, etc. And even that is skewed by younger players’ salaries being capped by collective bargaining agreements.

    Meanwhile in college sports, mediocre nobodies like Weis make 10s of millions of dollars while the players get something with a street value of about $25,000 that probably isn’t even worth that much to them.

    SIFUAB

  15. TribalistMeathead says:

    Thanks to Weis, I did get to enjoy watching Georgia Tech stomp Notre Dame 33-3 during Labor Day weekend 2007. Probably wasn’t nearly as hilarious for the alumni who had to shell out several hundred dollars in donations to the school just to get into the lottery for season tickets, though.

    • witless chum says:

      That was the year genius Weiss spent fall practices installing a read-option based system for a running QB named Demetrious Jones to run and stuck with it for about a half, before replacing him with a pro-style offense and a true freshman Jimmy Clausen. Jones ended his career playing LB for Brian Kelly at Cincy.

  16. Green Caboose says:

    Mentioning Weis and the general failure of Belichek’s assistants (or his former GM) to do well after they leave the Patriots, the biggest shock to me in this football season was that Josh “MickyD” McDaniels was mentioned as a candidate for almost every head coach opening – including Chicago whose offensive passing stars are the same two he ran out of Denver, Cutler and Marshall.

    Fortunately for the other teams he decided to stay for another year as OC at New England. I have no idea whether all those rumors were just a few “Friends of Josh” playing a gullible sports media or that Football GMs actually think MickyD deserves another chance.

    I’m hoping the former – I’m used to sports media pundits buying into really stupid memes, like the one who wrote that Andy Reid’s one-super-bowl-loss-in-14 seasons is a fan’s dream track record instead of dead average.

    If the latter I can’t understand this craziness. The whole idea that MickyD can coach offense, let alone a whole team, outside the strict control structure of Belichek has no evidence to support it. In Denver his 6-0 start was driven by a) Mike Nolan’s defense, b) Eddie Royal’s 2 punt return TDs at SD, and c) a couple bits of luck, like the batted pass that went for an 80 yd TD in the waning seconds of the first game. The O was mediocre – and it got worse after the bye week. And as he began pissing off Nolan the D eroded fast, leading to the 2-8 finish. The second year things were even worse – in part due to distractions with trying to squeeze in drive-killing plays with Tebow several times a game. Then off to St Louis where the offensive production collapsed in his only year there as OC.

    • Walt says:

      Are you fucking high? Andy Reid was a great coach. He had large flaws, but the Eagles contended for years and years.

      • tonycpsu says:

        Great coaches win super bowls, or get to more than one in 13 seasons.

        Much of Reid’s success was built on the back of Jim Johnson’s defenses. Andy was never good at the things that great coaches do well, like making mid-game adjustments, managing the clock properly, and using the run game to bleed the clock late in games. I am not one of those people who thinks commitment to the running game is necessary to win, but it certainly helps to protect leads.

        Andy Reid was a very good coach who I think will probably evolve into a great coach during one of his next stops. He’s still only 54 years old, after all. But he’s definitely not great now.

        • Walt says:

          So Bill Cowher magically became a great coach in his second-to-last season? What about his last season, when he went the Steelers went 8-8? Did Bill Belichick magically stop being a great coach after 2005?

          The Eagles made it to 4 NFC championship games. It wouldn’t take many lucky breaks for them to gone to, or win, multiple Super Bowls. They made the playoffs 9 times out of 11 years. In the last two years, of course, it all fell apart, perhaps because of problems with Reid’s son.

          • tonycpsu says:

            You’re caricaturing my position. The guys you mentioned both won Super Bowls eventually. Combined with their regular season results, I would call them both great NFL coaches. I would not have considered either of them great NFL coaches prior to them winning those Super Bowls, and their greatness did not go away once they stopped winning them.

            Reid was an offensive coach, and the Eagles won primarily with defense. Their best years were with Jim Johnson calling the defenses and picking the defensive players to be drafted.

            Reid was also notoriously terrible at taking what defenses gave him, going with scripted play sets and a commitment to the passing game (resulting in 3-and-outs and tired defenses) even when the running game was working.

            Like I said, Reid has the potential to be great, but he was just good as the Eagles head coach, and I’ve watched nearly every Eagles game since the early 1990s.

          • Jim Lynch says:

            John Madden & the Raiders won a single Super Bowl game, which is about all that differentiates his teams record-wise from Reid’s Eagles. And Madden has been inducted into the hall of Fame.

            • Thlayli says:

              Record-wise, Madden’s lifetime winning percentage was .763, Reid’s was .583. Madden won 1 more division title than Reid, in 4 fewer seasons.

              • Jim Lynch says:

                OK. But how do their mutual W-L percentage records break down if based strictly on the Reid-McNabb years? Madden was burned out, and had the good sense to bail once Stabler had drained the mojo from his snake.

                • tonycpsu says:

                  Back of envelope math on Reid with McNabb: 103-56 (0.647)

                • Jim Lynch says:

                  Tonycpsu: Thanks. 103 wins is a few shy of Madden’s 10 year, 110-odd win total.

                  I thought Madden’s inclusion into the HOF was long overdue. I’d have to think over Reid’s bona fides before deciding if he was similarly worthy, and then only after his coaching career was over. At his point, I’d likely say no.

                  The one striking contrast between the two that reflects so well on Madden was his brilliant sense of clock management. He remains, by far and away, the greatest decision maker in that regard that I’ve ever seen, and I watched most Raider games of the Stabler era. It goes a long way in explaining all the team’s 4th quarter heroics way back when.

                • tonycpsu says:

                  Yeah, if you weigh clock management heavily, Reid is definitely not your guy.

                • Or giving the ball to your best player when he happens to be an insanely good running back!

        • Murc says:

          Great coaches win super bowls, or get to more than one in 13 seasons.

          This is a bullshit standard. Getting to the last game of any single-elimination tournament is not a good measure of overall quality. Overall record is.

          Don’t get me wrong, I love me the Super Bowl. But let’s not kid ourselves; which teams end up there is as much a matter of luck as it is skill. You are unlikely to face teams so much worse than you that victory in any single given is assured.

          • tonycpsu says:

            Overall records can also be inflated by playing in weak divisions. I’m not trying to come up with a single measure of overall quality — I don’t think such a measure exists. I’m just saying that regular season success can definitely punch a “good coach” or “very good coach”, but consistently winning against the best teams each year is what, in my mind, makes the “great” coaches.

            • L2P says:

              Well, OK. But what does that have to do with “winning a Superbowl?

              Would Levy have been a better coach if Norwood had hit that field goal to beat the Giants? Would whoever it was who coached the Vikings in the 70s be a better coach if he’d one won of those 4 superbowls they lost? What about a guy like Chuck Knox, who took three different teams (as in, different Franchises) to division titles and didn’t sniff a super bowl?

              Nobody doubts that beating “good competition” is a key element of a good coach, but “winning the Superbowl” is a very random event that seems to have little to do with Superbowl victories.

              • tonycpsu says:

                “winning the Superbowl” is a very random event that seems to have little to do with Superbowl victories.

                I would say there’s a 1:1 correlation between winning the Super Bowl and Super Bowl victories. :)

                I know what you’re saying, though, and I should have been clear that I was talking about playoff wins when I said “consistently winning against the best teams each year.” That doesn’t just mean getting to the playoffs, which Reid did well, it means getting far in the playoffs, which Reid didn’t do as well. I’m not saying you MUST win, but you MUST get there on a consistent basis.

                I’m not saying it’s the only criterion. Chuck Knox had a 0.558 winning percentage, so I say no, he wasn’t great, he was very good. If he won two Super Bowls, maybe he’d be in the conversation for great.

                I don’t have a nice tidy mathematical formula for this, but I would weigh super bowl wins pretty highly, super bowl appearances somewhat less, playoff wins a bit less than that, and regular season percentage perhaps weighted as much as all of those put together.

                Of course, there are qualitative factors, too. Like I said, Reid was an offensive coach on a team that won with defense. That should be a mark against him. He gets credit for keeping Jim Johnson around and not vetoing his draft choices, but really, that’s not “greatness” it’s just being a good team CEO. You’d also have to give some guys who played tougher competition or lesser competition some sort of credit/debit for that…

                What I’m saying is it gets hella murky, but I do think Reid in particular falls short of “great” because of his failure to win the big game, a middling playoff record, and the things I mentioned above.

                • cpinva says:

                  true:

                  What I’m saying is it gets hella murky

                  conceivably, a coach could have 10 seasons, 5 of them with 0-16 records, 5 with superbowl victories (and 10-6 regular season records). unlikely, but possible. that coach’s overall w-l % would be .500 or less. would you consider them a “great” coach?

                  as a fan, i’m not sure how i’d feel, 5 superbowl is, after all, 5 superbowl wins, hard to argue with that. it would also make every season exciting, never knowing if the team will be just good enough to pull it off, or horrible.

                  one big problem with being perceived as a successful head coach, at any level, is that every other program wants to poach your assistants, and all assistants want to be head coaches. it makes it very, very difficult to maintain continuity. the really successful head coaches are those best able to do so.

            • Murc says:

              I’m just saying that regular season success can definitely punch a “good coach” or “very good coach”, but consistently winning against the best teams each year is what, in my mind, makes the “great” coaches

              This is pretty true, but you straight up said ‘Great coaches win Super Bowls’ which is what I was pushing back against. I am onboard with looking at a teams overall record and the strength of their division as a reasonable ‘at a glance’ measurement of the strength of a team, but that isn’t what you said.

      • Green Caboose says:

        I’m not saying he was a bad coach – I’m saying that his results were not a dream track record. There is a massive gap between being a bad coach and being a dream coach.

        When my team hires a new coach I can tell you I’m NOT dreaming of 5 conference finals and one Super Bowl appearance over 14 years. I’m also – sorry Bud Grant and Marv Levy – not dreaming of 4 Super Bowl losses. Grant and Levy were terrific coaches to be sure – both very deservedly in the Hall of Fame. But not what the goal was.

    • jeer9 says:

      I particularly admired McDaniel’s game plan against Arizona earlier this year. 46 passes against the 5th best passing defense in the league and only 28 rushes against the 5th worst rushing defense. Good stuff. I love the empty backfield formation on 1st and 2nd down because … Brady, okay? Who needs to fool anyone? (Even with his ineptitude, the Pats still finished 1st in points and yards; unfortunately, defense wins SBs and this year’s crew does not look much improved enough.)

      • Green Caboose says:

        One habit I noticed Brady or Belichek broke MickyD of right away was running on 85% of first downs until the team is down by two TDs. At Denver we called Knowshon Moreno NoYards Moreno because the number of 1st-and-10 plays that resulted in -1 to 2 yards gained. Orton was consistently forced into 2nd and 3rd and longs by this so-called strategy. This in particular made MickyD’s Bronocos poor in the red zone as he would insist on running his relatively light weight back in running formations against run-stacked defenses.

        In St Louis the few games I saw (as the Rams were so bad they weren’t on TV much) with MickyD they were doing exactly the same things. Unfortunately, he seemed to have gotten Mike McCoy to buy into that. When McCoy stayed on as OC under Fox he also was utterly predictable on first down – both with Orton and Tebow. Remember, the reason Pittsburgh’s defense was so vulnerable on that 80 yd TD in OT was that all but one first down to that point had been a run, and almost always to McGahee. It seems that Manning broke McCoy of that habit sometime around the 6th game this year.

        • Cody says:

          Lets be fair – do you really ever want Orton or Tebow passing the ball?

          I would be doing the mental math… ask them to pass on 1st down, 10% chance of interception!

          Anyways, I do agree McDaniels appears to be a bad coach. There is nothing wrong with consistently running on first down though, to set up a stunning play action pass. This is literally what Peyton Manning does every game. It helps when you can be counted on to pick up the first down on 2nd or 3rd and 10…

      • Jay B. says:

        Even with his ineptitude, the Pats still finished 1st in points and yards; unfortunately, defense wins SBs and this year’s crew does not look much improved enough.

        Oy. Christ, don’t Boston sports fans (and I’m part of the tribe) every stop whining? First, the defense isn’t the reason the lost the Super Bowl last year — the offense repeatedly couldn’t convert and only scored 17 points. And this year the defense looks WAAAAYYY better. They improved immensely over the course of the year. Here, check out the box on this page. And I love the old “and despite the fact the coaching sucks they were one of the best offenses in the history of the NFL” cries.

        They lost a stupid game to the Cardinals when the PK shanked a 42-yarder. They passed more because they were behind. Every game they lost they could have won with a single play being different. They are stacked. They might not win, but they are well positioned to do so, and have a good, turnover-making defense.

        • Green Caboose says:

          As a Broncos fan I have to agree. New England is the only team that scares us. It’s also the only team this year to beat us by more than one score.

          It’s still amazing how well Belichek’s defense played last year with literally players coming off the street to start in the playoffs. It appears that he’s that rare Defensive-Coordinator-turned-Head-Coach who doesn’t hamstring his offense with goals like “ground and pound” but instead has his offense doing all the things that he knows are hardest for defenses to defend. And furthermore, he’s focused the drafting and talent acquisition on the offensive side because he can compensate on the defensive side with scheme and coaching.

          That O-line of the Pats is not talked about enough. That team does some amazing running but their pass blocking is terrific.

          The only teams that have a shot against the Pats have defensive talent which can get decent QB pressure with 4 – at most 5 – and can cover receivers closely for up to 10 seconds. Because Brady will find any open receivers the defense has to cover ALL of them. Furthermore, cushions don’t work – defenses need to block receivers at the line, except wideouts, or otherwise you’ll get killed with quick 3-step slant passes and the like.

          SF has the defensive talent to win against NE. The NYG do too, if they aren’t on one of their yo-yo slumps. Arizona had the defensive talent to win and was lucky to hit NE early – before they went into a horrible offensive slump. Baltimore does. I’m hoping that Denver’s defense, aided like Seattle was by the home crowd this time, can pull it off.

          • Cody says:

            The NE defense has been in shambles for a while now. They’re aided by Belechik’s amazing defensive drafting abilities.

            I swear, everyone he drafts at least turns out decent. It also helps when you can trade a 4th round pick for someone’s starting CB or WR or anything really.

            Seriously. If you’re a NFL GM and NE offers you a trade – DON’T TAKE IT. YOU’RE THE DUMB ONE.

        • jeer9 says:

          Jay B,
          Yes, they lost both times to the Giants because a great defense beats a great offense most of the time – which inspires little confidence in this year’s version. The defensive stats on the link are heartening, though their performance in the SF game did not look WAAAY better. The play-calling in the Arizona game still sucked and they had two more turnovers to boot. Houston’s collapse makes their position appear much stronger than it actually is.

          GC,
          Belichick has done a horrible job drafting decent DBs since forever and last year’s musical chairs outfit was not an accomplishment but a farce. They got to the SB because Houston only had a rookie 3rd stringer at QB. Any team with a good pass rush and deceptive blitzing scheme can shut down that offense (all the teams you mentioned). It does look right now like a showdown in Denver.

          • njorl says:

            What are you talking about? The Giants had an above average defense when they beat NE’s unbeaten team and a bad defense when they beat them last time.

            In football, offense is more important than defense because offense has a greater control of the clock.

  17. Dr. Waffle says:

    Tom Brady was a great QB before Weis’ departure, goddammit.

    • SamR says:

      I think the argument is that, statistically, Brady was not a great QB under Weis. He was a good QB who protected the ball and seemed to be able to come through in the biggest moments, but he wasn’t putting up the type of numbers that the post-Weis Brady has put up.

      • Green Caboose says:

        This is often forgotten. If you go back to commentary in the 2001-2 season the choice of Brady over Bledsoe was based on the idea that he avoided mistakes while being almost as effective as Bledsoe in moving the ball. As part of this conventional wisdom, when the Pats got the ball very late in the 4th with the game tied against StL, John Madden suggested it was very risky to try passes with Brady in that situation – the young QB might screw up and worse if they had to punt the “greatest show on Turf” Rams would get another chance. Of course, Brady methodically got his time into FG range.

        Where the true MVP of the Patriots super bowl winning years kicked the field goal.

        Ok, kidding, but seriously, how many Super Bowls have the Pats won since they let Vinateri go? Given that AV was incredibly reliable in the playoffs and that they won all their superbowls and some of the other playoffs by three points, you’d think that would be a player they would have taken care of.

        Back to Brady, there was a slow transition in the early years from the perception of him as a great game manager to the perception of him as the modern day Montana.

    • sharculese says:

      Folks can quibble with the Real QB Rating methodology. But they can’t quibble with the results unless they want to get crushed by the jack-booted thug of statistical superiority called the Cold, Hard Football Facts.

      Christ, is this what happens when you decide just watching football isn’t enough of an overt signifier of masculinity?

      • Jim Lynch says:

        I’ve never understood the arithmetic of the QB Rating System. I’m smart, too, not like people say. So I ignore it, and I still know who’s who.

      • Murc says:

        Folks can quibble with the Real QB Rating methodology. But they can’t quibble with the results

        … yes! Yes they can! The former implies the latter! Bad methodology invariably produces bad results! That is the whole purpose of quibbling with methodology!

        Christ, I need a drink.

        • L2P says:

          Sweet mother of gawd, yes! The only way you know a methodology is sound is by testing it against results!

          And just LOOK at their results! Tim Tebow is a better QB then, among others:

          Joe Flacco
          Andy Dalton
          Phil Rivers
          And (almost!) Matt Schaub.

          Can you imagine ANY situation where Tim Tebow starts over any of those guys?

      • Green Caboose says:

        There isn’t a worse football pundit than Kerry Byrne’s CHFF. The Real QB rating is basically a composite of every offensive category except running. It’s even worse than the standard quarterback rating number at finding a way to distinguishing the quality of the quarterback from the quality offense as a whole.

        CHFF is the perfect example of people who love to quote numbers but have no concept of how to interpret them. The year JaMarcus Russell was up for the draft someone wrote an article basically predicting how poorly he ended up doing in the NFL. One of the comments the writer made was that Russell had poor pass accuracy – not that controversial even then. Well, in blusters Kerry Bryne – how DARE they say Russell has poor accuracy – just look at his completion percentage! Yes, Byrne wrote a whole article not understanding that the two concepts aren’t even close – yes, some pundits use the word accuracy as a synonym for completion percentage, but it was clear what the original writer was saying was that Russell (kinda like Tebow, ironically) doesn’t hit the strike zone very often so he needs wide open receivers to get completions.

        • prufrock says:

          I knew Kerry Byrne was horrible when he said that Don Hudson was a greater wide receiver than Jerry Rice, and based it on how much better Hudson was than league average. Much like The Bell Curve, his argument came pre-debunked by a Steve Gould book (Full House in this case).

          Short version: Don Hudson was like a .400 hitter in baseball prior to 1930. Due to the early evolution of the game, the tails of both sides of the bell curve of talent extend much farther. This allows for some fluky results, like .400 hitters or a singularly dominant receiver. Yes, Don Hudson was great, but he was covered at least sometimes by someone who would be cut from a D-1 college team today. Jerry Rice never faced anyone worse than Rod “Toast” Jones, and only when he played Tampa Bay or Cincinnati.

          • Green Caboose says:

            I hadn’t seen that one, but that is pure Kerry Byrne – looking at numbers without any regard for context.

            Have you ever seen raw footage of games from that era? One problem we have understanding that era is that we tend to see the same highlights over and over – great returns by Sayers, the QB sneak in the Ice Bowl, the Ameche dive at the end of the OT game in 1958. If you look at the raw footage you realize that the pro game in Hudson’s era had as much to do with the pro game in Jerry Rice’s era as little league has to do with the major leagues.

            As such, it’s impossible to compare what Hudson did with what any modern receiver did. Maybe, born 40 years later, Hudson would still have been an HoFer. I don’t know and you don’t either.

      • socraticsilence says:

        You can make a decent argument that for a power running team Tebow is a better choice than a risk-taking low reward QB like Sanchez.
        He’s never going to tear a team apart but in an offense like Washington or Carolina’s (more spread out than Denver’s approach last season) Tebow could probably be a league average QB though not a consistent passer.

        • Pseudonym says:

          I disagree: it’s actually pretty likely that Tebow would tear his team apart.

          • Cody says:

            I’m far from a Tebow fan, but I don’t think he is as awful as people make out.

            He’s not a good passer, but with a little more work he will be okay on short routes. By all accounts, he seems to have an amazing work ethic. If my team had no starting QB I would take him, have a running game, and hope to draft a good replacement QB for the future.

            He is a very good runner and you can even use him as an extra blocker if you have a decent back-up!

            • Bob says:

              And defenses stack the box and end his running game. What then? An NFL QB who can’t throw is a terrible NFL QB. If he weren’t Touchdown Jesus no such conversation would exist.

  18. Jim Lynch says:

    This I Believe: A coach can have a QB named Sam Otto Johnny Y.A. Fran Joe Peyton Brady [Smith], blessed with all the talents of his namesakes, but without an offensive line that QB may as well be named Don Knotts.

    • Green Caboose says:

      Scheme makes a big difference too. The problem is that we rarely get to see a quality QB transition from a very poor team situation to a very good team situation in the prime of his career. That’s when you can really see it.

      A recent example was Cutler. His last year with Shanahan and the Broncos he put up great numbers (some of the season franchise records Manning broke this year were actually Cutler’s) and went to the pro bowl. The team collapsed, went 8-8, and lost their coach but that was largely due to an understaffed defense. It was certainly an exaggeration then to thing he was an elite QB (I mean, Brian Griese and Jake Plummer also both went to the pro bowl once with Shanahan) and the Bear’s way overpaid for him, but he certainly was at least an average NFL starting QB. And by average I actually mean very good – the 16th best starting QB in the NFL in any year is going to be stable starter with the ability to score fast and generate lots of yards.

      He goes to Chicago. No offensive line, an absolutely horrible OC in Ron Turner, and below average receiving and running corps. After the first year his numbers predictably resembled Kyle Orton’s from the year before in Chicago. Meanwhile, Orton’s numbers in Denver, while not pro bowl-caliber, were still notably better than Cutler’s in Chicago.

      • Cody says:

        OT: This is why I’m not sold on RGIII. He is very clearly running a system Shanahan (very brilliantly) tailored for him. He’s basically running a triple-option every single play.

        I happen to be a Colts fan, so I’m a bit biased. But what I see from RGIII is being a good QB but nothing special. He unfortunately is doomed by his need to run. Unless he can really improve his ability to read pass coverage he is going to become a pick machine when he isn’t running some sort of option.

    • Jim Lynch says:

      I just re-read my post, and realize that every QB I named (so to speak) was/is caucasian.

      Forgive me, Warren Moon. And all the others.

  19. Chet Manly says:

    As for how much credit Belichick’s assistants deserve for the remarkable success of the Belichick/Brady era Patriots, let’s just say that of the Belichick assistants to get head coaching positions Eric Mangini has been far and away the best one.

    I just want to quibble with this bit. An excellent assistant can easily deserve a ton of credit for a team’s and just be poorly suited to head coaching. The jobs require different skill sets, just ask Norv Turner or Romeo Crennel.

  20. witless chum says:

    Somewhat OT:
    Does someone really think that Lou Holtz mumbling his way through Catholicism Wow! style platitudes aired during a bowl game is going to convince people to come back to the church? Are there people who like Holtz, but are unaware of this religion called Catholicism?

  21. dylan says:

    Let’s not forget Charlie’s December flight from the playoff-bound Chiefs in 2010. Left the team. Going to the playoffs. To be the O-coordinator of the Florida Gators?? What’s up…paid too much?

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  23. [...] dramatically less talented teams and then sit at home. As Paul recently noted, Charlie Weis’s decided schematic advantage and zero conference wins will earn him only $2.5 million (one thing about hiring Charlie Weis is [...]

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