19 January 2006

Dante's "Good Head Coaches who can't win Super Bowls" list in jeopardy.

I hope you guys picking picking Carolina and Pittsburg are wrong. If not, for the first time ever I'll have to cross a coach off my "Good Head Coaches who can't win Super Bowls" list. I've had that list since the late 90's an so far I've never been wrong.

I've been maintaining a short list of head coaches who will never win a Super Bowl. I try to avoid obvious ones like Jerry Glanville and concentrate on good coaches (most of whom have been to Super Bowls but nobody goes on the list after the fact except for the patron saint of Super Bowl losses.). I have never had to remove a coach from this list (though I'd REALLY like to remove the #1). This year, if Carolina wins the NFC and Pittsburg wins the AFC, I'll have to remove one of the coaches by default. Here's the list for your amusement:

1. Dan Reeves (0-4) - He's the reason there is a list. Out of 4 Super Bowls, he's lost them all. He was too happy just to get to the Super Bowl that he never bothered to get his team prepared for one. The following coaches all have a Reeves-related trait that keeps them from winning.

2. Bill Cowher (0-1) - He joined the list in the late 90's after I noticed him honking big games by second guessing his system at the wrong times. He'd build up an incredible offensive system and then just let it collapse by doing the exact opposite of what they were successful at. He also has a tendency to blitz more in big games. And before you point out that it worked in Indy, look at the real stats (the Tuesday Morning QB at nfl.com has a good piece on this in his most recent article). When Pittsburg blitzed less, they did better defensively. (Reeves trait: 2nd guessing)

3. Mike Martz (0-1) - He joined my list halfway through his first year as a head coach. He would rather lose than win by compromising his offensive strategy, even if he doesn't have the personnel to execute his strategy. This is a safe bet now since Martz can't even land a job scrubbing the toilets in New Orleans but back when I was the only non-Pats fan saying the Pats would win the Super Bowl over the Rams, everyone (including SAWB) thought I was crazy. (Reeves trait: win it my way)

4. Tony Dungy (0-0) - I can't remember if Dungy or Martz made the list first. I listed Martz first since Martz has actually been to a Super Bowl. Dungy might end up being the best coach who never even made it to a Super Bowl. It's too bad he treats a playoff game like any other game because his team certainly doesn't see it that way. Even the stoic and unemotional Tom Landry saw the need to pump his players up for the big game (only after he lost one though). (Reeves trait: just another game)

5. John Fox (0-1) - I'm a big fan of conservative football. However, there is a time when you're in the playoffs or the Super Bowl and you need to do things that are a little crazy but you are statistically favored to pull off. For example, with Carolina's running game (when healthy) there is no reason to punt on 4th and short past about the opposing 40 but before field goal range (the maroon zone). Coffin corner punts are overrated and safeties are rare. This is the playoffs. There is no tomorrow unless you win. Go for it, man! But he won't and he'll lose the big one because of it. (Reeves trait: just another game)

6. Herm Edwards (0-0): In the 2004 playoffs against the Jets on a 3rd and short in the closing minutes, the Chargers played for a favorable FG spot instead of the first down. They missed the FG and went into overtime where the Jets won 20-17. The very next week against the Steelers on a 3rd and short in the closing minutes, the Jets played for a favorable FG spot instead of the first down. They missed the FG and went into overtime where the Steelers won 20-17. This is a coach who is obviously incapable of learning a lesson even if that lesson tries to reach up and slap him in the face. I knew right then Herm Edwards will never win a Super bowl. (Reeves trait: won't learn from others)


At 11:04 AM, Blogger Dante said...

Oops, turns out I've had the list since the mid-90s. Super Bowl XXX was 10 years ago? Just before Super Bowl XXX I went from one to two (Cowher was added). I officially had a list then.

At 11:34 AM, Blogger Laddi said...

Nice list. Personally, I wouldn't even have Herm Edwards on the list as, to me, he's now in the "too obvious" list. I don't think he can do it. I think he will follow the trait of my #1 add-on. So I'll start with coach #2:

Laddi's addition #2
It's not that he's a bad coach, and it's not that he just lost last year. The reason Andy Reid won't win is two-fold: 1)because he won't leave Philly, and if he does it will likely be to a team that suffers the same fate as Philly: poor general management or ownership; which leads to 2) being a head coach AND GM or veep of operations will never EVER allow the time you need to focus on proper winning or rebuilding. The TO disaster is the epitome of the Eagles' poor managerial mistakes. Previous years, Philly thought they could do it with a stout defense and no supporting cast for offense, a la the Ravens or the early '00s Patriots. They did not reload in the off-season, and the one time they did (last year) turned out to be worse than a bad case of locker room staph infection. I don't feel Reid can do it. His ego won't let him. (Reeves' trait: poor management/owner without the balls to save him from himself)

Laddi's add-on #1
Before you say, "obvious pick," there's a little known fact about him right now: he's the #1 active coach in terms of career wins. And I'm not picking on him because he was the one who led the Browns to three AFC Championships and lost them all to Denver, but it certainly gives me perspective on why he can't win. He definitely challenges Reeves for good coach who can't win honors, as they share many shortcomings which I'll outline three of them. First, he doesn't have the killer instinct. No matter his team or the talent surrounding him, he relies on passive (prevent) defense to finish the game. He'll drive the ball down your throat (Cleveland: Byner/Mack combo, SD: LT2) and use his TEs better than anyone else bar none (Cleveland: HoF'er Newsome, SD: future HoF'er Gates), but when it comes to holding a lead, he pees his pants. You first saw it in Cleveland, and now you're seeing it again in San Diego (both ran a 3-4 under his tenure). Excellent talent on defense, but terrible play-calling when it's clutch. Second, he follows the Reeves' trait of "it's just another game" which feeds into the first part, but there is a difference (see Dungy who can properly finish a win; but he sees the games as ho-hum). And the overarcing truism about Marty that feeds everything is he is the one coach who in the playoffs cannot get the most out of his players, despite their talent. I don't know why, but he can't. It's why SD lost last year in the playoffs, why they didn't make the playoffs this year (how do you lose to Miami at home?!), and why he failed in three years to beat the SAME TEAM just once!

If Reeves is #1, Schottenheimer has to be #1-B.

At 1:45 PM, Blogger Dante said...

Nowadays Herm is too obvious. At the time, a lot of folks thought the Jets had a lock for the AFC Championship game and a fair shot at beating the Pats.

Didn't mean to leave Reid off the list. He is there. Your reasons are all valid but the big reason in my mind is that he passes the ball too much even when he doesn't have the personnel to do it. What's interesting is that due to his GM duties, not having the personnel to run the team his way is entirely his fault. He wants to be seen as an offensive genius but I'm not sure who he wants to see him this way. Maybe he's trying to impress Supprier or Martz with his keen offensive intellect?

Good call on the Schott. I've never really followed Cleveland or San Diego enough to make a judgement on him. Marty Ball is very much an AFC thing. So he's winningest active coach now? Yet another thing linking him to the patron saint of Super Bowl losing since he took the mantle from Reeves.

At 9:09 AM, Blogger Laddi said...

Dante, did you see the graphic in the Steelers game? They cover this very issue of career winningest coaches without a Super Bowl win.

1) Reeves - 201 wins
2) Chuck Knox -193
3) Marty Schottenheimer - 191
4) Bud Grant - 168
5) Marv Levy - 154
6) Bill Cowher - 138

Bud Grant may not need to be included here as he did win with Minny back in the AFC/NFC championship days, but he did go 0-4 in the Super Bowl.

Anyways, with next season, Marty may very well pass Reeves as all-time winningest coach without a Super Bown victory. If nothing else, he'll pass Knox as all-time winningest without even going to the Super Bowl.

And for those playing at home, after Marty, it's not even close in terms of active coaches:
- Cowher - again 138
- Denny's Green - 112 wins
- Tony Dungy - 107 wins

Goooooo Seahawks!

At 9:34 AM, Blogger Dante said...

I missed the graphic, but I am happy that my list is safe. Cowher will honk this game and my list will survive another year, especially since the line is favoring Pittsburg by 3 right now. We all know what happens to Pittsburg when they're favored in big games.


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