Monday, January 30, 2012

Stop thinking inside the box and other rants

MLB, the NBA, and the NFL are all bereft of creative coaches and innovative strategies because of who they hire. Franchises continuously try retread coaches with failed styles rather than thinking outside the box. A coach's pedigree seems more important than his actual ability to win games. Because someone once thought you were good enough to be a coach, that automatically makes you qualified. That's the logic behind Chan Gailey, Wade Phillips and Mike Dunleavy. As much as fans like to complain about the inequality between small and big payrolls, smart organizations in all major sports will be and have been successful. Mark Cuban took advantage of there being no limit on how much he could pay coaches and hired one of the best coaching staffs his money could buy. The extra 2%, the ability to extract every possible advantage possible by thinking outside the box, starts with a coaching staff.
Smart owners and general managers need to start thinking outside the box when they hire coaches. Being a former player or a coach of a team that previously won does not make you a good coach. You need someone who can reach young men and create a system that puts players in positions that maximize their strengths. To make this clear, this doesn't mean have one style and try to mold players into your system, DO YOU HEAR ME MIKE D'ANTONI!

The reason Bill Belichick is the best coach in sports is that he doesn't have one style. He is constantly developing new strategies depending on his personnel. I watched Dom Capers repeatedly try and fail to get pressure on the quarterback because he refused to accept the fact that Cullen Jenkins' absence meant that no one was going to supply pressure opposite Clay Matthews. A season's worth of double teams and roll-outs away from Matthews' side contributed to the Packers' defense going from above-average to a liability. Capers's 2010 strategy was effective not because he is a defensive genius -- he's not -- but because he figured out a system that worked for his personnel. His stubborn refusal to adjust his style doomed the Packers and is emblematic of the plague of creativity afflicting major sports.

So the next time you hear a fan complain about the systematic inequality ask them about their coaching staff. Coaches and organizations that think inside the box in hiring and game planning will continue to fail, not because the system sets them up to do so, but because they do it themselves. (Andy do it to yourself?)

  • The Sports Guy wrote an absurdly long column as usual today calling it a "review" of the NBA season. Simmons spent roughly 10% of his column talking about what kind of teams are winning and losing because of the new schedule and then with the chore of analyzing the actual goings on of the league finished, he moved on to his usual shit. The Sports Guy used to crack me up when he made fun of Hubie Brown saying "you" but he's just as bad with his "we." Simmons used to speak for fans but he's lost touch, something his writing reflects and something he can't admit to himself. Every time he says "we" I cringe at the thought of him hanging out with players and talking to GM's while trying to keep up his regular fan attitude. His half-baked ideas about changing sports were fun when he didn't take himself too seriously, but now they are insufferable. No one wants to read an entire column about a cool fantasy idea or how long the NBA season should be. Simmons needs to realize that no one takes his shit seriously. Get over yourself and write a real fucking column.

  • The best basketball game of the year is going to be the Olympic Gold Medal game between the US and Spain. I am legitimately worried that a team of Marc and Pau Gasol, Serge Ibaka, and Ricky Rubio could beat the US. Who does the US run its offense through at the end of the game? Kobe? Lebron? Durant? I'm worried that a long season will hamper Chris Paul and that the US won't have a point guard that makes everyone better. Which obviously begs the question: should we consider taking over Canada to get Nash? No matter what, both teams are better than anything the NBA has to offer and I hope that it happens.

I'm going to try and end all of my columns by using my favorite phrase -- if blank is the answer you're asking the wrong question -- three times.

  • 1. Bucs, if Greg Schiano is the answer, you're asking the wrong question.

  • 2. Magic, if Stan Van Gundy is the answer, you're asking the wrong question. Get him out of there if you want any chance at keeping Dwight Howard.

  • 3. Super Bowl, if Madonna is the answer, go fuck yourself.

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