Like anything else, the only thing constant in life is change. Everything about sports is in constant flux. Now in some cases today, things are changing too fast and too often, but for the most part, the change always has a positive end state. The changes can be as big as the rules or expansion or as small as uniforms colors and start times. One of the most unnoticed changes today are in coaching. And in particular, coaching style. Long gone are the days of Vince Lombardi and Knute Rockne. “Win one for the Gipper!” That is a relic of a time gone by. That speech impresses no one anymore. It also doesn’t reach anyone anymore. In large part because our knowledge and depth of history has been replaced by immediate reaction on social media.
Professional athletes are different people, society has taught them as such and they respond differently. Hence coaches must coach differently. I’ve heard so much this week about Mike Smith not having fire and not getting mad. What would anyone have him do? Scream and yell? Knock over a water cooler? What exactly about that will change this team? How does that help Kroy Bierman get to the QB any better? The short answer is that it doesn’t. I am not trying to exonerate Mike Smith from blame or say that it’s not his fault, but you can only play the hand you are dealt. You can’t do a roster overhaul in mid-season. He’s working with what he has – below average defensive talent and an offense that is loaded with talent and has under-performed the last two weeks. Someone smarter than me needs to explain what Mike Smith could have done differently to win those games? Yell more? Get mad?
The newest and most successful coaches in the NFL right now are who? Pete Carroll. Yes. Chip Kelly. Yes. Why? Because they came from college and have understood how to deal with athletes and their sense of entitlement. They know how to push buttons better. No athlete wants to move up from college to the pros and get treated like more of a child than when they were in college. They will tune that coach out immediately. Why do you think that Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden have not come back to coaching? They know their style of coaching will not work well with the athletes of today. They know it’s a recipe for failure. Why would they enter into that and have their legacy tarnished?
All the screaming and yelling from Mike Smith won’t change what he has to put out on the field on Sundays. And yelling at the media and through the media only makes him look like he can’t handle the pressure. Sometimes, the best things are left unsaid – or yelled.