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Saturday, November 17, 2007

OC and DC thoughts

Lots of things being bandied about by unhappy fans about "next year". If only we could start over again, like this is some sort of video game, and then things would magically be better. I can empathize - I don't like our talent level. I don't see where coaching change will make a difference, but I'll go ahead and defend them. I don't like defeatism, personally, and giving up is discouraging.

Fox himself has shown to be very solid, if stubborn. He's had slumps, but overall, he's a fine game manager and a guy who coaches a lot out of his guys.

Trgovac:
He's been well above average in 03, 05, 06. 04's D turned around halfway through, but still finished 20th in yards. There's a strong pedigree in the Bo Schembechler-alum, and he's shown he's worth being here.

The frustrating thing about this year has been inconsistency. 10 TDs rushing, whereas only 8 TDs passing (sadly, 3 from ATL). 13th in the league in scoring D despite the 10 TDs rushing. 14th in passing/18th in rushing. Nonetheless, the D has done well most times; the blowouts have been frustrating.
In 03, 04, 05, we had a ton of turnovers, and that's where we're lacking since. 06 we struggled to get picks and FFs, but are starting to turn that around again. Still 23rd in INTs (partially from high rushing attempts), but 9th in FF, and 2nd in recoveries. More pass attempts, and the whole thing looks a little better.

Davidson:
A lot of people, myself included, expected things to be more progressive. More 3/4 WR sets, more 2-TE combo routes, more ways of getting Smith the ball. At times, the O has looked brilliant, much of it under Delhomme or Testaverde; the script drives from STL and IND come to mind. But a lot of the time we've had to be conservative, running a lot and limiting QB throws. The O is 12th rushing, despite taking Smith away in most games and being unable to get good QB play; still, 3rd down is still a problem, and execution is still a problem.


The biggest disappointment for me in the offseason was the blank promotion of other staffers: Mike McCoy, a QBs coach who has shown little, almost got the OC job and was still promoted to "Passing Game Coordinator". I've nothing against Dave Magazu, and I think a lot of Geep Chryst, but each just got promoted to their new positions despite being a part of the unsuccessful product of last year. Better options were available: Steve Loney, Tom Cable for OL coach. And then you still keep the guys you felt were good enough to promote.

Past that, I can't blame the OC for our personnel issues - QB was a priority to upgrade as a backup, and we tried to do that. Davidson got a grand total of one lineman to work with, and overall, was handed the idea that a 6th round TE to be promoted and the rest coming back minus a veteran 2nd WR was going to be enough. He didn't make the decision to release Keyshawn Johnson, or to not replace him well enough; he didn't draft what's here.

I was hoping that we'd get more than just audibles and a bit better run game from this, though. Execution is still inconsistent, playcalling has been up and down, and things do need to get better.


Still, here are our options:
If Fox stays, there's the option of letting go the coordinators. Likely first to go: Danny Crossman. Fans have been bellowing for him to go for years, and ironically, special teams are now starting to improve.

If Trgovac went, it's possible that Tim Lewis would get promoted; it's also possible that Mike Gillhamer would be the DBs coach. I don't believe that inside promotion is the way; going after a Ron Rivera, looking to regain power after last year's debacle, is more successful a way to fix things. Fox may be enamored with seeing the possible success in his own guys, where a change means needing a move toward something different.

If Davidson went, the dream scenario is that a possibly available Charlie Weis comes in and finishes what he almost started in 2002. In the scenario, it's even possible, in this sham of a fantasy, that Davidson stays and coaches the OL. Weis almost took on the job in 2002, but the Pats could offer more than good friend Fox, because of Fox' own light salary at the time, and he instead recommended Henning. The Irish are floundering, and he may be let go. This alone might save Fox's job even if he went 0-season from here. There are other options, but since Davidson is 1st-year, the inclination would be to give more time, or let the whole staff go if Fox couldn't do something drastic like draw Weis.

If Fox goes, the assistants go. Maybe Richard Williamson stays, but for what? I imagine he'd as soon retire. Fox assistants would likely get snapped up quickly by the team that quickly snaps him up: Jim Skipper, specifically, and Trgovac.

That leaves us in the Cowher/Schottenheimer race, if we wanted; we could also sift through other fired coaches, like Denny Green (unlikely); we could promote a young assistant like Rivera or an old one like Norm Chow, but probably won't. We're not rebuilding when we make a change; the reason we're doing so is because we feel the product on the field isn't up to par. Richardson isn't going to blow this up and start over.

So that leaves Cowher or Schottenheimer, the first one in for whatever money it takes. Schottenheimer comes with the unfortunate baggage of expecting to hire his brother Kurt as DC; Kurt's underwhelming and certainly no Wade Phillips or Ron Rivera. His OC, Cam Cameron, is struggling mightily in Miami, and Phillips is in Dallas; his longtime DC Gunther Cunningham is entrenched in KC still. Most of his other offensive staff stayed with the Chargers. Nonetheless, his ties to SD, and Hurney's, boost his chances.

Cowher has gone through tons of coordinator change, so him starting over isn't 100% outrageous. He has no emotional ties to any coaches, and can probably pick through the best available in college and pro. There's also the ideal of him being the guy that drove us to take a chance on Dom Capers; and his being much more progressive a conservative coach than Fox, but in that mold. He's also golden boy of the Roonies, friends with the Richardsons, so there's a good chance we wouldn't have to give up anything.


It kinda hurts to point out those options. John Fox won't likely be going anywhere, and in my opinion right now, shouldn't.
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