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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Value of QBs Coach

It's always been interesting, in my mind, the idea of the Quarterbacks
Coach and how the teams value the position. This is an organizational
thought that has little to do with Carolina specifically, so sorry in

For some teams, and I believe in the West Coast Offense to have taken
on the critical nature of the position, it's as critical a position as
coordinator, and a key focal point in the offense. To others, it's a
glorified third tier assistant role that has little power.

The league's position on the role is still in flux. Only a few teams
failed to have one, and notably Cleveland was without one in part
because it was waiting for Carolina's staff to potentially fold (in my
opinion). I don't think it's too big a secret that Rob Chudzinski
wanted Ken Dorsey, who Carolina 'promoted' from the scouting staff.
Chudzinski coached Dorsey in both college and pros, and the pair took a
college championship together. They won an insane 38 games together in
college, share an alma mater, a lot of history. I do believe that
Cleveland kept the job open, in part, to wait to see if Dorsey would
come available a year later, ironically Cleveland's staff has disbanded
before Carolina's.

But, some teams still have QBs coaches that are somewhat less versed in
the art of fine tuning quarterbacks, and more as a tape monkey/assistant
to the OC role. In my mind, you have to have both roles, and not by the
same guy.

Consequently, that also means not having a coordinator that does both.
While an OC will always have latitude over a QB as a part of his
offense, why not have a point man for the quarterbacks? You'd never
have a defensive coordinator in the pros also coach defensive backs by
title. You're a coordinator, you're going to coach everybody. That's

I think that becomes problematic in a few of the new hires, where the
young Jay Gruden and his even younger coordinator, Sean McVay, will both
take on additional responsibility. Gruden takes McVay's play calling,
and McVay is coaching QBs in addition to coordinating. It leaves a very
minor window for error and collaboration, and leaves no room for
experience in any form. The third guy in the equation is a third-tier
coach, an intern, not someone with any experience.

Carolina's done that in the past, too. The first two years of the Joe
Pendry years had no QBs coach. The final two, after there was actually a
groundswell of support in the community for one, Pendry promoted John
Shoop, at the time having only experience with QBs as a volunteer
assistant, than grad assistant, in college. Shoop grew to be a
coordinator in the pros and then college, but at the time he just didn't
have enough experience. It was in name only.

Contrast that to the WCO model, one actually employed here in 1999 (and
ended up helping lead it to failure in the years after). Gil Haskell
was the OC, and he ran the offense. Bill Musgrave was the QBs coach,
and he had a significant hand in the gameplanning, and the two worked
together on the end result. When that success bit Carolina was when
they determined they didn't need both - suddenly Haskell was the OC in
Seattle, Musgrave was both QBs coach and coordinator, and they picked up
another intern (Mike McCoy) because he knew the offense somewhat. A
first time coordinator being pulled in too many directions, Musgrave
quit and now the team was down three coaches (OC,QB because of Musgrave,
and WRs because of Richard Williamson replacing him) while employing a
fourth that had been a college player the year before (McCoy).

It ended up working out for McCoy, who went from a nobody QB out of
college to having won a pro playoff game this year as a head coach 14
years later. But the Panther QBs were well under coached at the time,
too. Carolina could've very easily, if they thought well of McCoy, had
him as the third tier assistant and then also had a guy with experience
who 'fit' as the QBs coach.

McCoy also went through that process with Dan Henning, who should've
hired a QBs coach (and as a former QBs coach, should know the value).
McCoy was an offensive "assistant" for two years before he was elevated
to the title of QBs coach (again). Again, it worked out for McCoy in
the end to pay his dues, but gave no real latitude for the QBs to deal
with a guy younger than them who has no experience coaching.

Back to that WCO model, consider that Eagles staff. Mike Holmgren, who
had been an OC and QBs coach working up the ladder, had Sherm Lewis as
OC, but Holmgren called plays. Since so many of those offensive minded
guys followed the Bill Walsh model and called plays (IMO, often not a
great idea for a head coach), you had a more collaborative model of what
was going on. The OC was in charge of the offense, but he wasn't the
only one who had input on playcalling, or

You had room for a Jon Gruden (a receivers coach in GB) to have input.
Steve Mariucci (QBs) had input. Andy Reid (at the time, OL) had input.
You had room for guys to grow, learn, and they flourished into
legitimate greatness (at times) because there was room for more than one
guy to have say. Was that a byproduct of one guy having more say than
he needed (a head coach calling plays)? Possibly.

That said, I'm glad Carolina picked up Dorsey. I had worries that
Shula, elevating from the position, wouldn't hire a replacement QBs
coach. You could want for more experience pushing the passing game
(both Dorsey and Ricky Proehl were top notch guys, but both are very
young in their careers), leaving minimal counterpoint from passing game
roles for Shula. They have a combined three seasons' experience,
compared to the OL and RBs coaches, John Matsko and Jim Skipper, who
have 20 and 30 years each in just the pros.

Nonetheless, I don't see the value in skimping on a full time QBs
coach. I can't imagine the value in short-changing the coaching staff in
general of another eye on things, another experienced coach to help out.
It goes against the team concept.
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