The Royal Heffernans

Quite possibly the best family ever

Thursday, March 22, 2012

This Could Be Really Interesting

Yesterday news broke that basically the entire Saints coaching staff, plus their general manager, would be suspended for the upcoming NFL season as a result of their bounty scandal. Today, people are already starting to write-off the Saints season, but for the wrong reasons entirely. It's true that if the actual players involved in the bounty program face similar punishment, the season would be in jeopardy. A good portion of the Saints defense, including star linebacker Jonathan Vilma, were involved and their losses would be devastating to the team's hopes. But the Saints have always been about offense. And they'll still have Drew Brees, one of the best quarterbacks in the league running the show.

What I would find very intriguing is if the Saints said, "F**k it. We're letting the players coach."

For the past several decades coaches in the NFL have taken on demigod status. They're constantly referred to as "gurus" or "geniuses". They're glorified for consistently putting in 16+ hour workdays the entire year round, sleeping at team facilities, and destroying their families in the pursuit of winning. What has been implied is that coaches drive the NFL, not the players, but there has always been the alternate theory that players make the coach. The list of NFL coaches that have excelled with future Hall of Famers leading their teams only to fall flat on their faces with another team with averages Joes is extensive - Shanahan, Parcells, and Jimmy Johnson, to name just a few. Coaches are saviors. "If we could just get a good coach he could coach up these guys and turn things around!"

So what if a team won without an established coaching staff? Brees already was a ringleader in pulling his team together and organizing workouts during last year's lockout. He's the undisputed team leader. Everyone on that team respects him and would follow his lead. I'd love it if Tom Benson just threw him the keys and said, "It's your team this year." If there's any team in the NFL that could pull this off, it'd be the Saints. Again, Brees is established and knows the organization, and they're going to have a huge us-against-them mentality to rally around. Besides, it's super late in the off-season already and you know Payton is coming back. What coach in his right mind would even want the gig?

Every pundit, announcer, and former player now on TV would shout that the Saints were throwing away the season by not hiring an experienced coach. And if the Saints defied expectations and actually won it would throw everything we've been told about the importance of a good coach right out the window. In short, it would be awesome.


Teddy said...

This has me angry on sooo many levels!

1) Bounties DO NOT EFFECT COMPETITION! Give me evidence of one season ending or game ending injury the Saints caused in Williams tenure. These penalties are all about making the NFL look good. Compare to Spygate. The Pats BLATENTLY CHEATED, and that clearly effected the outcome of multiple games, and even Super Bowls. That got a slap on the wrist.

2) EVERY TEAM has a bounty system. Do you think the NFL will go after ANTONE else? If they planned to, there is no way anyone will ever talk now.

3) Don't be so sure Brees can self-coach. He likely will not even be a part of the team. He doesn't have a contract, and hasn't signed his franchise tender. He could easily walk away, and I suspect he will.

I hate Roger Goodell.

Kevin said...

On one hand, I agree that coaches are the glorified geniuses everyone thinks they are. On the other hand, they do have a more objective view in a game than most players. It would be interesting to see if it happened.

As far as bounties - yes, no season- or game-ending injury was noted. Heck, most of the "bounties" paid were for good play (e.g., interceptions, sacks, big (legal and illegal) hits), and the big-hit highlights everyone keeps showing are, for the most part, totally legal. However, the NFL has to defend it product, ever against imaginary threats, and it's product is the player on offense. People pay to see touchdowns, not sacks. So it can't have defensive players hurting offensive players. And just because there weren't any injuries, doesn't mean there wouldn't be. Hey, Pete Rose never bet against the Reds, but he's still banned for life.

As for the Pats and cheating, they cheated to put points on the board, which helps the NFL's product. That deserves a less severe penalty, right?