How long could you make it as an NFL coach?

Rick Yeatts

You wake up in the body of a man trying to survive the rigors of an NFL season. How long do you make it?

Let's play a little thought experiment theater here, NFL/Kafka style. As you awake one morning from uneasy dreams, you find yourself transformed into an NFL coach, a kind of monstrous beast designed to spend 18 hours of every waking day devoted to football.

The rules are as follows:

  1. You have no special knowledge. You are basically you, with no more innate understanding of football, life, and the management of a football team than you already may or may not possess.
  2. You are expected at work immediately.
  3. No one else is in on the joke. Everyone believes you are the new coach and totally capable of what you are supposed to be doing.
What would you do?

For example, this is what I would do:

In lieu of actual, knowledgable coaching, I would nap in the film room, because it is dark and comfortable in there. I would orchestrate vast "Mario Kart" tournaments and grind all progress to a halt, holding only the most perfunctory of practices centered almost completely around the deep passing game. At 6 p.m., I would announce loudly that I was leaving, and jauntily don a fedora and overcoat before grabbing an empty briefcase to catch a train that did not exist. All press requests would be answered by my spokesperson, a parrot that only speaks in heavily accented profanities.

Unless I was working for Dan Snyder, I suspect I would be fired in three weeks or less.

Jon Bois:

I'd give the offensive and defensive coordinators, whoever they are, near-autonomy, and would only issue directives in the broad sense: place a greater emphasis on throwing deep balls. All personnel being equal, we play aggressively on offense and conservatively on defense.

I would also hire an intern from a business school, whose sole responsibility is to crunch clock-management statistics and tell me when timeouts would be a good or bad idea. I would hire a second intern to study the Romer report and use its formulas to advise me of whether or not it's a good idea to go for it on fourth down.

I could take an average team to 9-7 or 10-6 by avoiding micromanagement and hiring two kids to do math for me. Guaranteed. I'm giving myself at least four years.

Ryan Van Bibber:

Regardless of what point in the season you take over, you've got to pick a system and stick to it AT ALL COSTS. System this, system that, if these guys will just be patient and learn the system, we'll be successful. What my system looks like really doesn't matter, as long as you believe in the system, it will all work out just fine.

The only system I'd be worried about compromising my interim coaching career is my digestive system. NFL coaches are a constipated bunch by nature, ticking time bombs of diverticulitis and bleeding ulcers. At some point one of the players will inevitably question the system, causing a deviation from the careful regimen of probiotics and lagers for at least a day. And my coaching career would end in a series of painful stomach cramps and three-yard hitches.

Ryan Nanni:

Let's go full hubris: I think I can make it a whole season. The key is to stick to a scheduled series of events designed to distract from my incompetence for as long as possible. Each of them is accompanied by a coaching generalization which should keep the local media satisfied.

Week 5: I cut our punter. "Field position is too important in this game for us to ignore."

Week 9: I fire the defensive coordinator. "This isn't about blame. It's about shaking things up and lighting a fire."

Week 13: I bench the starting quarterback. "We've always said that no job on this team is safe. You can either play or you can't."

Matt Ufford:

Week 2: unveil the "all wheel routes and four verts" offense, go on to win Super Bowl. Retire immediately. Better to parlay my genius as mentor/commentator/author than be exposed as the fraud I am.

PFT Commenter:

Heres all I would yell over and over again in every game, every practice, every press confrence: "RUN THE BALL DOWN THERE THROATS YOU CAVE MEN!!!"

So a better question would be "when am I goign to retire?"

As a NFL head coach, the best move you can make for job security is to just go around screaming every thing like a Rhinocerous in the middle of a Rhino-human-centipede,, if your dead-hell sent on committing to the ground game your going to placate and win over the very element of your franchises fanbase thats going to be the ones most vocal about calling for you to get fired.

Your turn. As our contributors did, have fun with it. Think of it as Sortie En Mer for football administration: you're going to drown eventually, but the game is all about how long you can stay afloat before succumbing to your environment.

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