Monday, August 11, 2008

Landing a plane in a thunderstorm

Good article in The Sporting News recently about 32-year-old NE Pats offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who last season "presided over the NFL's most prolific offense -- maybe the best ever."

Since then, McDaniels has been a hot commodity among teams searching for a head coach. But McDaniels has "turned down the coaching opportunities, knowing that others would come. The timing wasn't right, with so much at stake. And after talking to his father, a longtime high school coach in Ohio, McDaniels came to the determination that he'll know when the right opportunity comes along."

Coach McDaniels' patience is admirable in waiting for the right opportunity. The first job for a young coach so important as it will likely have a major impact on whether he ever gets a second head job.

The key is ensuring that he's on the same page with both the owner and the team's GM. That first season is loaded with challenges -- building and managing a staff, establishing the team's identity, dealing with challenges of certain players, managing demands of the news media, etc.

In Orlando, Chuck Daly used to have his assistant coaches take off their sportcoats after a game and hold up their arms to see who was sweating. He was always drenched. Most of the time, there wasn't a drop of sweat under assistant coaches' arms.

His point was that, while it's only a matter of sliding over 12 inches on the bench, there's a big difference between being an assistant and a head coach. The pressure is enormous.

In his words, "A head coach is like a pilot in a thunderstorm. Your job is to land the plane safely."