Firstly, and most importantly, Happy Holidays to everyone. No matter what your belief system, your religion or whether you believe in the Loch Ness Monster, this is a time of year to value family and friends, and I would like all of us to take stock in that.
Now that is out of the way, please read below (and its tongue in cheek, hopefully humorous but with a distinct taste of truth) of why I cant buy into the platitudes and "the team is further along than we hoped" opinions:
For a little history, I am a snowboard coach. I look after athletes that have been to the Olympics, the X Games, World Cups...right down to those developing young athletes that snowboard because they are PASSIONATE about the sport and just love to ride.
Their are a couple of traits that are consistent amongst all my riders, throughout all levels:
- They LOVE to ride and are PASSIONATE about the sport.
- They PROGRESS faster as people and athletes when they are having FUN.
- They have a STAKEHOLD in their careers and we are PARTNERS in their journey.
Now, there is no genius in these concepts, and they are concepts that hold true for not only all sports, but in all walks of life.
As a coach, my job is to create an ENVIRONMENT that allows the athlete to feel COMFORTABLE, SECURE and that NURTURES development. I try and put like minded athletes together, that, although snowboarding is an individual sport, can create a TEAM ENVIRONMENT that helps EACH athlete, get better quicker!
I also try and create an environment that not only celebrates INDIVIDUAL success, but also helps all athletes celebrate in the success of each other.
Its not rocket science, and only requires that you take a REAL interest in EACH and EVERY athlete that I have, and letting them know that their welfare is more important than their success.
That is basically my coaching philosophy. So, being a coach, I have been STRUGGLING as to why the loss to the Raiders has stayed with me this long.
I have read articles by guys I REALLY respect like Doc, HT, the Dude, Ted....and instead of them making me feel better. they make me angrier and more of a hater. WHY IS THIS?
Well, I think I have hit it on the head! As a coach myself, I feel COMPLETELY let down as a fan that a team that had so much to play for, with everything in its court, could be so under prepared, not care and not be ready to play in its own home field environment.
I felt the need to post after wtaching the Brabdon Marshall miked segment. Is it just me, or did this team not seem to care that much they lost? The to and fro between Hillis and BM shows to me a player (who last year was the heart and soul of a mid season comeback) who has no STAKEHOLDING in the team and who has mentally checked out from the season.
I now dont think it is coaching scheme, O line play......I honestly feel that some of these players have a SERIOUS disconnect with the head coach, and that McDaniels is failing to get thru to ALL the players. This is all anecdotal evidence, but it seems to me that some of the Shanahan hold overs, that could make a REAL difference to the team, are getting limited looks and opportunities. YEP.....I am a conspiracy theorist, but can someone please explain to me the fact that Sheffler, who should be a monster in this offense, gets RARE looks in red zone? Or that Brandon Stokley cant get a consistent look? Or even the fact that Gaffney is SHARING time with Royal (remembering that developing players need more MILEAGE on the field, not less!) Explain to me why a fat, out of shape wind bag like Jordan gets reps over a natural team leader like Hillis?
There are just decisions that McDaniels is making that make NO sense from a team cameraderie perspective.
My biggest worry from last week, when compared to last year, is that we had FUTURE Hall of Famers on our team.....guys that should have been able to lead from the front and get this team UP for the game. Personally, Dawkins would have SCARED THE CRAP out of me into playing hard. There is no excuse for laying an egg, is there? We had experience, a REASON to play hard and HOME FIELD advantage...why the pathetic effort?
Unfortunately, I have seen it from my own coaching failings in the pass. Let me paint you a picture: I, like McDaniels, came into a position in a lead role. I assembled a GREAT staff, and had some great athletes. Some had MINDLESS talent, others had GREAT work ethic, but not the talent. Others were influential team leaders, but who destoned for greatness in other fields. Me, being the hard arse I was, had a 200% rule...whatever the athlete gave me, I would give them 200% back. If they gave me GREAT effort, I would give it back to them in spades....but if the effort was CRAP, they got double the amount of crap back. Seemed fair to me!
Problem! It created a divide in my program......some athletes were seen as my favorites, and the others were seen as being UNFAVORITES. They felt they had no ownership in the program, and they clocked out mentally half way thru the season. I went on FOCUSING on the athletes that I had DEEMED to be focusing......and in my head I was being fair to everyone.
It created a HUGE problem, and saw athletes not come back, try, and actually walk away from the sport, as they felt I did not care about them.
This is similar to what is going on with Peyton Hillis! Do I think that Peyton would have picked up some of those 3rd and 4th and 1's? I dont know. My problem with the situation is that there seems no legitimate reason NOT include him in the game plan. Including Hillis does not maje Moreno or Buck any less valuabale, in fact, it gives them a break, make s them feel that the coach CARES for their welfare, and also makes Hillis feel he is a VALUEABLE part of the game plan too. McDaniels can go and spew ALL the coach speak he can, but these are grown men and they are not going to fall for the soft sell. My athletes were teenagers and they did not fall for it......no way a guys like Hillis will buy into McDaniels words when his actions a 180 degree opposite.
So, this leads me to why I am still so pissed. Our team has not all of a sudden got less talented. Opposition teams have not all of a sudden got the magic formula to beating the Broncos. It seems to me that certain factions of the team have already deemed the season over! Jedi early had ALL the team moving in the same direction, and now they seem like a team fragmented and rudderless as not everyone is buying the message any more.
I dont think it is deliberate on McDaniels part, but it must be something that is fixed. I think the biggest problem is on the offense, as the D seems pretty together. Sheffler is told he is a plymajer and gets no looks. Royal is said to be he is the next Welker byt shares time with Gaffney. Hillis is said to ne a MAJOR weapon with all the skills and gets NO looks. Stokley is the best 3rd down weapon in the league and gets limited playing time. Shanahan guys? Maybe a coincidence, but if I am one of these guys hwo has been told they are important players in public, but thru the actions of the HC that they are not, then I am checking out mentally too.
Anyway, thats my rant. I feel this teams problems are players NOT buying in, and not talent. Its no coincidence that the offense is not performing.....they are not buying what McDaniels is selling. We will see, but I find it hard to fathom that the only reason Sheffler, Stokley, Hillis and Royal were great last year was because of the JUGS INTERCEPTION MACHINE (AKA Jay Cutler).
Hoped you enjoyed the read, and my conspiracy theory!