Today’s article deals with a variety of subjects including players, coaching and leadership. Let’s start first with a well-known subject — Larry Johnson.
Sunday, I watched the Browns-Bengals with a vested interest as I have Ocho Cinco, Cedrick Benson (Bernard Scott as a handcuff) and Carson Palmer on my fantasy team. Early in the game, Scott sustained a hip injury and guess who entered the game? Our anti-hero LJ. I attempted to watch his performance objectively, but could barely suffer through the experience. As with the Chiefs, number 27 ran strong off tackle but did not break a long run or attempt a true outside run. His pass blocking was hidious — he looked like a ping-pong ball bouncing off pass rushers in the same fashion he performed his pass-blocking duties while with the Chiefs.
It does reflect positively on our coaching staff in their prior evaluations of LJ. As I mentioned previously, LJ orchestrated his exodus from K.C., putting the Chiefs in a no-win situation. Forget L.J.’s stats from last Sunday against possibly the league’s worst team. He refuses to pass block and Jamaal Charles’ numbers with the Chiefs blow away what Johnson did in red and gold this season. Charles is a better fit for Haley’s system and the locker room. The Chiefs made the right call.
One has to wonder what will happen first with LJ — further incidents in Cincy or losing his one strong suit, the ability to run straight forward with a full head of steam. Nevertheless, the Chiefs again made the right decision. What makes a good coach? Is it the ability to relate to the players in the fashion of Herm Edwards and Dick Vermiel? Or is the harsh, critical, demanding style of coaches like Todd Haley or Mark Mangino? The one quality I feel a head coach must possess is leadership. The ability to get a coaching staff and a group of players to follow and to execute a gameplan and to buy into a system. It doesn’t matter if they speak softly, like say Tony Dungy, or carry a big stick, like say Bill Parcells. One way or another, leadership is the key.
In addition to that trait, that leader must have a core group of players who will be instrumental in implementing his system. After watching the Saints dismantle the Patriots, it appears that Bill Belichick has lost that core group of players, particularly on defense. Gone are stalwarts Asante Samuel, MikeVrabel, Ted Bruschi, Rodney Harrison and Richard Seymour, all of whom were not only talented but heady players that were essentially “coaches on the field”. It appears to this casual observer that’s the type of player Pioli and company are looking for in their effort to rebuild the Chiefs.
Congratulations to Gary Pinkel and Co. for their big win at Arrowhead. His ultra-conservative decision to punt on fourth down with less than three minutes to go in the game shows it is simply better to be lucky than good. Then again, no matter the choice, you just have to be right. Even the aforementioned Belichick recently looked like an imbecile when he foolishly went for an ill-advised fourth down conversion and cost his team a pivotal rivalry game against the Colts.
Until next week — BEAT THE DONKEYS!