Monday, January 25, 2010

Failed coaches off to Super Bowl

The Indianapolis Colts are going to the Super Bowl and here are the coaches who will be leading them:

Head coach: Jim Caldwell; senior offensive coordinator, Tom Moore; defensive coordinator Larry Coyer.

There’s a lesson to be learned from the careers of these coaches, all of whom have ties to this region. The lesson is this: Just like you can’t always judge a book by its cover, you can’t always judge a coach by his record.

At various points in the careers of these men, no one, possibly not even themselves, thought they’d play integral roles in a Super Bowl team.


* Caldwell is in his first season as coach of the Colts. In his only previous head coaching experience he spent eight seasons at Wake Forest where he was 26-63.

* Moore was the quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator for the Steelers from 1983 to 1989. It was a period in which they played in three playoff games and lost two of them. The quarterbacks Moore developed during that period were Cliff Stoudt, Mark Malone and Bubby Brister.

* Coyer was the defensive coordinator in Walt Harris’ first three seasons at Pitt (1997-99), a stretch in which Pitt was 13-21. Coyer ran defenses that lost to Temple, 34-33, and Southern Mississippi, 41-7.

I didn’t follow the career of Caldwell, who had one winning season at Wake Forest, but I imagine he took a mountain of criticism from fans and media. I did follow the careers of Moore and Coyer while they were in Pittsburgh and they received plenty of criticism -- particularly Moore. He was ridiculed for being too predicable and too unimaginative in his final years with the Steelers.

Sound familiar?

You can’t judge a coach, particularly an assistant, by his record or even the performance of his charges. How many times have I heard that Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians was fired by the Cleveland Browns, as though that meant something. Virtually all coaches are fired at one time or another, and it doesn’t always have to do with their performance.

There was some surprise when the Steelers hired Al Everest as their special team coach last week because he had been fired by the San Francisco 49ers. Being fired does not necessarily mean a coach is not a good one, a fact that Caldwell, Coyer and Moore prove.

Obviously, Indianapolis saw something in Caldwell, who coached the quarterbacks at Penn State from 1986-92, and hired him and then named him the successor to Tony Dungy before Dungy decided to retire.

Coyer left Pitt by his own choice to go to work as defensive line coach for the Denver Broncos, where he eventually became defensive coordinator and eventually was fired.

Moore had an outstanding career after leaving the Steelers -- which was not his choice -- and he’s capped it by building an offense around Peyton Manning for the Colts. He and Caldwell already have one Super Bowl win with the Colts. Coyer will be looking for his first.

You can’t judge a coach by his record.



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