For Marty It's Just Bad Luck

It finally happened for head coach Marty Schottenheimer. After a terrific season where he led the San Diego Chargers to 14-2 record and an AFC West Title, his failure in the playoffs wasn't his undoing. Instead, his clash with general manager A.J. Smith over a dispute with assistant coaches, four that left for better jobs, was the final blow.

It was inevitable that this union would end in bitter divorce. Schottenheimer did everything he could to make the Chargers a winner. For the most part he was successful, but another playoff loss put him on notice and the departure of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron to Miami and Wade Phillips to Dallas sealed his fate.

After those promotions, linebackers coach Greg Manusky left to become defensive coordinator for the 49ers. To Marty, they were all great opportunities. To A.J. Smith, they were defections and the coaches were traitors.

To Smith, the NFL is all about war. To Marty, it's all about loyalty.

But in the end the differences were just a sham for the media to write about. Schottenheimer lost his job because he continues to have bad luck in the playoffs.

But is it really his fault? He didn't go out on the field and throw the interceptions, fumble the balls, miss tackles, shank field goals or fail to fall down after interceptions.

In the regular season, head coaches earn big bucks by making decisions that can affect the outcome games. In the playoffs, they're almost innocent bystanders. Take a look at the job Tony Dungy did in the postseason with the Indianapolis Colts. What he did was get his team focused and ready to play.

That was it. The Colts won the Super Bowl because Dungy's players made more plays impacting the outcome of the game. In each of their three playoff games prior to the Super Bowl, Peyton Manning was awful, apart from one half against the Patriots.

The rest of the time, other players did their jobs, carrying Manning as he had carried them his entire career. That's why they won.

Were the Colts lucky? Some would say so, but not really.

Each of Marty's playoff losses had a similar feel but regardless of the media perception that it was Marty's fault - it wasn't.

Last month I had a conversation with Carl Peterson and we talked about a variety of things. One of them was Marty, and he told me something very enlightening. After the Chiefs lost to the Broncos in the 1997 playoffs, owner Lamar Hunt told Peterson there was nothing more that could have been done to win the game.

‘It's just bad luck,' said Hunt.

Though that was hard to swallow immediately following the loss, Peterson was able to reflect on that conversation later. In the end it became a very accurate assessment.

In the end, a certain call or a certain play ended up souring Kansas City's season. Schottenheimer didn't cause any of that.

Regardless of the play called on the sidelines or in the booth, the players still had to convert on the field. And for the Browns, Chiefs and Chargers, that didn't happen enough in each of those playoff losses.

Marty seems to be cursed, and it's not going to go away anytime soon because he'll coach in the NFL again. Top Stories