Lombardi: It's all about discipline

John Lombardi speculates on which head coaches in the NFL, besides Steve Mariucci, will be seeking new jobs next season and explains why their lack of discipline and toughness are major reasons for their failure with their current teams.

Lombardi: It's all about discipline By John Lombardi The Detroit Lions pulled the trigger. They put Steve Mariucci out of his misery. He is officially the first firing of the season. Mike Martz is unofficially out in St. Louis. Health issues aside, it would surprise me to see him make it back next season. Dom Capers is probably out is Houston. Mike Tice might not survive in Minnesota and Norv Turner may be out in Oakland after only two years. My old friend Jim Haslett might get the axe in New Orleans. It would not surprise me to see Jeff Fisher leave Tennessee, either on his own or by a soft push from the owner. Offensive Genius Brian Billick might be gone in Baltimore, after providing very little offense to the Ravens. Dick Vermeil may retire at the end of this season and Joe Gibbs may also. That may be 10 openings in the head coaching ranks this year. Throw in Dennis Green and the speculation here in Green Bay, and who knows how many teams may be operating with new leadership next year.

It makes sense. There were only three openings last year, Miami, Cleveland and San Francisco. Take out the retiring Dick Vermeil and possibly Joe Gibbs and what do you have? Player's coaches. Each of these coaches would not be considered disciplinarians. Mariucci was reputed to be soft on his team. Martz strikes me as slightly off center. Capers in not a softie, but he does not strike fear into anyone. Tice and Turner have never disciplined anyone. Haslett was a fiery linebacker for the Bills, but is too much of an anti-establishment type to really be a stern task-master. Billick won a Super Bowl with someone else's defense, but has failed to develop the offense. Dennis Green is legendary for his player friendly style.

Each of these coaches have failed in one common aspect. Their teams lack the necessary discipline and toughness. Look at the successful coaches in the NFL this year and prior years. Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Bill Cowher, Mike Shanahan, Marty Schottenheimer, Tom Coughlin, John Fox, and even Mike Holmgren are considered tough coaches. Even Tony Dungy of the Colts, who has some player's coach in him, is still a stern guy. They stress defense and the running game. The Colts vaulted to the top of the league once they began to play defense. The history of the NFL is a history of discipline and toughness. Players need to be bossed and babysitted. They cannot be left to their own devices. They have too much money and too much celebrity. Football is a game that draws players who yearn for the discipline and the grind but rebel against it at the same time. If you try and be their friend, they will take advantage of you eventually, usually when things turn south or they get distracted.

That leads us with Coach Sherman. Where does he fit in? I would consider him a tough coach. Not as tough as Parcells or my grandfather, but he is not a player's coach. I would sometimes like a little more emotion out of him on the sidelines, but I know he is not trying to be buddy-buddy with his team. He knows his position requires some distance and despite the record and chaos, he has not lost this team and they are playing hard for him.

If any of the above player's coaches were in Coach Sherman's shoes this season, I would guess that they would have lost the team and the season would be even more depressing. It would be a shame to see Coach Sherman lose his job over this season. Unless Ted Thompson has someone in his hip pocket, I doubt anyone available this season will do any better. And the competition for the hot prospects will be stiff and expensive.


John Lombardi

Editor's note: John Lombardi is the grandson of legendary coach Vince Lombardi. John resides with his family in Green Bay . His football experience includes stints with two teams in the World League (now NFL Europe); in the scouting departments of the Cleveland Browns and Tennessee Titans; and graduate assistant coach and director of football operations at Vanderbilt. He will be contributing columns for PackerReport.com.


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