“Power resides where men believe it resides” – Varys, “Game of Thrones”
Perception is a powerful thing in all relationships. Regardless of leadership in a corporation, sexual desire or kings of old, the perception of power can guide expectations. Expectations guide how and when coaches are fired in sports.
If a team is expected to do poorly and they play above those expectations, you get the Coach of the Year Award.
If a team is expected to do great and they play themselves into the basement, that same coach gets shown the door.
Tom Coughlin was the first to feel the hot seat in 2011 before his Super Bowl run, followed by Tony Sparano.
Through six weeks, there are several teams playing below expectations. And the perception is that the coaches lack the power to get wins. On Sunday, two disappointing teams squared off in a game that could say a lot over which coach will survive and which will be handed a pink slip come Super Bowl time. The 1-3 Detroit Lions came off a bye week to deliver a loss to the 3-2 Philadelphia Eagles 26-23 in OT.
The Lions played with urgency, especially in the 4th quarter. Matthew Stafford led the way by throwing 1 TD and running for another. It was the kind of win that quiets whispers of asking for coach Jim Schwartz’s job.
Andy Reid’s Eagles looked like they couldn’t put away the Lions. It isn’t the first time they failed to handle business. The Eagles have blown seven 4th quarter leads in the past year. Instead of going 4-2 into the bye, the are now 3-3, and even then, perceived weak. If the Eagles continue to play the way they did on Sunday they will not make the playoffs. If they don’t make the playoffs, expect Reid to be your next NFL TV analyst.
Of course, the Lions lead the league in penalties. In this game alone they had 16 for 132 yards. The lack of discipline is the head coach’s fault. No matter how much Schwartz turns the Lions around, nothing will change that. At the same time, Reid can’t be fully responsible for the collapse of Michael Vick. He threw 2 interceptions, fumbled a snap and allowed himself to be sacked twice in OT.
What it comes down to is both the Lions and Eagles were expected to compete for a playoff spot. And the difference between getting in and early vacation is winning the close games against other teams that are also on the bubble. So far, neither have gotten the job done up until this point.
Let’s repeat that – “Expected to compete for a playoff spot.”
If you fail to meet expectations, you are perceived to be impotent as a coach. For Reid and Schwartz, their futures will be decided on how they are perceived come season’s end.
Brian Reddoch is a CraveOnline reporter and rabid fan of all teams Seattle. You can follow him on Twitter @ReddReddoch and at www.facebookcom/craveonlinesports.com.
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