This post is going to be relatively quick, because the point is an easy one to make.
It boils down to this:
Some smart NFL franchise that values winning and player development should hire Marty Schottenheimer, who is one of the most underrated coaches, in any sport, of my lifetime.
We hear often, and correctly, that winning football games in the National Football League is hard. When there is a movie called Any Given Sunday based on the well-known and legitimate sentiment that margins between winning and losing in the NFL are razor thin, extra value should be placed on a coach who can win consistently, at a high level, and in multiple places.
Allow me to introduce you to Marty Schottenheimer.
All He Does Is Win (In The Regular Season Anyway)
I have been very encouraged by recent reports that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are looking to hire Marty. If I ran the Jacksonville Jaguars, I’d have cut the Mularkey and strongly considered Marty as well. If I were the Dolphins or the Raiders or the Rams any other team looking for a coach, I’d take a good, long, hard look at Marty too.
Why? I think DJ Khaled’s famous line (tweaked a bit) says it best: all he does is win.
Before I present Marty’s downright ridiculous regular season coaching record, let’s get the negative out of the way right now: he sucks in the playoffs.
When you’ve coached in 18 playoff games and only won five of them, it’s fair to say that you suck in the playoffs.
I’m about to laud Marty for an incredible record of regular season statistics he has compiled; it’s only fair to point out areas where his coaching record does not impress. Any way you slice it, dice it, toss it, turn it, Marty hasn’t been able to get it done in the playoffs with myriad opportunities.
But think about that last phrase as it relates to the playoffs: myriad opportunities.
Unless you are among the handful of great-to-excellent coaches currently in the NFL – Belichick, Reid, McCarthy, Tomlin, Payton, just to name a few – you probably are not getting myriad opportunities at the playoffs. And make no mistake: it is a huge accomplishment to make the playoffs in the NFL. If just winning a game is “hard” think about the difficulty level of winning enough games to reach the playoffs. Now consider doing that 13 times.
Does 5-13 suck in the playoffs? Yes. It sucks bad. But that number 13 is impressive when it represents the 13 teams you’ve led to the playoffs in 20+ seasons as an NFL coach.
How many other coaches in NFL history have made the playoffs in 65% of their seasons?
A couple other fun notes I bet you didn’t realize:
- Marty finished with 9 wins in three of the years he missed the playoffs; so he had nine or more wins in 16 of his 20 full seasons coaching in the NFL
- Only one time – once – did a Marty-coached team finish with fewer than seven wins over a 16-game schedule.
- Since being fired by San Diego after going 14-2 but losing in the Divisional Round in 2006, Marty hasn’t been able to land another NFL head coaching gig.
And it’s this last note that shows just foolish NFL franchises can be.
I’ve alluded to it, but now it’s time to bring out the ultimate trump card in any sports debate. Winning.
Here is Marty’s regular season record and winning percentage in his four NFL head coaching stops:
- Cleveland (’84-’88): 44-27, .620
- Kansas City (’89-’98): 101-58-1, .635
- Washington (’01): 8-8
- San Diego (’02-’06): 47-33, .588
- Total: 200-126-1, .613
Marty Schottenheimer has won 200 regular season NFL games against only 126 losses and one tie. It’s a remarkable record that gets far too little respect. Yes, the playoff failures are a blotch on his resume, but what he’s done in 18 games doesn’t discount what he’s done in the 327 other ones he’s coached.
Also consider this:
- The Cleveland Browns were 1-7 when he took over in the middle of the ’84 season. They proceeded to go 4-4 the rest of that season, then 44-27 under Marty in the ensuing years; and we all know what happened in the AFC Championship Games against Denver…
- The Chiefs were 8-22 in the two seasons prior to Marty taking over.
- The Redskins were 8-8 the year before Marty took over, but maintaining mediocrity in Washington is impressive given this context: it came under Daniel Snyder, and the Redskins have had only three .500 or better seasons since.
- The San Diego Chargers were 6-26 in the two seasons prior to Marty taking over.
There is no substitute for winning in sports. None. It’s not the be all, end all in any debate, nor should it be the only consideration when hiring a coach; but it damn sure better be a huge part of the discussion. Marty may not have won a championship yet*, and he may never win one, but he would be a great head coaching choice for a lot of teams.
* – For the record, Marty is coming off a UFL championship this past season. Maybe he’s gotten the professional football playoff monkey off of his back? Hmm…
NFL’s Losers Should Consider Winning Schottenheimer
You know who else’s playoff record is spotty over the last decade? The Miami Dolphins. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Oakland Raiders. The Jacksonville Jaguars. The St. Louis Rams. You’re telling me that going one-and-done in the playoffs, the general expectation for a Marty-coached team, wouldn’t be a vast improvement over what these franchises are currently doing? I sure think it would be.
As they say, just make it to the dance then anything can happen. Don’t poo-poo a man’s ability to guide teams into the NFL’s second season. Just because other coaches have gotten hot at the right times doesn’t mean they are necessarily better overall football coaches than others who haven’t.
A few caveats: Marty is old (68) and I grant that he’s not a potential home run hire like a Sean Payton or a Mike Tomlin or even a Jim Harbaugh. Marty is a guy who may only coach for a few years, and he’s well known for being a stern disciplinarian. Players are sure not to like that at first, but who cares? These guys are being paid millions to win football games, not to have a coach warm the toilet seat for them before they sit down.
Tampa Bay imploded this year with a lot of young talent and a players’ coach. Maybe they need a little Martyball, a little Hamburger Drill in their lives to maximize their potential.
If some NFL team is smart, it will pair Marty with a young, talented roster and let him maximize that team’s growth through accountability and discipline. Will he win you a Super Bowl? Maybe not. Will he make you competitive and get you to the playoffs? His track record certainly suggests so.
And if you’re a fan of the Dolphins, the Raiders, the Bucs, or any other fledgling franchise just looking for something to believe in, doesn’t annual competitiveness and probable playoff spots sound good right about now? It better. Otherwise your expectations are bit out of whack with reality.
Conclusion: Brief Memo To NFL GMs
Someone, anyone, hire the most underrated football in history. Marty’s earned it. Hell, he even won a professional football championship just to prove to you that he is capable of doing the one thing everyone always criticizes him for.
And we know one thing: if Marty does ever get that elusive Super Bowl title, no one will ever look more like a boss taking the Gatorade bath.