Any team that fires its head coach needs to start looking for a new one quickly. That process, however, infringes on the ability of other teams to get full focus from all members of their current coaching staff.
It’s a problem that arises every year during the NFL playoffs. Teams looking for head coaches want to interview coordinators from teams that are preparing for playoff games.
No matter what anyone says about the ability to do both, it’s false. To properly prepare for that next playoff game, every member of the coaching staff must devote every waking moment to the challenge.
Work, eat, sleep. With heavy emphasis on the first one. Every minute spent preparing for the interview, submitting to it, and/or reflecting on it becomes one less minute that is available to strategize, to study film, to brainstorm — or if nothing else to get a little extra sleep or food or whatever to balance out the time needed to do the current job right.
As explained previously (and in Playmakers), assistant coaches who are under consideration for head-coaching jobs necessarily are distracted. It becomes a major focus for them. Why wouldn’t it be?
It’s everything they’ve ever worked for. It’s significantly more money than they’re currently making. It changes everything for the coach and his family.
As a wise man once explained it, when the assistant coach comes home after a hard day of preparing for the next playoff game, the coach’s spouse or significant other will be less inclined to ask about the nuances of the planning for the next game and more inclined to ask whether there’s an update on the possibility that the coach’s ship has come in.
Look at the Cowboys. They need defensive coordinator Dan Quinn to be fully focused on coming up with a plan to deal with Kyle Shanahan, Quinn’s former offensive coordinator in Atlanta. Beyond the Cowboys having two fewer days to get ready, Quinn will be interviewing with the Broncos on Friday.
It shouldn’t be that way. All interviews should be delayed until after the Super Bowl.
Yes, it delays the process of getting a new coaching staff in place and up to speed. But it allows the teams who have made it to the playoffs to get full and complete focus from their coaching staff because the coaches start talking to other teams about bigger jobs.
It also might get teams to be more deliberate about making changes. Maybe some teams won’t feel compelled to make a quick decision, since they won’t get left behind if they take time to decide on whether to make a change. Maybe some teams, after doing more homework on potential coaching options, will decide to stick with the coach they have.
Either way, teams like the Cowboys will get the full focus from an assistant like Quinn during a week in which that focus is desperately needed.