“Everyone’s A New Guru” | Former NFL Player TJ Ward Calls Out Bad NFL Coaches

(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Each and every year you hear the media pundits stake claim to a coach who’s supposedly the next big hire in the profession. It’s usually a young coach who directs an explosive offense with elite talent, which leads to that coach being considered the next brilliant mind in the NFL.

And while that has happened a few times in the last couple years with Sean McVay of the Los Angeles Rams and Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers, there have also been some real questionable hires such as Kliff Kingsbury of the Arizona Cardinals and arguably the worst hire in a long time, in Matt Rhule of the Carolina Panthers. So, the process of finding the next Bill Belichick is hit or miss.

Then there’s the veterans such as the aforementioned “Hoodie” and K.C. head coach Andy Reid, who are well-experienced and the best in the business. These guys are ancient in age in comparison to the newbie coaches but still have incredible success. Coaches often receive too much credit when their team is winning and too much flak when it is struggling, but it’s the players who are usually in the direct line of fire. 

Former NFL player T.J. Ward recently went on a Twitter rant about what he calls terrible coaching.

“We talk about the players too often. It’s some terrible coaching in the NFL.”

“Everyone a new guru. How many gurus are there? How about basic fundamental and technique.”

Ward is a former Pro Bowl and All-Pro safety who’s a member of the Denver Broncos Super Bowl 50 team. So he has the right to question the lack of basic fundamentals and techniques, or lack thereof, being taught in the NFL.

 

Coaches Are Gung-Ho On Their Scheme Working No Matter What

So often coaches come in with their scheme, and while it may have worked somewhere else, it might not work with their current personnel. A lot of times it’s the coach’s unwillingness to adapt the scheme to fit his personnel, instead forcing the players to fit his scheme. This is a recipe for disaster and destined to fail. Take for instance what’s going on with the Philadelphia Eagles and head coach Nick Sirianni, who catered his scheme to fit quarterback Jalen Hurts upon his arrival as head coach.

Prior to the Eagles’ 2021 season opener, Sirianni referred back to his college at Mount Union, Larry Keheres, and how he did things. Here’s what he told USA Today …

“Before you think about scheme, it’s all about the players. It’s first about the player. Players, players, players, players, players, players. So what do they do well? Put them in positions of what they do well and then try to match that up to the scheme. I think that’s what it’s about, more than anything.”

That style paid off in Sirianni’s first year, as Hurts led the Eagles to a 9-8 record and playoff berth. Year two, the Eagles are the lone remaining unbeaten team in the NFL at 4-0 and Hurts has looked like a viable MVP candidate. Hurts’ development is a prime example of teaching fundamentals and technique.

On the flip side you have the aforementioned Kingsbury, whose offense doesn’t fit what star quarterback Kyler Murray’s strengths are. Murray’s unique ability has bailed the Cardinals out often, not Kingsbury’s scheme.

Fundamentals And Technique Be Damned

The game of football used to be about players using their technique and fundamentals learned to gain an advantage in their battles on the field. That seems to be less and less the case. You can tell what teams actually study the fine details, focus on fundamentals and which don’t.

Nowadays everything is about speed and power, and yes you need that but how about using the fundamentals you’ve learned throughout your football life. That’s a lost art. Missing are the days of lineman winning with a swim move or rip move. Or a receiver running such crisp routes that a defensive back is left at his mercy.

In this age of football where coaches want to get as many plays off as they can in a game, the fundamentals and technique have suffered immensely, and that’s usually a sure sign of bad coaching. Which in turn leads to losses piling up.

Ward wants head coaches to be held responsible for their inability to actually “coach.”


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