By Steve Silverman
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Vince Lombardi, Don Shula, Bill Parcells, Jimmy Johnson.
These men are all in the pantheon of all-time great NFL coaches. All were multiple Super Bowl winning coaches, and in the case of Lombardi, he won multiple NFL championships before there was a Super Bowl.
They clearly excelled at their jobs because they got results. All of them had a high level of knowledge and insight about the game that is rare among coaches.
But they also were uncompromising disciplinarians who wanted thing done their way – and there was no room for compromise.
Lombardi and Parcells were known for getting in the face of their players and screaming to make a point. Shula and Johnson were not shy either, but they basically dropped the hammer by getting rid of players who did not meet their expectations.
When those four men walked the sidelines, they were the law and the final word. There was no doubt.
None of those men would be able to coach in the current NFL.
It’s no longer about screaming, yelling, threatening and demanding.
The best coaches in the game set out a gameplan for their professional players and they stick to it.
In 2012, men like Mike Smith of the Atlanta Falcons, Joe Philbin of the Miami Dolphins and Gary Kubiak are among the best coaches in the game.
Could you imagine anyone of them standing up to and exchanging ideas with Lombardi or Shula? Would they be seen as equals with Parcells or Johnson?
Smith and Philbin seem like they would be your ideal next door neighbors. Nice guys who want to be fair. Smith would not rake his leaves on to your lawn. Philbin might even mow your lawn if you were out of town.
There is nothing “football coachish” about either man.
Smith’s Falcons are undefeated and have a chance to hold off great teams like the Giants, Bears and 49ers and represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.
Philbin’s Dolphins appeared to be the last-place team in the AFC East at the start of the season. They were featured on HBO’s “Hard Knocks” training camp series and they looked devoid of offensive talent. Somehow, the Dolphins are a .500 team and are one game behind the New England Patriots.
Philbin is not going to get into any of his players’ faces. He almost appeared to lack a pulse as he ran his first training camp in front of the HBO cameras.
But he knows offensive football and he can translate his knowledge to his players. He was one of the driving forces behind the explosive success of Aaron Rodgers with the Green Bay Packers and he is now doing the same with the Dolphins.
Philbin, Smith and Kubiak are showing that football coaches don’t have to follow the stereotype of the angry, butt-kicking coach who preaches that it must be “my way or the highway.”
Lovie Smith of the Bears is another coach who is not going to start screaming and yelling when he wants to make a point or a change.
Today’s coaches are much more likely to treat players like men and not yell at them like little boys.
Old films of Mike Ditka and Parcells yelling at their players may be memorable, but that attitude does not work very well any longer.
Tom Coughlin seemed to get that message a few years ago. He was an old-school, control freak disciplinarian, but there has been a subtle mellowing to his methods.
He had to change to adapt to the modern player if he wanted to get results.
Two Super Bowl victories with the Giants are pretty good results.
Lombardi’s way worked in the 1960s and Shula had his time in the 1970s. Parcells and Johnson were the last of those old-school coaches who intimidated their teams into championships.
It just won’t work any longer.
Nice guys can finish first.
Do you think there’s still a place for the old-school approach? Be heard in the comments below!