Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Toub should have been the man

At the risk of being totally and irrevocably wrong about who should be the next Browns coach, especially given the news Freddie Kitchens will be that man Friday, here is another out-of-the-box thought.

I cannot understand why special teams coordinators are not given as much chance to become a head coach as a coordinator on a specific side of the football. I say that with Dave Toub in mind.

The special teams boss in Kansas City the last six seasons and for nine seasons before that in Chicago must wonder what he has to do to land on lists of National Football League teams seeking to fill head coaching vacancies.

Cleveland General Manager John Dorsey knows all about Toub, having spent four seasons as the Chiefs’ GM before landing with the Browns late last season. Why he wasn’t considered at all will remain a mystery.

Dorsey seeks to sustain the stability that surrounded the Browns in the surprising second half of this past season. He needs someone who can oversee both sides of the game, not someone who concentrates on only one side.

Toub (rhymes with lobe and strobe) would have been more than qualified to fill that role with the Browns. He would be in a position to see and understand the various situations that come up within the framework of a game.

He spent this last season in what amounted to on-the-job training, learning the ropes, the ins and outs of being a head coach, from one of the best, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid. He also had assistant head coach attached to his job title.

Check out Reid’s coaching tree: Doug Pederson, Matt Nagy, Ron Rivera and John Harbaugh, all successful head coaches in the NFL, three of whom have taken their teams to and winning the Super bowl.

It all begs the question: Why are teams so hesitant to go after the only coordinator on a team who talks with players on both sides of the ball? Other than the head coach, the special teams coordinator is the only other coach on a staff who deals with all the players.

Most of those who come from the special teams ranks have been eminently successful. Marv Levy, John Harbaugh, Bill Cowher, Mike Ditka, Dick Vermeil and, yes, even Bill Belichick were special teams coaches at one point in their careers who went on to be extremely successful. .

The only possible stumbling block in naming an ST guy to be a head coach? It is not a sexy pick. Most NFL owners seek the hot candidates on the market, the ones whose stock rise dramatically throughout the process.

Special teams coordinators operate almost anonymously in many cases. The third unit of the team rarely factors into a game. Unless the teams are so bad, as in the case with the Browns’ Amos Jones in 2018, they are not bothered and are seldom singled out.

Toub is the main reason the Chiefs’ special teams are ranked in the top five year in and year out. They were No. 1 this past season. The Browns? They were No. 32.

Doesn’t that count for something? Some day, a wise general manager will figure that out, hire a special teams coordinator to be his head coach and be rewarded by a coach who will make him look awfully good.

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