By Dan Schneier @PFF_DanSc on April 10, 2014
The NFL is a week-to-week, unscripted and unpredictable drama. In order to keep control over all the moving parts, it takes a strong personality to be a head coach. Each coach deals with a different situation. If every coach was a character on Game Of Thrones, this is who they would be based on their actions and the situation they're in. I'll start in the east and finish in the west divisions. You'll need to disregard looks and gender.
Let's start off with what I consider the best fit. Both men are masterminds at what they do, but they are also crude "players of the game". They put winning and their family/team first, no matter what the cost is. No one will ever forget the “Spy Gate” scandal where Belichick was taping the walk-through practice for the Super Bowl, and certainly no one will ever forget the Red Wedding, which we now know was sneakily orchestrated by Tywin.
Often brash in their message delivery and actions, both men exude a confidence that is rarely matched by their peers. Neither has much of a filter regarding what they say, and both men have not worried about hiding their interest in women. Both men stand as true talents at what they do. Bronn fought his way safely out of the Vail and has established himself with Tyrion since. Ryan calls one of the best defenses, despite sometimes limited talent.
Scandal has followed these two men in their respective career paths. Rumors about Renly’s sexual preference were never truly confirmed by anyone other than Margaery Tyrell, who flocked ship immediately post-shadow monster assassination of Renly. Philbin lost control of his locker room, but we should have known this was possible after watching him “coach” on Hard Knocks. What will lead to Philbin’s inevitable demise?
Both understand how to play the game, but that doesn't mean that they do in fact play it right. Marrone's up-tempo offense at Syracuse made him an innovative hire, despite a spotty record. The book is still out on his first order of business, tabbing EJ Manuel as his franchise QB, but it doesn't look pretty right now. Catelyn took to power in order to help Rob win the war, but her decision to let Jamie Lannister go proved her to be unequipped.
Loyal, noble and at times prideful to a fault. Ned’s pride led to his eventual beheading, and it could be argued that it led to the downfall of the Starks as a whole. Coughlin is an all-time great coach, but relying on older veterans like Chris Snee and David Diehl was a major reason for the team's failure in 2013. It took owner John Mara’s plea just to get him to change an offensive scheme that had been almost exactly the same since 2004.
Like Theon with the Starks, Garrett was brought up right learning from the likes of Troy Aikman and Nick Saban. When both men had their opportunity to claim greater responsibility, they failed to succeed. Theon proved incapable of conquering Winterfell and Garrett proved incapable of managing the clock and running the ball, resulting in both men losing something dear to them. What Theon lost just can't be replaced.
Both men face an uphill battle to succeed. Bran faces a long trek to the wrong side of the wall, while Gruden hopes to not become the seventh ex-head coach of the Redskins since 2000. Both have shown flashes of excellence. Gruden’s play-calling led to a 33 touchdown season out of Andy Dalton. Bran’s mind control tactics prevented Hodor from exposing Bran and crew to the wildlings. I can’t decide which feat is more impressive.
Two very innovative men who have been tied to shady dealings. What stands out about both men is that you really never know their true intentions because they keep them so well guarded. DeSean Jackson was coming off of a career season when Kelly decided to cut ties. Is Baelish really looking to help Sansa Stark or does he have another hidden motive in mind? It's an ongoing drama with these two.
John may not receive the credit that his brother gets from an X’s and O’s standpoint, but he knows how to coach a consistent winner. Like Tyrion, he has led his team to battle, defied the odds and come out victorious in the end, winning a Super Bowl with that Ravens squad was almost as impressive as Tyrion's defense of King's Landing. Both had their "how did he pull that off" moments.
Both players in each respective game have seen their power and authority slope downward in recent seasons. It's fair to wonder if their approach and message aren't getting through anymore to the people they need it to get through to. This hasn't stopped either from making power plays. Tomlin's infamous impediment of Jacoby Jones' kick return is nothing in comparison to what Cersei is going to pull if she finds out about Tyrion and Shae.
Like Balon, Lewis has been in the same place for quite some time as head coach of the Bengals. Neither man has experienced a great deal of success, but both remain in power with aspirations that are likely greater than what each individual is capable of. But let’s be honest—how much longer does each man have before a fatal mistake costs them their job or in the Balon’s case, his life?
Each is individually skilled in a specialty that has taken them this far. Pettine learned from Rex Ryan and employs a similar defensive scheme that helped the Bills defense exceed expectations. Brienne has gotten by on sheer strength, skill, smarts and of course her massive build. The reality is both face future uncertainties. With very few allies around them now, they are pretty much on their own.
Both men took their early battles and respective realms by storm. When McCarthy's scheme helped the Packers win a Super Bowl, the final few fans bought in and got over Brett Favre. Robb won early on the battlefield, displaying veteran tactics despite his inexperience. The success then faded. Loyalty and selfishness led to Robb’s demise and the same could happen for McCarthy if he doesn’t consider pulling the plug on DC Dom Capers.
Both are fiery individuals that earn my title of "player's leader" not based on being soft, but instead by serving as a paternal or maternal figure. Zimmer's players described him as a father figure in Hard Knocks, while you can't go an episode of GoT without hearing someone in Daenerys' army call her "misa". Zimmer has waited a while for this opportunity, while Daenerys may need to wait just a little more.
Both men were groomed the right way. Trestman began coaching under Bill Walsh during the 49ers dynasty. Trestman never got the credit he deserved and found a new home in the CFL. Snow? He was banished to a place you really can't call home—the Wall. Both have shown signs of excellence since. Trestman’s offensive scheme and play-calling turned journeyman Josh McCown into a starting QB, and Snow executed a plan to break free from the wildlings.
Both have fought through difficult situations and advanced. Caldwell was tasked with taking over as offensive coordinator right before the Ravens' playoff run. He has received a lot of credit for turning Flacco into an 11:0 TD to INT QB for that run. JoJen must also act as a guide, but unlike Caldwell, he's learning how to advise on the fly. So far so good. As Bran conceded last season, "everything he's told me has been right so far."
Both men are great at getting their troops to rally around one cause and fight for each other. What Pagano overcame is much greater than forming an army from a group of wild bandits with no direction, but it goes without saying that these are two of the toughest men in their respective games. Going forward, Rayder is preparing to mount his attack on Castle Black and the north, while Pagano hopes his Colts can take that next step forward.
O’Brien and Arya both come from noble backgrounds, as O’Brien came up under the Bill Belichick coaching tree. They are both young for what they do but certainly talented and capable of great things. Did Arya make the jump to become a cold killer too soon? Did O’Brien make the jump to head coach in the NFL too soon? I predict that we will get those answers around the same time.
Both Gendry and Bradley are talented at what they do, but both men also have the deck stacked against them. Bradley coaches a Jaguars team that is just two years removed from drafting a punter, who is not even the best in the league, in the third-round. Gendry is off on his own, paddling out to sea somewhere where he hopes to get far away from the woman who wants to make him the source of another shadow baby killer.
While H'Ghar seems to put on many different faces at will, Whisenhunt has put on so many different team caps that you could call him the Jaqen H'Ghar of the NFL. Actually, he probably needs to kill somebody first. Yeah, don't call him that; it's not fair to H'Ghar. Whisenhunt will look to reinvent himself again, this time with the Titans. His past stints were with the Chargers, Cardinals and Steelers. Four more divisions to go.
Would it be a stretch to call these men stubborn? At one point, both men were regarded as titans of their respective realms. Robert Baratheon succeeded the Mad King and became a hero. Smith guided the Falcons to incredible regular season success as a no-nonsense general. Robert’s alcoholism and negligence played a role in his careless death. If Smith is not willing to change some of his coaching tactics, he could be back in a coordinator role.
Both men had the dishonor of being banished for different reasons relating to their league/realm. Payton ended up suspended from the NFL for one year, while Jorah wandered to the red keep. It can be argued that these bans were actually rewarding for both men. Payton came back stronger than ever and led the Saints back to the playoffs. Jorah teamed up with Daenerys and joined a powerhouse.
Rivera earned the nickname "Riverboat Ron" early in the 2013 season when he decided to go for an unconventional fourth down. He became known to his players as a gambler who was willing to take risks, and last year this plan often worked out. Samwell may not strike you as much of a risk taker, but he is. From helping Gilly keep her baby alive to becoming the first man in over a thousand years to kill a White Walker, he earned the reputation.
Lovie Smith is a "players coach", while Melisandre tends to win over her followers with sex and magic. Either way, those around them are usually happier to be in their presence instead of some of the other potential leaders they may have otherwise followed. Lovie's schtick wore itself out in Chicago, and now he looks to rebirth himself in the same image in Tampa Bay. Will Melisandre's followers stick with her no matter what is to come?
Both men have gotten close to achieving their goals only to come up just short. Fox has lost Super Bowls with both the Panthers and the Broncos. Stannis failed in his attempt to seize King’s Landing. It can be soundly argued that both men were out schemed by their respective opponents, which played the primary role in their failures. They shouldn’t feel too awful, as they’ve matched up against Bill Belichick and Tyrion Lannister--two of the best.
Their reputations went from being well respected by their peers to public enemy. For Reid, his winning days in Philadelphia had worn out and the team decided to fire him. He found a home in Kansas City where he took a 1-15 team to the playoffs. Despite being known realm-wide as a beast in battle, Barristan was kicked off the King’s Guard by Joffrey. This caused him to team up with Daeneyrs. One could argue that both men are better off.
We don’t have a huge sample size to judge either on. From what we’ve seen so far, it’s hard not to recognize the skills. Daario continues to be of great value to Daenerys, and his role could be expanding in the near future. McCoy is credited for resurrecting Philip Rivers’ career and winning a playoff game with a talent depleted roster. Both men came into their respective roles this past season, and their best days are likely still ahead.
Allen is loyal to who he needs to be, much like Pycelle. Allen plays the role of head coach the way that Raiders owner Mark Davis wants him to. Has he spoken out once about how he wants to build the roster? If he did and no one listened, did he actually say anything? Pycelle feels the same way with the Lannisters currently, but he will switch loyalties to whoever is in power at King’s Landing. Two of the least interesting characters, no doubt.
Can we get through one half of a 49ers game without watching Harbaugh throw a hissy fit over another “blown” call by the referee? Some say his act is wearing out in San Francisco, but he just keeps on winning. Joffrey is winning as well, in spite of his own efforts. While Harbaugh is a great football mind, Jeoffrey hasn’t displayed much of anything great, aside from his ability to ignore the elephant in the room—how he was really consummated.
Both men have achieved great successes recently. Carroll's Seahawks just won the Super Bowl in dominant fashion. Bolton was named warden of the North. Both left messes behind in the trail towards their success. Before Seattle, Carroll fled a USC program that he knew was about to get hit with NCAA sanctions, while Bolton betrayed an entire house and teamed up with their enemy to take down said house. Both may never have to pay for their actions.
Both men are innovative and impressive in battle/on the field. Arians squeezed out 10 wins in 2013 with the worst offensive line in the NFL. Jamie is alive and free after being captured by the enemy. Now, both men will have to continue to prove themselves after being dealt a much worse hand. Arians has moved on from Andrew Luck to Carson Palmer, while Jaime no longer has his sword hand. What's more functional, an off hand or Carson Palmer?
Both are clever, experienced and loyal. Davos continued to follow Stannis in his quest for the throne even after it caused Davos to lose his son in the battle of Blackwater Bay. This offseason, Fisher went back to his old defensive coordinator from his days with the Titans, Gregg Williams, even after Williams had been exposed for his role in the Bounty Gate scandal. Going forward, it’s fair to wonder if the best days are behind both men.
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