Yeah, that makes sense. Not really. It's kind of laughable to me that it's even been discussed by some. Here's why:
1. Great Expectations:
Have the 49ers underachieved? Absolutely. However the season is 16, not 4 games long. Right? Also this: I've emailed clowns like Ann Killion, Lowell Cohn and others in the media asking a simple question. I'm still waiting for my first reply back from any of them.
Here's the question: "If you're gonna bash Mike Singletary like you're doing for failing to live up to expectations in 2010, don't you then have to credit MS for considerably raising those expectations?" I mean, who is the real Mike Singletary?
Is he the one that took over a mostly directionless team that never reached .500 under Mike Nolan; the one who went into his second full season as HC at over .500 (13-12). Is he the one whose team many now felt had been improved enough by him to finally win the NFC West again. That Mike Singletary?
Or is he the one that has gotten off to a real, real slow start so far after four games in 2010.
The one after his first 25 games? Or the one after his last 4? I'm going with 25 here.
They have so far underachieved in 2010. However, Singletary's coaching abilities had much to do with greatly raising the expectations of this team going into 2010.
BTW: Mike Nolan was .327 in his 55 games in SF. To put that into context Mike Singletary would have to go 0-16 this season to basically match him percentage wise (he'd then be at .317).
What about the lack of discipline? The stupid plays?
The 49ers currently have committed 25 penalities. Mike McCarthy is the best HC in the NFC North. On a Monday night against the Bears his Packers committed 18 penalties (plus a million mental mistakes). In one game his team made 75% of the total number of penalties the 49ers have made in four games.
The 49ers are ranked 16th in the NFL in penalties, exactly halfway down the list. Players make penalties sometimes. That's life in the NFL.
What about Nate Clements? Yeah, he blew that play cause the 49ers coaches don't spend enough time on situations like that. Right? Come on man. He's played in the NFL forever. The fact of the matter is this: He shouldn't have gone down right away. If he did the Falcons could've gotten the ball back with over a minute left on the clock (unless SF made a first down). He had a wide open field ahead of him. He was heading towards the sidelines/endzone. His mistake was in not securing the ball. He should've held that ball like it was his 80 million dollar check, not like a loaf of bread. He didn't and the team paid a huge price for it.
He was trying to make a play to ice the game and got careless with the ball. Not condoning it. Just sayin'. Criticizing the coaches for that is laughable. Coaches can only do so much on Sundays.
What about Alex Smith throwing the ball away on that intentional grounding play or on that INT to Gore? A few weeks ago Eli Manning (who was the highest paid QB in NFL history last season) threw a left-handed jump ball at the goalline into three defenders, one of whom intercepted the ball.
We all know Eli's pedigree. Pretty smart QB, right? Yet he made an idiotic play. The fact of the matter is that most QB's NOT named Peyton or Brady sometimes made foolish mistakes in the heat of battle trying to make a play for their team. Sorry, it sometimes happens. Not good but it happens all over the league, not just in SF.
Again, I know many find it hard to believe but penalties and stupid plays happen all over the NFL, not just in SF. Not condoning it. Just sayin'.
3. Inexperience/Non-Coordinator/X's & O's:
Briefly let's look at the 3-0 K.C. Chiefs. They put on a clinic in outcoaching the 49ers in week three. As bad as I've ever seen: Manusky should've been embarassed. Raye paid for it with his job. It sometimes happens in the NFL however (though usually not that badly I'll concede).
Still: The 49ers have played three of last years 'Final Four' teams recently (Colts, Vikings and Saints). By definition three of the best teams in the NFL last year. Yes they lost all three games but they weren't outcoached in any of them. Not at all. All those games went down to the wire with the 49ers having a chance to win each game. They gave those (better) teams all they could handle.
It's not like these guys are idiots, no matter how much some believe that to be the case.
Let's now look at Todd Haley. Like Singletary a first time HC in his second season. Haley is a former coordinator (unlike Singletary). Haley is on his third OC so far in K.C. (Chan Gailey, himself and now Charlie Weis).
Not exactly the picture of stability. Three OC's by his second season? Seems to be working now, though. Right? Third times the charm. Of course he was basically told this after last year by Scott Pioli: "Do you wanna be the HC or the OC?" Cause it's hard to do both for the most part. He was told that as HC you are needed to manage the entire team, not just fiddle with the offense. " Which one is it Todd?"
(And yes, Bill Walsh had a dominating offense as HC/OC. Buddy Ryan had a dominating defense as HC/DC in Philadelphia. Currently his son Rex is doing the same in NY. Sean Payton has a great offense as HC/OC - though one wonders just how great it would be if Drew Brees hadn't fallen into his lap. It's certainly possible to do both and do them very well. But that's not the only way to do it).
That's why teams have OC's & DC's. For the X's & O's. To create the gameplans. To spend all their time scheming and coaching their unit to beat the guys on the other side of the ball.
And on the flip side that's why the HC graveyard is filled with terrible HC's who were good coordinators. Recent coaches like Nolan, Scott Linehan, Cam Cameron and a million other guys were good managing a single unit of the team but not very good managing the ENTIRE team.
The point here is this. Right now Todd Haley is functioning just like Mike Singletary: Managing his entire squad and the game and letting his coordinators coordinate. Does anyone think that Haley is overruling or helping out Charlie Weis on his offense? I don't. Part of the reason K.C. stuggled in Haley's first season was because he was spreading himself too thin and trying to do too much as HC/OC. He's now being the HC and letting his coordinators coordinate.
After the debacle in K.C. Singletary fired his handpicked choice as his OC. That's not easy to do on a personal level and also to publicly admit that you made something of a mistake with the original hire. But he did it. I think Mike Johnson was eventually going to take over as OC sometime in the future anyway. This just accelerated the process.
Mike Singletary is not a stupid man, believe it or not. His job (and now his coaching legacy) will depend, in a large part, on his coordinators and assistant coaches (especially the OC). Sometimes, however, it takes a few seasons for it all to come together.
In Dick Vermeil's first two seasons with the Rams Jerry Rhome was the OC and they went 9-23. In his third season first time OC Mike Martz managed the offense. They won the SB that season.
Singletary is no doubt on the hot seat right now, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Give him and his new OC some time to make it happen. That's how it works in the NFL. It usually doesn't happen overnight, if it happens at all.
4. The Quarterback:
(Brief disclaimer. This section, while absolutley relevant to this discussion about Mike Singletary, his offense and his 49ers, is dedicated to the clowns of Phoenix Sports radio who spend more time bashing Mike Singletary, usually with erroneous information, than to talking about their own (suddenly stupid) Arizona Cardinals).
Let's look at the most important position on the team and then let's compare Mike Singletary with the HC who's considered to be the best in the NFC West, Ken Whisenhunt of the Cardinals. Sometimes the best way to judge someone's abilities is to compare them to someone perceived to be more successful.
Simply put, Ken Whisenhunt is the most overrated coach in the history of civilization. Here's why.
We all know the record. Singletary is 2-1 against Whisenhunt and was a botched goaline play away by Mike Martz from from being 3-0. With LESS talent. How so?
Ken Whisenhunt inherited a lot of (mostly) young talent from Denny Green. Two #1 WR's in Fitzgerald & Boldin (most teams don't even have one #1). Excellent defenders like Darnell Dockett, Karlos Dansby and Adrian Wilson. But mostly this: Future HOF QB Kurt Warner. One of the most accurate passers in NFL history. Singletary inherited Shaun Hill & Alex Smith. No disrespect to Alex and Shaun but still . . .
Advantage Whisenhunt (in a big, big way).
But here's the best part. Whisenhunt is a former SB winning OC with the Steelers who's considered to be FAR superior over Mike Singletary in all things offense. Right?
Whisenhunt's 'management' at the QB position throughout his tenure in Phoenix, however, has been HORRENDOUS. That's right, horrendous. It's the dirty little secret that almost nobody wants to acknowledge. Especially those in the media, let alone their fan base. People like to criticize MS in this department (quarterback/offense). Please. Let's take a GOOD look here at almost complete incompetence: (that would be Ken Whisenhunt).
* In his first season as HC in 2007 Whisenhunt names Matt Leinart as the starter over Warner. There was some logic to this as Leinart was the 1st round pick and Warner had struggled recently. I'll give the Wiz a pass here (pun intended).
* Leinart , however, was injured and lost for the season in game five. Warner starts the next eleven games (actually Warner was also injured. He played most of 2007 with his left arm in a sling). Leinart had 2 TD's and 4 INT's in 2007. Warner 27 TD's and 17 INT's.
* So who does the most overrated HC in history name as the starter for 2008? That's right. Matt Leinart. Seriously. Warner had to lobby Whisenhunt to be given an opportunity to COMPETE with Leinart for the starting job (believe me, I'm not making this up). Whisenhunt said yes and then waited until SIX days before the start of the regular season to (finally) name Warner the starter in 2008. Not during training camp. Not even during the preseason. No, AFTER the last preseason game and less than a week before opening day.
Hey Kenny, open your eyes. What took you so long dude? I mean, come on. It took you to the Monday before opening day to finally name the superior Kurt Warner as your starting QB? And they say Mike Singletary doesn't know how to handle the QB position?
* Then in the opening game of 2008 against the 49ers Warner again had to lobby Whisenhunt (this time at halftime) - to open up the offense. The fact is that Whisenhunt always wanted a more balanced offense in Arizona and was never fully comfortable with the air attack offense with Kurt Warner.
Simply put, the Cards have succeeded in recent years NOT because of the 'great' coaching by the Wiz.. That's hysterical . No they played great at times because of the greatness of Kurt Warner. Warner made that ENTIRE team better. Obviously the offense, especially Larry Fitzgerald. Also the defense (they knew they could give up some points and Kurt would go get'em back). Special teams. Front office. Secretaries. Janitors. You name'em. Warner helped them all be better and happier.
NOT KEN WHISENHUNT. Whisenhunt the successful HC is almost exclusively the product of Kurt Warner's immense talents in Phoenix. A HOF'er that he inherited and twice sent to the bench.
Whisenhunt isn't a great HC. Actually he's pretty crappy to tell the truth. At least without Kurt Warner he is.
And let's look at his abilities post Warner. Knowing Kurt would soon retire, the thought by all was that Leinart was being groomed to replace him. Makes sense, right? Why else keep him on the roster? Despite his early missteps like the hot tub situation, by all accounts the past few years Warner had taken Matt under his wing and Leinart was said to be working hard as he waited his turn under center after Warner retired.
So what does the Wiz do in the middle of training camp this season? That's right, he cuts Leinart and replaces him with Derek Anderson. Said he didn't think Leinart was the right fit for the team. Umm, you've had Leinart on your team for three seasons. If you weren't sold on him replacing Warner why wait almost until the season starts to dump him?
And then, for what? Derek Anderson? I mean, if Anderson could play, don't you think Mike Holmgren would've kept him in Cleveland? Ya think?
If you're such a great offensive coach shouldn't you have been able to do something all these years with Matt Leinart, Ken? Like 'coach'em up' and 'get'em ready' to replace your departing HOF'er?
Have you looked at Arizona this year? They are horrendous. They are two plays away from also being 0-4 (a great strip by Breaston against the Rams and a missed FG by Janikowski). They played two real good teams (Atlanta and San Diego) and were shellacked in both (41-7 and 41-10), losing by a combined SIXTY FIVE points! SF also played two real good teams (NO and ATL) and lost by a combined FIVE points.
That's FIVE. Not to be confused with SIXTY FIVE.
Where are all your great X's & O's NOW, Ken Whisenhunt? You know, the kind that Mike Singletary knows nothing about but you know everything about cause, unlike Singletary, you once WERE a coordinator. Where are they now Kenny?
Without KW (Kurt Warner) KW (Ken Whisenhunt) looks (and is) completely overmatched. Those plays he's now calling on offense suddenly aren't looking so good without a HOF'er under center. Hard to believe, right?
Without a HOF QB the spotlight now shifts to his team's lack of physicality, lack of discipline, focus, intelligence and drive. And most importantly: LACK of HEART! His team is Heartless & Gutless. Pure and simple.
(Rumor has it that he was so upset after losing to SD 41-10 last week that he actually raised his voice and expressed his displeasure to his entire team in the following days. Imagine that!)
* Mike Singletary has beaten Whisenhunt twice in three tries despite having a big disadvantage at the QB position.
* Mike Singletary's 49ers have lost games, have looked bad on occasion and have even been outcoached a few times. But his team has never lacked physicality, been heartless or gutless.
* Mike Singletary is a better HC than the guy who was named the 9th best HC in the NFL a few years ago and is considered to be the best HC in the division. Sorry.
Singletary's biggest problem is that he inherited guys like Alex Smith/Shaun Hill and not a guy like Kurt Warner. Whatever one thinks of Alex or Shaun, nobody would ever compare them to Kurt, one of the all-time greats in NFL history. Nobody. No body.
Fire Mike Singletary? Umm, I don't think so.
Apply some reason and logic and context and patience to the situation? Now that would make MUCH more sense.