SDUT (Acee): No wow from McCoy yet, but give him time

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SDUT (Acee): No wow from McCoy yet, but give him time Robin Miller 11/9/13 6:21 PM

No wow from McCoy yet, but give him time

By Kevin Acee
3:37 p.m. Nov. 9, 2013


This job is too big for Mike McCoy right now.

That’s just my take midway through his first season as an NFL head coach.

He disagrees.

“I don’t think I’m over my head at all,” McCoy said. “I’m very well
prepared for it.”

Of course. No one acknowledges such a thing in the midst of fighting
their way through, certainly not publicly and certainly not an NFL coach.

But it’s just a fact that not everyone is Sean Payton or John Harbaugh,
two examples of rookie head coaches who came in hot and won immediately
despite having had no previous head coaching experience.

Personally, I think the best way to learn is on the job.

A head coach in the NFL is one of the ultimate learn-as-you-go gigs.

It’s like being a CEO and a counselor and adoptive father – to largely
entitled 20-somethings, many of them emotionally stunted. And then there
are the practices and the games.

“I’m learning every day,” McCoy said. “Every day, I become a better coach.”

Good to know. I trust it’s true.

Look, I don’t think McCoy will be swallowed by this job. In fact, due to
his strengths and with some help that goes beyond what he controls, the
Chargers can be a playoff team sooner than later, perhaps even in 2014.

Setting aside his skirt getting in his way in Tennessee and then him
allowing his offensive coordinator and quarterback to get too cute in
Washington, it can be argued the Chargers have achieved all they can in
their current composition. McCoy gets much of the credit for that.

But to be something more than better, he should have wowed us at least
once, even if he failed doing so. And we haven’t seen wow.

It’s troubling. But that doesn’t mean wow won’t come.

Wow doesn’t mean crazy. It sometimes comes from trusting your gut when
it comes to game management, and that is sometimes more of a learned
process than people know. Yes, gut implies instinct. But being more
familiar with your surroundings and your personnel and certain
situations bolsters instincts.

He’s had his chances, and the Chargers may or may not have a better for
record for it. But, hey, patience is my policy. We’ll wait and see on
that one.

And there are definite positives already.

Regardless of what happened against the Redskins – whether they entered
Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos at 5-3 or their present 4-4 –
the Chargers’ prospects for winning more than they lost the rest of the
way were middling to bleak.

Even though his charisma often seems manufactured, McCoy has an
assuredness about him that all but forced his players to “buy in” from
the beginning. I put that in quotes because it’s one of McCoy’s
catch-phrases. It’s also been impressively manifest.

He has fostered a familial atmosphere not just in the locker room but
the entire building, and that ought not be underestimated as part of why
he will succeed.

Now, his game management hasn’t been all that much of an improvement
over Norv Turner. In some instances, it has been worse.

McCoy has gotten away with having seven active offensive linemen, though
he acknowledges that was a potential screw-up with so many walking
wounded. He won’t get specific about why Donald Butler was active but
not healthy enough to play at Tennessee, but it’s his call and he blew
that one.

I disagreed with him turtling in the fourth quarter at Tennessee, when
Tennessee had already shown that game they could drive against the
Chargers defense. The Titans drove again, to a winning score. He was wrong.

I also disagreed with him attempting a 50-yard field goal near the end
of the Indianapolis game because it risked giving the Colts the ball
with a short field and a chance to tie. Nick Novak made the kick. McCoy
was right.

He absolutely should have taken charge down near the goal line and tried
to run the ball at the end against Washington.

I heard quite a bit this week that McCoy should have second-guessed
offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt for his play calling at the end of
the fourth quarter. I believe his was a lie of omission, or a matter of
semantics. Because, of course, the staff reviewed what they did there.
And no way should McCoy have called out Whisenhunt publicly.

Overall, though, you seem pleased.

Almost 1,800 votes were cast in a U-T San Diego poll this week asking
whether you approved of Mike McCoy’s performance so far. An overwhelming
majority (74 percent) responded in the affirmative.

Good. That shows how far you thought the Chargers had slid, but it also
indicates some proper patience and perspective.

You must know, too, that though the job may be too big for McCoy now, it
doesn’t mean it always will be.

Re: SDUT (Acee): No wow from McCoy yet, but give him time Joaquin 11/10/13 5:09 PM
Damning with faint praise?