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Old 01-02-2008, 07:25 AM   #1
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Default First-Year Coaches Often Win Playoff Openers

Let's hope this trend continues this Saturday!


First-year coaches often win playoff openers
By Joe Rutter

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Being a first-year head coach won't put Steelers' boss Mike Tomlin at a competitive disadvantage Saturday night, when he matches wits with Jacksonville Jaguars veteran coach Jack Del Rio in an AFC wild-card playoff game at Heinz Field.
On the contrary, history suggests being a coaching neophyte might slightly benefit Tomlin in his first playoff game, even if his Steelers are two-point underdogs to the visiting Jaguars.

Since the Super Bowl era began with the 1966 season, a rookie head coach has taken his team to the playoffs 26 times. In those playoff openers, the rookies have sported a 14-12 record.

Tomlin is approaching his first playoff game much like he did the regular season, when he led the Steelers to a 10-6 record and an AFC North title.

"I've got a bunch of mentors and peers that I respect a great deal, and I know they're there for me if I need advice," Tomlin said. "But ultimately, I've got to go with my gut, and I've done that. I'll continue to do that."

Steelers fans hope Tomlin fares better than his predecessor, Bill Cowher.

Cowher is the only Steelers coach to make the playoffs in his first season. But that trip in 1992 became bittersweet, as the Buffalo Bills handed the Steelers a 24-3 defeat.

Two rookie coaches have used their first playoff victory as a springboard to the Super Bowl title: Don McCafferty with the Baltimore Colts after the 1970 season and George Seifert with the San Francisco 49ers following the 1989 season. Oakland's Bill Callahan (2002) and Denver's Red Miller (1977) reached the Super Bowl as rookies only to lose the big game.

First-year head coaches were 1-1 in their playoff game debuts last season. Eric Mangini watched his New York Jets get destroyed, 37-16, by the New England Patriots and his former boss, Bill Belichick. However, Sean Payton guided the New Orleans Saints to a 27-24 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles and into the NFC Championship Game.

This season, Tomlin is the only rookie among the 12 playoff coaches. Greenfield native Mike McCarthy is in his second season with the Green Bay Packers.

Among the nuggets unearthed about rookie coaches and the playoffs (see accompanying chart):

? AFC West teams are 4-0 in playoff openers, and NFC South teams are 3-0. Conversely, AFC East teams are 0-4 in openers under a first-year coach.

? The only matchup of first-year coaches was after the 2000 season, when Jim Haslett's Saints defeated Mike Martz's St. Louis Rams, 31-28.

? Of the 32 franchises, 15 have never reached the playoffs under a rookie coach: Miami, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati, Houston, Jacksonville, Tennessee and Kansas City in the AFC; Washington, Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, Carolina, Tampa Bay, Arizona and Seattle in the NFC.

? Among NFC North teams, Minnesota's Dennis Green (1992) is the only first-year coach to reach the playoffs since 1966.

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Old 01-02-2008, 08:59 AM   #2

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Default Re: First-Year Coaches Often Win Playoff Openers

Great read thanks!
Lets hope the trend continues and Tomlin can get his first playoff win under his belt!
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