Successful coaches cook in pressure--win or lose


November 11, 1990|By VITO STELLINO

The pressure never stops building for a pro football coach.

No matter how much success he's had, the coach always has pressure to win the next week.

Just look at last year's two Super Bowl coaches -- Dan Reeves of the Denver Broncos and George Seifert of the San Francisco 49ers.

Reeves' team is struggling at 3-5 this year and the season has taken a toll on him. Two weeks ago, after a 34-17 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Reeves broke down and cried for five minutes at a team meeting.

Reeves' emotional scene was revealed last week by the Rocky Mountain News. A player, who asked not to be identified, told the newspaper that Reeves said: "I told [owner] Pat Bowlen I'd always field a respectable team. . . . Maybe I should just quit."

When Reeves was asked about the incident, he said: "I don't think you ever have any control over those types of things. I certainly didn't go in there with the intention of being that way. . . . I never had to [cry] before. I never had this problem before."

Not that Reeves is ready to quit. When a Denver columnist noted that Reeves is in his 10th season, and Al Davis, the owner of the Los Angeles Raiders, has suggested that 10 years is long enough for a head coach, he said: "Because Al Davis says 10 years is the magic number, all of a sudden, Al Davis is right and I should get out of here. That's someone's opinion. That's not mine."

Reeves, though, is having obvious problems coping with the losing. It's not easy for him to accept the fact that a team can't win all of the time.

Not that things are much better with Seifert, who is virtually winning all of the time. He should be on top of the world. He's 25-2 as a head coach and 8-0 this year. It doesn't get any better than that.

But Seifert said a week ago: "I think the pressure is every bit as great as it was a year ago and in some respects a little more so because so much is expected from the club. But that's part of the business. It comes with the territory."

Last week, Seifert said the club isn't even enjoying the winning. "We're more critical of ourselves than even the media is . . . to the point of not having fun," he said.

No matter how much a team wins, it's hard to have fun these days.

Look at Bill Parcells, the coach of the New York Giants, who are also 8-0. The Giants were routing the Indianapolis Colts, 17-0, Monday night when quarterback Phil Simms threw an incomplete third-down pass. Parcells promptly exploded at Simms.

The coaches can't relax no matter how well things are going.

Then there's Joe Gibbs, the Washington Redskins' coach who yanked Stan Humphries for Jeff Rutledge Sunday against the Detroit Lions. The move worked because Rutledge led the team back from a 21-point deficit. But Humphries came within a dropped pass by Earnest Byner of beating the Giants the previous week.

It was Gibbs' 15th quarterback change since Joe Theismann broke his leg in 1985, but Gibbs insisted, "I don't think people around here think I'm quick to jerk people around."

They don't?

If nothing else, Gibbs certainly isn't showing much patience, and it's difficult for a young quarterback to develop when he gets the hook. But it's not a patience business. It's win right now or else.

Bud Carson found that out last week. He took the Cleveland Browns to the American Football Conference title game last year, but the Browns started out 2-7 this season and Carson was fired last week.

The pressure is always building.

The Redskins will play three games in nine days and about 22 hours, from the kickoff at 9 p.m. tomorrow for the game against the Philadelphia Eagles until the final whistle of the Thanksgiving Day game against the Cowboys at Dallas.

Right in the middle of this, Gibbs, who isn't thrilled with the scheduling to start with, is probably going to have to deal with a major distraction.

Dexter Manley is eligible to be reinstated next Sunday after serving a one-year drug suspension, and it's a foregone conclusion that commissioner Paul Tagliabue is going to let him back in the league.

It's also virtually certain that the Redskins will release him. They prepared to go without him when they signed Jumpy Geathers as a Plan B free agent and traded for Eric Williams and Tim Johnson to bolster their defensive line.

But releasing Manley is likely to stir up a controversy in Washington because he was such a popular player.

That the Redskins were unable to get any trade offers for Manley is a sign that teams are skeptical Manley can be effective in the middle of the season after a year's layoff. Still, it's likely that at least one team will take a chance on Manley because it won't have to give the Redskins any compensation for him.

The owners will meet Wednesday in Dallas, but they won't handle the touchy issue of what to do about the 1993 Super Bowl in the wake of Arizonans voting to turn down the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

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