View Full Version : Interesting article in today's paper on Marty.

01-11-2007, 02:04 PM
Coach's playoff record strikes fear in fans
By Kevin Acee

January 11, 2007

This is Marty Schottenheimer's next chance, probably his best chance and perhaps his last chance.

As this year's playoffs begin for the Chargers on Sunday against the New England Patriots, it is also Schottenheimer's first postseason game since the one he regrets the most.

“What I have coached throughout my career is, 'Don't do anything that will take away the opportunity to win,' ” he said. “That's what I did that day.”

Now, hold on a second. He's not talking about what you think he's talking about. He would play for the field goal in overtime again if given the opportunity in the Chargers' 20-17 overtime playoff loss to the New York Jets.

What still haunts Schottenheimer two years after the most recent of his dozen postseason losses is the 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty he incurred in the second quarter for going onto the field to argue a foul that never happened.

After the penalty, the Jets got the ball at the Chargers' 37-yard line and took just five plays to tie the game 7-7.

Schottenheimer recently called that “the biggest disappointment” in his playoff career and said what he did was “inexcusable.”

What most fans remember (and have been unable to excuse Schottenheimer for) is the Chargers' second possession in overtime. After driving 48 yards to the Jets' 22, the Chargers ran three simple running plays for no yards. Nate Kaeding then missed a 40-yard field goal attempt, the Jets drove to the Chargers' 10 and Doug Brien won the game with a 28-yard field goal.

Now, Schottenheimer, 63, has what is arguably his best team ever in the playoffs, and his survival as a coach might depend on how far it goes.

His contract expires after next season. He has no ally in General Manager A.J. Smith. And team President Dean Spanos has said only that he stands by his offseason assertion that the Chargers are good enough to go deep into the playoffs and that he is waiting to evaluate Schottenheimer until after the last game.

Schottenheimer has been forthcoming about his playoff shortcomings, not that he has a choice. He is 5-12 in playoff games. Whether he is to blame for those losses or not, even he acknowledges they leave an ugly mark.

As he spoke about the playoffs one day recently, he sat beneath a photograph of the Lombardi Trophy. His position on a couch in his office was not intentional. It was just perfectly ironic.

Only four coaches have won more regular-season NFL games than Schottenheimer's 200. Only two have been to the playoffs more often than his 13 appearances.

Conversely, no coach has won more games yet never been to a Super Bowl.

Schottenheimer headed a turnaround of the Cleveland Browns in the 1980s, taking them to the playoffs in each of his six full seasons as head coach there, including two AFC Championship Games. He engineered a 180-degree turn in Kansas City, where the Chiefs were 18-28-1 in the three seasons before his arrival and 29-18 in his first three seasons there, and the Chiefs went to the playoffs six straight years under his direction. He turned the Chargers into winners three seasons into his tenure, as they were 12-4 and ended an eight-season playoff drought in 2004.

But he has lost five straight playoff games, including twice with the AFC's top seed in Kansas City. Eight times his team has lost its opening playoff game.

As another postseason commences, Schottenheimer's abysmal playoff record has been brought up here, there and everywhere. His mere presence on the sideline is seen by many as the biggest detriment to the top seed in the AFC.

An example from The Washington Post: “They are the league's least flawed team, with a dynamic defense and record-setting RB LaDainian Tomlinson as their offensive centerpiece. But young QB Philip Rivers has left Tomlinson to carry the offense all by himself too often lately and this is the time of the year when coach Marty Schottenheimer traditionally turns too conservative.”

Schottenheimer maintains he does not coach differently in the postseason. And a look at the playoff games in which he has coached, in an attempt to separate fact from fiction, yields no definitive trends that would either confirm or contradict the prevailing notion.

In his 12 losses, he has been the victim of a fair amount of misfortune, a few great performances by his opponents and, yes, a little bit of what could be considered sitting on a lead.

But the fact is, the Chargers have not shown any inkling of conservatism since the season's third game. It was then, worried about their rookie left tackle and first-year starting quarterback in a game at Baltimore, that the Chargers tried to protect a six-point lead by running on 12 of 13 third-quarter plays and continuing to try to milk the clock through the fourth quarter, only to lose 16-13.

There is some thought that that outcome might have been the best thing to happen to the Chargers. While Spanos maintains he did not give any ultimatums to Schottenheimer, the team owner did voice his displeasure in a meeting with the coach after that game, and the Chargers almost immediately opened up the offense.

“Were we too conservative? Maybe that's the case,” Schottenheimer said of that day in Baltimore. “But we live with it and move on.”

He can only hope they continue to move on.

01-11-2007, 02:05 PM
Schottenheimer's playoff history


January 11, 2007


Jan. 4, 1986
AFC divisional round

Miami 24, Cleveland 21: Browns relinquish 18-point third-quarter lead and lose on a Ron Davenport TD run with 1:57 remaining.

Jan. 3, 1987
AFC divisional round

Cleveland 23, Jets 20: Mark Moseley's 27-yard FG 2:02 into the second overtime ends the NFL's third-longest game. Browns came back from 20-10 fourth-quarter deficit.

Jan. 11, 1987
AFC championship

Denver 23, Cleveland 20: “The Drive.” John Elway completes 6-of-9 for 78 yards on a 15-play, 98-yard drive that results in tying touchdown with 37 seconds remaining in regulation. Rich Karlis' 33-yard field goal 5:38 into OT wins it.

Jan. 9, 1988

AFC divisional round

Cleveland 38, Indianapolis 21: Bernie Kosar throws three TD passes and the Browns pull away in the fourth quarter.

Jan. 17, 1988
AFC championship

Denver 38, Cleveland 33: “The Fumble.” The Browns score four touchdowns in the second half and are about to score the tying touchdown when Earnest Byner fumbles at the 3-yard line with 1:05 remaining.

Dec. 24, 1988
AFC wild card

Houston 24, Cleveland 23: An early turnover and another one late set up Houston scores, including a 49-yard field goal with 1:54 remaining that seals the victory.


Jan. 5, 1991
AFC wild card

Miami 17, Kansas City 16: Nick Lowery's 52-yard field goal try falls inches short with 56 seconds remaining. The Chiefs dominate but score just one touchdown and three field goals. A holding penalty nullifies a first-down run by Christian Okoye, setting up the long FG try.

Dec. 28, 1991
AFC wild card

Kansas City 10, L.A. Raiders 6 : The Chiefs benefit from six Raiders turnovers and never trail.

Jan. 5, 1992
AFC divisional round

Buffalo 37, Kansas City 14: The Bills lead 17-0 at halftime as Chiefs QB Steve DeBerg is knocked out in the second quarter with a hand injury.

Jan. 2, 1993
AFC wild card

Chargers 17, Kansas City 0: After sweeping the Chargers during the regular season, Kansas City turns the ball over three times and never scores.

Jan. 8, 1994
AFC wild card

Kansas City 27, Pittsburgh 24: Joe Montana's fourth-down pass from the 7 ties the game. Nick Lowery, after missing a 43-yard field goal with 13 seconds left in regulation, wins it with a 32-yarder 11:03 into overtime.

Jan. 16, 1994
AFC divisional round

Kansas City 28, Houston 20: The Chiefs outscore the Oilers 21-10 in a wild fourth quarter.

Jan. 23, 1994
AFC championship

Buffalo 30, Kansas City 13: Joe Montana has a pass intercepted near the end zone late in the first half and leaves the game with a concussion early in the second half. Thurman Thomas runs for 186 yards and three TDs.

Dec. 31, 1994
AFC wild card

Miami 27, Kansas City 17: The game is tied 17-17 at halftime. Two fourth-quarter turnovers in Miami territory, including an interception at the goal line, doom the Chiefs.

Jan. 7, 1996
AFC divisional round

Indianapolis 10, Kansas City 7 : The top-seeded Chiefs, who win 13 games during the regular season, turn the ball over four times and miss three field goal attempts (from 35, 39 and 42 yards). The Chiefs' only touchdown comes in the first quarter.

Jan 4, 1998
AFC divisional round

Denver 14, Kansas City 10: Terrell Davis scores twice, including early in the fourth quarter. The Chiefs, top seeds in the AFC again, miss a field goal in the second quarter and have to settle for a field goal after a questionable call in the end zone in the third quarter. A final pass from the 20 is batted down in the end zone.


Jan. 8, 2005
AFC wild card

New York Jets 20, Chargers 17: An Antonio Gates touchdown with 11 seconds remaining sends the game into overtime. Nate Kaeding's 40-yard FG attempt sails wide right to end the Chargers' second possession in overtime. The Jets win on Doug Brien's 28-yard FG 14:55 into the extra period. It's Schottenheimer's first loss in four career OT games.

01-11-2007, 02:07 PM
At times, play-calling shocks head coach

Schottenheimer gives coordinators free rein
By Jim Trotter

January 11, 2007

Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer thought he was used to the creative play-calling of his offensive coordinator, Cam Cameron.

But on this particular Sunday, with the Chargers seeking to double their 7-0 lead from the Denver 4-yard line, Schottenheimer couldn't help arching his eyebrows in bewilderment when the call was forwarded from the sideline.

“Bummaruski!” Cameron barked into the microphone on his headset, identifying a trick play that called for quarterback Philip Rivers to take the snap from a condensed shotgun formation and slip the ball between the legs of upback Lorenzo Neal, who would count “one-Mississippi” before running left, away from Rivers and halfback LaDainian Tomlinson.

“We've got to be out of our minds,” Schottenheimer says he thought to himself.

Rivers took the snap, Neal took the handoff and the Chargers took control of the game with a touchdown. As the cannon boomed and the crowd roared, Schottenheimer walked up to Cameron and said, “Great call.”

Then he turned and walked in the opposite direction, smiling and shaking his head while saying to no one in particular: “He's (expletive) crazy.”

There was a time Schottenheimer would have made like Al Lunginbill and taken trickery out of football, particularly on the doorstep of the end zone. His approach to offensive football was viewed as being straight out of a red state.

But at an age when most people are set in their ways, Schottenheimer, 63, continues to show he's open to change. Over the past few years, he has reduced the amount of hitting in practice, allowed players to suit up on Sundays even if they didn't participate in workouts during the week and delegated greater authority to his assistants and coordinators.

The irony, of course, is that the man who pretty much had a firm grasp on everything associated with his teams for much of his career now ostensibly is putting his future with the Chargers in the hands of his coordinators, who again will have virtual autonomy Sunday when the New England Patriots come to Qualcomm Stadium for a second-round playoff game.

Though team President Dean Spanos has insinuated that Schottenheimer needs to go deep in the playoffs to keep his job, the head coach said he'll do what he has done all season, namely allow his coordinators to do what they do – Cameron on offense, Wade Phillips on defense.

“I'll tell you, as I have gone on further in my career, I have deferred more to the coordinators,” Schottenheimer said. “When I was in Kansas City, I remember when we hired Bill (Cowher, as defensive coordinator in 1989). I did so even though he had no experience because I could kind of work alongside him and help him out. I was more involved then. It's just like your quarterback; you put him in a position and you wait to see him have more success, and the more success he has, the more latitude he's given and the more freedom he's given to go do spontaneous things. And that is the best way for the thing to function.

“But there's so much that goes on now that the head coach, in my opinion, really is better served going back to what Bill Arnsparger told me back in 1975. He said: 'The guy calling the plays has a plan, and what he calls on one play could influence what he's trying to do later in the game.'

“This is Cam's system and Wade's system. They're the guys that have to do it on a play-by-play, day-by-day basis. The role that I fulfill here is very simple: I entrust the installation and implementation of what we're doing, in every phase, to the coordinators. Even to (special teams coach Steve) Crosby, in that regard. I oversee it, but I'm not in the middle of it, making mandates about this, that or the other thing, because you hire a group of guys to do a job and then you let them do their job.”

That's not to say that Schottenheimer isn't involved. Most Tuesdays, when the defensive staff meets to discuss the game plan for that week's opponent, he sits in as Phillips and his staff bounce thoughts and ideas off each other on how to attack the opposition. Later, he meets with Cameron to discuss the same thing. In both instances, he'll ask questions or offer suggestions, but he says neither coordinator is bound by his recommendations.

On Sundays, Schottenheimer believes his role is to manage the game, whether that entails clock management, use of timeouts or replay challenges. He wears a headset to monitor what is being called, but it's not uncommon to find him talking to an individual player, a group of players, the medical staff, his assistants or the officials. He said he rarely gets involved with specific play calls, choosing instead to focus on the big picture, such as telling Cameron to kill the clock at the end of the first half in Baltimore, and advising Phillips to empty his playbook if the Cardinals got within a touchdown in the fourth quarter of the regular-season finale.

“When you've got two guys as good as these two guys, you know – you spend time with them during the week in the preparation – but you try not to interfere,” Schottenheimer said. “Bill Arnsparger was right, and I learned it as I went through my career as a signal-caller. When you make a call, that call may not have been designed just for that play, but also for what you're doing within the framework of what your pattern is. It might be to set up something later.

“Those guys know what that is. Now, if something goes awry, then I'm going to Wade or I'm asking Cam: What was that? Or, like on the play with Lorenzo, I walked up to Cam and said, 'Great call.' ”

Cameron and Phillips could not be interviewed for this story, as Schottenheimer restricts his assistant coaches from talking to the media.

The time demands on head coaches are so much greater now than when Schottenheimer got his first head coaching job in 1984 in Cleveland that coaches are almost forced to delegate. It's good on the one hand, because it frees up the head coach for media, community and administrative things that are required, but it pains people such as Schottenheimer because it translates into less time teaching.

One of the big days for Schottenheimer is Wednesday morning, when he meets with the players after their day off. He has to come up with a theme, a message, that sets the tone for the week and how the Chargers are going to go about winning. Sometimes it's not enough to talk about turnover differential and stopping the run. He has to grab the players' attention.

“The thing that Marty does – and I think he does a great job of it – he paints the picture during the week, what the objectives are,” said Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, who spent four seasons on his father's San Diego staff. “His other big thing is managing games on Sunday and motivating the team. He's terrific with that. I think all players who've played for him would say that. He's passionate with his energy that he brings to the game on Sunday.

“He can focus on those things because he has great confidence in Cam and Wade. He says, 'They don't always have to listen to me, but I'm going to give my input.' He's done it long enough that he doesn't have to have all the authority. He just wants to win, and not just for himself. I know he loves his team, loves the players and the men that are around him, and he'd like for all of them to have success. He wants the team and the organization to have that, to experience that.”

By giving, he hopes everyone can receive. By loosening his grip, he hopes the Chargers will one day have a firm hold on the Lombardi Trophy.

01-11-2007, 02:45 PM
when you look at all those playoff losses you wonder how someone doesn't question their abilities as a HC despite the regular season wins.

For Marty's sanity I hope he fares better this year.

01-11-2007, 02:55 PM
Marty needs to choke again even with Great LT :rolleyes:

01-11-2007, 08:16 PM
Marty needs to choke again even with Great LT :rolleyes:This year, he may not choke as much as he will just get beat.

01-11-2007, 08:25 PM
I hope, no actually will pray that Marty chokes on this playoff season.

Was there ever a waste of such good teams but by one mans stubborn act.

I love the fact AJ Smith has his foot on Martys nuts and so ready to kick those ****ers into overdrive..

Happy trails Marty, I hope you never win another playoff game ever agian.. You will always be a loser in my book..

By the way take that Monkey Herm with you, he can be your mini me!

Skip Towne
01-11-2007, 08:46 PM
Marty is still evolving. He is a work in progress. I have noticed it and commented on it in this forum. I am grateful to him for leading us out of the darkness. Marty is a great guy with or without playoff wins. I'm all for him.

01-12-2007, 11:21 AM
From an outsiders perspective (I didn't become a hardcore KC fan until D.V.), I don't ever recall fearing Marty's K.C. teams that much in the AFC playoffs. Good defense and great home field but always seemed like they were all jimmyrigged on offense with a bunch of overachievers trying to produce. Kind've like Chicago in the NFC now..I'm not a chicago fan but they should be the NFC favorites...they won a lot of regular season games but I won't be surprised if and when they get beat here in the next 2 weeks. That's kind've how I always felt about Marty's KC teams. I always thought they played over their heads in the regular season so all the playoff losses were just an expression of their "true" talent level.

I also won't be surprised when Marty's current San Diego football team gets beat here in the next 2 weeks. No fault to him, but again that offense has played over their heads the entire year when they (Phillip Rivers in particular), are not that good (actually I think Rivers sucks), and that'll become apparent sooner or later.

Skip Towne
01-12-2007, 11:25 AM
From an outsiders perspective (I didn't become a hardcore KC fan until D.V.), I don't ever recall fearing Marty's K.C. teams that much in the AFC playoffs. Good defense and great home field but always seemed like they were all jimmyrigged on offense with a bunch of overachievers trying to produce. Kind've like Chicago in the NFC now..I'm not a chicago fan but they should be the NFC favorites...they won a lot of regular season games but I won't be surprised if and when they get beat here in the next 2 weeks. That's kind've how I always felt about Marty's KC teams. I always thought they played over their heads in the regular season so all the playoff losses were just an expression of their "true" talent level.
They played over their heads for 10 years? Yeah, right.