To yell or not to yell in the NFL

Oct. 16, 2010 at 5:16 a.m.

By Jerry McDonald

The Oakland Tribune


Since when did the NFL become charm school?

There are plenty of reasons for the 49ers to be having second thoughts about the Mike Singletary regime, but verbally chastising quarterback Alex Smith for careless turnovers is well down the list.

"That's really not part of coaching . . . I worry about that. I see youth football and I see high school football coaches yelling at players and I cringe when I see it," former Raiders coach John Madden said this week on KCBS radio. "I think people get the picture that's what coaching is, and believe me, that's not what coaching is."

If memory serves, Madden idolized Vince Lombardi. Couldn't take his eyes off him in Super Bowl II as an assistant coach when the Raiders played the Packers.

The same Lombardi who defensive tackle Henry Jordan once said, "He treats us all the same - like dogs."

The same Lombardi whose practice and film critiques were often delivered at peak volume for proper effect.

Coincidence or not, Smith played much better after being challenged by Singletary.

It didn't seem to bother Madden when Jon Gruden got into it with his quarterbacks. Gruden had some epic battles with quarterbacks ranging from Rich Gannon to Donald Hollas.

Rest assured, Gruden's tongue-lashings were as intense as what Singletary inflicted on Smith.

I don't think NFL Films has anything in its archives of Bill Parcells saying to Phil Simms in his kindest voice, "Excuse me Phillip, but I trust you'll take better care of the ball next possession? Thank you for your time."

Not everyone is as emotionally in control as Tony Dungy. Yelling is a tool, a club in the coaching bag. Some use it more than others.

When Gruden wasn't yelling, he was cajoling and encouraging.

Singletary's problem is not that he yells on occasion. It's that he's 0-5.

Jumping to more Week 6 conclusions:

-Gruden's name should be at the top of Jed York's list when he decides to seriously shop for a new coach.

-Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is in better shape and saying all the right things. Even the team's conscience, Hines Ward, is aboard.

Ward got to the heart of the matter, however, when he told the Los Angeles Times, "Is it a front, is it a window? Time will tell."

Ward is keeping his fingers crossed. He has only 12 catches in four games, and the Steelers are ranked last in passing yards and attempts.

If Roethlisberger really is a changed man, we might have a clear-cut Super Bowl favorite.

-On Sunday we begin to find out of Randy Moss really was responsible for all those underneath routes that made New England wide receiver Wes Welker. If Welker still thrives with Deion Branch in the lineup, then Moss' impact was overstated.

On the flip side, if Moss indeed made Welker a threat, imagine what he's going to do for Percy Harvin on the Vikings.

-Being a productive receiver often has as much to do as being in the right situation with a compatible offense.

Remember Brandon Lloyd, the guy who caught 48 passes for 733 yards for the 49ers in 2005 but then bounced around from Washington to Chicago to Denver with little impact?

He has 30 catches for 589 yards. That's more than 1,800 yards during the course of a 16-game season.

-Willie Mays, Rick Barry and the Detroit Lions. If Detroit loses to the New York Giants on Sunday in The Meadowlands, it's No. 24. As in consecutive road defeats.

-Donovan McNabb can still go deep. The Washington Redskins lead the NFL in completions of 50 yards or more with five.

-Only two more shopping days for teams hoping to swing a deal for San Diego holdout Vincent Jackson.

There are indications Jackson might return to the Chargers so he doesn't lose an accredited season toward whatever free agency exists assuming there's a collective bargaining agreement in the NFL's future.

So it might be wise for the Chargers to get something for Jackson rather than have him be an unhappy camper for a team hoping to overcome a shaky start and assume its place atop the AFC West.

By the numbers: .690 - The winning percentage of Dallas quarterback Tony Romo on the road (20-9). Among Super Bowl-era quarterbacks, only Joe Montana (.753) is better.

Quotable: "I can relate to him. It's probably how he felt when his players let Darren Sproles return a punt and a kick for a touchdown here in a Sunday night game, or when Peyton (Manning) threw six interceptions against us," Chargers coach Norv Turner, responding to criticism from NBC analyst Tony Dungy after San Diego's loss to Oakland.

Game of the week: Baltimore at New England. Anyone notice the Patriots have come up short in their biggest games the last few years? They get a chance to reverse that trend against a team that manhandled them in the playoffs.

Game of the weak: Dallas at Minnesota. There will never be a better one than this - two would-be powers at a combined 2-6, hoping their play will even remotely approach their star power.


(c) 2010, The Oakland Tribune (Oakland, Calif.).

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