There are all kinds of coaches, and all kinds of ways to coach. We’re certainly seeing that play out in Washington this fall.
There’s whatever is going on with the Redskins — but it’s time to take a booted foot off the neck of the Shanahans for a few days and let them work on their problems, which are legion with the 49ers (6-1) on the way to Washington.
There’s Randy Edsall at Maryland, whose weekly utterances bring joy to the hearts of local sportswriters, and puzzlement to just about everyone else. Who else would urge his listeners — i.e., the media — to get out to practice and see how hard the Terps are working, and in the next breath remind the media that they are barred from watching practice so they don’t give away any “secrets.”
(Note to Edsall: You’re 2-6. Who, exactly, is lining up for your secrets?)
Edsall also was happy a reporter brought up the number of freshmen playing on defense so he didn’t have to use it as an excuse, saying, “I wish you would write that, because if you write it and say it, then I can’t get blamed for it.”
He capped it off by calling on Maryland fans “to be out there all the time supporting” the Terps.
And then there’s Capitals Coach Bruce Boudreau, my personal favorite. It’s been clear since training camp that Boudreau has adopted a harder line this year with the team and especially with his stars. That was clear Tuesday night when he left Alex Ovechkin on the bench with 90 seconds remaining in regulation and the Caps trailing the Ducks, 4-3.
That’s a gutsy move, one we probably wouldn’t have seen last season. Whether or not Ovechkin was having an off night, he’s the engine that pulls the train, and he — and everyone else — assumes he’s going to be on the ice when the game is on the line.
Clearly, those days are over. If Boudreau feels his star is not at his best, he’s not going to play. Heck, he remained on the bench after the Caps pulled their goalie. The strategy worked — Nicklas Backstrom scored the tying goal — and Ovechkin was back on the ice for overtime. He deflected the puck off his skate to Backstrom, who also got the game-winner for his team-leading 14th point.
“I thought other guys were better than him, and I thought there was just a chance that other guys might score the goal,” Boudreau said of Ovi. “I’ve got to put out the guys that I think are going to score the goal, and 99 percent of the time Alex is the guy I think is going to score the goal. I just didn’t think Alex was going to score the goal at that time [Tuesday night]. You go with your gut feeling, thinking that line is going pretty good and I got lucky.”
Sure, Boudreau got lucky. What would coaching be without luck? But sometimes you make your own luck with bold decisions. This time it worked for Boudreau; it won’t every night.
Of course, Boudreau also has something Shanahan and Edsall don’t: a deep, talented roster. After the Redskins and Terps benched their quarterbacks, their fortunes waned further. When the Capitals sat down their star, they ended up pulling out an overtime win.
There are all kinds of coaches and all kinds of ways to coach. Every method requires the occasional bold decision. Those decisions can make good situations even better and bad situations even worse, as this fall in Washington has proven time and again.