Thursday, January 22, 2009

Trgovac gone; what next??

Judging from the immediate online reaction to Mike Trgovac not returning in 2009 as Carolina's defensive coordinator, you would have thought the Carolina Panthers had just won that playoff game against Arizona.

Fans put such stock in coordinators -- too much stock, really. Coordinators are relatively important, but nowhere near as important as head coaches. I've written this many times before -- coordinators do basically what the boss tells them to do.

So Trgovac only blitzed 15 percent of the time on Arizona first-half pass plays in the Cardinals' 33-13 playoff win? I blame that on Trgovac and head coach John Fox in roughly equal doses.

Many Panther fans wanted to get rid of the "conservative" Dan Henning for years. Finally, Henning and Fox parted ways. Henning was the offensive coordinator at Miami this season, part of a Dolphins team that went from 1-15 to 11-5. He was lauded for his inventiveness and for taking the "Wildcat formation" further than anyone had in a long time. You know why? He had more freedom in Miami than he did here.

Players are so much more important than coordinators. Jeff Davidson's second season as Carolina's offensive coordinator worked out a lot better than his first. You know the two main reasons why? Jake Delhomme was healthy and DeAngelo Williams replaced DeShaun Foster as the lead running back.

Whoever gets the new coordinator job will undoubtedly blitz more, but it's not going to matter unless the blitzers can actually get there. The best schemes in the world can be undone by poor players messing up, and the worst ones can be fixed by great players.

So while this hire is important for Carolina -- and the Panthers' defense certainly needs a major reshuffling -- it's not as important as who the team gets to replace Julius Peppers (I think he's gone) and Ken Lucas (I think he is, too -- a salary-cap casualty), and about 4-5 other defensive-oriented personnel decisions that will be made in the next several months.

But hey, Panther fans, if you want to celebrate Trgovac's departure, go ahead. I know it's been a bad couple of weeks.


Anonymous said...

Here's the problem with Trgovac.. look at the last 7 games of the season.. Statistically, we would have finished 30th overall in Total Defense had only those games counted. The two DT's miss two games and the rest of the defense not missing any... Are you suppose to not gel and continue to grow together on defense?

Our defense played worse and worse the longer the year wore on. 8 of Peppers 14 1/2 sacks came against KC, Oakland, Green Bay and Detriot. Not exactly powerhouse offenses. He disappeared when it matter most as always.

Yes, it might seem that we are ticked simply because of the Cardinals loss in the playoffs, but I've disliked Trgovac for going on close to 3 years now. When you (Fox) hang your hat on defense and for the second straight year in a row finish below average on defense, there has to be changes.

4 of the games we won were absolute miracles by the offense. Chicago, Green Bay, New Orleans, and San Diego.
Detroit 22
ATL 45 pts
GB 31
TB 23
Denver 10
NY Giants 34
NO 31

That's 28 pts per game given up by the defense. Explain to me how someone shouldn't lose their job.
I have watched the Panthers defense taper off from being 2002 (Del Rio's only year) 2nd, (2003 SB)8th, 20th, 3rd (2005),(2006)8th, 16th, and 2008 18th.. it's pretty easy to see why the Panthers didn't go any further. This defense isn't that good..Lax coverage from the DB's constantly, No real pressure outside Peppers.

Drew Ross said...

You're missing the point, Scott. We didn't have a problem with the defensive philosophy. It was the play-calling and timing of those plays. Look at Fox's other DC during his tenure: Jack Del Rio. He was a master at disquising when we would blitz. That lead to many more sacks, turnovers and 3 and outs. If I had a dime for every time that I told my TV the Panthers would blitz and where, I would have a new 60 inch Sony by now.
The second point has much to do with John Fox, but ultimately I think the DC is to blame and that is the intensity with which the players play, how well they are motivated and accept what you're doing. If you've never played football or served in the military, you wouldn't get this. But it fires the players up when you attack. When you devise a great plan and ruthlessly execute it. Look at the games when the D played best, the games when the plan was obviously to attack. Even if you aren't blitzing, you let the other team know that you are going to crush them on every tackle. What I saw much more than that was a, "please don't go down there and score, we want to win." Del Rio motivated our players to the point that they made every tackle a train wreck for the ball carrier. To illustrate my point, who watched the game between the Ravens and the Titans in the Div play-off? OK, the real fans of football raised their hands. When that game ended, the Panthers and Cards came on. By the end of the first half, it seemed like a different league. The Ravens D and the Titans D were tackling like the other team had just raped and pillaged through their hometown. The Panthers were trying to grab the guy, then fall down, WEAK! That is part Fox, but mostly Trgo. Del Rio's play calling and intensity got players fired up and ultimately meshed perfectly with Fox's laid back style. But two laid back guys (Fox and Trgo) don't really light the fires. So, for two reasons, blitz TIMING and ability to motivate his players I am glad to see Trgo...go. I only wish Jacksonville had fired Del Rio.

dogear said...

If Trgo is the anti-Del Rio, why was it widely reported that Jack was interested in hiring Mike as the Jags' defensive coordinator?


So tell me where Jimmy Johnson, Monte Kiffin, Dick Labeau, Rex Ryan, and Spagnola stand, are you saying that they made lettle difference. Sometimes you really show how little you know about football, if they serve no purpose whay are they there?


Dan henning please, he pulled a high school stunt and used an un orthodox formation. Lets see what he does in year 2.

Jim said...

Ok, now it's time to hire Sean McDermott as DC

Dave said...

I think it ought to be asked why the sudden mass of defections? Fox has been known for his loyalty to his coordinators and staff. But it seems everyone is bailing for different pastures. As far as I know only McCoy and Flajole are moving up to coordinator positions. Has something turned the coaches against Fox that we don't know about, are they getting muscled out from higher up in the organization (to perhaps win back Peppers), or is it truly about wanting change for themselves?

Kevin said...

Something about "rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic" comes to mind here...

Sure, the defensive staff are bailing because the writing is on the wall. No one wants to be hitched to Fox's wagon, it's much more sensible to leave now when you can plausibly pretend it's due to your own ambition, rather than wait until next year when Fox gets the axe and you're just so much unclaimed baggage.

I am glad to see Trgovac gone. The woeful defensive game plan in the Arizona game was by itself reason enough for someone to get fired, and let's be honest here Trgovac *was* fired, albeit in a roundabout way. The change in coordinators might not make a huge difference, since ultimately the buck stops with Fox, but it can only help.

CarPanFan1 said...

Do you think that the Position Coaches and Trgovac are leaving because of Fox? Give me a break.....

Sunseri (DL Coach) wanted to get back into college.

Flojack (LB Coach) D-Coordinator position

Lewis (secondary) Carolina passed me up as the Defensive Coordinator so I left.

Trgovac (DC) Carolina gave him a low ball contract that they knew he would not accept to get him out.

These fans do not understand that John Fox is one of the better head coaches in the NFL. We won the NFC South (toughest Division) and went 12-4. We lost the first game in the playoffs just like Tennessee and New York.

Firing Fox makes absolutely ZERO sense.

par said...

Trgovac should have been gone four years ago. How good is he! He has not receive a mention or interview for any head coaching job since the teams DC.

notspoiled said...

Does anyone think that the reason all these coaches and players are leaving could be the fan base is so fickle?Seriously im from Texas(in absoletly no way a cowboy fan)and even the Cowboys fans are more loyal and forgiving right now and they lost to the Eagles in an absolute whopping.Im so sick of the majority of the fans stomping their feet like Babies.Im not going to name the station but there was a"Peppers Sack count"segment that was constantly ripping on Peppers!I would want to walk too no doubt!Julius...we dont deserve you.Panther fans or so called fans...buck up you bunch wine and cheese fans!You all make me sick and Charlotte absoletly deserves to suffer some losing seasons to rid you but we all know you'll come crawling back when they start winning again.

daniel said...

What about Jon Gruden? He could be the man for the job.