I'm all about accountability. I think that when people screw up, they should be called to the table to answer for their mistakes.
However, after reviewing whatever I could find on Saturday's loss, I must say I'm disappointed a little in this coaching staff's (and worse, this fan base's) failure to show any kind of loyalty to the players that lay their bodies on the line every week for this program.
I understand pulling Clausen late in a blow-out to give the backup some meaningful reps. I'm willing to give the coaches the benefit of the doubt on that one.
But the rest of the substitutions and changes throughout the Michigan screams to me of a coaching staff who is struggling with player development and identification of player's core competencies. Weis talks all the time in his press conferences about trusting what he sees on tape, but then he trots out 18,000 different offensive linemen on Saturday, shuffling them from position to position willy-nilly. We can't seem to give any one running back more than 2 carries in a row. We play six corners with seemingly no regard for who earned a starting position in training camp. We punish players for mistakes by yanking them in favor of someone else after penalties or mistakes. And we don't have any clear depth chart at receiver.
This team looks like the Keystone Cops because nobody knows who is going into battle with them on any given play.
I know that developing team chemistry takes time - time spent together. This is particularly true on the offensive line. And between a quarterback and his receivers. Running backs need to develop a feel for the game and where his holes and cut back lanes will develop. And corners need to get a feel for the tendencies of receivers they are covering.
In order for this team to make any progress, and to begin to win some games, Coach Weis needs to display some leaadership (and some of that accountability he speaks so much of) by naming a solid 2-deep depth chart, and then sticking to it, barring injury. This is a rebuilding season, and he needs to identify who his starters are, and then step up to the plate to protect them when they falter.
A former coach who shall remain nameless used to throw his players under the bus with the media, blaming their lack of production for his failures as a coach. But, he didn't yank players every time they screwed up. Weis does a decent job of protecting his players from media criticism, but he also needs to learn, especially this year, to forgive some mistakes.
This entire program feels to me like it is in full-on panic mode. Everyone inside the program seems to be running around like chickens with their heads cut off. And that all comes from the indecisiveness of the head coach.
I hope that at the end of this week, Coach Weis will make some tough decisions on who is going to play in the game, and give those players a chance to succeed. To develop chemistry.
I hope that Coach's return to training camp is the equivalent of hitting the reset button on this season. I hope that he gives ALL of the meaningful reps to his starting QB. I hope that he gives ALL of the meaningful reps to his starting running back. And I hope that he identifies his starters on the offensive line (as well as a set plan for subbing in backups) and then STICKS TO IT!!! He needs to find his starting corners and his nickel back and his dime back. And let them play their positions.
He needs to tell his players to listen to the advice of The Rock of WWE (WWF?) fame:
Know your role. And shut your mouth.
Demetrius Jones' defection this week was a clear signal to the public that despite Weis' maniacal control of media access to his program (which, by the way, I absolutely LOVE in our head football coach), there is dissent within the ranks. And the lines of communication from player to head football coach are not running at optimum levels. Any good football coach (with the weird and more than kind of creepy exception of Pete Carroll) scares the hell out of his players. Mine always did. I've known some of Holtz' former players, who have told me how much of a hardass he could be. And from all of Weis' quips in his press conferences, that is the type of coach he not just strives to be, but seemingly cherishes being.
So, he needs to be the decider. Decide who plays. Decide who doesn't. Tell everyone else it's his way or the highway. And then be accountable for it if he's wrong.
Because either he's a coach who understands how to identify and develop talent (which I still fervently believe), or he's a fraud who rode other people's coattails to the top. Either way, it's time for him to decide where he is going to lead his team, and then lead them there.
If I'm right about him, he'll lead us (sooner rather than later) to the promised land.
If I'm wrong, we will crash and burn in a most spectacular fashion, and be back to square one.
But if we stick with this wishy-washy mediocrity that has infected the program since the days of Davie, we'll continue to be what we have been for the past 20 years: an also-ran.
Decide. Implement. Accept the consequences.