- DJ Gallo, ESPN.com
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It’s football coach interviewing season. Every team with a coaching vacancy wants to find the next coaching genius who will lead the team to championships as far as the eye can see.
Hard to do? Not at all. All of us who sit on our couches watching football every Sunday know the job is not difficult. It would be easy for teams to find a great coach if they asked these 50 simple questions of every candidate.
1. Are you willing to do what it takes to win now?
2. Can you promise that you won’t mortgage the long-term future of the organization by winning now?
3. Will you play an exciting, dynamic brand of football that will get our fans excited?
4. Will you focus on fundamentals and execution, knowing that winning above all else is the goal?
5. How do you intend to make all of your challenges successful?
6. Timeouts. Will you always have all of them available late in the game?
7. Will you take a hands-on approach with your offense and defense and special teams, knowing the buck ultimately stops with you, but not be so hands-on that you can be accused of meddling?
8. Will you always shake hands with the opposing coach after the game in a manner that in no way can be perceived as cocky, confrontational or weak?
9. Do you agree that statistical analysis is an invaluable tool in making decisions in modern football?
10. Are you going to coach like some sort of robot, or do you understand that the greatest coaches know when to play a hunch?
11. How is your system the best?
12. Are you married to any one system, or are you able to change your approach based on the personnel you have?
13. Are you loyal to your players?
14. Do you promise to not play favorites with players?
15. Do you have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to player misconduct off the field?
16. Do you understand that people make mistakes, and that sometimes all someone needs is a second chance, and that cutting a player over one – or even a few misdeeds – may not ultimately get him the help he needs, and also hurt the team’s on-field performance?
17. Do you understand that this is a business?
18. Do you understand that this is a game and sports are ultimately about fun and entertainment?
19. Will you be engaging with the media and fans?
20. Do you understand that your job is to prepare the team to win football games, not for you to market yourself, be a good interview or become famous?
21. Do you promise that all your decisions to go for it on fourth down will be successful?
22. When you have third-and-short, or fourth-and-short, or are right at the goal line, do you promise to just run it down their throats instead of messing around?
23. Will you perfectly employ unexpected passes, reverses and fakes occasionally in short-yardage situations instead of predictably slamming the ball into the line all the time?
24. If a specific play is working, do you promise to continue going to it?
25. Will you diversify your play calling so it doesn’t become predictable?
26. Will you work 100-hour weeks and sleep on the couch in your office if that is what is required to be a winner?
27. Will you be active and engaged with your family, knowing that’s what’s really important, and have a life outside of football so you are regularly refreshed to perform at your best as a coach?
28. Do you promise to avoid nepotism and not put anyone from your family on your staff?
29. Is this your dream job?
30. Do you have assistants lined up who are among the finest coaches in football, and will you empower them to succeed?
31. Will you have constant coaching staff turnover as your assistants interview for other jobs, or will you be able to engender loyalty and keep your staff in place?
32. Can you win without elite talent?
33. How much credit can a coach even take for a successful team that has elite talent?
34. Will you take care of yourself physically, understanding that you are the face of this organization and should teach your players about personal discipline?
35. Will you give everything you have to this job, even if doing so affects your health, hairline or waistline?
36. Do you promise to draft players who are proven commodities who performed on the field in college?
37. Do you promise to draft players who have upside and room to improve in the NFL?
38. Are you able to drown out the noise from local and national media and focus on the task at hand?
39. Can you take constructive criticism from the media and even fans and use it to make yourself and your team better?
40. Do you promise to have a ball-control offense that eats up the clock, dictates the flow of the game, keeps the other team off the field, and gives your defense time to rest?
41. Do you promise to have a quick-strike offense that will keep the opposing defense on its heels?
42. If you get the ball with just 30 seconds or so left in the half, do you promise to still try to put some points on the board?
43. If you get the ball with just 30 seconds or so left in the half, do you promise to just kneel down so you don’t risk a bad turnover?
44. Will you insist that your players perform their best in practice?
45. Do you understand that the best way to evaluate a player is how he performs in games?
46. Do you promise to have the toughest team in the NFL?
47. Do you promise to not have your players play when they could risk further injury?
48. Will you vow to always make sure your team is extra motivated and performs at its best for big games against rivals and playoff games?
49. Will you vow that your team never has letdown games or overlooks inferior opponents?
50. Do you think you are the best coach out there for this job and are you humble?