Marty Mornhinweg

Is Marty Ball for Oakland?

By Scott Warfe

The Raiders, in a very un-Raider-like move, are conducting a diligent search for their next head coach. Among those rumored/confirmed to have interviewed for the position, Marty Mornhinweg is possibly the most intriguing candidate, if only for one reason: ESPN’s Seth Wickersham said so.

According to Wickersham, NFL teams and independent researchers have devised a quantifiable method for determining head coaching greatness. After reviewing the careers of 100 head coaches, these researchers found that great head coaches usually possessed at least one of the following four criteria:

1. Were between ages 41 and 49.

2. Had at least 11 years of NFL coaching experience.

3. Were assistants on teams that won at least 50 games over a five-year span.

4. Had only one previous NFL head-coaching gig.

After crunching the numbers, Wickersham came back with the next great head coach. This is where Mornhinweg comes in. As it were, Mornhinweg is 49 years old, which would make him the youngest head coach in the AFC West, and yet more mature head coach than his predecessors. Plus, not only has he been an NFL assistant for 14 seasons, but he’s also been an assistant for some outstanding teams, including the 1996 Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers. And, to complete the Holy Quaternity, Mornhinweg was indeed the head coach of the Detroit Lions from 2001-2002.

And, there in lies the rub. While Wickersham asserts that “A coach in his 40s with more than a decade of NFL experience has the ideal mix of managerial competence and personal confidence to lead a team,” it would not appear as though Mornhinweg possess the requisite “managerial competence.” The decision to defer in overtime notwithstanding, Mornhinweg ineptitude rivals that of an Uncle Eddy or a Lloyd Christmas. Mornhinweg, in his two years as head coach, never won a road game; he only beat one team with a winning record (9-7, 2002 Saints); he is tied with Chris Palmer for the lowest win percentage (.156) of a coach with at least 32 games.

Still, in an even bigger gaffe, during a 2007 interview, Mornhinweg had this to say about this infamous overtime deferment:

“The people who were there and know all the information … know that it was the right call,” Mornhinweg said. “It was the right call then, it’s the right call now, and it’s the right call 10 years from now.”

Mornhinweg’s obstinacy borders on hubris, and is not the least bit near what one would expect to hear from a head coach. It cannot be the “right call,” if it was the wrong call (I’m defining a wrong call as any decision that costs the team a victory). Such arrogance evokes visions of Hue, which I realize might excite some Raiders fans.

Ultimately, Marty Mornhinweg’s failure as a head coach is too disquieting, especially when considering his history with inexperienced general managers. Granted, he owes a portion failing in Detroit to Matt Millen, but still, the risk would be too great for Oakland. After all, there might be a better Marty available.

Head over to to read Part 2, where Scott explains why a different Marty may be a better choice than Mr. Mornhinweg.

In addition to blogging on, Scott’s writing has been featured on,, and Follow him on Twitter @ScottWarfe.

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