Al Davis

Mike Singletary mentions accountability, disperses blame

Mike Singletary landed on his feet pretty quickly, joining former teammate Leslie Frazier as a linebackers coach/assistant head coach for the Minnesota Vikings. Singletary announced his new gig yesterday on the Waddle & Silvy Show (Tom Waddle and Mike Silverman) on ESPN 1000 (Chicago). He also talked a little bit about the Green Bay/Chicago rivalry. But we don’t care about his new job, or what he thinks about some NFC Central/North rivalry, right? We care about how he did as coach of the San Francisco 49ers, and he definitely had a lot to say about that experience.

I couldn’t find the interview sufficiently quoted anywhere (if you’d like to listen for yourself, go to the 1 hour, 9 minute mark), so I transcribed it myself because I’m a glutton for punishment. I have no idea which guy is Waddle and which guy is Silvy (and after listening to clips of yesterday’s show more times than you’d ever want to know, I’m not about to spend any more time trying to figure it out … let’s just say Fitz and Brooks aren’t really all that terrible when compared with these two). But for the purpose of this, it’s about what Mike says. And for those used to hearing him doing radio interviews on KNBR, it’s surprising how much he had to say to these Chicagoland guys. And for someone transcribing his ramblings, it’s also surprising how many times Singletary pauses and says “um.” Luckily I’m in a good mood and I didn’t write out each “um.” Here’s the post Green Bay/Chicago rivalry portion of the interview in its entirety, along with Waddle & Silvy’s final analysis as well as my own thoughts interspersed throughout.

Waddle & Silvy: Obviously the San Francisco experience didn’t end the way you wanted it to, but overall, the opportunity and experience, was it a postive one for you?

Mike Singletary: Absolutely. Cannot be more thankful for the opportunity, and experience, I will definitely take it into my next endeavor.

W&S: Did you learn anything from the first time around, Mike?

MS: Oh yeah, there’s a lot to learn. A lot to learn about the head coach’s responsibility, the team, personnel, the structure, chemistry, all of those things, how many things have to be … right in order to get it right. It’s not just the head coach, it’s not just the personnel, it’s not just the players, it’s everybody. And everybody has to be aligned, and everybody has to be on the same page in order to get where you need to go.

Translation: it wasn’t my fault. I was on a sinking ship.

W&S: I don’t know if you saw this, Vernon Davis, while complimenting you, saying that he really took a lot out of the experience and became a Pro Bowler under you while you were head coach, claimed that other guys were scared when they played because they were worried about how you would react to their mistakes.

MS: Sometimes a kid, you’re saying something, and you have to, you have to really go to the bottom of it. When you talk about being scared, I think there are certain things in today’s world, when you talk to kids about accountability, when you go out there and play the game you have to prepare. We had a young team. And you have to be accountable and do your job and know that if you don’t do your job then somebody else has to go in there and do the job if you can’t do the job.

W&S: Mike, how different did you find it, going back to your days in the NFL environment and how guys handled themselves verses 2010, 2011, and how difficult is it to manage the modern professional athlete?

MS: I don’t think it’s difficult at all. I just think it’s one of those things where as a coach if you have certain things in place, then some of those things never come about. If you have a quarterback in place, if you have an experienced offensive line in place, if you have a defense that’s playing pretty decent, and you know, you have a GM in place. If you have a lot of those things in place and there’s only so much that you have to do as a head coach, you can focus on doing the job. But when some of those things are not in place, then it makes you have to take another step up, and make sure that when you have a young team, that has not won in a while, that you have to teach them how to win. And when they go out and play, it’s just a matter of understanding that you’re accountable for the mistakes that you make. You can’t just go out there and blow assignments and think that next week you’re going to be right back in there again. No, it’s not going to be that way. So for me, when Vernon is saying that, Vernon knows me well enough to know that — any of those players know me well enough to know that if you’re doing your job, you’re going to be just fine. But if you’re not, then that means that you’re not holding up your end of the deal.

Here Mike shows his true colors. Young kids (I know the 49ers were a fairly young team, but this is kind of insulting to the players he used to coach, no?) need to learn accountability. However, it was too hard to coach the team when you had to worry about the team’s deficiencies, such as below average quarterbacks, offensive linemen, defense and no GM. (Alex Smith, for all his faults, has to tire of being the whipping boy for every ex-49ers coach who gets fired midseason. And from the sounds of Davis’ presser yesterday, perhaps Alex will end up wearing silver and black one of these years.)

You have to admire the stones on this guy, who on one hand preaches (and I’m using that particular word on purpose) accountability and on the other blames everything around him for making it impossible to “focus on doing the job.” What exactly is the job, Michael? To call plays? You can’t do that. To install a gameplan? Ditto. Wait, the job of a head coach is to stand stoically on the sidelines when he isn’t busy yelling at his players or the officials. Okay.

W&S: What do you say Mike, to the critics though, who say that, “He was a Hall of Fame player, and a lot of times Hall of Fame players don’t relate to normal players when they’re coaching, because they don’t understand when a player doesn’t have the exact fire that you had or the exact skill that you had?”

This might be the most annoying cliche in professional sports, that great players don’t make great coaches because they expect the same production from their own players, that they don’t understand that the game doesn’t come as easily to most players as it did for them when they played. That’s why Magic Johnson couldn’t coach, or why Michael Jordan wouldn’t want to coach, why Joe Montana never decided to coach…

No. The reason why Hall of Fame players often fail as coaches is because they never would have received the opportunity to coach a professional team if they weren’t such great players. Do you think if Singletary was only as good at middle linebacker as a guy like Jeff Ulbrich that he would have soared up the coaching ranks like he did, with no real evidence that he was even capable of being a head coach? A mediocre player (relatively speaking) must work infinitely harder and show tangible results on the field at every job in order to get promoted or even keep a job in coaching. Hall of Fame players keep getting chances because they command respect and attention. That’s why so many of them who have no business getting plum jobs keep getting hired again and again. Minnesota, if you hire Singletary as your head coach in 2013, don’t say we didn’t warn you.

MS: You can always expect that, having been a Hall of Fame player. But if that’s the case, when other coaches who I consider good coaches, whether it be Belichick, whether it be Pete Carroll, there are a number of coaches in the league that are good coaches and maybe Hall of Fame coaches that have been fired. And, it that’s the case, for me, I can sit back and go, (dismissive tone) “Well, I’m going to listen to my critics and say that I’m not going to be a good coach.” No, what I’m going to do is get right back to the drawing board, look at the things that I have to get better at, thank God for the experience that I had, that I love the 49ers, love the 49ers players and fans and organization, it just didn’t work out. So that’s on me to take a step back and be thankful. Not bitter, thankful for the opportunity and experience and just dive right into it and take it to the next level.

Here Singletary is in full “don’t forget about me” mode. What did he learn? He learned that he’s a great coach who just needs a better situation, and that he surely will get a chance to coach a team with a great QB, o-line, defense and GM one of these days. You know what he really wants to say is, “Jed York is a little punk. He’s a rat, he told Jason Cole from dad-gum Yahoo about every single thing that was happening around here, and Jim Harbaugh will rue the day he decided to join forces with him.”

W&S: With that said Mike, we appreciate your time. Before we let you go, what’s next in the immediate future, we read that you may end up with Les in Minnesota. Is that accurate?

MS: I will be in Minnesota with Les.

W&S: You will.

MS: Yes.

W&S: The linebackers coach?

MS: Linebackers coach, and assistant head coach.

W&S: Congratulations on the new gig, Mike, and thanks so much for your time today.

MS: Thank you.

W&S: There he is, Samurai Mike, Hall of Fame linebacker with the Bears and now, the linebackers coach assistant head coach with Leslie Frazier. Back in the NFC North, with the Minnesota Vikings.

W&S: What I took from the interview is kind of what the, certainly if Mike could go back in time he would tell you he would make some changes or do some things differently, but it wasn’t a real stable environment in San Francisco, top to bottom.

W&S: Yeah. That’s what he said. He mentioned the quarterback, mentioned the general manager situation.

W&S: I think Mike Lombardi would tell you that as well. Mike spoke with San Francisco about potentially being their general manager and if you remember going back to the off-season the existing general manager at the time left, I want to say right before the draft or right after the draft. It was an unstable environment. I think more than anything now, I think the best way to sum up the National Football League in terms of success or failure or whether or not a coach is going to keep his job or lose his job … it’s a quarterback league. And if you don’t have a quarterback you don’t have a chance. Now more than ever, because of all the rules slanted towards throwing the football and offensive scoring, if you don’t have stability at the quarterback position you are really fighting an uphill battle….

I think you get the point. Rule changes, cliche, stability, cliche, Mark Sanchez, cliche … really, I wish Singletary would choose a couple better sports talk radio hosts to open up to. But I digress…

Mike Singletary is an absolute fraud. Not as a player, and I’m sure he’s a good family man and blahblahblah. But as a coach, as an ex-player, he’s simply a smooth talker (one who says “um” a lot, but still) who is adept at blaming others while painting himself in a good light. Maybe Singletary’s next job won’t be in Minnesota, but with the Raiders. Singletary and Al Davis seem like they’re made for each other. If I’m Jed, I’m pretty tired of the two cryin’ Mikes, Singletary and Lombardi, popping off about the 49ers’ front office structure. If the 49ers start winning soon, I’m guessing Jed will have a few comments of his own for these two. Just probably not on Waddle & Silvy.

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