This has been my contention for decades: The NFL head coach that decided to attach "coordinator'' to a single offensive coach and defensive coach was a genius.
It was a coach that saw a future, when there would be postgame shows in the media on which members of the sporting public would be invited to call-in and air their grievances over shoddy wins and all losses.
This head coaching clairvoyant was able to anticipate that, after a disappointing offensive performance for their favorite team, the callers would say, "We have to fire that offensive coordinator, Jimbo Jones … this week!''
When it was defense that came up short, it would become, "We have to fire that defensive coordinator, Bloop Blooperson … he's terrible!''
And when the requiem was held at the end of a disappointing season, the head coach could place on the chopping block whatever coordinator the public had zeroed in as the most villainous, thus buying himself a couple more years.
It was in more recent times a lightbulb appeared above the cranium of another head coach (after a season of missed kicks and harmful returns by the opposition) and it read:
"Hey, those coordinator titles have worked great in handing off the blame for failed offense or defense. Why not a 'special teams coordinator' to blame when someone drops a punt?''
Thus, a third coordinator became a staple on NFL coaching staffs (and a share of big-time colleges), even though the chances of someone having expertise in both kicking and, say, catching punts is close to zero.
We will throw high schools out of the assessment, but it's possible there is not a head coach – from the NFL to junior colleges – worse in dealing with the vagaries of special teams than the Vikings' Mike Zimmer.
This is particularly true for placekickers. If a kicker has a track record of any type and begins to struggle, the probable cause is diminished confidence. Hang with 'em for a bit and the football figures to return fitting inside the uprights.
As Zim gets older and crankier (imagine that), his strategy has become that, if a kicker misses an extra point, he's going for two the next time, even when there's no mathematical logic for such a thing.
Quite the confidence booster, right there.
And that's with an NFL veteran. With a young kicker – even one on which the Vikings enthusiastically spent a fifth-round draft choice in 2018 – the plan appears to be to huff-and-puff until the football boss, Rick Spielman, agrees to get rid of him.
Among Zimmer's many impulsive acts, none is worse than the decision to demand cutting rookie Daniel Carlson (the aforementioned fifth-rounder) after his miserable second game of the 2018 season in Green Bay.
What I'd forgotten is that Carlson had debuted in an exhibition game that August with a booming 57-yard field goal, another field goal and four extra points.
He had a couple of misses later in the preseason. He made his only field goal in the season opener, went 0 for 3 on field goals in the 29-29 tie in Lambeau and boom … gone.
How did Spielman turn into such a jellyfish after that disappointing loss to cave in to Zimmer's pouting after two games?
Carlson was released on Sept. 17, the day after missing two overtime kicks in Green Bay. He signed with Oakland on Oct. 23. He went 4 for 4 on field goals in his Raiders debut.
He was 16 for 17 on field goals and 18 for 18 on extra points in 10 games as Oakland's kicker.
This season, the Raiders' first in Las Vegas, he was 33 for 35 on field goals, 45 for 47 on extra points and finished in a three-way tie as the NFL's leading scorer with 144 points. That also surpassed the Raiders' record of 142 held by the kicking legend Sebastian Janikowski.
Since joining with the Raiders, Carlson is 68 for 78 on field goals and 97 of 101 on extra points.
Dan Bailey did well as Carlson's replacement until the later stages of this season. At the height of the struggle, Zimmer pulled his favorite – "a pox on you, I'm going for two'' – which has never solved anything in the mind of a messed-up kicker.
On Monday, Zimmer went in another direction. In the season of Bailey's misses, a few dropped punts and Cordarrelle Patterson's touchdown return for the Bears in Soldier Field (followed by a Zim sideline meltdown), he fired Marwan Maalouf as special teams "coordinator.''
Obviously, Marwan was not emphatic enough in telling rookie K.J. Osborn to stop bobbling punts, or Bailey to go back to making 90 percent of his kicks, or the Vikings to tackle old pal Patterson.
And, yes, out of the coordinator inventions by NFL head coaches, special teams is the greatest scam.