Control Your APE

Reader Kayla in Colorado writes,

Enjoyed your take on Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll last year.  Would love your read on this year’s Super Bowl vis a vis coaches (Kubiak vs. Rivera)

Thanks for writing Kayla!  As should be noted, I don’t know much about football but I’m interested in coaches and coaching philosophies.  So let’s take a look at Super Bowl Fifty: The Coaches.

In this year’s Super Bowl L, we have Ron Rivera of the Carolina Panthers:

Ron Rivera

Photo Credit: Reginald RogersParaglide Carolina Panther head coach Ron Rivera, left, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and former Carolina Panthers player Mike Rucker sign autographs and photos for Soldiers at the 1st Brigade Combat Team dining facility Friday during their visit to the post.

against the Broncos’ Gary Kubiak:

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 29: Denver Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak wasn't happy when the team had to call a timeout on defense in the second quarter of the preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Thursday, September 3, 2015. (Photo by Steve Nehf/The Denver Post)

DENVER, CO – AUGUST 29: Denver Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak wasn’t happy when the team had to call a timeout on defense in the second quarter of the preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Thursday, September 3, 2015. (Photo by Steve Nehf/The Denver Post)

Neither of them has written a book, nor have their personal philosophies been as parsed and examined as those of Belichick and Carroll.  Still, from what we have available let’s take a look.

Ron Rivera was born on Fort Ord, right here in California, and he went to Seaside High in Monterey.

Fort Ord

Fort Ord

Fort Ord

His dad was a Puerto Rican born Army officer and his mom is Mexican.  He’s not the first Hispanic head coach in the Super Bowl, though – that honor goes to Tom Flores of the Raiders:

Every week during team meetings, the 56-year-old Rivera chooses one pivotal play from the previous week’s game and plays the Spanish broadcast version for his players. Most don’t have a clue what the broadcasters are screaming about, but they holler in delight upon hearing the call.

So says this article in Citizen-Times.  Everyone seems to agree Rivera is a decent, focused dude.

“On one side I’m getting a strong and deep sense of family, tradition and culture,” he says. “On the other side I’m getting this discipline and pride that you get growing up and living on Army bases.”

He won a Super Bowl himself with the ’85 Bears, a game I myself watched with disappointment during, if I remember right, a snowstorm.

He could’ve been in the famous “Super Bowl Shuffle” video but missed his chance:

Rivera could have been a part of the video, and gone down in music video (and YouTube) history, but he chose to sleep in instead.
“Half the team showed up for it,” Rivera said. “Half stayed home and slept because it was a Monday night game. We didn’t get home until 4:30-5 o’clock in the morning.”
So says Fox 46 in Charlotte.  Here’s the closest thing I can find to a coaching philosophy for Rivera, from this article on Fox News Latino:
Pulling up his weekly presentations to the team, Rivera showed me how every one of them starts with a slide that says “Control Your A.P.E – Attitude, Preparation, Effort.” This emphasis on self-empowerment and responsibility has created a team culture of positive attitude, intense preparation and maximum effort.

On to Denver:

Gary Kubiak:

Amazingly, Gary Kubiak seems even less interesting.  He once had a Transient Ischemic Attack on the field during a game:
It’s only his first year as Broncos head coach — the last time he was head coach, of the Texans in 2013, he was fired in mid-season.
Maybe the most interesting angle to look at Gary Kubiak psychologically is that for most of his career, he was John Elway’s backup:
Gary Kub with Elway

Photo by Eric Lars Bakke, AP

That’s the perspective behind this article, “Gary Kubiak and the Tao Of the Backup Quarterback” by Footbyballs over on SI’s The Cauldron.

As a backup Kubiak was on the sidelines for three Super Bowl losses.  (He also won three as an assistant coach for the Broncos and 49ers).  Elway as GM/EVP of the Broncos is still Kubiak’s boss.

Says Footyballs:

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Gary Kubiak is a Broncos’ franchise cornerstone. He played out his quarterback career. He did his job, stayed ready, and waited. Now, it’s his team to lead. The Broncos are doing just fine with the professional backup in charge, uneven seas and all. Maybe he’ll have a third career, as a writer, in which he gathers all his accumulated wisdom into a book of sorts. He could call it “Precepts of the Tao of the Backup Quarterback.”

I would definitely read that.

The more dynamic coach on the Broncos might be defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, himself a former head coach


and the son of NFL coach Bum Phillips:

Bud Phillips

can’t find source

whose Quotes section on his wiki page is worth a look:

  • (20 years after playing Pittsburgh six times in two seasons) “Don’t take long to spend all the time you want in Pittsburgh.”[7]
  • (referring to Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula) “He can take his’n and beat your’n and take your’n and beat his’n.”[8] He also said the same line about Bear Bryant.[9]
  • (referring to Houston Oilers quarterback Warren Moon) “That boy could throw a football through a car wash and not get it wet.”
  • (when asked about Oilers RB Earl Campbell’s inability to finish a one-mile run in training camp) “When it’s first and a mile, I won’t give it to him.”
  • (when asked by Bob Costas why he took his wife on all of the Oilers’ road trips) “Because she’s too ugly to kiss goodbye.”[10]

Here’s a little trivia coworker Zack calls to my attention: who did both Ron Rivera and Gary Kubiak replace when they took over their current job?


NFL coaches play nice with 326th AS crew

John Fox

All things considered, this doesn’t seem like nearly the coaching duel of last year.

I give the psychological edge here to Rivera, and predict based on my patented Coaching Analysis System the Panthers will defeat the Broncos (and cover the six point spread).

As you can see here, my system has me at 1/3 total, but 1/1 on Super Bowls.

X factor: very possible the NFL rigs the game so Peyton wins.

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