After two big wins this weekend, Pete Mackanin’s three-season record as Phillies manager stands at 127-177, a winning percentage of .418.
Brett Brown’s four-season record as Sixers head coach is 75-253, a winning percentage of .229.
Doug Pederson, after flirting with a rookie record for an Eagles coach, finished with a doubt-inducing 7-9 mark last season. Dave Hakstol’s two-year mark of 80-60 as Flyers head coach – with a playoff appearance – puts him at the head of the class.
Combined, the four head coaches still under employment in this town have a record of 289-499, a winning percentage of .367. And yet none of their jobs appear in jeopardy, and the outcry for such an action is muted at best.
This is unprecedented waters in this town, and probably most towns, especially when you factor in their consensus lack of any significant track record as head coaches at the professional level.
Mackanin had been an interim in two places before graduating from that status here, and Brown had coached professionally in Australia and had a surprising run at the London Olympics.
But given that three of our four teams are now owned principally by billionaires, it’s still a helluva leap of faith.
Especially when you consider that after that aggregate of games, after all the bad they have been force-fed, we still have little idea if they have the coaching chops their employers believe they have.
The revelations are coming though, some sooner than others. Brown would appear to be first up, assuming he is not dealt a slew of injury misfortunes such as those that have hounded any honest appraisal of his acumen over the last three seasons. One of these days, we hope, Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Dario Saric will all suit up for the same game, joined by whoever their latest top-3 pick is, maybe even bolstered by those key free agents for whom all this cap space was to allow.
For me, Brown provided a glimpse of what he could do with an actual NBA team during the Sixers' brief post-holiday spurt last season, when Embiid electrified the Wells Fargo Center – with some help from Saric – in a way it had not been electrified since the days of Allen Iverson. (Three years after Sam Hinkie drafted him, Embiid has every right to call himself The Process. Those spindly legs of his, in a very large way, still hold the weight of its wisdom.)
Pederson, on the other hand, created more doubt as his rookie year progressed. Sure, Lane Johnson’s PED suspension crushed, and his rookie quarterback wasn’t helped much by an inherited corps of receivers who didn’t run very fast or precise routes, and didn’t catch so well, either. But the suspect thinking that haunted his last game as an offensive coordinator in Kansas City – running the clock out on himself – cropped up in several close losses and were eerily reminiscent of the flaws that have impeded the success of his mentor, Andy Reid, both here and in Kansas City. In games decided by a touchdown or less last year, Pederson was 1-6, the lone win a meaningless late-season victory over the Giants.
Two seasons in, it’s hard to get a good or fair read on Hakstol. Hired to develop a playing culture, his team had absolutely no definable personality this past season. The Flyers were neither gritty nor prolific, and any resilience, so-called, came and went quickly. They entered this offseason with huge questions nearly everywhere, and it seems likely we will be speaking of him a year from now as we speak now of Brown: We won’t know a lot about whether he is right for the job until the team he was hired to coach arrives.
The question for Mackanin, of course, is whether he can make it that long. As recently as last weekend, after an awful and uninspired-looking May and before two hopeful victories over the Giants, general manager Matt Klentak again expressed his unabashed admiration for Mackanin’s managing, particularly as it pertained to handling players. But the trend runs hard in the other direction when it comes to rebuilding managers: They rarely, if ever, are there when the vision becomes a reality. Just ask Dale Sveum.
One thing in his favor: At least outwardly, Mackanin has yet to bristle over questions about his decisions. Thin skin will not be the reason he isn’t here when the corner is turned …
… Whenever that is.