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NFL Head Coach (PC) artwork

NFL Head Coach (PC) review


"My first year coaching the Oakland Raiders was definitely a successful one. I crushed the teamís goal of finishing with an 8-8 record not only by going 11-5, but by making it to the wildcard and greatly improving the teamís running game (and placed fifth in the league in rushing yards). I donít know if I was due to my outstanding work ethics or my unmatched play-calling ability, but this success earned me several lucrative coaching offers from practically every team, as well as comparisons to th..."



My first year coaching the Oakland Raiders was definitely a successful one. I crushed the teamís goal of finishing with an 8-8 record not only by going 11-5, but by making it to the wildcard and greatly improving the teamís running game (and placed fifth in the league in rushing yards). I donít know if I was due to my outstanding work ethics or my unmatched play-calling ability, but this success earned me several lucrative coaching offers from practically every team, as well as comparisons to the greatest coaches in NFL history, such as Vince Lombardi and Don Shula. Someday I just might join them in the hall of fame.

Unfortunately I doubt I will ever see this day. This is simply because NFL Head Coach just isnít fun. It might have an interesting premise and be infinitely rewarding, but it is just too tedious to make me want to press on in my short NFL coaching career.

In the words of legendary coach Vince Lombardi: ďThe only place where success comes before work is the dictionary.Ē This applies perfectly to NFL Head Coach. It is possible to achieve an extremely high level of success (or become a total failure hoping to get a job), but the game will make you work for that. And boy, will you work.

The possibilities of where you can go are almost endless, but NFL Head Coach starts you off as your choice of either a young offensive or defensive coordinator on the Super Bowl XL champion Pittsburgh Steelers, who is hoping to land a job as a head coach. After speaking with scouts about your coaching philosophies and much more, you will receive e-mails from team owners who are interested in having you as their coach. If you want you can start off with the Steelers, or you can build up a team that had a rough year for a higher paycheck, such as the Houston Texans or Oakland Raiders (assuming that they are interested in hiring you). From there it is up to you to complete the managerís demands or else youíll be looking for a new job next spring. So if you pick the Steelers you better make it back to the playoffs, while going 8-8 should be enough to satisfy the Texans.

But youíre not just coaching on the sidelines in NFL Head Coach; youíre running the whole show. Youíre responsible for hiring coaches, conducting practices, signing/releasing players, as well as everything else that happens behind the scenes. Out of the almost twenty hours that I spent with the game, the vast majority of my time was spent in the office, not on the sidelines. While this might sound great in concept, especially to Madden franchise junkies like myself, in reality it is extremely boring.

The office hours, which are squeezed in between every single event, just arenít interesting. Besides reading e-mails and revamping your roster, there isnít a lot to do, and the constant office sessions are enough to drive almost anyone crazy. I have no problem with a little management, but in NFL Head Coach this is the focus of the game. On top of that you arenít able to skip or simulate anything. The best part about franchise modes in football games was the fact that you can do as much as you want and skip whatever you want. Here you can sim practices and a few other events, but donít expect your players to return from a simulated practice and perform any better on the field.

Coaching actual games is also a disappointment. Basically there are very few features, if any, that arenít included in modern football games, such as EAís Madden series. Substituting fatigued/injured players, calling plays, and challenging the refereeís calls might be fun, but recent Madden games offer all of this as well, plus the ability to play if you desire. The only difference is the ability to individually coach players on the sideline. This can be as simple as telling running backs to protect the ball (to avoid fumbles) or criticizing a quarterback for throwing an interception with the game on the line. This is the one thing the game has going for it. Some players might take the criticism to heart and take over the game, but others might not and turn out worse and not improve at all. As a coach itís your job to find out how your players respond to certain criticism and treat them accordingly. This is cool because your influence will ultimately impact the games.

But at the same time the poor AI sometimes makes you feel like a spectator. There were times when I would be playing an exhibition coaching game and witnessing NFL superstars such as Peyton Manning and Tom Brady throw three interceptions in a game and make the worst possible decisions that donít go with the intended play at all. In the matter of fact in career mode I even lost a game because my quarterback threw the ball a good five yards too short late in the fourth quarter (a pass that no NFL QB would throw), which resulted in an interception that was returned for a touchdown. The AI also has other problems, such as goofing up certain plays and making the occasional bad decision, such as throwing to a receiver heavily covered instead of the wide open one on the other side of the field. Ultimately the fate of any sports team lies in the hands of the players, but itís really disappointing to see your team make the dumbest mistakes while you helplessly watch.

Thereís also multiplayer included, but itís completely worthless. You can coach against other people over the Internet, but since you canít train your team in any ways matches are determined almost solely on the teamís overall rankings. The single player mode can almost last forever, but it just isnít something that casual fans will be able to endure. If the office hours and the AI were improved NFL Head Coach couldíve been a top tier sports management simulation. But because of its flaws weíre all better off going back to the annual franchise mode in Madden.

Rating: 4/10

Halon's avatar
Community review by Halon (July 22, 2006)

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