Different Points of View

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

The Winning Gene: An NFL Opinion Piece

The Winning Gene
by A Football Ignoramus

Okay, let me preface this whole editorial by saying I know far less about football than most aficionados. But, I have the temerity to think that I have a bit of common sense, hence the bravado in penning this piece.

It has been a good season full of revelations and disappointments, prima donnas to poseurs. Rather than recyclewhat has been said already, here are a few not so common points to ponder.
Here's my easy-to-say-not-so-easy-to-do formula: Pick guys with enough talent. (not superstars, but if you get onegreat). Pick guys who will buy into your system. Pick guys who will listen to you. (hint: avoid big egos) Pick guys who will play each other and for the team concept. Boost their confidence, reinforce football basics and values, remind them of their strengths and and let them play within themselves and have fun. Imbue your team with that in every sinew and you've got the Winning Gene.

OK? Now let's take a trip around the league.

Parcells. Shut up about getting him to start Drew Henson. Is it offense the reason they're losing. Hell no! There'sno D in Dallas, the Cowboys this time. (the Mavs look way better than last year!) Aikman looks like he has an axeto grind with Henson. And other than Big Ben, all other rookies and first year QB's have stunk it up royally. Bill,please see what you can do to set the Dallas D right again?! Please??

Joe Gibbs. Wow. Another legendary figure come back to revisit the good ole days? Uhh.. not so much. This is more likeJordan in Washington than Jordan part deux with the Bulls. With a fat almost Yankee like payroll by offseason shopper Dan the-wealthy-man Snyder, the 'Skins prove yet again that spotting talent and building team chemistry are really what people should pay money for. The overpaid running back (and corner, excuse me Champ) didn't exactly put the team on his *cough* back and take them to a winning season.

That is why I think Bill Belichick is great at spotting, developing and motivating talent. I mean, come on.. how many people have heard of Givens, Branch, Brown, Patten, etc. etc. Not to speak of nonsuperstars Kevin Faulk andAntowain Smith. The have a killer D, no doubt.. but these average bunch of guys on offense have been no less clutch!They are about as talented as James Thrash, Todd Pinkston and Freddie Mitchell and the Philly RBC (running backcommittee) of a year ago. Yet, the Iggles couldn't break through, and the Pats have got two in three years.

Are you paying attention, coaches around the league? Its not boot-camp-Coughlin-style, nor is it loving-discipline-Gibbs-style, but just figuring out what makes your players tick and working it to results. Yea, youhave to have a base level of talent, but then you have to go Phil Jackson zen master on 'em if you want results. A bitof Parcells-ian fear wouldn't hurt either.

John Fox is another coach that gets it. Although the D has tailed off a bit (injuries and spending way too much time on the field have something to do with it.) Yes, Davis is a good back but I kinda figure he's got Eddie George disease whichisn't going to get any better. One thing keeping him running hard is Foster breathing down his neck... And I've always thought the world of Jake Delhomme. Yea he throws 1 or 2 interceptions, but then he throws 2 or 3 TDs a game. I'll take that, and he's only bound to get more efficient when the running game comes back.

Another Common Mistake: If your QB's nerve or arm becomes dodgy (that's shaky and unsure for those of you that don't knowBrit), you immediately pull it back? You have *got* to work thru nerves and strike a rhythm with your wide receivers. Anew veteran QB should get some of the same leeway that a rookie would. Hey, he's new here! But, if you keep pulling backyour plays and let your trust in your QB (read => his confidence) deteriorate, then you end up with a Drew Bledsoe. GodAlmighty, what a waste. Defense alone gets you only so far, not even Belichick can win with only defense. (Don't bringup Baltimore, they're probably closest to disproving the rule?
And, if you're blessed with a genuine superstar like Manning or Culpepper, make sure your defense is clutch. Hey, its notthat expensive to build a good defense. Just look around the league! Teams like Philly and Tampa are allowed to absolvethemselves by taking back players like Jeremiah Trotter, Hugh Douglas and the latest mea-culpa-in-public the Dexter Jackson signing.

I buy into John Van Gundy's philosophy: Most of the time, the key thing that separates winners from losers are "their habits". How you prepare (mentally and physically), how you build confidence in yourself by delivering on your promisesto yourself. How you play within yourself and play as a team... yeah... cliches, but none more true.

There are a few mysteries, however. If Belichick can coach an average team to a championship, why can't his guru Parcells?He did it last year, to a degree.. and isn't Parcells Year 2 with a team usually improve over the first one? Maybe he alienated more people than he knew by tossing Q (Quincy Carter) like a used dish rag. Maybe the Parcellsian ego blockedit out.

Michael Vick. I gotta say it: Until he shows me he feels comfortable throwing first, I'm not buyin. One or two throwsa game almost exclusively to Alge Crumpler don't make him a great QB. Tom Jackson can continue to drool over Vick. I, personally, don't like a team with three running backs and no QB. Mora is being as sensitive as he can to shield Vick from all the scrutiny, but hey.. you either got football IQ.. or you don't. You know which way I'm leaning about Vick.

Terrell. Talkin the smack and backin it up. Boy Nicolette Sheridan must've felt nice. The perks of being a prima donna. Ishe crazy? Or crazy like a fox? You decide. Just wait for the offseason ad deals. I see many T.O. shoes.. and you'll even be able to buy them at TerrellOwens.com.

Peace out.


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