I admit, I don't have the years and years of experience The Rick or any of our coaches have at playing or coaching football. I played High School ball and a couple of years of Adult Flag Football. But, we won in High School and we won in Flag Football. And, I'm going to bring that little experience to bear upon our own Football woes.
Before I begin; I want to say one more thing. I love backgammon. I'm very good at backgammon. This is not boasting. I will play anyone, anytime, anywhere for money. I will bring some of this experience to bear as well.
Follow me after the jump.
In any competitive endeavor, it is important to get your opponent to adjust to your style of play. First person or team to get the other to adjust will more often than not win. That is pure basic sporting truth. For example, if a boxer is pounding away at his opponents rib cage; his opponent will eventually drop his guard to protect his ribs. When he does, he has opened himself up to a knockout blow to the head. In backgammon the first player to control the key 4-7 positions will win the vast majority of the time. Football is no different. We have all heard the saying, "using the run to set up the pass," or even "using the passing game to open up the running lanes." In our 3 games, our opponents have dictated the style of play, and we are 1-2 because of this. Even in the SJSU game, they dictated the style of play for 3 quarters and they were tied. We forced Coleman on them, and they were unable to adjust or cope. And that is why we won. The mystery is why we waited as long as we did to dictate terms. This in my opinion has been The Rick's greatest failure. You have heard it here, "He coaches not to lose, as opposed to coaching to win."
I want to borrow some wisdom from Vince Lombardi once more:
Winning is not a sometime thing; it's an all the time thing. You don't win once in a while; you don't do things right once in a while; you do them right all the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.
In approximately 2005 the Sony Pictures Studios established a Flag Football league for it's employees. a coworker created a team, recruited some athletes to go with our office workers and away we went. It was widely acknowledged that we had one of the best teams in the league based on roster alone. Then we went out and laid an egg and we were eliminated very early in competive play. The next year, we did some things differently. We got rid of all the egos. I was amazed by things people would say. And I'm talking regular joes. "I only play offense" or "as soon as you get me the rock, our problems are over." The next thing we did was simplify the playbook. We took out anything that wasn't effective and kept the stuff that got us yards consistently. It's not rocket science. Then, borrowing from the idea in the previous paragraph we designed one very simple play that could not be stopped. We put a receiver in motion opening up the right side of the field. When we hiked the ball, the QB took off running down the right side line. Our opponents HAD to keep a man on our WR. They were FORCED to open up the right side of the field. It wasn't long before our opponents adjusted to our style of play. The MLB cheated to the right side of the field to spy on the QB. And when he did, his man opened up behind him for an option pass play. In the first snap of the first game that year, Our QB took off down the sideline for a touchdown. In the first snap of the second game he did the same. By the third game word had leaked out and they spied the QB with their MLB. our Center/TE got behind him and took it to the house. That year we won the championship and scored twice as many points on our opponents as were scored on us. All this by following some simple principles of competitive play.
Our 'misdirection' offense as they called it achieved many things. Most of which were only successes built upon success as Coach Lombardi suggested. Our players liked succeeding and they accordingly bought in. And, I'm not talking about winning. When you are 'just a gal/guy playing for fun' and you catch a ball for 15 to 20 yards. You get hooked quick and you want it some more. We built on that success and before you knew it everybody was going a little bit harder and diving for close balls. The more we moved the ball, the more everyone got involved. We sat around once after a game, counting stats. It was mind boggling how many people had touch downs. How many people had multiple catches. How many people had multiple favorite moments from that game. It got to the point, we were asking the guys on defense if they wanted to get in on the fun. But the defense was already having fun and scoring. They declined.
The following year/season everybody came out gunning for us. Everybody knew what we were going to do, and were determined to stop us. One team made up of all athletes from the mail room was built specifically to beat us. We won another championship anyway. Why? Everybody thought we were running a system of misdirection but it wasn't. We simply made the defense choose every time out. And, they chose wrong every time out. This is one reason I believe in the Pistol. I think it does the same thing. Once we got the ball rolling, defenses felt the pressure to stop us, and took greater and greater risks. But, we never took risks we just ran our bread and butter plays and ate up yardage until we scored. As the lead increased their offense felt the need to score and took greater and greater risks, and when they did our defense made them pay.
Let's look at this from a Backgammon point of view. In backgammon you are either playing offensively or defensively. Most people don't know when to switch from one to the other. Most people play offense until somebody wins. Playing offense means getting your pieces over there as soon as possible. Playing defense means preventing him from moving his pieces. They go hand in hand. You need a fast offense to get your defense set. Once your defense is set, controlling those 4-7 slots; you can apply a choke hold and wear him down. In flag football, that is basically what we were doing. We scored early, and consistently. We dictated the terms of the game. This forced our opponents to adjust to our terms. As soon as they did, we had them.
Our team does not dictate terms. It does not play with a lead, and when it has one it doesn't know what to do with it. It does not build on success and the players do not look like they are enjoying themselves. This is something The Rick needs to do: let his playmakers shine. Let the Offense and Defense breathe. As things start to click, they will build momentum and enjoy playing the game. More people will get involved and produce results and as a result a team will grow. Once they are a team; one mindset, one goal, one purpose: they will grow confident until they are ready to say:
Any One, Any Time, Any Where.