Before the NFL exhibition season even gets underway, I want to put on the record what good NFL coaches do.
They adapt their game plans to the abilities and the weaknesses of the players that will be on the field for them on any given weekend.
Too many coaches try to force players on the field into some kind of pre-ordained “system” that the players are not suited to; the rather predictable result is a losing record. Consider:
Two years ago, Mike Shanahan tried to beat around the bush but finally had to come out and say that Donovan McNabb would not or could not do what his offensive game plan required. That led him to put the Redskins’ fate in the hands of Rex Grossman.
Last year – - with McNabb gone – - the Redskins went with a QB tandem of Rex Grossman and John Beck. It was obvious to just about everyone who watched Redskins’ games that neither of them could do what a “Shanahan offensive system” required.
Compare and contrast that sort of system fixation – - some might choose to call it bull-headedness – - with John Fox of the Denver Broncos. Last season he found himself in a situation where he needed to play Tim Tebow as his starting QB. Demonstrating how discomforting that might have been to Coach Fox, the Broncos traded Tebow in close proximity to the time that the Broncos signed free agent Peyton Manning.
Nonetheless, last year, Coach Fox and his staff took what Tebow was capable of doing – - running more than passing – - and developed a series of game plans that got the Broncos into the playoffs. Clearly, that was not what Fox and his coaches had wanted to do – - or planned to do going forward – - because they were all out to get an “NFL-style QB” on the roster for 2012. When Peyton Manning said he would play in Denver, Tim Tebow had to go.
The genius of John Fox and his staff was the way they ditched 90% of their “system stuff” for the 2011 season and changed it all around to fit the way his best QB could play the game. That is exactly what Mike Shanahan could not – - or would not – - do in Washington.
For the record, the Broncos made the AFC playoffs at 8-8 last year.
For the record, the Redskins finished the season at 5-11 and watched the playoffs on TV.
The publicly owned Green Bay Packers released their financial results a couple of weeks ago and; lest you be concerned, they did just fine on the bottom line. According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the Packers posted revenues of $302M for the year and that led to a net profit of $43M. That is correct; net profit was almost 15% of revenues; there are loads of corporations out there that would throw their lofty mission statements into a cesspool to achieve those kinds of results. An important ingredient in the Packers’ profitability is their relatively small debt load and minimal debt servicing expense.
Earlier this week, the Packers held their shareholders meeting. Of course, they held it in Lambeau Field. If you were the “CEO of the Packers”, where would you hold that meeting? The meeting had 12,500 shareholders show up in the stands; and if that number seems small to you, there were another 20,000 shareholders “attending” the meeting via a secure online link available only to shareholders. Not a lot of corporations have 32,000+ shareholders actively involved in their annual meetings…
Down in Dallas, Jason Garrett is a Princeton grad so he cannot be anything close to stupid. Nevertheless, when questioned about his man-child/problem-child, Dez Bryant, who had been arrested for domestic abuse against Bryant’s mother, all that Garrett could come up with was this suggestion:
Bryant could benefit from counseling.
Put that in the file of other things coaches have said that made you think:
Are you [bleeping] kidding me?
He “needs counseling” after police arrested him for grabbing his mother by the hair and slapping her around?
By the way, Mama Bryant ain’t no fool. She realizes that Dez’ ability to play in the NFL brings home some heavy bread so Mama Bryant found it in her heart not to press any charges against her meal-ticket – - oops her son – - regarding this matter. And that is what led Jason Garrett to find something socially acceptable to say on the matter.
Memo to Coach Garrett: Here is another way to address this situation in a public forum:
Slapping your mother around is beyond anti-social; it is purely unacceptable. Even if Dez Bryant had achieved for the Cowboys all that Jerry Rice ever achieved for the Niners, I would still call his behavior unacceptable. He needs to figure out what will change his behaviors so that he becomes a functioning and productive member of society. I am a football coach so I do not have the time or the expertise to make that happen – - but he needs to find people in his life that can make that happen.
I present that kind of statement to Coach Garrett and to the Cowboys’ organization free of charge. I am in a magnanimous mood this morning.
Finally, here is an item from Dwight Perry’s column, Sideline Chatter, in the Seattle Times:
“The Sioux Falls Storm topped the Tri-Cities Fever 59-32 to cap the first 17-0 season in Indoor Football League history.
“Everyone cheered except the 1972 Dolphins.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………