Thursday, January 5, 2017

Two Football Teams experiment - follow up

So yesterday I provided two choices for the type of football team that one might feel would be successful.  Mirroring pretty much every successful football program from the high school to professional level, I provided an example of a consistently coached football team adhering to a larger team strategy... which I called Team "X". I then provided an example of a football team that would likely never win consistently (one that would not be considered consistent and would not adhere to a larger team strategy)... which I called Team "Y".

I received a large amount of oddly reasoned argument as to why Team "X" would struggle and why Team "Y" would flourish. This is an oddly reasoned argument because it literally runs counter to all empirical and tangible evidence based on real life examples. Pretty much all successful football programs have consistent coaching, have a consistent philosophy, and adhere to a larger team strategy. Whether you are talking the current dynasties of Nick Sabin and Bill Belichick or older dynasties of Bear Bryant and Tom Landry... there is an inherent feel for what those teams were like (regardless of the specific year in question). Growing up watching the Minnesota Vikings, there was no question that it was Bud Grant's team, and that they took on the attitudes and personality of their coach. They went to three Super Bowls and competed for the division pretty much every year he was there. Unfortunately they haven't been close to establishing anything cohesive since he left, and they have not surprisingly had little success.

It's not just football. Think Bobby Knight, Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski, Tom Izzo. These coaches are synonymous with their prospective NCAA basketball teams, and those teams were built on specific team concepts. In fact, if you look specifically at Bobby Knight and Tom Izzo coached basketball teams, you would see a very limited amount of players who went on to become NBA stars. These coaches were successful in large part because they got their players to commit to their style of team play. In Indiana's case, a very distinct style of play.

Perhaps the most famous example of this would be Hockey, and what everyone thinks of as the "miracle on ice".  The USSR Red team was considered a dominant international amateur hockey team that won in large part due to a unique style of play that was in major contrast to the American/Canadian NHL style of play. In 1979, the NHL put together a team of 20 future hall of fame NHL all stars to play the "challenge series" against the Soviets. The NHL team (featuring players like Bobby Clarke, Tony Esposito and Guy Lafluer) not only lost the three game series, but were blown out by the Soviets 6-0 in the third game at Madison Square Garden. The USA all star team had everything that some here argued would make such a Team "Y" better. The ability to pick from a wide range of talent, a wide range of diverse talent, and the ability to try different tactics and strategies... but still lost to what amounted to a less talented amateur team from the Soviet Union who adhered to a strict team concept of movement and passing.

It took Herb Brooks, who came up with his own system (or scheme) to defeat the Soviets. He was criticized for choosing a roster that left out what many considered to be the best talent available to him. When confronted (not only in the movie but in real life) he argued that he wasn't looking for the "best" players, he was looking for the "right" ones. He broke down the individual nature of the players and got them to buy into his team system. As Brooks famously stated, the name on the front of the jersey matters more than the name on the back.  Eventually the Americans defeated the Soviets and went on to win the gold medal. The underwhelming talented team "X" of Herb Brooks won where the infinitely more talented team "Y" of the NHL did not.

The reality is that many Americans are indoctrinated into believing that somehow we are better off being individualistic and holding diverse philosophies and views in pretty much all situations. It was easy to see how quickly people denounced the concept of a larger team strategy as being somehow limiting, containing, and destructive. The argument (for instance) that a team strategy would require Tom Brady to always "check down" to a short pass was clearly inane.  Brady (in reality) actually plays in a system with a very consistent offensive strategy and has never been "forced" to limit what it is he can do within that system. Hard to argue that playing within that system has limited Brady at all, and it could probably be argued that it has helped in his success. A sillier argument was made that the Seattle Seahawks could attribute their success as being part of a Type "Y" team with divergent coaching viewpoints and differing player strategies. With the same coach, same offensive coordinator, same quarterback, and same core group for the past five-six years, the Seattle Seahawks are the classic example of a Team "X".  They were simply redefined in an attempt to consolidate reality with personal viewpoint, without any real cohesive argument that such a definition made sense.

Generally this view (especially in regards to celebrating diversity for the sake of diversity) is more of a liberal thought process, but it clearly pushes over to both sides. I have argued before and will argue again in the future, that in and of itself, diversity is neither good or bad. It depends entirely on the situation and to what degree that diversity manifests itself.  Historically, the more cohesive a society is and the more that society shares similar values, the more successful that society is. Historically, societies are not made stronger by diversification, but are generally made weaker. Ultimately too much diversification of values and priorities is generally what leads to the eventual fracturing of these societies.   


wphamilton said...

2016 Cowboys are Team Y, and they're doing pretty well. 13-3 and the number 1 seed in the NFL.

Had they emphasized your Team X philosophy, Dak Prescott would have been forced to play in the Tony Romo offensive scheme, and they'd have been lucky to equal the four wins of last season when they DID try to insert various quarterbacks into the same scheme.

Where your examples all fail is in attribution of cause and effect. Tom Brady for example is a 14 year veteran who has won four Superbowls, the most accomplished QB in history, and possibly the most talented. The Patriots designed a system in which he could flourish, and provided players whose skills complemented Brady's.

You'd have it the other way around, with Belichick's philosophy and game plan designed from 2000 when he drafted a top quarterback as a new Bledsoe. But CH, Tom Brady was drafted in the 6th round, the 199th pick. The Patriot QB was a 9 year veteran, franchise QB with a 10 year contract extension. Brady was not a plug-and-play replacement any more than Prescott was. And in fact, the Patriot's owner was at odds with the Patriot Head Coach over starting Brady over Bledsoe, and Belichick (favoring his system and Bledsoe's history over Brady's production) lost that argument. So much for the Patriots exemplifying your Team X.

The reason you see dynasties in football is the congregation of talented players, who over time congeal as a team and therefore facilitate the emergence of new talented players. The system changes to accommodate the talent. It's not the "system" that wins, certainly not restricting your employees and players to people who agree with the owner and coach. Teams that try that wind up in the mass of mediocrity.

C.H. Truth said...

No WP...

The Cowboys are team "X" - they have the same coaching staff, the same head coach, the same offensive coordinator. They have a different Quarterback who has some different skills. But they generally are running the same offensive plays, and for the most part the same general overall strategy.

You confuse having an offensive strategy with inflexibility. Coaches make adjustments even within the same game, depending on what is working or what isn't. But that doesn't mean that they change their entire blocking scheme, their entire system of routes, the defensive plan, the special teams play... all because they changed from a less mobile to more mobile quarterback. It doesn't mean that they change their entire theory of how to create a successful football team due to one injury of one player.

Not like they went to a wishbone offense, or are running the option, or have become a different team. Prescott is more mobile, and coaches will likely encourage him to scramble out of the pocket more often, etc... but you somehow presume that the entire offensive scheme was scrapped because Romo is not playing??

C.H. Truth said...

The reason you see dynasties in football is the congregation of talented players, who over time congeal as a team and therefore facilitate the emergence of new talented players.

Hardly... in the NFL the teams at the top are forced to draft at the bottom. They fit lower draft choices into their scheme and these lower draft choices tend to be more successful on more successful teams.

Why is it that a team like the Patriots can keep finding the exact same type of slot receiver to replace Wes Walker? Or the Packers always end up with a certain type of tight end. Or the Steelers have the 220-230 running back.

How often does the NFL Super Bowl winner lose players to other teams (who pay way more than they should) only to see those players not have the same impact on their new lesser teams. You find out that they were successful as much because of the defensive scheme they were in (or because of the players surrounding them).


btw... Bledsoe and Brady are/were very similar quarterbacks. Both have great arms and are not very mobile. I don't believe their offense would have change much (if at all) for either of these players.

opie said...

Your esoteric bullshit, CH arguing WP is wrong is pure crap like I thought would happen and did.. And you wonder if I understand your madness? Yes, you are a brilliant statistician whose claim to fame is making shit up and being manipulated by party loyalty while never being wrong in spite of evidence to the contrary. Keep it up, your amusement is endless.

opie said...

Buyers regret......seems like all these voters think the ACA should stay, much to the chagrin of the R congress critter who started the poll. Wonder what she will do?????

This Republican congresswoman's Twitter poll on Obamacare didn't go very well for her
Dan Mangan 19 hours ago
Marsha, Marsha, Marsha ...

A Twitter poll by ardent Obamacare foe Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., on whether the health-care law should be repealed backfired big-time Wednesday as lots more people — a whole lot more people — tweeted "No," rather than "Yes."

Blackburn posted the poll Tuesday, asking people their views on repeal, and requesting that they retweet their support for killing Obamacare if they favored repeal.

She also asked in that tweet what people want to see as a replacement for the Affordable Care Act.

When the poll closed Wednesday, a whopping 84 percent of the nearly 8,000 votes were for "No" on the question of repeal.

Yes, the poll means nothing, but it is amusing.

caliphate4vr said...

'Nuff said

Indy Voter said...

College teams don't have equal talent. The successful programs, with the best coaches, are able to recruit better players both with the promise of better on-field rewards (championships) and because they have deeper pockets to provide off-field rewards.

In the pros, free agency acts similarly in unbalancing talent, although it is countered somewhat by the draft and salary cap. Successful coaches with great players will attract better free agents, and may pay them less than teams that don't have that track record. If you're a free agent whose teams have never won a playoff game, would you take the Patriots' offer or one from the Browns that's 10% higher? I think most veterans would want the shot at a ring.

And it takes time for a coach to establish himself. If the 49ers hire a new coach who turns out to be the next Joe Walsh, he will still need to prove himself before he starts attracting talent like Belichick does.