Friday, September 16, 2011

It's More Than the Xs and Os: How's Your Team Chemistry on 'Game Day?'

There was a great scene in the NFL Network's "Bill Belichik - A Football Life" last night that captured Bill Belichik's understanding of team effectiveness that makes him a great football coach and leader.
He's showing game video to his players and instead of focusing on the Xs and Os, he points to specific video clips that show how his players' lack of on-the-field team esprit indicates a team that's "not good enough to play that way."
Jimmy Toscano captured this excerpt in his review, "Film on Belichick gives fans a look under the hood."
"'There's nothing wrong -- in fact you should be excited when you make a play,' Belichick said in a team meeting prior to their Week 1 win against the Buffalo Bills. 'Hell, look at all the work you put into it all the time you spent in practice . . . you should be excited about it, and your teammates should be excited, too.'

"Cue the footage of them not being excited. 

"'Nice play, Ty [Warren],' Belichick said while watching the footage of a play in a one-sided loss to San Diego in the previous season. 'Can't even see one guy saying good hit. Walk back to the huddle and it looks like, 'God, we don't even care.'"
How many times have we seen scenes of coaches using game video to analyze their offensive and defensive plays or an opponent's plays?  Here we have a coach who clearly understands one of the fundamental tenets of coaching and leadership:  The effectiveness of the Xs and Os is only as good as the team members' "game day" team chemistry and resilience.  He uses video to drive this point home.
"Then, a shot of the [Patriots] celebrating after a TD during a drubbing of the Denver Broncos on an Oct. 20, 2008 Monday Night Football game in Denver.  'Do you think we were ready to play against Denver last year, Monday night?' he said of the game, which the Patriots won, 41-7. 'It's so obvious, it's so visible.'  As a downtrodden Broncos player was shown on the screen, Belichick said, 'It's going to be a long night [for Denver].'" 
Perhaps other coaches do this as well, but it was revealing and insightful to see Coach Belichik do this.  How's the chemistry of your team on "game day?"

Lastly, loved this excerpt from the NYTimes review of "A Football Life:"
"An alien force must have invaded Belichick to get him to allow NFL Films to follow him through the 2009 season. That would seem like giving the filmmaker Michael Moore the O.K. to hang out at the National Security Agency."

Part 2 of "A Football Life" will be shown next week.  I'll be watching.
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