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Old 06.02.2019, 09:53 PM
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djhdjh djhdjh is offline
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Interesting question.

With regard players, it all starts with a quarterback. Especially these days, if you don't have a good starting quarterback success is highly unlikely and if it does come is likely to be temporary (see Jacksonville over the last 2 years). Maybe had Belichick been forced to use Cassel for more than 1 year we could have a different answer, or maybe he's just the exception to every rule.


In the age of free agency and the salary cap it certainly seems that once the Quarterbacks are broadly similar then so is the overall talent level and scheme is the differentiator - perhaps the Steelers prove something of an exception to the rule but that might be unnecessarily harsh on their coaching team as I outline below.


I would also add two other points. Firstly, the importance of system clearly predates the salary cap era. The 49'ers of the early 80's were hardly flush full of talent - what was it Landry said "it has to be the Quarterback, that's the only thing there" - but Walsh's scheme was ahead of its time and had been proven to be even at Cincinnati and Stanford with some very average quarterbacks - Montana himself was perfect for the system but was hardly a big time prospect coming out.

The second is that coaching is broader than X's and O's, it's also about improving the skills and mental qualities of players. Think of the two teams that have more Hall of Famers than any others. Lots of the 70's Steelers talk about what a great teacher Chuck Noll was and the emphasis he placed on teaching good technique which he thought far more important than scheme. Similarly, how many 60's Packers not named Paul Hornung were seen as potential greats before Vince Lombardi got his hands on them? In that context, Tomlin keeping several huge egos marching in the same direction for many years could be argued as a coaching triumph.

I appreciate the question used X's and O's as shorthand for coaching in general but I thought it was worth making the last point. Because at that point it becomes difficult to separate what is the quality of the player and what is the quality of the coach.

Last edited by djhdjh; 06.02.2019 at 10:57 PM.
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