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Old 06.02.2019, 10:32 AM
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Default X's and O's or Jimmy's and Joe's?

What matters most, the coaching personnel (X's and O's) or the playing personnel (Jimmy's and Joe's)?

Obviously it's not black and white, and i'll probably waffle a bit and miss my point somewhere in this post but hopefully you get the gist of it.

Pairing a great coach/play caller with the worst players in the league might result in an 'improvement', but it isn't going to produce a SB Champion. Same applies to pairing great players with bad coaches/play callers. Every team across the league has a degree of talent on the playing side though, so are good coaches ultimately 'undervalued'?

Another way of looking at it is fans seemingly get frustrated with their HC/OC/DC more so than their players, is that fair? Is it all down to the play call? Are the coaches entirely responsible for a lack of execution? Again, it's probably a mix of responsibility but more often than not a teams struggles are blamed on coaching. Either it's a bad play call or a lack of adjustment, or a lack of player evaluation/development.

The Patriots are probably the ultimate example of the X's and O's argument? They aren't the most talented team, head and shoulders above the rest, but they've dominated the league for years. They clearly have talent, at key positions too, but Belichick seems to be the difference maker.

Here's an interesting twitter read on the SB, showing one persons view of BB/Patriots approach to the game compared to McVay/Rams. It clearly highlights the difference coaching made. Not sure it's in the above link, but I also heard talk of the Patriots sending 2 defensive plays in on each snap, one look for before Goff's helmet communications shut off, and a different look for afterwards. Things like that, if true, clearly count.
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Old 06.02.2019, 02:18 PM
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I'd give the nod to Coaches and systems over players. Brief version of the view I take is that average players can be great with the right Coaching and System. Move them onto a system not built to previous specifications can see a previously great player be deemed a failure.

Could be argued top players make bad Coaches look good, and thats true, but as NE SB run evidences, quality Coaching usually wins out
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Old 06.02.2019, 02:56 PM
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Pre-Belichick, I may well have gone with players over Coaches, and I think that’s still the case from time to time, but he’s repeatedly plugged in players over the years who most teams wouldn’t give a second glance, and got tremendous production out of them. On paper, you’d have a strong case for saying that the Patriots were weaker than any of the teams they beat in the Playoffs, but Belichick comprehensively outcoached Anthony Lynn and Sean McVay (Reid to a slightly lesser extent).

I honestly think the Patriots would still be there or thereabouts without Brady, but once Belichick finally calls it a day, I think New England drops right back into the pack.
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Old 06.02.2019, 07:49 PM
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in the salary cap/FA era its definetly about great coaching/Front office.we saw great coaches leave Dallas/49ers and they still won super bowls as the rosters stayed very similar but now its harder to keep great rosters together so coaching up average players or picking up other people cast off's can build a strong 53 that you need over a long hard season.

not to make this all about Belichick but in the off season we lost Amendola/Solder/Lewis/Butler/Fleming/Badeimosi who all played meaning full roles in last seasons run to the super bowl who all got nice money in FA but then we traded for Brown/Patterson/Shelton/McCourty who there teams just wanted rid off and all played major roles in this years run.

also Belichick just comes up with something that just confuses the other teams,playing a 6 man front and 1LB pretty much took away the Rams best run play and also made play-action worthless as there was only 1 LB to fool.genius.
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Old 06.02.2019, 09:53 PM
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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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Old 07.02.2019, 10:25 AM
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Very interesting thread.

I personally think the coaching staff is the most important thing and it's not something I would have said a few years ago. In the NFL though nearly every team has a couple of star players and very few teams are crammed full of players you'd consider as stars, I look at the teams that perpetually make the play offs (not every season but more often than not) - Packers, Steelers, Patriots etc and they all seem better than most at working with players and improving them and seem to have a higher portion of lower round draft picks that are now solid-good starters.

Another thing which I think Belichick in particular is good at is identifying and working with players that he can use in multiple ways, they might not be in the top echelons of the league at one particular thing but they can do a lot of different jobs which helps them change up their game plan to suit opposition/situation.


Another thing I thought was interesting - At the end of the season there was a lot of discussion around Zimmer/Spielman with the Vikings amongst our fans and it was very much split on whether the team should stick with the coach/gm for another year. I fall into the camp that is very sceptical that they can win a Championship with this staff, but the people who were in favour seemed to think continuity would be best and breed success. So out of interest I looked at past Superbowl winners and found that if a head coach/gm combination won a Superbowl it was usually within 3-4 years of being with the team, I understand some of that is because without results coaches can lose their job fairly quickly, but I think a lot of people believe that continuity breeds success when in reality that just depends if you have the right guys in place to begin with and the stats show that you can usually tell if you have the right people heading a franchise relatively quickly.
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Old 07.02.2019, 06:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djhdjh View Post
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.
on the 49ers yes Walsh was a genius and his scheme was great but also without real free agency it wasn't like he constantly lost guys who he had spent years coaching up like teams have to live with these days or had to decide who to pay.could an NFL team keep a Montana/Young in the salary cap/FA era.
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Old 07.02.2019, 09:52 PM
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Yes but that also meant that in 1981 in particular, he hadn't had that long to build up the team he wanted. My point was simply that although the changes with salary cap and free agency have tilted the balance, coaching and scheme was still very important back then and that was the example I thought of first in part because I feel the early 49'ers team get overlooked compared to the stacked teams of the late 80's and early 90's. Obviously building a dynasty as opposed to a single champion was a hell of a lot easier.
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Old 09.02.2019, 06:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djhdjh View Post
Yes but that also meant that in 1981 in particular, he hadn't had that long to build up the team he wanted. My point was simply that although the changes with salary cap and free agency have tilted the balance, coaching and scheme was still very important back then and that was the example I thought of first in part because I feel the early 49'ers team get overlooked compared to the stacked teams of the late 80's and early 90's. Obviously building a dynasty as opposed to a single champion was a hell of a lot easier.
Walsh took over an awful 49ers team that had gone 2-14 in 1978 but unlike many today was given time to build the roster,how many teams today would give a 1st time NFL HC 2 seasons of 2-14/6-10 without just moving on.

when you look at the 80's and just beyond maybe Joe Gibb's doesn't get the credit as he wasn't tagged with a great offensive scheme but his record stacks up pretty well.
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Old 09.02.2019, 09:33 PM
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I still don't think 3 seasons is that long to build up a team in a time when you didn't have free agency. That cuts both ways, easier to build a dynasty but harder to build a winner in the first place.

Probably right that Gibbs and Washington might be a better example of coaching pre salary cap era. Also reinforces my point about coaching in terms of player development as opposed to coaching in terms of scheme.
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