“Don’t blink”. We’re a quarter of the way through “the NFL season that almost wasn’t”. How time flies when you’re having fun, but oh how it drags when you’re not.
Ten teams are sitting at 3-1, the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions (Yes, the Lions) are unblemished. Eight teams have all but “kissed their sisters” at 2-2. Seven teams are “sweating bullets” with only one victory to show for their efforts and the Miami Dolphins, Indianapolis Colts, Minnesota Vikings and St. Louis Rams are all where they were this summer; 0 wins.
Take a breath, take a look
After four games into 2011, this is a natural point in the season to assess your overall team and tweak any areas that might need adjusting. Reality says there’s really no reason to panic. History shows us that it’s conceivable one of those ten teams at 3-1 won’t get past .500 and that perhaps a 1-3 club will make a playoff push.
Organizations have a great opportunity to address their fans, media and players and reassert their goals. It’s an opportunity for General Managers and Personnel Directors to use the “Why Teams Win” formula to help guide any roster changes or adjustments that might be necessary. Remember? Offensive Pass Efficiency, Defensive Pass Efficiency, Defensive Interception Rate, etc….
Most teams won’t. Will yours?
Blinded by the light, or the truth
The “quarter season” mark is inherently to close to the end of training camp, and in the memories of most club personnel, to induce much change. Coaches and Front Office Executives are not inclined to admit any need for major overhauls at this particular point, to do so would be admitting mistakes were made in preseason judgments of their clubs ability to compete.
They’d rather talk about how young players are still developing, or the loss of valuable on field production due to unforeseen injuries, or how they just have to tackle better, run better, catch better. Transparency is tough to find at the “quarter season” mark, but in many cases the “writing’s on the wall” literally all over the “walls” of the club’s facility.
Fool me twice, shame on me
As I’ve discussed before, you can’t “fool” the players. They (better than anyone) know why things are working and why things aren’t. It’s the responsibility of the decision makers to accurately communicate and convey feedback in a straight forward manner to the team. That includes current progress in the plan to achieve team goals. Many club leaders (GM’s & Coaches) won’t for fear of “upsetting” the team or locker room chemistry. But it’s built into the job description, like it or not.
In some instances veteran players may have reached their limits of production. There may have been a sense of renewed optimism that an older player could either maintain or return to prior form during training camp, but after the quarter season mark it’s become increasingly evident he can’t. This might be the most difficult “tweak” of all. Telling any player that he is not capable of contributing is a difficult scenario. I’ve been through it myself. Frequently these players are the on and off field leaders, your captains, the players the team turns to for guidance in tough times.
But again, you can’t “fool” the players. As we say in football, “The eye in the sky don’t lie”. That is, the game tape tells the real story of whether or not a player is producing. Everyone watches the game tape.
So to the eleven teams that appear “on the brink” – “Don’t blink”. Shoot your organization, your fans and the media straight (top to bottom). They expect it and it’s in your “job description” to do so. Take full advantage of reaching the quarter post, there are still three furlongs left in this “race to the playoffs”.