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  1. #1
    AvengerRam's Avatar
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    Of architects, sculptors and Martz

    On a plane ride back from vacation yesterday, a guy sitting next to me noticed I was reading a football magazine, and we started talking about the NFL. He was of the opinion that coaching is extremely important to a team's success and (not surprisingly, as this leg of the flight originated in Dallas), mentioned Bill Parcells as an example.

    This got me thinking about the question of what makes a great coach.

    Here's what I concluded... there are two types of coaches. There are architects and there are sculptors.

    Architects start with a detailed plan and then try to built a team that fits that plan. It could be a "pound-it-out" ground game plan, a West Coast offense, a "run and shoot" or any other type of plan for success. The positive side of a good "architect," is that when they get the right players in place, a good plan can be hard to beat. The downside is that it is often hard to get (and to keep healthy) the right type of players, and when players that fit the plan are absent, the architect coach can have trouble adjusting and may stubbornly try to keep with the plan despite the missing pieces.

    Sculptors start with the building blocks of a team (the "clay," if you will), and then mold it into a finished product. The result is often dictacted, not by a plan, but rather by the nature of the materials. This is the type of coach that is often described as "getting the most of his players," and having a team of "overachievers." The truth is, its not a matter of overachieving, its playing to the strengths of individuals. The positive side of the sculptor is his flexibility and ability to turn a team around quickly. The downside is that there are true few sculptors and too many coaches who think they are, but are not.

    There have been successful architects. Bill Walsh may be the best example, as he built a team with the West Coast offense blueprint to perfection. Another was Jimmy Johnson, who built a team in Dallas with his blueprint and then failed to do the same in Miami because he lacked the right players (mainly the lack of a Emmitt Smith type back).

    There have also been great sculptors. Don Shula comes to mind, as he used the ground game in the 70s when he had Czonka, Kiick and Morris, then became a "passing coach" when he had Dan Marino. Parcells may be the consummate sculptor given his success with several teams (though some might argue he is really an architect with a one word blueprint: toughness).

    So where does Mike Martz fit in here?

    Clearly, he is an architect. He can sit in an office and devise an offense that, when properly staffed, can be nearly unstoppable. But his flexibility and ability to adjust when he has to deviate from the blueprint is questionable.

    Being the eternal optimist that I am, I hope he will improve in this capacity.

    I hope he will see the merit of using a grind-it-out offense at times now that he has a big bruising back in Steven Jackson. I hope he will allow the defensive coaches to deviate from the Cover 2 when necessary. I hope he will learn that the answer to an ineffective passing game on a given Sunday is not always "pass more."

    If Martz the architect can become a bit more of a sculptor, he could be a great coach.

  2. #2
    adarian_too's Avatar
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    Re: Of architects, sculptors and Martz

    As far as analogies go, I think it is a pretty fair perspective. And given your admission that you are the "eternal optimist" there is nothing to quarrel with here.

    He has had 4 years to make those sculpting changes that would instill confidence that he can improvise on the fly ... one whose vision can be re-shaped to make amends for squeezing too much clay in the "wrong place at the wrong time."

    sMartz will make an adjustment here and there but I am afraid it will only be enough to squelch some of his more vocal critics once in a while and convince others that an extension is in order. It will not be enough to restore the glory that should have been less fleeting and more lasting ... I admit ... I'm the cynic ...

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