In the wake of last night, I wanted to share thoughts on leadership. Before I start, my reactions to last night's game are simple: the players did well for the most part. We have the talent to play with anybody. Our talent level is that of a playoff team. AVP did a tremendous job. If Edwards plays like this all season, we're fine and he's more than fine.
So why do we lose the big games? Sure, we had some nice comeback wins: against Houston in 2006, and in the first few games last season. But we can't seem to win the important games. Dallas in 2007. Tennessee in 2006. Cleveland and the Jets last year. We can't seem to close out big games. It's the same, year after year.
My theory is lack of leadership from the head coach. I'm not an anti-Jauron guy. I hope he does great this year. But I've seen enough of him standing idol during the decisive moments to believe that he's not the guy we need.
Leadership background. I'm a US Army officer, and my job is to lead reconnaissance and scout units into combat, which I've done. So my definition of leadership and expectations may differ from yours. However, football is an end-sum game, where wins and losses are all that matters. This is why, I believe, you see coaches that take a bit of a military-style leadership into their roles as coaches, and many are successful. This is basically the entire Parcells coaching tree, Cowher, Gruden, etc.
Military leadership is not what you see on, say, the basic training portion of Full Metal Jacket. Military leadership does not equate to screaming at people. I'm not much of a screamer, and have been fairly successful, some would say.
Military leadership is about the leader being accountable for the results. No excuses. Military leadership is about letting your subordinates lead and learn, but during training, not when lives are on the line. And military leaders identify the decisive point, and lead their organization at that critical time.
Decisive Point Tactics. There is a planning and operations description- we'll go with the operations version, since you can't plan a football game from start to finish like you can with a military operation. Operations, or the execution phase, decisive point tactics refers to the commander using instinct, experience, and education to identify the crucial moment on the battle field where the battle is going to be won or lost.
Think of it as a see-saw, or teeter-tauter. You start at one end, standing on the seat. That end is on the ground (eg: you're not winning). You walk towards the center. At the pivot point, the board evens out, and as you take the next step, the board starts to tip the other way. That's the decisive point, where you go from not winning to winning. Military commanders get paid, in part, to correctly identify when that is happening, and influencing everything they can to ensure victory.
It applies in a football sense. Fans do it all the time. It's the point of the game that we're all on the edge of our seats. Who wasn't as the Pats were kicking the on-sides kick? The head coach had to sense this too. That's when the influencing comes into play. Sure, Jauron can't catch the ball for McKelvin, and really can't do anything on the field. But you can influence it. Good military commanders can influence the battle without firing a shot personally.
Jauron tends to let things happen. He trusts the players and allows them to play, but he does this to a fault. After April finished his talk to the hands team, Jauron should have been in there, emphasizing key points that April talked about, and stressing the importance of the situation. You see Belichick, Cowher, etc. doing this all the time. It's not a rah-rah thing.
It's about willing your team to victory. A "if you get the ball, don't worry about gaining yards. Two hands on the ball and don't fumble" might have made a difference. Especially from a coach viewed as a leader, not the coach you like and want to try hard for.
You might not think so, but plenty of good Soldiers forget basic things under stress. A leader reminding them goes a long, long way. Trust me. You think the hands team was nervous last night? A leader calms them through leadership- talking to his team and getting their minds right.
No excuses leadership. That's what we're missing. You saw it last night. And every time we lose a close game.