Book review: The Games That Changed the Game, by Ron Jaworski

Belichick's Bulls-Eye game plan was simply this: Whenever Marshall [Faulk] lined up in the offset position - either alongside or slightly angled from [Kurt] Warner - he was going to be hit. The Patriots were willing to sacrifice putting heat on Warner to neutralize Faulk. "Rather than disrupt the passing game by trying to pressure them," Belichick revealed later, "we were going to disrupt the passing game by trying to jam the receivers, and most importantly, take care of Faulk. We wanted to keep him out of the passing game. Everything was geared toward where Faulk lined up, with an emphasis on pass coverage."

I'm a big football fan, and also a huge reader, so I tend to collect a lot of books about football. Some people wonder how an armchair fan can get to know the X's and O's of the game of football. For me, there was no better way than to read some of these great books that have come out recently, which offer an insider's perspective into strategy and gameplanning.

Ron Jaworski is a Buffalo native and a great resource for football knowledge - which you'd know from watching his analysis on ESPN's Monday Night Football (as long as he gets in a word edgewise around Jon Gruden!) Turns out he's pretty good at translating his football knowledge and storytelling to words on paper.

The Games That Changed the Game is a book about "The evolution of the NFL in seven Sundays." It's Jaws' attempt at analyzing the rich history of NFL plays and formations in an anecdotal form. Through the seven chapters of the book, he talks about such important concepts as the Cover-Two Defense, Don Coryell's Air Coryell offense (and how it used TE Kellen Winslow), the Bill Walsh West Coast Offense, and Dick LeBeau's Zone Blitz. But this isn't just a textbook of football plays - Jaworski brings everything to the table here, telling about his perspective from viewing or playing in these games, interviewing players and coaches from the teams, and doing a step-by-step film review of seven football games, breaking down plays run by teams to show how offenses created mismatches and defenses created confusion

For each chapter, Jaworski brings a background discussion of the teams and schemes involved in each game. That means when he talks about Don Coryell's Roving Y concept, he'll have a lot to say about Kellen Winslow and the San Diego Chargers. When he talks about Buddy Ryan's 46 Defense, you can bet he'll mention those legendary '85 Bears defenders. He then breaks down each quarter of the game, series by series, showing the plays that mattered, diagramming what happened in the big plays, and bringing in player and coach interviews to talk about what it was like to be in the game and what thoughts were happening as the game continued. Curious about how the Patriot defense stopped the Greatest Show on Turf in the Super Bowl? Wondering how the West Coast offense designs a play? Jaws will break it all down for you, in great detail and easy verbiage.

Was it Worth It?

The cover price of The Games That Changed the Game is $26.00 even. It currently sells on for $10.88, and I bought it during the Border's closeout sale for around $8.00. For $10, this is a great deal for anyone interested in reading up on some of the historic games from the AFL and NFL. Jaws has a nice perspective as a Buffalo native and a Pro Bowl QB for the Eagles, and this is a good primer to some of the more advanced books about football strategy, as it explains the whys of the game, not just the whats.

The only negative I can give about this book is that it limits itself to only 7 different games, meaning some of the other interesting strategies like the Run and Shoot and the Zone Read Option couldn't be included here. It is also a little limited in the scope of time, with the oldest game profiled still after the end of the Single Wing era. Still, for a primer to NFL strategy and an insider's look at how coaches win games throughout history, this is an excellent read.



Just another great fan opinion shared on the pages of

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