A Coach Could Learn A Lot From That Guy In New England …..

December 10, 2009 |

I will never write a blog centered on telling John Harbaugh how to coach a football team.

Quite frankly, I’m not qualified.

But, I do know a thing or two about changing cultures and motivating people. From creating a facelift of an organization or simply “tightening up the ship,” I’ve participated in the process.

And, I think we saw the latter, yesterday, in New England …..

Sports fans are fickle. You’re a very temperamental bunch – and when someone conveys a positive thought about a competitor, that same person is immediately dismissed as a “traitor.” Right?

But, if you set your personal feelings and contempt aside, I think you’ll find some value in the way other organizations conduct their business. Managing people is not a science – it’s an art. And, some leaders are very, very good at it.

The New England Patriots haven’t secured THREE SUPER BOWLS, in less than a decade, because they’re lucky. And, their success isn’t tied to surreptitious video footage of other teams, either.

If you’re rationalizing the Patriots success to anything other than GREAT LEADERSHIP, PROVEN TALENT and a COMMITMENT TO DOING THINGS THE RIGHT WAY, you’re just making excuses and lying to yourselves.

It’s that simple.

Yesterday, Bill Belichick sent Randy Moss and Adalius Thomas home – because they were late for practice. Yeah, it was snowing. Yeah, the roadways were messy. And, yeah, people are expected to assume a responsibility and plan for the expected and unexpected.

The New England Patriots are on the brink of surrendering the AFC-East lead and its time to “tighten up the ship.”

Do managers (and coaches) treat employees differently? Sure, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with doing so. You’ve gotta know the personal strengths of each performer and each player requires a differing level of discipline.

Former Cowboys Head Coach, Jimmy Johnson, likes to tell a certain story when he makes the lecture circuit and motivates audiences around the country …..

During their run of dominance, in the mid-90’s, Jimmy Johnson encountered a lack of discipline during a classroom session, where players were watching footage of the previous game. When the video ended and the lights raised, Johnson found Emmitt Smith and another player; a fringe offensive lineman, sleeping.

As Jimmy Johnson tells it, he woke Emmitt and told him to pay attention. He also woke the other player and told him to “GET OUT.” There is, indeed, a difference in how respective players are treated for the very same transgressions.

But, yesterday, Bill Belichick took a different approach …..

He is uniting the TEAM, above anything everything else. And, I’m betting it works.

The Patriots are 7-5, with just a one game lead in their division. Their remaining schedules finds contests against the Panthers, Bills, Jaguars and Texans. They’re not losing the division against this lineup.

And, Bill Belichick is ensuring it.

I’m certain there are people openly predicting the demise of the New England Patriots. You’re wrong. In fact, they’re likely to go on a serious run toward another AFC Crown – and, perhaps, 4th Super Bowl Championship.

Yes, the New Orleans Saints handed the “Brady Bunch” their collective asses, a couple weeks ago. But, they might’ve also provided Belichick and Brady with an up-close and personal blueprint for getting the job done.

But, this really isn’t about the New England Patriots and their playoff chances.

It’s about the Baltimore Ravens and their hopes for football, in January.

I love Baltimore …..

And, I’m a RAVENS FAN.

But, I respect the New England Patriots.

To that end, I’ve seized occasional opportunities to draw the similarities between John Harbaugh and Bill Belichick – especially in cases of evasive and surly treatment of the media.

I’m just hoping Harbaugh has a “Little More Belichick” up his sleeve – even if it means sending a couple players home for the day.

The flagrant on-field breakdowns must stop. The meltdowns and lack of personal composure must stop. These transgressions hurt the TEAM.

Once again, I’m not qualified to tell a Coach how to COACH.

But, I’d like to think I know discipline, when I see it.