On the subject of rigid thinking, blitz's quotes reminded me of one of my favs. these are also from a ww2 general... but patton, not eisenhower:
“Fixed fortifications are a monument to the stupidity of man.”
“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.”
“If everybody's thinking alike, somebody isn't thinking.”
I especially liked the quote mountaincat...."If everybody's thinking alike, somebody isn't thinking.
I think the 'group think' mentality that Wally had successfully inculcated "that its all about execution' is starting to slowly come apart.
Pro football players usually come out of successful college programs. In the United States, those big programs have the money to hire very successful coaches with proven track records. Some of the players on our Leos have played in front of crowds of over 100,000. They've been used to being well coached and they are used to winning most of the time.
They arrive at the pro level with an understanding that its expected that they 'present' a loyalty to their coaches, as they have done all along the way. Now its even more important that they do, in that its their jobs and their livelihood that depend on it. When the HC is also the GM, their contracts, as well as their jobs, highly depend on it.
Unfortunately, here in B.C. the press and media, with the exception of a Lowell Ullrich, report verbatim, Wally's view of the world, without question. If Wally says the players lost the game because they 'didn't execute' that is what they report. They will not analyze Buono's comments or question them either.
Other than the exception of an Andrew Harris, who questioned our scheme through three different coordinators or a Jason Jiminez, who questioned Dorazio's line coaching, or a Dean Valli, who discussed how difficult it was to block for a quarterback who provided the same target spot in the pocket on each play, we basically hear and read the same old pablum.
When a reporter does attempt to ask a question about scheme or play calling or game plan, Wally is like grabbing mercury. He won't be accountable, he is like grabbing mercury when any attempt is made to pin him down, and he deflects, scapegoats, and blames with the same mantra's each and every time - "We failed to execute", "We didn't make enough plays", Our quarterback needs to get rid of the football quicker".
After the Hamilton loss, we got a rare, more detailed scapegoating " When questioned about our lack of success in the red zone and calling two pass plays from the Hamilton 3 yard line, Buono said he was not happy with our decision making regarding the run/pass option.
What run pass option. We didn't roll out Jennings on those two plays from the 3 yard line, providing a run/pass option. If we gave Jennings the option of calling a run or pass play, which I didn't interpret the comment as such, then that was not wise either.
We should have called a running play to Johnson on first down. If Jennings thought the Hamilton defensive line was bunched in tight, he could have pulled the football and ran to the edge. The reality is that we called two pass plays but Wally wouldn't accept responsibility for those calls.
If we had wanted a run/pass option, we should have used a misdirection fake handoff to Johnson and used a semi-boot or sprint out play for Jennings. We didn't.
Whether its a Lulay who says everyone needs to self-scout including 'staff' or a Chris Rainey' complaining that we have to get the football to our play makers or a Jeremiah Johnson who comments that he doesn’t understand why he isn’t getting more touches at times or why we went away from the running game, Leo players are starting to question the ‘way things are and the way they have always been’.
They did that again, on the sidelines, during the Hamilton game, in questioning our red zone play calling.
Lowell Ullrich is a rare reporter who does not just spew out the same old pablum when our Leos lose.
Prior to the bye week, he wrote:
Without a reversal in form, the final year of the Lions likely under Buono could end as an era ended with the Calgary Stampeders, out of answers and of the playoffs for the first time under the ownership of David Braley.
Calling out the play-calling: There’s no direct finger-pointing, but it seems abundantly clear that some players are frustrated with the play-calling.
He reported Chris Rainey’s and Jeremiah Johnson’s comments:
“It felt like the damn Seahawks in the damn Super Bowl,” said Rainey, hardly a ringing endorsement of the play-calling of Jones at that point. And the solution?“Ain’t no sugar-coating or beating around the bush. Give your playmakers, who make plays in practice day in, day out, the ball in the games. It’s that simple,” he said. “We should (stretch the field) but that’s up to the coaches. We got a bye week. They got a whole week to think about it just like all the players got a whole week to look in the mirror. This is ridiculous right now. I can’t take no more of this; no more.”
Hell of a question, man,” said Johnson. “Personally I feel we’re that 5-2 team that’s dropped three in a row. When I look at film it’s never effort.” That shifts the focus to coaching once more.
But this was rare reporting. Usually the only contigent who questions things other than personnel and execution is not the press or media or the players. Its a small contigent of die hard Leo fans on Lionbackers. They are the only ones who are willing and courageous enough to question the group think mentality that Buono perpetuates that its all about execution and making plays and those comments put all the onus on the players, as well as the blame when we don’t win games.
The reality is that in each and every game, running plays are shut down, passes go incomplete, and defensive players miss a tackle. That happens when a team wins or loses. No team executes perfectly. So, after a loss, its very easy for a Head Coach of even a fan to point out the lack of execution of certain plays during a game.
Execution, or lack thereof, is an aspect of every football game. Personnel matters took obviously. But pro football is the most strategic team sport that exists on the planet. On each and every play, action stops, so that a new play strategy can be sent in by the coaching staff. In no other sport is coaching more important, in terms of strategy, and in no other sport, is the element of surprise such an integral part of the game.
The time between games is also different in pro football. In pro sports like baseball, hockey, and basketball, the schedule is long and games much more frequent. In hockey and basketball, the combination of 82 games and travel taking place across North America, there is much less time for strategy. In baseball, they play 162 games in a season.
In the CFL, we have an 18-game season. Following each game, there is much more time for coaches to implement strategy, to look at tape to examine other team’s tendencies, as well as their own tendencies, to game plan, to practice, and to prepare. Strategy and coaching therefore, is more important and more significant to the outcome than in any other team sport.
Yet, here in B.C, with our Leos, one would swear, other than from a number of Lionbackers who take the time to analyze and post, that the only thing that matters to winning a football game, is for the players to ‘execute’ and ‘make plays’, as if coaching strategy was only a minor aspect of the contest, rather than its most important dimension.
Of the ‘big three’ of personnel, strategy and execution, football GM’s and coaches have the most influence in creating a successful football season.
The G.M. with his director of personnel and scouting staff are responsible for getting enough talent on the field to win. He and his staff select draft choices, choose and sign free agents, develop negotiation lists, and recruit International talent.
Philosophy, schemes, game planning, play calling, and in game adjustments are the responsibility of the Head Coach and his staff.
Execution is a product of personnel, coaching, scheme, practice habits, skill, and play calling. It’s a shared responsibility of both coaches and players.
One would swear, in the coverage of our B.C. Lions, the only responsibility for winning is only a player responsibility and that is just not the case at all. Blame is only apportioned to the players and that is just not reality.
John Burroughs wrote “A man can fail many times, but he isn't a failure until he begins to blame somebody else” and Joe Strummer said “When you blame yourself, you learn from it. If you blame someone else, you don't learn nothing, cause hey, it's not your fault, it's his fault, over there”.
Until our coaching staff stops assigning all blame elsewhere, just scapegoating the players, this Leos team will not turn itself around. Machievelli said “No enterprise is more likely to succeed than one concealed from the enemy until it is ripe for execution”
In other words, execution is most likely to success with the element of surprise. Simple concept that Buono doesn’t seem to get.
Our B.C. Lions, have only played in one Grey Cup game since 2006. Favored teams lose playoff games at times but we’ve lost some playoff games by scores that indicate a problem that just can’t be explained away as just a problem of a lack of player execution. For example, In 2014, we lost to Montreal 50-17. We lost 35-9 to Calgary in the 2015 WDF. We lost the WDF in 2016 to Calgary by a score of 42-15, giving the Stamps a 32-0 half time lead in the contest.
Those types of losses indicate a coaching issue. It’s time that we stopped just blaming quarterbacks from not getting rid of the football fast enough (something that Buono has said publically about every quarterback in a Leos uniform from Dickenson to Printers to Pierce to Jackson to Lulay to Glenn to Jennings and Lulay was even blamed again for it this season after the Edmonton game), lack of execution and not making enough ‘plays’.
For example, we have Chris Rainey on our team and when he comes into a game to play offence, the only plays we use him for is 1) to line him up as a tailback and give him an inside run or a predictable quick swing pass or 2) line him up in the slot and throw him a short quick comeback route.
There is no imagination to use his speed to attack the edge with a stretch play or a quick pitch or to use him for a screen pass or jailbreak screen, or to use him on crossing patterns, or on deep patterns (such as an out and up pattern).
If Dickenson or Trestmann had Rainey, they would be getting him the football in space in innovative ways.
If Chris Williams was back in Ottawa, he would be much more of a weapon, as an integral part of their offence, as he was in 2016. In Williams two seasons in Hamilton he had 1064 yds (15.2 yds. per catch and 1298 (15.6 yds. per catch in 16 games. In Ottawa he had 1214 receiving yards in 16 games (13.8 yds. per catch) and 1246 yds. in 14 games (16.2 yds. per reception).
This season Williams is projected out to play 12 games and will finish the season with 517 yds. and 11.1 yds. per reception. We are not getting the football to Williams in space, he averaged 41 yards after catch per game last season. This season Williams is averaging 15 yards after catch per game.
A lack of execution is not as serious a problem for our Leos as much as scheme, game planning, play calling and offensive and defensive line play.
A lack of execution does not explain why Jeremiah Johnson has had games in which he has had 5 and 7 carries in a game or why Johnson and Rainey combined for 14 rush yards in the Hamilton game. Wally said we needed more balance going into the bye week and that is not balance. Nor is throwing twice from the pocket on the Hamilton 3 yard-line.
Execution or lack thereof does not explain why we constantly leave the flat open to tailbacks or why we continue to have fundamental breakdowns in coverage in our defensive secondary due to confusion regarding who to cover.
Its asking too much for Sol E. to help out on coverage against slotbacks and still cover the flat or to ask Ronnie Yell to cover a wideout on a deep out and also have flat coverage on some defensive plays.
A lack of execution can’t be blamed on Jennings when Hamilton lines up to blitz, sends seven, and there is not a receiver in sight shorter than 20 yards. That is a play design problem that led to a key sack by Hamilton.
So, yes, while there are execution issues each game, win or lose, the issues mentioned above are coaching, game planning, scheme, and play calling issues.
I’m almost just as frustrated with Wally’s continuous refraim that our players need to ‘make plays’ and that they have failed if they don’t do something exceptional.
I watch a lot of CFL games and I think our Leos make more exceptional plays out of nothing that other teams. In almost every game we see an almost impossible catch from a Bryan Burnham or Manny outfight and out leap one or two defenders to make a great reception. We see a Jonathan Jennings escape a pass rush like a Houdini or throw a pass that no other quarterback can make. Williams signed in B.C. because he said Jennings had an ‘elite’ arm.
We see Jeremiah Johnson cut on a dime or make a spin move for a huge gain when he should have been nailed for a loss. We see Rainey, if ever given the opportunity in space, make great tacklers miss like they never have before.
We see Sol E. make tackles that most middle linebackers never make or a Ronnie Yell jump a route while covering another defender. Our Lions players make plays. The bigger problem is that they don’t have enough well-designed game plans or play calls that would enable them to more successful.
We have another bye week and a last opportunity to turn this season around. Blaming things on a lack of execution, when there was an opportunity to change, during the last bye week, did nothing.
I’ll end this post with these quotes, that Wally will never read but that would do him some good to take to heart.
“Blame doesn't empower you. It keeps you stuck in a place you don't want to be because you don't want to make the painful decision, to be responsible for the outcome” - Steven Adler
“People with a style of denial and blaming are definitely on the list of unsafe people to avoid”- Henry Cloud.
“It’s time to take responsibility; it’s time to lead; it’s time for a change; it’s time to stop blaming others” – Steve Maraboli
Its more than time for Wally to hit the mute
And stop saying “We didn’t execute”
It would be refreshing for him, instead, to say
We might need do things in a different way
"When I went to Catholic high school in Philadelphia, we just had one coach for football and basketball. He took all of us who turned out and had us run through a forest. The ones who ran into the trees were on the football team". (George Raveling)