Monday, September 7, 2015


In the offseason NFL coaches and player personnel representatives attend what is called "the Combine." It is a place where aspiring players come and are tested for attributes.  The team representatives want to see how fast one can run, how high they can jump, how much weight they can bench press, and assorted other capacities.

In each case the assumption must be that players with certain attributes will help a team win.  The identification of the attributes must be based on this assumption. Why test how fast someone can run the forty yard dash unless speed in that distance is key to team victories.

But what if a player is habitually victorious at the college, high school, and in the case of Tim Tebow, professional levels. That is whenever a particular player plays his teams tend to win far more often than they lose.  And what happens when that player does not score as well as others on the various tests.

It would make sense to me that a coach would acknowledge in this eventuality that the criteria identified as those needed for wins cannot be all inclusive.   There must be some other factors that are not measurable or the identification of these other factors has not yet occurred.

The case of Tim Tebow is an interesting one. When he played professionally for the Denver Broncos, the Broncos won.  When he played for the Florida Gators, Florida won.  The player's teams win.  From what I have read, Tebow cannot throw that well and is deficient in other areas.  Yet he wins. Similarly, Doug Flutie did not measure up on various tests. All he did however, like Tebow, was win wherever he played.

Tim Tebow was recently cut by the Philadelphia Eagles because he was not good enough.  The other quarterbacks are allegedly better.  I wonder what these other quarterbacks winning percentages have been. In Flutie's case one of the more astonishing decisions a coach has ever made was when Wade Phillips the then coach of the Buffalo Bills benched Flutie in a playoff game. He was benched despite the fact that Flutie had taken a loser and made it a winner in his two years as starter. He was benched in support of a taller, stronger, quarterback--who had a weaker record as a starter. The Bills lost in the playoff game.

Tom Brady is as good a quarterback as any who is playing in the NFL.  It is important to remember that the only reason he got an opportunity to play is because a player who excelled on all the Combine tests was injured. When Drew Bledsoe was injured Brady came in and had an opportunity to show how good he was. Juxtapose Bledsoe's Combine scores with Brady's, and Bledsoe had a clear edge.  Yet, Brady's win loss record is far superior to Bledsoe's.

I think some humility is necessary among those who claim to be experts.  Just because you cannot identify a factor that contributes to winning does not mean that that factor does not exist. If I was the coach of the Jaguars, or Buccaneers, or Raiders or any of the teams that are habitual losers, I would give the ball to Tebow until he started to lose.  And if that did not happen, rejoice, admit you don't have all the answers, and continue to give him the ball.

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