Stunt Men and the Art of Flight Control

Former Dodgers manager, Tommie Lasorda once said,  “Managing is like holding a dove in your hand.  Squeeze too hard and you kill it.  Not hard enough and it flies away.”  Ask any parent how true that is of raising children.  Indeed, any competent office manager faces the same problem.  They have to delegate but how much is a problem that’s practically impossible to solve.  There are times when you are going to be wrong and you just have to hope that the damage is limited when that happens.

Fans are stating to notice the stunts that the Bears are running on the defensive line to bring pressure on the quarterback.  Its the kind of thing that’s easy to over do and allowing the players the latitude to do so is all a part of the teaching process.

In a different way, Dan Pompei at the Chicago Tribune teaches us about the line stunts that the Beas have been running.  First he points out when stunts should be run and be effective:

“Stunts are used primarily on passing downs because running plays can be very effective against them if a gap is created.

“The Bears had seven situations Monday when the Vikings were facing a third down with between four and 10 yards to go. The Bears ran a twist on each of the seven.”

The points are well taken.  I’ve been noticing that the Bears have been running a lot of these stunts since the beginning of the year.  I’ve also been wondering when teams were going to start taking advantage of them.  The Vikings did just that.  Pompei didn’t mention it but the Vikings began running at the ends in an effort to catch the Bears stunting the defensive ends inside.  They did it and it was effective.  This will be something to keep an eye on.  The Bears may not want to as often or as consistently as they have been at what I would call intermediate distances on third down.

And who will be making the decisions regarding whether that will happen?   It turns out its the players who call the stunts on the field:

“On game day, the Bears have designated players who are responsible for deciding when to stunt just before the snap.

“‘This gives them complete ownership as pass rushers,’ (defensive coordinator, Rod) Marinelli said. ‘I’ve always found that keeps guys interested, active and alert.'”

I think this is a wonderful example of good coaching.  Marinelli isn’t just squeezing every bit of physical talent out of the players.  From the necessary film study to making the decision on the field calling the stunts, the players are involved in every step and, ultimately, they are in charge on the spot.  I’d be willing to bet that a few coaches will come out of this organization in the years to come with this kind of attitude.

There are so many benefits to doing this but you have to wonder how many coaches actually give up so much of the decision making process.  Some control has to be maintained if the players aren’t going to over do it and get caught for a long run in the wrong situation.  Its a delicate balance that has to be maintained.

Marinelli has given the Bears defensive players a lot of rope.  There’s always the chance that they will hang themselves with it.  But its a chance you have to take to achieve long-term success.

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