Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell once said, “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” The guess here is that few people know that better than football coaches.
Dave Birkett at the Detroit Free Press quotes Sean Payton as he discusses having play calling duties pulled from him in his first year as an offensive coordinator under Jim Fassel with the New York Giants:
“Payton had been a coordinator before, in college at Miami (Ohio). But calling plays in the NFL was different, and Payton said he learned one thing above all else from that experience.
“‘You learn it’s fast,’ Payton, now the New Orleans Saints head coach, said at the NFL owners meetings last month. ‘There’s somewhere between 5 and 7 seconds per decision, and so you make 70 of them (a game), pretty soon you have a headache.
“‘But you learn it’s fast, you learn the mechanics with regards to the quarterback-helmet (communication system), and then quickly you begin to really appreciate Monday through Friday because that’s when — look, if you grind on that and put together a really clean plan, Sundays, I’m not going to say it can become easy, but it’s no different than preparing for an exam.'”
A lot of fans sit around and think that being a coordinator and calling plays in the NFL is a result of sitting in a booth and being brilliant. Payton’s quote highlights that its not. Its not any different than any job that you, I or Colin Powell would ever have. It’s the result of grinding through the week, preparing a game plan which in part consists of asking the question over and over again, “What do I do if this happens?”
Payton was fortunate. He was smart enough to learn from failure that preparation was what was needed and to have had the work ethic to do what was necessary. It’s a winning combination and I’ll bet that’s not news to anyone reading this. And yet we still watch what seem to be spur of the moment decisions all around us made like lightening and forget that they are the result of slow, methodical, put on your overalls work done well beforehand.