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I’m no football expert, but I have watched more than 40 seasons’ worth of games. During the game, both teams demonstrated classic mistakes one also sees start-ups make.
Baltimore gave up both a punt return and a kickoff return for touchdowns to the same guy. In each case, the Ravens special teams’ players pursued a tackle instead of staying in their lanes. In other words, they decided to go it alone instead of working together as a team to tackle the Broncos’ return man. Especially in start-up phase, every member of the team has to take care of his or her own responsibilities first, otherwise success is unlikely.
Denver’s failures are too great to list in my limited space. However, two mistakes are so clearly mental errors as opposed to a breakdown on the field that they bear analysis.
The first is play calling.
Denver’s coaching staff decided to NOT do what worked in the regular season.
In the regular season, moderately aggressive play calling and a quick count on the line resulted in an 11-game winning streak. In Saturday’s game, conservative is the only way to describe the play calling. It was as if Denver was trying hard NOT to lose as opposed to trying to win.
In a start-up, you see this same behavior once a modicum of success is reached. The risk-taking that got your company to that point suddenly begins to seep away. Every decision is based on whether it will hurt the existing success as opposed to whether it will improve the position of the company as a whole. Predictably, the result is stagnation, loss of momentum and a failure to build the company. On the football field this translates into a run up the middle on third down with less than two minutes in the game instead of a quick throw by Manning for the first down. Even if the pass fails, at least you took a shot.
The second mental error was
clinging to a defensive scheme when the other team had demonstrated an ability to exploit that scheme for its own gain.
During the game, Baltimore torched Denver’s Hall of Fame cornerback Champ Bailey. Bailey is an amazing player and Denver’s defense was outstanding all year. However, in this game, on this afternoon, Bailey could not keep up with the Ravens. Any cornerback can get beat in a game. After the second touchdown scored against Bailey in a single half, the coaches should have provided Bailey with help. Throughout the year, the Broncos coaches excelled at halftime adjustments. Sadly, they kept a similar defense in place. Though Champ was not involved in the play that tied the game, the throw was to the exact same side the Ravens had used all game.
In a start-up, all too often the original idea is good and gets the ball rolling. However, at some point the group must evolve (or in the vernacular of some, “pivot”) toward a modified version of the original business plan in order to address unforeseen obstacles. The Broncos failed to do this yesterday and as a result they are now done for the season.
Everyone hopes that their team (start-up) will win the Super Bowl (have a great exit). Chances are low, but learning from each setback, working together as a team, playing aggressively and adjusting your strategy mid-game if need be, greatly increase your likelihood of success. And, if all else fails, there’s always next season. Broncos training camp starts in July.