In Part 2 of Why Good Teams Go Bad, I will examine what I think is the main reason a team can go from 13-3 or 14-2 to a losing season…the Quarterback.
- Capacity. 9 of the 12 teams had QBs age 30 or over. 2 others, Mark Brunell was 29 and Donovan McNabb was 28. Now this is not a statement of age discrimination. On the contrary, experience if leveraged correctly actually increases a person’s capacity. However, in sports, age can limit your physical capacity. 2 of the 9, John Elway and Brett Favre, retired after their great seasons. 6 of the 12 were injured the following year. The question all leaders must ask is the following “Have I identified the capacity issues within my team?” It may be a skill issue, a depth issue, a character or resource issue, or a lack of creative thought. Whatever it may be, your successful team may be undone because you no longer can perform at a high level due to capacity issues. In future blogs, I will be examining how to increase your capacity.
- The Inner Circle Changes. Records are limited here but it is interesting that no team changed Head Coaches. However, a minimum of 5 teams changed Offensive or Defensive Coordinators. This changes the system, the terminology, the appreciation of skills, the pace and rhythm of practice, and the human relational dynamic that is so important when dealing with high capacity individuals. Remember, no one likes change but a baby.
- Because of parity, most NFL teams are basically evenly matched. As a result, leadership is many times the deciding factor in games. During the winning seasons, the teams can a combined 68-13 record in games decided by 7 points or less. The following seasons, the same teams combined for a 33-62 record. The biggest change was experienced by the 2001-02 Chicago Bears. In 2001, the Bears went 8-1 in close games. The following year after being the most injured team in the league and losing on-field leader QB Jim Miller after 8 starts, the Bears went 4-6.
This brings us to the 1-6 Tennessee Titans. They fit the profile perfectly. They have a 36 year old QB who was replaced after game 6. They lost their best player, Albert Haynesworth, to free agency and best defensive back Cortland Finnegan to injury. They have a 1st year Defensive Coordinator in Chuck Cecil. They are currently 0-3 in games decided by 7 points or less after going 4-1 last year. The team has no sense of urgency.
This now brings us to your ministry or organizational team. If you are ignoring capacity issues, have lost your best people, have new unproven leadership, and seem to be just missing opportunities, you may be a good team about to go bad. One of the best lessons I was ever taught was as a leader to frequently pretend I was a new leader taking over every 6 months. Some things we do very well. Some things the next person would obviously change. It was my responsibility as a leader, and now yours, to proactively make those changes before significant negative performance occurs.