While reading a post on Gobbler Country, I clicked a link that directed me to Darryl Slater’s blog on the Richmond Times-Dispatch website. In this post, Slater mentions how he took Coach Beamer up on his offer to check out the list of goals posted for his team in the Merryman Athletic Center. Here they are, according to Slater:
OFFENSE 1. Score enough to win. 2. 100 percent in red zone. 3. Control the ball. 4. Convert 50 percent of third downs. 5. Have one turnover or fewer. 6. Have three penalties or fewer.
DEFENSE 1. Win.—(This also stands for coordinator Bud Foster’s favorite acronym: What’s Important Now.) 2. Hold opponents to 1X points or less.—(There was a 1, then another digit that had gotten chipped off the board, so I’m not exactly sure about the points. But I’d imagine it is 10 or 14.) 3. Score or give offense possession at midfield or better two times. 4. No more than one play longer than 25 yards. 5. Stop opponents on third down 93 percent of the time; stop them on third and long (plus-4) 80 percent of the time. 6. Allow no touchdowns after Tech’s offense turns the ball over. 7. Allow three yards or less per rushing attempt. 8. Force three-and-out 50 percent of the time. 9. Eight tackles for a loss.
SPECIAL TEAMS 1. Allow no more than six yards per return. 2. Down punt inside 10-yard line. 3. Opponent’s average starting position inside its 20. 4. Average 10 yards per punt return. 5. Block punt, field goal or extra point, or force a bad kick. 6. Start 66 percent of Tech offensive drives at 28-yard line or better. 7. Make every extra point. 8. Make two of every three field goals. 9. No critical penalties. 10. Hidden yardage plus-20 yards.—(I think this means Tech wants to be 20 yards better than its opponents in total special teams yardage, but I’m not sure.)
Now, I don’t know about you, but I think I found the overall reason why our offense is predictable and anemic. Look at those goals.
First off we have “score enough points to win the game”. That is way too ambiguous. What is “enough points to win” one minute will inevitably change depending on what the other team does. I mean “Score enough points to win the game” is basically saying the same thing as “Win the game” and if that isn’t your goal going into that contest then there is no point in playing the game.
Why not make the goal “stay at least 9 points ahead of the opposing team”? That way we are accomplishing this goal of scoring enough points to win the game, but we’re not just hoping for one point more than the other team. Our offense would constantly be striving to keep the other team’s offense down by two scores and not settle for three point leads. Also, they would have something to work towards. A cold hard number they can move towards. Why do teams choose to play second in overtime? Because they know what they have to get. It would help us to know we have to get 9 points ahead of the other team at all times. Win each quarter and you win the game.
Second, 100% in the red zone is a great goal, but come on. Make it something the team knows how to accomplish. How about “Be 100% on touchdowns within the 10 yd line and 90% on touchdowns within the 25-10 yd lines.” Field goals here are left up to the special teams and should be automatic in the red zone, so we won’t go further into those. Not much of an improvement on the original goal, but at least it gives numbers to hold the offense accountable.
Third, “Control the ball”? what does that even really mean? How about “Maintain possession for 35 minutes a game” or “maintain possession 17 minutes a half”? Then as our team learns to give our defense a break, we can up the minutes as we see fit.
Four, be better than 50% on third downs. Make it 75%. Sure that’s high, but it’s a goal. If you make the goal something you can reach each game, it’s not a goal. It’s a standard.
Five, “Have one turnover or fewer”. Kind of bland, but there’s no pretty way to say this.
Six, “Have three penalties or fewer”. This is nice, but we can’t keep to this. And plus penalties are varied. I mean you have pass interference, which is basically worth 3 false starts. Stop being ambiguous on the number of penalties, and focus more on the yards lost by penalties. How about striving for “Losing less than 45 yards on penalties”. Now there is a hard number of how much penalties affect our offense. You got called on three pass interferences? Better not screw up again. You got 3 false starts and two holdings? You got one more holding call and then you’re in trouble.
I left the defense and special teams goals up there so you can look through them as well. They are, on the hole, more detailed and specific, which gives the players actual goals to strive for.
In the words of my friend Torg, “One of these things is not like the other ones.”