Blueprint to a Dynasty
With the New England Patriot victory in Super Bowl LI, there has been a lot of talk about dynasties. There have been some great dynasties in all sports not just football. The Red Auerbach Boston Celtics was a great NBA dynasty. The NY Yankees had a couple of dynasties in the early 50s & the late 90s. The Lombardi led Packers were a dynasty in the NFL as was the Bill Walsh coached 49ers. Of course the Jordan/Jackson Bulls in the NBA has to be included. In college sports the epitome of a dynasty would be John Wooden’s UCLA Bruins & Geno Auriammo’s UCONN’s women’s basketball program.
There seems to be some commonality to each of these dynasties and a specific blueprint to the building of a dynasty regardless of the sport. Let’s take a look at the commonality: CONTINUITY IN THE COACHING STAFF. All of these dynasties held on to their head coach. The Celtics Red Auerbach left as the coach but stayed on as the General Manager after turning over the coaching to his protégé’ Bill Russell who kept the Auerbach Philosophy & System intact. The Yankees were led by Casey Stengel in the 50s & Joe Torre in the 90s. The Packers had the invincible Lombardi at the helm & Bill Walsh was the Head Coach for the 49ers & then passed the torch to George Seifert but stayed involved helping his successor with the West coast Offense. And of course most recently The Patriots have the great Bill Belichick leading the to 5 Super Bowl victories. So the Leadership factor was a big part of the dynasty creation.
What about the other factors in the Building of a Dynasty. What are some of the key ingredients & steps to put this together? Let’s take a look:
1. The System – Each of the dynasties had a specific system in place that magnified the ability of their players. The Packers had -the Green Bay Sweep that led the potent ground game that not only led the attack but kept their defense off the field by controlling the clock. Bill Belichick has a system in place that he plugs in players that immediately become productive.
Let’s look at the Super Bowl this past year. Tom Brady’s receivers were Julian Edlemann, a QB in college, Chris Hogan, a lacrosse player who played only one year of college football, an undrafted Ammendola and the guy who set the Super Bowl record for the most receptions in a game (14) & scored 3 TDs James White their 3rd string Tailback! This crew led by a former 6th round Tom Terrific Brady set a Super Bowl record of 466 yards passing while coming back from a 28-3 deficit.
A great system kept in place gets better & better as the years roll on because of BANKED REPS. The more experience the team gains using the system the greater the team performs in critical situations. So in Super Bowl LI when the Patriots had to execute coming from 25 points down they could. The 49ers had Bill Walsh’s West Coast Offense led by Joe Montana who was 3-0 in Super Bowls. Montana a 3rd round draft pick & Brady a 6th round pick both benefitted from great coaches & great systems. The Bulls & Michael Jordan were the benefitted from Phil Jackson’s Triangle Offense. The great Michael Jordan was in the league for 6 years with no rings until Zen Master Phil introduced Mike to the Triangle Offense. So having a great SYSTEM is a critical step.
2. The Players – Getting players that fit the system is the next critical part of the equation. Like Red Auerbach said “I don’t want to have the 5 best players on the court, I want the best five on the court” So for example if you’re a Flex-Bone team it would be silly to recruit a great passing QB who came in 3rd racing a pregnant women.
Casey Stengel always had players that could play numerous positions. For example, Gil McDougal would routinely play every infield position in the same series.
Vince Lombardi wanted running backs that weren’t the fastest or the strongest. Lombardi wanted backs who would block for each other and run the ball with vision and could “Run to Daylight” which was the essence of The Lombardi Sweep.
Bill Walsh was looking for a QB with a quick release and leader under pressure and Joe Montana was the perfect fit winning 3 Super Bowls.
Bill Belichick was 5-11 in his first year with Patriots and in his second year his star QB Drew Bledsoe went down BUT along came Tom Brady and The Pats were off on the path to a dynasty and Drew Bledsoe was on his way to Buffalo.
The players must also be “We guys not me guys” In team sports, team players win. Guys who care about individual stats don’t win championships. Larry Bird said “Some guys put up numbers and some guys win championships” Red Auerbach developed the ^th man concept and used one of his best players to play it. All Star John Havlicek was the Celtics 6th man & gave up a starting position despite being the team’s top scorer. Bill Russell a top scorer in college became a defensive ace for the Celts.
The Patriots never feature just one receiver in their attack but rather spread the ball around to all their skill thus making them more effective.
The Yankees platooned guys like Hank Bauer & Gene Woodling which reduced their individual stats but the Yankees won 5 straight World Series. Stengel had a system and it worked as long as his players were willing to give up numbers for championships.
Great systems magnify the ability of players & improves the performances of those players. Two of the greatest QBs ever to play in the NFL, Joe Montana & Tom Brady, were not big college stars benefitted from great systems crafted by great coaches: Bill Walsh & Bill Belichick. Also neither of Montana’s top 2 receivers, Jerry Rice & John Taylor, even played at DI college football. But were perfect for Bill Walsh’s West Coast Offense. Likewise 3 of Tom Brady’s record setting Super Bowl receivers were undrafted free agents.
Vince Lombardi won Super Bowl II with a fullback that was cut by the last place team in the league. Chuck Mercein came to the Packers because of a rash of injuries to their running backs & he stepped up to play a major role in The Packers Championship run & Super Bowl victory.
3. Patience – The last piece of the puzzle is patience by the administration. It takes time to put a system in place and get the right players in place. Bill Belichick was fired in Cleveland with basically the same system that propelled the Patriots into dynasty status. He never had a chance to get a QB in place to run the system.
Casey Stengel was fired by the Brooklyn Dodgers & Boston Braves before finding the Bombers from The Bronx.
John Wooden went 14 years before he won a National Championship with The UCLA Bruins and the proceeded to define dynasty by winning 10 yes 10 National championships in 12 years!
Bill Walsh didn’t show his genius until his 3rd year in his great run with the 49ers. Walsh was only 8-24 in his first 2 seasons and then had the breakthrough year winning the Super Bowl in year 3.
So these three ingredients are essential if your goal is to build a dynasty. Oh and by the way you also have to have a little luck on your side.