Tony DeMeo

Guts & Genius by Bob Glauber

This is a very interesting book about three NFL coaches that dominated 10 years of NFL football from 1981 through 1991. All three were on the brink of being fixed in their verY first year as head NFL coaches. But all

Three overcame their shaky starts to become a Hall of Fame Coach.

The first coach was Bill Walsh. Walsh overcame a traumatic pass over by Paul Brown of The Cincinnati Bengals. Brown was the HC, GM, President & owner of the Bengals. Bill Walsh was his OC & developed what became known as The West Coast Offense. The Bengals success came from this unique pass first, run second philosophy. It’s safe to say no single system has had a greater influence on NFL football. Walsh’s reward was to get passed over for the head job by Pau Brown in favor of Tiger Johnson. But Brown did want Walsh as an OC so he gave very poor recommendations on Bill to the rest of the NFL owners. Walsh wound up coaching at Stanford for a couple of years before 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo took a shot on Bill in 1979. Walsh’s first year the 49ers looked better but finished 2-14 & self-doubt was overwhelming Bill’s brain. 1980 showed some improvement to 6-10. But the main thing of 1982 was the emergence of one of the greatest QBs in NFL history – Joe Montana. He & his favorite target Dwight Clark put the WCO in gear. Walsh always preached his “Standard of Performance” Regardless of the opponent, you were held accountable for that standard. In 1983 it all came together with a 49er Super Bowl Championship in only Bill’s third year. Walsh went on to win 2 more Super Bowls before retiring from NFL coaching.

Joe Gibbs came to the Redskins replacing Jack Pardee. He installed the wide open Air-Coryell Offense he learned in San Diego under the inventor of Air Cornell – Don Coryell. The Skins were throwing almost every down & losing every game. Joe Gibbs started out 0-5 and was almost fired before he won his first game! Then after a meeting with QB Joe Theismann, he decided to go with the run game & feature Big John Riggins running behind a revamped offensive line. Gibbs installed his signature play – The Counter Trey which was made for Riggins. With Riggins leading the way, the Redskins finished the season 8-8. The strong running game also led to a more effective pass game. In only his second year, Gibbs took the Redskins all the way to the Super Bowl Championship! Gibbs went on to win 2 more Super Bowls with 3 different QBs. Gibbs ability to adapt to his personnel was one of his greatest strengths. He loved Air-Coryell but he switched to a ground & pound attack making use of the great John Riggins – a great lesson.

The third coach was Bill Parcells who took over The NY Giants football team after the departure of Ray Perkins who left to be Alabama’s new head coach after the retirement of the legendary Bear Bryant. Parcells was Perkins’ Defensive Coordinator & had great success implementing his 34 Defense. Helping the implementation was the presence of future Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor. Taylor was the most dominating defensive presence in the modern era. But even with Taylor, Parcells struggled in his first year. He made some poor decisions including benching Phil Simms in favor of Scott Bruner. The Tuna went 3-12-1 in his first year & almost his last. GM George Young offered the job to Howard Schnellenberger, The Head Coach of the Miami HurrIcanes who turned down the offer. Bill got a second year & made the most of it. He got rid of the malcontents & brought in “tough guys” & he instituted a demanding off season weight training program in a brand new facility.  

He also changed his offensive philosophy to a ball control, clock chewing, grind em out style. He got back to physical football. Parcells said every game can be won even if the other team is more talented. The job of a coach is to find a way to win. That is a great lesson. Bill found way to win his first Super Bowl in 1986 & his second in 1990. The Giants were underdogs in both.

So that’s the story of three great coaches who were on the brink of getting fired but found a way to win 8 Super Bowls in 10 years! This not only an entertaining book but it is very well written & is packed full of great coaching & leadership lessons. It has my recommendation.

                                                                                                    Tony DeMeo