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A 15-minute meeting that could transform your staff

fighter pilot

Game days are three and a half hours spent in the fog of war. Every situation is weighed and then abandoned, each decision made leads only to the next decision, which leads to yet another decision, a pattern that continues on repeat for 60 minutes of game action. There's no time for reflection, no time dissection.

Which is why, when reading yesterday about how new Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter has designated a game management coach...

“Because I’m going to stay as the play-caller, and there are plenty of guys in the NFL who stay as play-callers as head coaches,” Koetter said. “There are just so many situations that come up in an NFL game, whether it’s clock management or just game-ending situations, to have someone that they’re fully dedicated to that preparation in leading up to the game and on game day made sense.”

“When I was the offensive coordinator, if I was up in the box, we always had a designated coach on the field that if I said, ‘This situation is up’ and the head coach was on the other side of the phones talking to the defensive staff, that coach on the field would go remind the head coach about this or that,” Koetter added. “There is so much pressure when that clock is ticking, you have to have somebody who is on top of that and looking ahead.”

.... it occurred to me that game management is one of the most crucial job requirements of being a head coach, and absolutely nothing can prepare you for operating that particular fighter jet until your backside is actually sitting in that cockpit.

Every assistant is siphoned to his own silo, monitoring the aspect of the game to which he's been assigned and nothing else, while only the head coach sees the entire picture.

The head man makes game management decisions, while his assistants are left to wonder, "Wait, why are we going for it here?" or "Wait, why AREN'T we going for it here?" And then the game moves on, and the next decision becomes the biggest decision of the game. Rinse and repeat.

It's our suggestion that, when reviewing the game, head coaches should hold a meeting with their assistants to talk through why he made the game management decisions that he did. Maybe it's a special meeting only with the assistants the head coach thinks can become head coaches in their own right down the line. Maybe it's an addendum to an existing meeting with the entire staff, GAs and interns included.

Either way, it's a 15-minute investment into your assistants' futures that will prepare them for the one aspect of the job that can't be simulated. Call it fighter pilot training.