View Full Version : Coming Full Circle

12-19-2011, 09:35 AM
The more I watch Tebow, the more I'm reminded of this guy:

(The Tarkenton piece starts at 1:05)
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And it occurred to me that maybe we're seeing something old all over again, so now it seems new. There was a time, back in the halcyon days of old, when you didn't hear discussions about footwork, and arm motions, and the dissection of sports movements into separate segments for study. The only thing that mattered was what worked. Did the QB win games?

This was really prevalent in golf. Prior to Jack Nicklaus, there were all kinds of whacked out swings (and especially putting strokes) winning tournaments all over the world. If you watch films of Bobby Jones, his putting stroke was ridiculous, by modern standards. When Jack came along and began to make winning the majors a regular event, everybody started getting into dissecting the swing, trying to swing like Jack. Now, if you look at the average golf magazine, the swing is broken down like the wing stresses on a jet fighter, into its smallest components.

In football, in the 80s, Bill Walsh came along with his refinements of Sid Gillman's WCO. He built Joe Montana into his system. And the Niners started winning, and winning big. Modern theories of systems analysis entered football. It wasn't a game. It was a science.

Coaches picked up the new computer technologies and started applying them to the motions of football players, especially QBs. Suddenly, you could break down every move a player made into a series of snapshots. The QB became the most studied and dissected player in the game. Soon, you could take film of any draftee out of college and compare him to the greats. How does he move his feet? Where's his elbow at release? What's his velocity? How quick is his release (quick release being a key to the WCO). You could build the perfect QB on the computer.

There were a few flaws, however. Just like when Ford relied on marketing analysis to come up with the Edsel, the new science of QB analysis could just as easily come up with a Ryan Leaf. Remember, when you put him in the computer, he matched up perfectly. He met every criteria; Size, speed, footwork, release, etc. Except for the parts you can't quantify.

Which brings us back, full circle. Is he a winner? Does he win games? Tarkenton was not pretty. In fact, he was blasted when he first came in the league for the way he played. His coach hated him and traded him. But he ended up owning every passing record in the league and taking his team to three SBs (unfortunately, during the Steel Curtain era).

Anyway, if computers could answer every question, the world would become a very boring place. Sometimes you have to go with what can't be quantified. It's called going with your gut instinct. And no computer has that.