Tuesday, December 29, 2009

NFL Peak Performance Notes


"I got that because that's what I want to do -- I want to live forever. I want to make a difference. I want people to be thinking about my name until the sun blows up."

--Charles Woodson, Green Bay Packers' cornerback, who many consider to be the most valuable defensive NFL player of 2009, discussing the tattoo he has on his right wrist. It is an Egyptian symbol that means "Live forever."


It was not always that way for Woodson.

"Charles always came to play on Sundays," said NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks, who was a Raiders defensive back during Woodson's rookie season.

"But he literally would walk into a meeting room, put his playbook on the floor and go right to sleep. He always had great talent. The question was whether he would waste it."

"You start to do a lot more things as you get older. I feel like I'm still a good athlete now but it was different at the start [of his career]. It wasn't until my sixth year in the league that I started to prepare for training camp.

"When I was in my first or second year, I would just go back to Atlanta [his offseason home] and it would be on. I wasn't worrying about longevity," said Woodson.

The Vision

“These guys in the next five weeks can do something that will be with them for 50 years, each one of them. You can hold your breath for five weeks when it comes to getting a benefit that you’ll have for 50 years. That’s the way they ought to look at it.”

--Jerry Jones, Dallas Cowboys' owner, discussing the Cowboys' playoff clinching win and his hope for a Super Bowl win.

Preparation/The Whole is Greater Than the Parts

“When I look at my game, I see that the people who surround me have basically built me into a machine. Like I’m made up of all these parts.”

--Darrelle Revis, New York Jets cornerback.

If Darrelle Revis were building the ideal cornerback from scratch, he would start with the footwork of Deion Sanders, add the vision of Ty Law and mix in Darrell Green’s speed, Champ Bailey’s hands and Charles Woodson’s athleticism.

Now in his third year, Revis studies film daily, during meetings and from 60 to 90 minutes on his own. This season, Revis stopped viewing run plays, because he reacts to those instinctively. Instead, he watches every play from the current season, dozens of times, of the next receiver he will face.

First, he looks for body language. Does the receiver tilt his shoulders forward on a pass play? Has he run go routes with his left foot forward at the line? Does he pop and flex his fingers before running across the middle?

Revis does not play poker, but he said every player has tells, including him. The key is finding what is unique about each receiver, then exploiting that.

“It’s all about memorization,” he said. “I’m in the walk-through calling out routes and formations. To the public eye, in the game, it looks easy. And it is, if you’ve seen it dozens of times and you know what’s coming.”

Mental Mindset/Continuous Improvement

Although more advanced than other cornerbacks with similar experience and ahead in technique, fundamentals, and knowledge, Revis is open to coaching and always wants to learn more. In the off-season, Revis studies the greats at his position, even shoots text messages to Hall of Famer Deion Sanders for advice.

The Game Plan

Head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, Jim Caldwell, in an effort to avoid injuries and rest for the playoffs, took many of his stars and starters out of a game with the New York Jets on Sunday. With a chance for an undefeated regular season in sight, Caldwell decided to play it safe for the bigger goal of winning a Super Bowl. With an division championship in tow, a first-round bye, and the home field advantage for the playoffs already clinched, The Colts lost to the Jets. The move was criticized by many fans and NFL experts.

However, Caldwell also had some defenders in the media.

“You have to take that emotional side out of it before the game even starts. You have to make those decisions: either we’re going all the way or we’re sticking to our formula. I’ve had instances like that in the past where you set your formula and guys say, ‘Hey, leave me in.’ Once that happens to you as a coach, you never allow that to happen again. You have to stick to your guns.”

--Tony Dungy, former Indianapolis Colts head coach and current NFL analyst.

"The main focus for us is making sure we're ready to go [for the playoffs]. The most important season is the one that is coming up.

"I'm one of those guys, it's probably my greatest strength and my greatest weakness, I can focus in, I can narrow my scope, and once you make a decision you have to live with it. Certainly you weigh all the options before. You take a look at all the things that could occur, but once that decision is done you just keep moving."

--Jim Caldwell, Indianapolis Colts' head coach, on his decision to rest starters and lose a chance at an undefeated regular season.

Execution

"Until any player is a head coach, you follow orders and you do it with all your heart. We support the decisions that are made. Our orders were to win the game. Our orders weren't to give up a fumble for a touchdown or a kick return for a touchdown [by the Jets' Brad Smith]."

--Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts' quarterback, defending the Colts' decision.

Excerpts from the New York Times, December 28, 2009 and ESPN.com, December 27 & 28, 2009.



For more on Peak Performance, click on The Handbook of Peak Performance.
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