Hello friends! It’s been a while! I missed every single one of you… I promise! Even though I haven’t written in quite some time, you best believe my mind has been churning out ideas. Most importantly, on the topic of psychological team building.
There are a lot of things we think about when considering what a championship team consists of. How many times have we seen these “super teams” built, not even just in football, and then you see them fall flat?
Most people would say you need all this great talent on your team, right? That is absolutely true.
You need a quarterback that can at least be a bus driver (I would have said you need great QB play until Peyton Manning won it all last year). Talent on both ends of the ball is a must. You need a part of your team that is unstoppable, whether that be a defensive line that can’t be stopped, a secondary that is impenetrable, a running game that gashes, etc.
You can build a team filled with elite players, but that doesn’t guarantee success. At the end of the day, a major piece of the puzzle that is missing is the psychological aspect to football, and sports in general.
As fans, we tend to separate the human aspect from the players we are watching. We are all guilty of this. It’s hard to see these people as actual human beings, rather than football-playing robots. Do human beings get tired? Have they tried to cut corners? Do human beings get lazy? Are human beings capable of giving their all at all times?
For us to think that every single player has it in them to go max-effort every single play of a game is simply naive.
There are 22 players on the field at a given time. Fifty-three players fill up a locker room. Are we really thinking that every single one of them is a high motor, high energy, fiery spirited person that gives their all at all times?
Not to mention, people get tired and when they get tired, these characteristics show up even more.
Now let’s get to how it relates to the Cowboys.
The Dallas Cowboys and Team Psychology
For example, let’s think about Rolando McClain…
We all know there are plays where you can tell Rolando McClain is either gassed, injured or he is saving up/recuperating energy. You can see when this happens. (Disclaimer: I’m not trying to call out McClain, but he is a great example for this.)
Now, let’s also think about Tyrone Crawford last season. Tyrone Crawford played a large portion of last season with a rotator cuff issue.
Now, if Tyrone Crawford chooses a play where he is going to give max effort and he helps clear Rolando McClain for an easy tackle, but McClain is not giving max effort, how does that affect the team as a whole?
Crawford thinks he just gave his all for nothing, despite the injury he is playing with. McClain knows he missed out on an opportunity. On the next play, McClain gives his all and Crawford is easing up a bit.
This is just an example to try to get people to humanize athletes a little more. It makes sense to think that this sort of thing happens. It’s impossible to get everyone playing 100% for every snap of a game.
These things will happen, but it is a matter of minimizing them and making sure you have enough high energy players giving max effort as often as possible.
This is why I believe these super teams are never a slam dunk. When you combine top-tier athletes together, they may not all play at 100%, thinking someone else will make that huge play and they can relax a bit.
How can you counter natural human elements?
Having Orlando Scandrick back in 2016 will be HUGE.
This team plays differently when he is on the field. What Dez Bryant brings to the offense, Orlando Scandrick brings to the defense. This is a player who plays at such a high energy level that he makes everyone else around him play up to his level.
He talks a lot, he’s flashy, and he flies around all over the field. It’s hard to take plays off when you have that guy energizing you.
With all the youth that this team has, and all the players fighting for a place in the NFL, you get players that should be giving everything that they have. These players are trying to make themselves some money. There is a lot of hunger there.
When you combine youth, hunger, talent and energy, you get the most out of your team. When you hear the term “high motor,” that is getting toward what I’m talking about.
If you’re an NFL player, chances are there is talent there. Everyone has a particular skill that is very good, at a minimum. Get everyone playing as hard as they can and you’re really harvesting something.
I think this is something that Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots do really well.
How many times have people counted out areas of the Patriots team only to feel stupid in the end?
I often question how a guy like Malcolm Butler goes from a nobody to their shutdown corner in no time. Well, it’s because Belichick not only knows how to put his players in positions for them to succeed, but he makes every guy bring his all.
2014 Dallas Cowboys: A Perfect Example
The 2014 Dallas Cowboys were a phenomenal example of what energy and effort can do.
Everyone thought that defense would be historically bad. But, they weren’t nearly as bad as everyone expected, despite having practically no big-name talent on it.
What they had were a bunch of young nobodies that were playing as hard as they could together as a unit. Jon Gruden called them the “UFO” defense. A bunch of unidentified flying objects, because they were nobodies who just flew all over the field.
The 2016 team is clearly going for the same identity. They need the offense to control the clock and put up points like it has for the duration of Tony Romo’s existence.
The defense… well, they will be a bunch of guys looking to make names for themselves, prove people wrong, and make themselves some serious money.