When I was the head coach of the Colts, during the 2006 training camp, I explained our strategy to the players. “We’re going to be fine,” I said, “as long as we think we’re fine. If we don’t, we’re going to have problems. We’re going to do what we do. Stay the course. Our biggest temptation will be to think we need to do something different.”
That year, my word picture for the players was from a story Denny Green had shared with me about quarterback Joe Montana.
Joe had been with the San Francisco 49ers for a number of years, helping them win several Super Bowls. Year after year, the team ran head coach Bill Walsh’s same offense. At the beginning of each season, Bill installed the offense the same way, with the plays installed in the same order. The first play he installed—every year—was “22 Z In.” Joe Montana could run “22 Z In” in his sleep.
When Paul Hackett became offensive coordinator for the 49ers, he installed “22 Z In” just as Bill Walsh instructed him. Paul realized that Joe knew more about “22 Z In” better than he did, but when the meeting was over, Paul saw that Joe had taken three pages of notes. He’d documented exactly how Paul wanted to run the play, as well as all of the basics of “22 Z In” and its details. That’s what a professional does.
“That’s what we need to do this season,” I told the Colts. “You’ll think you’ve heard it all before, but you can’t get mentally lazy. We have to stay sharp and continue to work to improve—all through camp and all through the season. We are going to do the same things over and over—that’s how we are going to win.” Then I ran through the same list of goals.