Football, depending on who is coaching, can get very complicated. There are complex defensive schemes that mesh man and zone principles, offenses with 20-word long play calls, and option concepts that can turn one play into four or five, depending on what the defense does.
However, the best coaches take the complexities of football and simplify them as much as possible to make them easier to understand and execute. They create ironclad principles that make it very easy for players to determine what they are going to do based solely on what they see the opponent do, allowing them to execute with minimal processing time — just read and react.
The same thing goes for those who make decisions on the roster and who to sign. You can get lost in a sea of data trying to find guys who do what you want to do, matching the stats and testing data with what you see on film. The best talent evaluators have a knack for blending the two and tend to know exactly what they’re looking for at each position group. That’s the case with Bill Belichick, who goes to the NFL Combine every year and ignores who is running the fastest and jumping the highest in shorts, and instead is looking a different, well, asset, as Kirby Smart explained at a coaching clinic.
Kirby Smart said at a coaching clinic that Nick Saban taught him that Bill Belichick goes to the combine to scout players with huge asses. pic.twitter.com/JcmJY6zCxl
— Kevin Clark (@bykevinclark) March 15, 2023
“I was at the Dolphins coaching, so we go to Indianapolis for the Combine and I’m sitting there with Coach Saban and he’s trying to teach you the ropes of how to evaluate guys at the Combine…he said, come over here with me, I want you to sit by Bill. I’m like, Bill who? And he’s like, Bill Belichick, I want you to sit by him and listen to him during the Combine as they talk about players. When they get to where the 40 yard dash is…they got behind ’em where the thing starts at. I’m like, why are we here? You can’t time the finish. And he’s like, no, Bill likes to look to see how big their ass is when they get down into that 40 yard stance cause he wants to sign the biggest ass defensive linemen that he can sign. Cause those backers want to line up behind those guys and be protected by ’em, and they wanna have an anchor.”
This tracks with the fact that Belichick built a championship winning defense around noted gigantic human Vince Wilfork as the nose guard. It also clearly left an impact on Smart, whose teams at Alabama, where he was the defensive coordinator under Saban, and Georgia have always had massive defensive tackles — most recently Jordan Davis and Jalen Carter.
Sometimes, football can get unnecessarily complicated, and you gotta just get back to basics, like looking for big asses at the Combine and just signing those guys to be your defensive line.