Byron's Babbles

Leadership Lessons From Super Bowl LII

IMG_1931How about this? Last night the underdog Philadelphia Eagles upset the defending champion New England Patriots, 41-33, to win their first Super Bowl ever. As is our family tradition, we went to our good friend’s home to watch and enjoy the Super Bowl. For this game I really did not have any dog in the fight, but found three things very interesting to reflect on during the game. First, it is such a credit to the Patriots to have been in the position of going for a record 6th Super Bowl title. Think about it, we say all the time it is tougher to stay at the top than to get there. So, kudos to the New England Patriots for that – staying at the top of the game. Secondly, the Philadelphia Eagles had to work from being the underdog. In fact they were the underdog in all post-season games. Not an easy thing to do. Finally, my third area for reflection, and maybe the most important story, is the bench-building work of the Philadelphia Eagles. In other words, to lose a franchise quarterback and have one ready to take over like, Nick Foles, is amazing.

Nick Foles is quite the story when you think about the fact that he was considering walking away from professional football as recently as this past off-season. Then he won the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player award after leading the Eagles past the New England Patriots, 41-33, in Super Bowl LII. There is no doubt that Carson Wentz was in control of the quarterback room prior to his injury, but it is also clear that the backup quarterbacks Nick Foles and Nate Sudfeld were paying attention and learning. Credit Carson Wentz with leading by example in the quarterback room so that when it became Foles’ responsibility to hold the clicker, run the video, dissect the plays and report his insights, Foles was ready.

Additionally, I saw it reported somewhere that John DeFilippo, the Eagles’ quarterback coach, asked Foles to study the offensive plays he liked and choose 25 he thought worked best for him. DeFilippo wanted Foles’ input on plays and the concepts, too. Think about this leadership move by DeFilippo to create an effective package of run-pass option plays that suited Foles’ strengths. Since getting the starting nod in the game at Los Angeles, the Eagles offense has continually morphed into one for Foles rather than for Wentz. I would argue you cannot do this having some intentionality about bench building as an organization. In fact, we see other NFL teams that have done this well; the Dallas Cowboys come to mind. We have also teams not do this well, our Indianapolis Colts this past season when losing Andrew Luck. I am amazed how some teams are able to lose a paramount player and just keep going without missing a beat and others really struggle.

Could it be that it starts in the team room with how the bench is being modeled to, how the bench is being interacted with, and ultimately how the game plan was tweaked, adjusted, and iterated to meet the strengths of the backup? I would argue that it does. Certainly some lessons to be learned here from some reflection on the Super Bowl. What have you been reflecting on since Super Bowl LII?

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