The big talk and news out of Lawrence and the KU football program over the last 24-48 hours has been a change in how the Jayhawk offense is ran or coordinated. In his weekly press conference, Charlie Weis discussed some changes that are being made by the coaches on the offensive side of the ball. According to Weis, quarterback coach Ron Powlus is going to be in charge of the passing game and tight ends coach Jeff Blasko is in charge of the running game. Weis will continue to oversee the offense and continue to call plays on Saturdays as the offensive coordinator. The rationale given by Weis for this move is that it matches the approach adopted by the defensive coaches over the offseason and it has proven successful on the defensive side of the ball.
Make no mistake, this has to be considered a step in the right direction. Over the last season and a half, the Jayhawk offense has been bad. The passing game has been especially bad ranking last in yards per game, yards per attempt, and second to last in completion percentage. The rushing side has not been better this year as they are last in yards per game, yards per attempt, and touchdowns scored. Reading that, it's not going to surprise anyone to know the team is last in points per game and almost 6 points behind the 9th place team. So switching up how the offense prepares and gameplans throughout the week has to be considered a small step in the right direction.
The question that I have not seen answered or asked is simply "What took so long"? Reading through the quotes from Weis, the only thing I could do was shake my head. It reminded me of something Bill Simmons wrote about years ago, all teams should have a vice-president of common sense. Here's what Simmons wrote in a mailbag in 2006:
I'm becoming more and more convinced that every professional sports team needs to hire a Vice President of Common Sense, someone who cracks the inner circle of the decision-making process along with the GM, assistant GM, head scout, head coach, owner and whomever else. One catch: the VP of CS doesn't attend meetings, scout prospects, watch any film or listen to any inside information or opinions; he lives the life of a common fan. They just bring him in when they're ready to make a big decision, lay everything out and wait for his unbiased reaction.
Lets go through a few quotes and see if the VP of Common Sense would have been any help.
First up, Weis talks about how this transition is going to help him with individual positions:
I'm going to be much more involved with the coaching of the skill positions which I think has been lacking, I've been a position coach at all these positions, quarterback, running back, tight end, wide receiver on the NFL level for multiple years. I think that some of the areas that we're deficient at I think I can lend an improvement.
Regardless of your feelings for Weis, I think it's safe to say he does know a lot about football. If he knows of a way that can help the coaching of the individual positions, why in the world are we waiting until now to address this? The second question that has to be asked, do we need to really look at the coaching these position players are getting? Crist didn't improve during his time here. Heaps has been here for a year and a half and still struggles a lot. The staff clearly believes Cummings still can't throw the ball. Just now we're going to get input from the guy who is famous because coached Tom Brady and made Matt Cassel look like an NFL quarterback?
Actually, yesterday on game plan day it was the probably the most refreshing day I've had in quite some time, because there was a much greater exchange of offensive ideas then there has since I've been here. Maybe that's the fact that when the head coach is also the offensive coordinator, sometimes guys can be stifled a little bit in making suggestions, that certainly wasn't the case yesterday.
Ego seems to have been something that has cropped up in discussions of this "change". It might show through a little here, has Weis really been coaching for a year and a half here and this is the first time they've had a solid discussion about offensive ideas? There's no way that's true but that's exactly what the quote says. Charlie's ego is the only thing that would have prevented that from happening before this week. Maybe it's the approach used by everyone but does anyone else read that and wonder why that hasn't been going on every week? I've always imagined coaches sitting around a table and going back and forth about what works, what doesn't, and what to try. From reading the quotes, that has not been happening in Lawrence. That's flat out insane.
"The ideas were good. I had to shoot a lot of ideas down, I had to humble the coaches some. I would say the definite foundation of what we are doing came from the assistant coaches.
Had to humble the coaches? Nope, no ego here. The only purpose served in making this comment is to show the he still knows more than his assistants. It might be true but it doesn't need to be said. "We worked together this week" is all that was needed.
"There won't be an adjustment. The only adjustment for them is that I am in their position meetings now. That is not a good thing for them. The individual workouts, I used to not be as involved with, but now I am much more involved and that is not a good thing for them (the players) either."
Again, Weis tells us he's going to solve problems his assistants can't. The assistants can coordinate the passing and running games but now the players are in trouble because Weis is going to be around a little more often. If he wasn't around, the players would continue to make the same mistakes. The VP of common sense wants to know why the assistants can't get this production from the individual positions and if they can't, why are they coaching these positions. If Weis is so sure it's bad for the players for him to be around, why hasn't he communicated whatever he's going to teach to the assistants?
What happens is when things are going well in a game you get all sorts of people with suggestions, but when things aren't going well those phones are really quiet.
Maybe I'm really lacking in common sense because this is backwards from my experience. When things are going well, people think you are a genius and say keep doing what you're doing. When things go south, everyone becomes an expert. That's where it happens everywhere other than Charlie's world.
This from Jeff Blasko about how the changes impact him and his approach:
"Sunday is the day that changes quite a bit. Now it's myself, it's Tim Grunhard, it's Reggie Mitchell, barricading ourselves in the meeting room, bouncing ideas off of one another and then presenting them to Coach on Monday morning after we meet. Throughout the day on Sunday, we'll bounce those same ideas off of Ron (Powlus) and Rob (Ianello) to see if it marries up with what they are trying to do with formations in terms of the pass game."
That hasn't been happening the last year and a half? Really?
QB coach Ron Powlus was also asked a few questions and I'm only sharing one quote, read it for yourself:
"Coach has always been open to ideas. It's just the way we presented them was a little bit different this week. He has always been open to ideas because we are always looking to put the offense in the best position on the field to move the ball and score points, so it is a very collaborative effort. Coach has and will continue to have the final say on the things we do, but we all work together and we did this week no different."
Weis talking about a big change. Blasko talking about a big change. Powlus says this week was no different. And we wonder why the results have been terrible.