Mike Solari's Impact On Injury Prevention

Unlike baseball, the impact of coaching in football hasn't been entirely debunked.  And it won't likely ever be, whatever the truth. I would guess it's pretty damn overrated, though. And I would guess, like baseball, a line coach isn't any more likely to teach an offensive lineman to be a better blocker than a hitting coach is likely to teach a player to be a better hitter. And I would guess, like baseball, the more common impact of coaching is detrimental. That's what I would guess, anyhow.

That's why this excerpt caught my eye.

He and DeBord can be heard shouting "cover" whenever a pass has gone beyond the line of scrimmage. They want the line to drop their blocks at that point and head upfield.

Why? If the receiver fumbles, they'll be in position to recover; if the receiver gets stood up by defenders, they'll come along and blast the pile; if the ball is intercepted, they'll be that much further downfield to make a tackle.

The two `graphs worr(ied) me. I would guess the very small impacts of linemen running upfield, recovering fumbles, blasting the pile and making tackles are all hugely outweighed by the additional risk of injury. A lineman running upfield is much more exposed to the chaos and cheap shots endemic to a football field. So I would guess.

Except, whether the above assertion is true or not, history doesn't bear it out. Solari was the Kansas City Chief's line coach from 1997-2005. His offensive lines enjoyed absolutely remarkable health. In 1997, KC's starting offensive line started 79 of 80 contests. The one missed start was not because injury, but a last shot of redemption in week one for first round bust Trazelle Jenkins. In 2002, 2003, Solari's linemen didn't miss a single start. That near-invincible standard existed throughout Solari's time as offensive line coach in Kansas City. In 9 years, Solari's 1st string made 684 starts in 720 games. That's 95% of games started by the team's best linemen. If we isolate the time from 2001 to 2005, the period I have access to injury data, only 3.25% of all starts have been lost due to injury. If we discount Willie Roaf, who ended his career in 2005 with a nasty hamstring pull, something I think we can be semi-sure is not Solari's fault, that numbers dips further: 1.75%. In 5 years,  Kansas City lost 1.75% of all starts because of injury. Wow.

So, ignore the blowhard at the keyboard. You just keep telling those linemen to run downfield, Mike Solari. In the debate between coaching and innate talent, Mike Solari makes an awful impressive argument for coaching.

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