Putting it into practice
In his introductory press conference at UCLA, Kelly mentioned this: “I still think the game of football comes down to fundamentals: Can you block? Can you tackle? Can you catch? Can you make cuts?”
During this season’s NFC divisional round, the New Orleans Saints lost on the play shown in the video below. Here you can see the defensive back whiffed on a tackle, and the Vikings wide receiver was able to run into the end zone to win the game.
The lesson is that it doesn’t matter what level the game is at, whether its pro or high school, in every sport winning and losing generally comes down to the execution of fundamentals. This leads me to my main point: the true ingenuity of Kelly is not that he made an elaborate scheme that no one could figure out, it’s that he devised a system that his players could execute at a level of proficiency defenses couldn’t hope to perform at.
Instead of trying to outscheme your opponent, put your players in an environment where they can be successful because they understand exactly what they have to do.”
The aforementioned Business insider quotes Kelly as saying this: “With our inside-zone play, we get so much practice time and so many reps that we can handle all the other scenarios that come about. Instead of trying to outscheme your opponent, put your players in an environment where they can be successful because they understand exactly what they have to do.”
This focus on repetition is the key to understanding why Kelly’s system worked. In this article about Kelly’s practices, this excerpt really stands out “To Kelly, practice is for one thing: repetitions. Learning by doing.”
The article goes more in depth, mentioning that coaches rarely talked to players during practice, talking comes beforehand or in the film room, believing that practice should be solely dedicated to getting as many repetitions as possible. Kelly’s teams typically ran about 135-150 plays per practice, the results of which showed during game day.