Continuity at critical spots is key to winning in NFL

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Since the start of the 2012 season the New England Patriots have been to the AFC title game five times, won it twice and gone on to win the Super Bowl twice.

Having the league’s best head coach and arguably the game’s best quarterback ever is not the only reason for their sucess.

As Mike Sando of ESPN has pointed out, continuity at the top of the organizational depth chart and at key positions within the coaching staff and on the field are a big reason for their success, too.

Since 2012 the Patriots have had one de-facto general manager and coach (Bill Belichick), one offensive coordinator (Josh McDaniel), one defensive coordinator (Matt Patricia) and one quarterback (Tom Brady).

In other words, they’ve had continuity and in the NFL continuity breeds long-term success, though not just in New England. It has been a key to success elsewhere as well.

Sando noted the changes every team in the league has made at those five positions the last five years and the teams that have made the fewest changes have been some the winningest in the league over that period.

After the Patriots, the Packers, Steelers, Seahawks and Panthers round out the top five teams making the fewest changes and those four teams have combined to make 16 playoff appearances during that span.

As for the teams that have made the most changes, well, the fact that in order the Jets, Bears, 49ers, Bills and Browns rank as the bottom five tells you what a lack of continuity can do to a franchise.

Bucs fans know that all too well, of course. Since 2012 the Bucs have had just one winning season (last year) and their lack of continuity is surely one of the reasons for that.

By Sando’s count the Bucs have had two general managers, three head coaches, four offensive coordinators, three defensive coordinators and three primary quarterbacks during that five-year span.

That means he’s not even counting Marcus Arroyo, who spent 2014 working as the Bucs pseudo offensive coordinator; Lovie Smith, who took over the defensive play-calling duties in 2015; or Mike Glennon, who took over as the primary quarterback for Josh Freeman in 2013.

Throw in those changes and the Bucs actually match the Bills for the most changes at those critical five positions with 18, which is the second most in the league after Cleveland’s 20. No wonder they’ve lost so much.

When a team changes head coaches, it also changes staff, schemes and players, and anytime you make that many changes a team is usually takes a step backward instead of a step forward.

The Bucs are proof and their fans really didn’t need Sando’s research to tell them that. Still, it’s something to keep in mind if things suddenly start to go south at some point under new coach Dirk Koetter.

The Bucs appear to be on the right track toward winning again with general manager Jason Licht and Koetter in place but if they hit a rough patch the Bucs would best be served by waiting it out and sticking with what they have.

Granted, change can be good and sometimes it’s necessary, but in the NFL it often bogs a team down, slows its progress toward long-term success and sometimes even becomes a detriment to winning

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