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Sean Payton explains how experience helps a coach understand what they can or cannot fix

There is only so much a coach can fix during a game or even during a season. Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton points towards experience in determining what and how to address issues.

NFL: Denver Broncos at Houston Texans Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

A very interesting question was asked of Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton on Friday that is worthy of discussion here this morning. He was asked what the difference was between fixable errors and unfixable errors and he explained a lot of the thought process that goes into how a coach can or cannot address things during a game or season.

“One thing that I’ve learned—as a young coach, I was poor at this,” Payton said. “When you’re just getting started, you address everything, always. You don’t realize that when you’re doing that—by addressing everything, always, you’re not really addressing anything. With wisdom and experience, you learn what to ignore and what to clean up and correct, so the points you’re making are noticeable.”

In a lot of ways, I think what he might be describing is how it might have gone for, say, a first time head coach like Vance Joseph or Nathaniel Hackett who were maybe not as seasoned of a coach like a Vic Fangio and young enough to feel the need to try to fix everything, while ultimately fixing nothing.

I’d say Joseph figured things out much quicker than Hackett did, but the end result was still the same for both coaches in their stints as Denver’s head coach.

Payton would continue to explain how experience helps determine what is fixable and what may need a coach to look inward for the problem.

“[It’s about] learning what to ignore, what to correct, and then examining,” Payton continued. “I think as a teacher, we always have to examine the why. Did we explain it well enough? Did we cover it well enough? How could we have done a better job ourselves? If you hand out a test to your students and two-thirds of them are getting Cs and Ds, then you have to look at yourself. When we have a game like last week, it starts with looking inward, like, ‘Alright, whether it’s the [earlier] start time.’ All of that. We always say this in the staff meeting: ‘If we played the game again, what are some things that we would have done differently?’ That kind of thing. You have to look that way as a teacher.”

Overall, the whole thing was quite insightful and interesting how near two decades of head coaching experience can solve a lot of the details just by knowing what you can and cannot fix on the fly during a long regular season.

What did you think of his comments on this subject? Let’s discuss in the comments section below.

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