In today’s football game, a lot of critical emphasis is focused on how the quarterback position is played. Success in the eyes of the fans and the media is largely influenced by the quarterback’s performance. With this tunnel vision, we often forget that there are ten other people on offense, an entire defensive unit, a fully manned special teams squad and a dedicated and well-intentioned coaching staff. In short, the quarterback gets far too much credit in winning and far too much blame in losing (as a Bears fan, this blog could be a turned into a “get off Cutler’s back”…but, let’s just keep learning).

Here is an example of what I mean. Let’s say your team just lost, and the quarterback had a terrible statistical performance. The press crucifies this player in their coverage, and fans plea for the backup from the sidelines. If we are not careful, we fall into a thought process that is very isolated in nature and will never solve the real problem. Before we remove and replace the quarterback, we should first look at the game film and see if we are about to cure the cause or the compensation. We should determine what needs to change for this player to play better and the team to win.

Having the experience of playing college football, I know the importance of watching and learning from game film, not just the highlights in the media. It is a litmus test of how well the team performed as a whole. In our example, the tape can reveal truths that got lost as a result of our sole focus on the quarterback. We may find that because of poor defensive and special teams play, the field position was not conducive for the offense’s proposed game plan the entire game. We can also see that the offensive line did not protect well against the blitz, the backs and receivers ran poor routes or were re-routed and ended up in the wrong places at the wrong times. We may realize that most of the plays called were completely wrong for the situational down, distance and defensive alignment. It is hard to succeed in this situation, yet the quarterback is expected to overcome and have a great game or else we will think they are not the right person for the job — especially on our favorite team.

Is this any different with our bodies when it comes to pain, injury or performance? When knee pain arises for example, do we quickly blame the knee for being a bad knee? What if the knee is like the quarterback? What if the defense and special teams are the person’s shoulders and trunk? What if the offensive linemen are the hips; the backs and receivers are the feet and ankles; the coaching staff is the brain and nervous system? Every body part has a role to help the movement system successfully navigate through a person’s desired function. When one of those integrated members does not do their job, somebody else is bound to take the hit and often get wrongfully accused of playing poorly.

Who is the quarterback on your team and within your body? Who is helping? Who is setting your quarterback up for failure and criticism, as well as a potential costly injury? You won’t know if you have only watched the highlights and never taken a close look at the game film.

Physical therapists, especially Fellows of Applied Functional Science, specialize in watching a lot of game film. If you have an under-performing player on your team, it’s time to review the game film before you give up on your season. The longer you wait, the harder it will be for your team to flourish and succeed. Find a Fellow near you by using the Gray Institute’s locator tool or contact me.