Breakdowns

Insiders Network: How to Manage Expectations During a Losing Streak

Both Denver and Carolina have regressed after their 3-0 starts. After a hot stretch to start the year, how do you manage expectations from a leadership role during a losing streak?

The 33rd Team’s Insiders Network is a group of former NFL coaches and front-office executives who are here to provide insight and perspective into all things football. Each week during the season, we reach out to members of our Insiders Network to get their thoughts on a topical question. Here is this week’s question: 

Both Denver and Carolina have regressed after their 3-0 starts. After a hot stretch to start the year, how do you manage expectations from a leadership role during a losing streak?

Jim Mora: 

I don’t believe expectations change; the goal is still to win the next game. Depending on the issues you are having on gameday, you may modify your practice schedule or meeting schedule a bit to change things up. The main thing is that you continue to foster hope in your players, you continue to demand accountability and adherence to the standards you’ve set and continue to keep everyone on board. It’s a fine balance between continuing to enjoy the process and recognizing your situation and making sure everyone is bearing down.

Marc Trestman:

It’s all about consistency and paying attention to the process (the things we can control).

Not letting the “noise” in, or the voices in our heads, take away from what we can accomplish today! Football is a zero-sum game where some one always wins and someone loses. It’s the way they handle success through hard work and humility, which is countered by embracing the inevitability of adversity that each team goes through weekly.

The adversity (losses) builds a teams backbone and allows it to find out more about itself on its journey of 17 weeks. The process is “the moment,” taking care of what can be controlled with preparation on and off the field. Meetings, walk through and practice. Working on fundamentals and techniques and the simple focus of getting better individually and collectively as a team. This is done through peer-to peer accountability, the idea that if I get better, you get better, and this directly and indirectly leads to winning on the scoreboard at the end of the week!

Mike Tannenbaum:

The season has a long way to go (especially with a 17 game season); we can still accomplish all of our goals, stay focused on the task at hand. I was once on a team that started 2-5 and won the Division, so I know it can be done.

Tom Lewand:

Good coaches and other leaders understand that the only way to manage a season is focusing on each game with an eye towards continuous improvement over the course of the season. The best coaches eliminate noise and distractions that come during a losing streak by focusing on the things the team can control, starting with individual and collective performance, and do not compromise, panic or overcorrect. The expectation should always be to win the next game.

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