The Games That Changed the Game
The Evolution of the NFL in Seven Sundays
Publication Date: October 5, 2010
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
Categories: Football - General
From the advent of the vertical passing game to the development of ever-more-sophisticated blitzing schemes on defense, professional football in the last half century has been a sport marked by relentless innovation. For fans determined to keep up with the changes that have transformed the game, close examination of the coaching footage is a must. In the words of Hall of Fame linebacker Mike Singletary, “The film does not lie.”
In The Games That Changed the Game, Ron Jaworski, a one-time NFL MVP turned Monday Night Football analyst and pro football’s #1 game-tape guru, breaks down the film from seven of the most momentous contests of the last fifty years. With an eye toward the brilliant game plans and seminal strategic breakthroughs that revolutionized play on both sides of the ball, Jaworski offers readers a drive-by-drive, play-by-play guide to the evolutionary leaps that now define the modern NFL, as well as portraits of the seven men who exhibited both creativity and courage in bucking established strategies. From Sid Gillman’s development of the Vertical Stretch, which culminated in the San Diego Chargers’ victory in the 1963 AFL Championship Game and launched the era of wide-open passing offenses, to Bill Belichick’s daring defensive game plan in Super Bowl XXXVI, which enabled his outgunned squad to upset the heavily favored St. Louis Rams and usher in the New England Patriots dynasty, the most cutting-edge concepts come alive again through the recollections of nearly seventy coaches and players interviewed for this book.
Writing with the same vivid, passionate, and accessible style that has made him television’s go-to X’s and O’s maven, Jaworski fills in the blanks for fans who aren’t satisfied with merely dropping the terms “West Coast offense” or “46 defense” into conversation, but want to understand them fully, in context, as they were experienced by the men who played the game. You’ll never watch the NFL the same way again.
Foreword by Steve Sabol, president, NFL Films
Ron Jaworski is one of the broadcasters of Monday Night Football, and one of the most popular analysts covering the NFL today. He appears regularly on a number of ESPN shows and specials. Jaworski attended Youngstown State University, then played seventeen NFL seasons. In 1980, he led the Philadelphia Eagles to Super Bowl XV and was named NFL MVP. Jaworski then became a sports commentator and TV show host. The president of Philadelphia’s famed Maxwell Club, Jaworski is involved in charitable activities and a variety of business ventures.
Greg Cosell and David Plaut are senior producers with NFL Films. Cosell is the creator and supervising producer of the NFL Matchup program, as well as a frequent guest on national sports radio programs. He lives in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. Plaut is a multi–Emmy Award–winning producer with NFL Films, former book critic for USA Today, Sports Weekly, and the author of four previous books. He lives in Moorestown, New Jersey.
“I've known Ron Jaworski as a teammate, opponent, and broadcaster. Now you can add author to that list. Jaws brings his contagious enthusiasm and vast knowledge to The Games That Changed the Game—a book that football fans will both love and learn from.”
--Bill Cowher, Super Bowl-winning head coach, and analyst, The NFL Today, on CBS
"If you want to understand the strategic and cerebral part of this very physical sport, this most fascinating football book of the season is for you."
--Library Journal (starred review)
"In a wonderfully accessible format—even for less wonky fans—he provides the lineage of the coaching philosophy that provides the basis for each selection, describes in glorious detail how it was applied in the landmark game, and then adds a postscript describing how the strategy affected the game in subsequent years. This is crazy good football info. The game accounts are great, but even better are Jaworski’s analysis of coaching philosophy...Filled with anecdotes, player recollections, and other wonderful detail, this should be the most popular football book of the season. Terrific reading."
--Booklist (starred review)
"Jaworski sets aside his TV personality, and offers a thoughtful explication in these pages."
“This is a landmark book about the game of professional football. It is groundbreaking in many ways, and it will change the way you think about and watch America’s No. 1 sport. How did the West Coast offense come to life? Hear Joe Montana tell the story. How was Buddy Ryan’s defense born? Listen to the players who were there when it came to life. Ron Jaworski, Greg Cosell and Dave Plaut have unraveled some of the game’s great schematic mysteries through seven compelling stories on seven historic Sundays.”
-- Sal Paolantonio, ESPN National Correspondent and author of How Football Explains America
“Jaworski, now an analyst for ESPN’s “Monday Night Football,” has become widely respected for his work ethic and his ability to put the finer points of NFL strategy in layman’s terms. His attention to detail and willingness to do the heavy lifting is fully on display here. He tracked down coach’s film — which is much more inclusive than the TV angles the public sees each week — for every single play of the seven games.
Considering the first of his subjects is the 1963 American Football League championship, and that all seven games came long before the YouTube era or the advent of 24-hour replays on the NFL Network, that is an impressive feat and makes for fascinating reading. But if you’re expecting nothing more than a dry recounting of Xs and Os, Jaworski will surprise you. Many of the seven games’ participants are quoted at length by Jaworski, enabling him to give each of the contests an interesting backstory unfamiliar even to NFL diehards. Jaworski offers fascinating insight for fans who want to know more than just how their fantasy players are doing.”
---New York Post
“Besides the examination of the coaches and their innovative ideas, Jaworksi takes a complete game from their playbook and demonstrates how those ideas shaped the outcome of one game and the evolution of the entire sport. Even the die-hard Sunday fans will learn a lot from this book, and rookies will come away with a greater appreciation and understanding of the game.”
“Jaws and his colleagues are filling a real void here, and they are the perfect people to do it. They have done all the homework, spending thousands of hours looking at the “All-22s’’ of not just these seven games (there had to be a huge list to start with), but countless other games over the years.”
“Ron Jaworski played 16 NFL seasons, including an appearance as Philadelphia Eagles starting QB in the 1981 Super Bowl. Now Jaws analyzes games as part of the ESPN ‘Monday Night Football’ broadcast team. His book shares many qualities with his broadcast work: It's intelligent, detailed and enthusiastic, while also flavored with a little hype. The Games that Changed the Game would be more accurately titled Seven Games I Picked to Illustrate Changes in the Game. Anyone who really wants to understand the Cover Two defense and the West Coast offense, for example, would do well to dig into his book.”
--Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“The book is invaluable because the same level of detail is in every chapter. There is no better strategic timeline for the NFL on the market today. With a keen analytical eye on the past and present, and an intriguing focus on pro football's future, The Games That Changed the Game is everything you'd expect from these particular authors. Any strategy nerd should have all three books mentioned in this article, but if you're just going to spring for one, this contains by far the best, most accurate, and most comprehensive take. This is definitely where you should start -- and probably where you could finish.”
--Pro Football Outsiders.com