on January 9, 2011
Games that changed the Game is an intriguing look at what RJ identify as significant developments in football that transformed the way games are played in the NFL. Each chapter starts with an informative narrative about the history of the coaches and the traditional views of the game during the time period. Readers will like the back stories of these innovative coaches and players, especially if the persons are people you grew up watching. The authors do an excellent job of bringing these people into your room, and making them accessible.
The final third of each chapter focuses on a nearly drive by drive account of the highlighted team in their breakout game. This section reads very technical. I enjoy the game but felt lost at times in understanding the strategies and techniques used in the game. I might have rated this book 3 stars, but that would not fairly reflect the quality of the lectures. I understood enough to still appreciate these sections. Those of you more knowledgeable will find these sections quite insightful and stir your own thinking.
Whether a casual or hard core fan, this book is worth reading for the commentary and research that's provided. Also, if your favorite team is included, you won't be disappointed.
on March 30, 2011
Ron Jaworski, former Eagles QB and ESPN analyst dissects 7 games that sees that permanently changed football strategies. If you're a diehard fan like me you'll love the detail. For example, one chapter explains how the Steelers defense in the 1970s was so good the league had to change its rules (the restriction on bumping after 5 yards was actually known as the Mel Blount rule).Jaworski explains in detail the contribution to the NFL by innovators such as Buddy Ryan, Bud Carson,Dick LeBeau, Bill Belichick, Bill Walsh and others. For knowledgable and passionate football fans, this is well worth reading.
However, I should point out this isn't the book for very casual fans. For instance,if you don't know what a tight end does, save your money and buy a football for dummies book. It will become tedious very quickly.
on December 7, 2013
I picked this up because I always want to know more about football, and I've always enjoyed watching Jaws on TV. If you're a fan of his, you'll enjoy this book. His personality shines through just about every page, and the tone is as warm, enthusiastic and knowledgeable as you'd expect.
The only reason I gave this 4 stars instead of 5 is that it's not always as user-friendly as it could be. First off, if you don't already know all the positions on the field and how to read a basic play in diagram form, you're going to have a hard time following some of this. My problem with the diagrams is that it wasn't always clear to what play they were supposed to be linked because there is no "see figure 1" kind of thing (this seems a bit more problematic in the early chapters; by the later chapters the labeling seems a bit clearer, though there are still no pointers to the diagrams in the text). One of the other problems with the diagrams is that they often just use players' numbers to show their position in a certain alignment. There's nothing unusual about this per se, but because the book doesn't tell you the players' numbers, so you either have to know who wore what number or go looked it up. This use of numbers doesn't always get in the way, but it did make a couple diagrams more difficult to follow than they needed to be. Another related criticism is that, presumably for the sake of variation, Jaws indiscriminately uses players' first names, last names and even nicknames as he goes through plays. In general, his down-by-down coverage of his selected plays is enjoyable and pretty easy to follow, but parts gave me pause because I don't know the names of all the players in the games (especially the older ones).
All told, though, if you already have some working knowledge of football, you can learn a ton from this book, and it's an enjoyable read. I'd love to see a second edition with some of the unnecessary weaknesses addressed and perhaps another game added. Maybe the subtitle could be changed to 'The Evolution of the NFL in Seven Sundays and a Monday'?
on November 28, 2012
I don't write many reviews - but I enjoyed this book so much - I had to chime in. It was a fast read that delivered exactly what was promised in the table of contents. I'm not new to football, but I've always been more interested in the offensive side, so for me the chapters on the Cover-2, Zone Blitz, and 46 were awesome. I learned a lot. For instance, the 46 is not a 4-6 like the 4-3, or 3-4. The 46 is actually named after a player's number and if you read the chapter on it you will understand how it works. And I finally understand what is meant by a zone exchange and zone blitz. For instance, the exchange concept of dropping a D-Lineman into coverage and rushing a linebacker so that you are actually rushing the same number of players, the idea of "safe" blitzes, etc. make sense to me now. Another highlight for me was the play diagrams - there were only a handful, but they were all really nice - I'll be going back to them. Finally, Jaws avoided the dryness that frequently comes with technical books. He sprinkled in just enough anecdotes and interview excerpts from the players and coaches involved in each game he was explaining to keep things moving.
on December 26, 2012
There is preciously little information in the media world about what is actually going on when you watch NFL games on Sundays. THIS is is a decent short primer in strategies and tactics that evolved in the NFL. Sid Gillman's Pass first precision passing offense, 1980's Chargers Air Coryell, 1985 Bears 46 Defense of Buddy Ryan, Walsh's 49ers West Coast Offense, The Cover-2, Dick Lebeau's Zone Blitz, and Bellichik's Bulls Eye Game Planning are the chapters of the book. After reading, you will have a decent understanding of the main offense concepts and defense concepts that have been used and currently dominate NFL game planning. This is definitely for the above average fan of the game, tired of the nonsense that passes for NFL coverage in the majority of shows and newspapers. You never know WHY one team won.
For those who like this book, other must reads are "Take Your Eye Off the Ball" by Pat Kirwan, "Smart Football" by Chris Brown. And the blog by Chris Brown of the same name
on July 14, 2012
Ron Jaworski uses his experience and access to game film to analyze how these particular games altered the "norm" in what is an admittedly copycat league. Using his insight as a former NFL quarterback to aid the analysis, Jaworkski points out the critical elements of various defenses and offenses that led to changes in how all teams attack and defend. However, the book is far from a "football wonk's" work as Jaworski uses easily accessible language that invites the most casual fan to pick up the book and read a chapter or two. Overall, a good value to hardcore fans and casual observers alike.
on November 1, 2015
The Games that Changed the Game by Ron Jaworski is a great book for inquisitive football fans. As Ron states in the book, “In recent years, fans have become sophisticated and want to learn more about the intricacies of the game.” This is certainly the book for those who want to understand the game at a deeper level. It reviews seven significant games in National Football League history that changed the way the game is played. It reviews games of the past in which a particular strategy or style of play was first used, such as, the vertical stretch, the cover two defense and the West Coast offense. These plays and strategies were effective when used for the first time and subsequently, over time, became adopted by almost every team in the league. Today, these plays and strategies are commonly seen during any National Football League game.
This book is particularly relevant as it is authored by a former NFL most valuable player, Ron Jaworski. Ron has great insight into the game due not only to his time on the field, but also from his time spent as a football broadcaster and analysis. Ron took his personal football experience and combined it with additional research to write this book. He studied games, interviews, and transcripts. He also interviewed former and current players and coaches. The result of his efforts is a book that reviews the most pivotal events that changed how football is played today.
The Games that Changed the Game is a must read for any professional football enthusiast. The book is informative and enjoyable, especially to those who are interested in the strategy of the game of football. It examines innovative approaches to the game and provides insight into the game plan. True football fans will want to read this book.
on October 30, 2015
“The Games That Changed the Game: The Evolution of the NFL in Seven Sundays” is a book I could personally read a few times and keep picking up information and bits of knowledge. I personally am not wild about Ron Jaworski in the booth as an announcer, but give him some time and a film room and I think he can bring a huge amount to the discussion. The way he comes across these days it’s easy to forget that he was once a league MVP quarterback himself. He was also a virtual iron man and has one of the longest consecutive start streaks amongst QBs (123 games), even if it has been paled into insignificance by Brett Favre’s ridiculous iron-man run (321 games). In short, Jaworski is very much worth listening to, and in this case reading from.
He begins in 1963 with Sid Gillman's "Vertical Stretch" and the AFL Championship game between the Boston Patriots and the San Diego Chargers and ends in 2002 with Bill Belichick's "Bulls-Eye" game plan that resulted in a New England win over the favored St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI. By the end of each game, the innovation and its impact are clear, for some of the game descriptions can get long and a little on the dry side. Jaworski's a football analyst, not the next Stephen King. He breaks down some big innovations in the game and some key schemes over the past decades, looking at games played by Sid Gillman’s Chargers, Dick LeBeau’s Steelers, the pre-requisite West Coast Offense from Bill Walsh’s 49ers all the way through to the Bill Belichick game plan in Super Bowl XXXVI against the Rams. In principal this book is as much about the coaching geniuses that developed new ideas as it is about the ideas themselves. The book is no play by play box score compilation. Jaworski focuses exclusively on one team (specific year) and the decisions made by that team's coach or coordinator and how each play figured into the overall scheme of that coach. I should point out this isn't the book for casual fans or the occasional viewer. For example, if you don't know what a tight end does, save your money and buy a football for dummies book. This book will become tedious and a complete waste or your time. But if you know your 2 man under and cover 1 defense this is a book for you.
on December 24, 2012
A whole chapter on the 46 D? One on the Pats game plan to win their first Super Bowl? Warning you may get the serious itch to play madden and start tallying up fantasy football points for the players and plays described in the book.
on September 11, 2012
I enjoyed Jaworski's conversational tone throughout the book. It is obvious he loves the game of football, and puts a great amount of time and effort into his film studies. He is able to bring in the thrill of the game, and break it down in a manner which I found entertaining, and educational.