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Showing 1-10 of 102 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 126 reviews
on October 8, 2015
I heard about it on the website football outsiders (advanced analytics) and gave it a shot. I liked this book, at times I found it wordy and thought there was room for editing. I was surprised I liked it because I don't like the Jets, didn't like the Jets before or after Rex Ryan was their coach and I've always found their team name and uniforms kind of stupid along with the branding phrase of "play like a Jet". Anyways it made me actually like Rex Ryan which was surprising because I've always thought of him as a fat loud mouth, but the respect he gave the coaches he employed made him someone you should hope to work for. It re-affirmed what I thought of Pettine in that he was smart and reserved, that Schottenheimer was too smart/ full of his system for his own good. Sanchez comes off as what he is and that is someone more into commentary, and making jokes and it made you understand why he hasn't put it altogether. But the biggest part for me was understanding the culture of how coaches could consistently over look players social deficiency for their performance on the football field.
1) The sport is violent and the coaches were always looking for players who excelled at violence (I think I remember the author saying the coaches cheered the CB Jimmy Smith because they thought he used to be in a gang, but it turned out Jimmy was afraid of guns, which I am also).
2) They work insane hours during the season not knowing if they will last past the year which has to put winning above all else for them because they don't know if they have a job beyond tomorrow unless they have a team that performs on the football field. That a lot of coaches basically throw their whole personal lives/ marriages/ parenting out the window to try to get a winning team.

In the end thought a lot of players have checkered pasts or grew up in s***ty situations and football is how they deal with it. And for the majority part of it, a lot of players do a good job with it or at least on this Jets team.
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on November 28, 2013
Let me say that I bought this book because I am a football junkie first and a Jets fan second. Some might think that this book is a niche book for Jet fans, but I was astounded by how great it illustrated the life inside an NFL football team. Rex is certainly a colorful character, but what the book really captures is the camraderie among coaches and players, the rivalries between offense and defense, and the fleeting moment during the season that these guys live in the foxhole together before many players get hurt, get released, move on. And that's just the players. The coaches all know that this moment in time will not last. They spend incredible hours together as a fraternity, knowing that they might be in a different city or unemployed next year.

For anyone who has dreamed of what a football life would look like, you should read this book. You can hate the Jets but still love this book. A must-have for sports/football junkies.
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VINE VOICEon March 29, 2015
This is an excellent book about what it’s like to be a coach in the National Football League. While the author was embedded with one team for the 2011 NFL season, the New York Jets, it still provides some great insights into the world of the NFL and its coaches. While there may be some nuances and differences across teams, the major themes are likely very consistent across the league.

Even better, the book is extremely well written and entertaining as well. It does a great job of not only providing thematic examples of what it’s like to be a coach in the NFL, but brining the personalities of the players and coaches to life as well.

The main theme of the book is just how hard coaches work and what gruesomely long hours all coaches put into their profession. This is nearly a 24 hour a day job during the start of training camp through the end of the season, and there’s not much rest in-between either. Being a coach in the NFL is a major commitment and a sacrifice for not only the coaches but their families as well. They literally live football and often wind up sleeping in the facilities. From player evaluation, game planning for the next opponent, installing the game plan during the week, dealing with player injuries and personalities, it is simply an all-consuming job. You have to really love football to adopt this lifestyle.

Add to the long hours the pressure of winning is tremendous. The NFL is a win now league and losing teams generally have quick turnover of head coaches and their assistants. Winning is a tonic that brings joy, but short-lived, while losing it torturous.

Another significant theme of the book is the schism between the defensive and offensive sides of the balls, even between coaches. So much goes into the offensive and defensive game plans and installing them with the players that the coaches of these squads do not interact that often. Sometimes it can even get a little heated if one unit is performing significantly better than the other, which often happens with the Jets who have a great defense but at best a mediocre offense. That tension certainly existed for the Jets to some degree, and I have heard it existing on other teams as well. It is not entirely surprising that this schism exists on teams but it is intriguing.

A third theme, and I am sure this is where it probably varies more widely depending on the personality and approach of the head coach, is how much control or involved a head coach might exert on any specific aspect of game planning. The head coach is supposed to be a big picture game planner and let his coordinators do most of the intricate work on the game plan for their units. Rex, being a defensive coach, has his particularly defensive philosophy and might be more hands on there, but on the offensive side, while having a ground and pound approach, leaves more in the hands of the coordinator. Of course there are some coaches who essentially are their own offensive coordinator and call the plays. It is all a matter of what a head coach wants to take control of and what he is comfortable delegating. For the Jets, the offense did not perform so well, eventually lead to the ouster of Brian Schottenheimer, the offensive coordinator.

Another theme is just tension on the team generally between players. Again, this is probably something that exists at different degrees on other teams. For example, we know there was some tension between quarterback Mark Sanchez and receiver Santonio Holmes that eventually blew up into the public sphere, which is alluded to here. And older players trying to adapt to new roles is also an underlying theme.

Another interesting aspect of this book was simply reading about the personalities of the players. The intelligence and studious nature of Darrell Revis goes a long way in explaining why he is so great at his position, and the sometimes slovenly approach of an Antonio Cromartie explains why such a great athletic talent is sometimes so inconsistent. Having a serious minded winner like Revis can have a positive influence on those less inclined to be such students of the game and why they often bring not only talent but leadership and a positive example to the team as well. These types of players can be as valued by what they bring to the team off the field as by what they do on it.

Much is also made of how immature Mark Sanchez is and how frustrated the coaches were with his inconsistent play and turnovers. Again, it seems like the immaturity factor has a lot to do with the sloppy, inconsistent play and underperforming on the field.

Yet another major theme is the pain of losing. The rollercoaster ride of winning and losing and the difficultly of keeping coaches and players positive and not letting a string of losses knock the wheels completely off is an important function of the head coach and his staff. The Jets did not make the playoffs after the 2011 season and being used to winning that is hard to take. And it puts coaches’ jobs at jeopardy. And as we have seen since this book was written, as of 2015 all the coaches and the GMs are gone because they never turned the team back around.
Finally the General Manger’s role is discussed. Tannebaum is an interesting case. Of course he is responsible for player personnel and contract negotiations but he also has to work well with his coaches and scouts and be a problem solver during the season. All GMs are going to have their own philosophy’s and style and Tannebaum tried to fit in and help where help was needed during the season while dealing with player issues and personnel as they came up.

Overall I found this to be a well written and fascinating look at coaching in the NFL through the prism of the personalities and quirks of the New York Jets and recommend it to any serious NFL fan.
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on January 17, 2014
Dawidoff's year long study of the New York Jets is a must read for any serious NFL fan and student of the game. Remarkably detailed and well written, the chronological narrative provides surprising inside into game plan preparation and the personalities of those who so arduously formulate those strategies and the players who train rigorously in an attempt to execute those plans to perfection. One cannot come away from this story without an unabated appreciation for how consistently long and meticulously the coaching staff labors to field the best prepared team for every game. Or for the dedication and diligence of the players for whom the next play could be a season or career ender.
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on January 26, 2015
Some reviews have related this to being like HBO's Hard Knocks and I would agree (luckily I love Hard Knocks). It delivers that candid behind the scenes look into a NFL franchise. Unlike the HBO show, though, the focus is much more on the coaching staff and the day to day grind these men put in over the course of a year. I was entertained throughout as I found the insights and thoughts of all the various coaches and players interesting and their banter enjoyable. I also found interesting how the actual day-to-day operation of a franchise worked. Ranging from the discussions coaches had on potential draft picks, the prep put in by the players, down to the dynamics involved in game planning each week. Fascinating stuff and a fairly quick read as well. I am not a Jets fan either, and you don't need to be one in order to enjoy this book.
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on January 11, 2014
This is probably the best look at the EXECUTIVE level of a NFL team on the market today. It describes one of America's most interesting coaches and his interactions with the staff that works for him, the players that take the field for him, and the executive that tries to keep the whole thing moving forward.

The biggest gap in the book is that the 53 players that actually make up the team are presented as fairly shallow, one dimensional caricatures. Dawidoff spends some time with superstars, such as the All-Universe cornerback Revis, and delves a bit into the lives of the players that the coaches seem most attached to, such as linebacker Bart Scott. He sprinkles in details from rookie backup McElroy, and touches on snippets of Marck Sanchez, the starting QB's background. But he never goes into what their life is like during the season, what do they do on an off week, on a long weekend, how does the short week of Sunday - Thursday affect them? All these topics would provide tremendous additional depth and information to the book.

Dawidoff spends the entire season, from off-season preparation for the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, through the draft, the lockout, and the 16 games with the Jets coaching staff, primarily the defense. He does a great job chronicling how Rex Ryan motivates his team, how he arrived at being a head coach, and dives into his deepest failure. Rex is a coaching savant, and he suffers from the flaw of expecting the same from others. Repeatedly the author points out how the head coach feels betrayed when people don't live up to his expectations, despite those people not having the football analytical tools he has, or having been given any support by him to actually achieve.

The outstanding running back Shonn Greene is a bit player, mentioned once or twice. The signing of Plaxico Burress after his release from prison gets attention early on, but how he links into the team, how he interacts with the volatile receiver Santonio Holmes, and what it means for him to be on the OTHER NY team after winning a Superbowl with the Giants is never discussed. Instead, the reader is treated to a full, in depth, detailed narrative of the never ending meetings, film review, profane descriptions of plays, and the mind and soul crushing pain of losing. The Jets do not make the playoffs, and the book ends with the same sort of sudden finality, building towards a crescendo of demands from the coaches, and players either no longer physically able to, or mentally willing to comply.

What one is left with is an inside view behind the curtain of what life as an NFL assistant coach and coordinator is like, the challenges they face, and the impact it has on their families. This side is addressed tangentially, along with things such as race relations, homophobia, and HGH.

Overall, if you are a fan of the NFL, this book is not to be missed. It deserves its 4 star rating. If it would have included more about the players, I would have easily given it 5.
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on January 23, 2014
Two points before I begin: first, I've been a fan of Mr. Dawidoff's since I read his previous book, "The Catcher Was a Spy." Second, I've been an NFL football fan for 50 years. These points are relevant to why I enjoyed "Collision Low Crossers," an account of Dawidoff's one-year sojourn with the N.Y. Jets football team, during which he was party to the intimate details of the team's workings both on and off the field. Even a seasoned fan will be astounded at how intensely consumed the team members, particularly the coaching staff, are by strategy and game data. Also eye-opening are the anecdotes Mr. Dawidoff relates about their personalities and interactions. But "CLC" is not for everyone. It's too big a dose of football detail for casual fans, not to mention non-fans wishing merely to gain a little insight into this national phenomenon. Occasionally, I found myself losing the forest for the trees. Even some sports fanatics may have difficultly navigating Mr. Dawidoff's writing style, which differs from the blunt journalistic style of most sports writing and sometimes strays into a more rarified literary realm. Overall, I liked "CLC," but I did put it down from time to time before finishing it.
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on January 19, 2014
Actually, I'd give this a 4.5 rating. This was an excellent insight into the relationships assistant coaches at the NFL level have with their players and each other.
While "Nicky" spent most of his embedded time with the defense, he offered a few gems with regard to the other side of the ball.
The author obviously became "one of the guys" to the staff and his style of writing was full of great humor and put me right in the middle of meetings, practices and games. I really enjoyed the sequence when Nicky was actually making the D calls during their last preseason game and the Jets executed a "pick six". Also, I was amazed that head coach Ryan used his last draft pick to select a buddy of Mark Sanchez--
As a "fan", I am certainly aware of the time NFL coaches spend looking at, discussing and discecting tape. I was not, however, aware of the EXTENT of it! Wow! These guys have no life outside of football, and it is a commitment few of would make.
I'd recommend this to any fan of the NFL, casual to serious. A great read!
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on January 21, 2014
The book chronicles the Jets 2011 season with a behind-the-scenes look at the players and coaches and all of the uncensored activity from the combine all the way to the end of season goodbyes. The book is such a page turner because I was on page 265 (out of 468) before realizing I had already read half of the book in just 2 days.

You get Rex uncensored with his infectious energy. You learn that Petine was really the man behind the defensive curtain. You also gain insight into Sanchez's immaturity and the lack of respect his teammates had for him. You find out just how grueling being a coach or player can be--including the high thresholds the players have for pain.

We get a glimpse of the camaraderie and rifts between coaches. I often LOL'd imagining the bantering going on in the meeting rooms and the practical jokes played on one another to add levity to such a violent sport.

I highly recommend this book.
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on April 7, 2014
I'm not at all a football fan, but I still enjoyed the book. It provides insight into how a Pro Football team is coached. I guess I never realized that the game had so many personnel that have such limited and specific duties.

Much of the book involves description of interactions between players and coaches, and it generally paints a good if not somewhat endearing picture of many of the players and coaches.

What the book lacks I believe are pictures. It would have been very helpful to have photos of many of the players and coaches that are so frequently named.

Although I enjoyed reading the book, I really wouldn't recommend it to any of my friends. I don't know that my recommendation would be that strong for friends that love and follow football, and for my non football fans, there are just too many other good books out there to read.
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