A review of the soon to be released Gridiron Genius: A Master Class in Winning Championships and Building Dynasties in the NFL written by Michael Lombardi.
For die hard football fans with an appreciation for the history of the game, particularly the history of two of the most successful dynasties in league history, Gridiron Genius will be a must read. Lombardi has bounced around to multiple organizations and media outlets throughout his NFL career but spent the majority of his time picking the brains of Bill Belichick, Bill Walsh and Al Davis, which is the catalyst for this book. It is fascinating to see the contrast between the three of them and their approach to the game of football.
Gridiron Genius is a mix of strategic insight into the Xs and Os of the game, historical context to decisions made by some of the greatest minds in the sport and useful management and team building advice, that holds regardless of what industry you work in. Lombardi is not shy with both his praise and criticism for different coaches and front office personnel currently working in or around the league. For Jets fans, you will occasionally roll your eyes at the Belichick praise (who writes the forward for the book) but also begrudgingly be forced to admit that all the things Lombardi is discussing is a huge part of why New England has owned the AFC East for two decades.
There is also interesting passages about Jamal Adams, which I highlighted here and discussion around Rex Ryan’s shortcomings as a Head Coach, namely his lack of desire to be more than a glorified Defensive Coordinator.
The observations around game management or more accurately around game management mistakes will sound familiar to Jets fans who regularly decry Todd Bowles for the clock management gaffes outlined. Personally, I was nodding along as Lombardi discussed the downfalls of throwing check downs in the two minute drill, which is something that plagued the Jets last year, despite it padding Josh McCown’s completion percentage. I’ll be rooting for a more aggressive approach from both the coach and quarterback this season, which this book isn’t shy about advocating for.
Overall, despite being dense with strategy and management tactics, Gridiron Genius is a quick, easily digestible read. Lombardi’s writing is filled with anecdotes, allegories and pop culture references that make it accessible for any level of football fan. TOJ gladly recommends giving it a read to help celebrate the return of football this season.