The key to the Patriots’ success that most people never notice.

The New England Patriots are my favorite professional team, in any sport, hands down. Heck, I love the Patriots regardless of hand position. I have been a Pats fan since I was a boy growing up in Vermont, which for the international crowd, and the geographically challenged Americans, is one of the six states that make up New England.

In my youth, the highlight of my Patriots fandom was the kickoff of Super Bowl XX (that’s 20 for those of you who don’t speak Roman). I was so excited and full of hope, until my Pats got refrigerated and Super Bowl Shuffled off like the Buffalo Bills by the historically impressive 1985 Chicago Bears. If that game didn’t completely break my heart, Billy Buckner finished the job just a few months later.

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My Patriots took it in the worst way from the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XX. 

A Whole New World

Oh, but this is a new millennium. It has been unbelievable for Patriot fans. But completely annoying for many non-Patriotic Americans. I get that too. Because I can’t stand the New York Yankees.

Since 2001, no team in any sport has been more dominant than the Patriots. Love them or hate them, their record has been spectacular this millennium. Since 2001 they’ve played in the Super Bowl 9 times, winning 5 championships, with a chance to add another W in Super Bowl LIII.

It’s Gets Harder And Harder.

Each return trip becomes less and less likely. Because following a Super Bowl appearance, both teams are rewarded for their efforts with one of the two worst draft positions, and one of the two hardest schedules the following year. Yet here the Patriots are, once again playing for the Lombardi Trophy.

Which Begs The Question…

Just why have the Patriots been able to remain so dominant for so long in the era of the salary cap and free agency? This is an era in which it should be the hardest of all to maintain a Joan Collins-caliber dynasty.

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Patriot great Tedy Bruschi checking Mike Vrabel for lice.

The Harder The Problem, The Harder You Look For Solutions.

Budget limitations often encourage us to approach our challenges differently. If you really study the NFL data like Bill Belichick has, it may lead you to create an entirely new formula for success.

Belichick and Brady

In Michael Holley’s New York Times bestseller, Belichick and Brady, there is an eye-opening analysis of the economics of football. While we are often distracted by the conspicuous performances on the field, we may be missing something far more important. There is far too much emphasis put on the traditional statistics. And Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli were just the people to unearth this non-intuitive truth.

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The following passage from the book offers one of the great aha’s of how the Patriots have accomplished so much despite the NFL’s systematically promoted parody.

We slowly accumulated winning stat guys as opposed to the high-sack, high-interception guys,” former Patriots linebacker Matt Chatham says. “Willie McGinest, Mike Vrabel. Those guys are way more valuable if they get eight sacks rather than sixteen. Dominating the edge, getting on the tight end, blowing up wide receivers and never letting them get into the pattern. That’s way more valuable than sixteen sacks.

“I think that the world thinks that the sixteen-sack guy is more valuable, but the Patriots don’t think that, and you can get into the economics of this: The sixteen-sack guy costs twice as much as the other guy. And once you get to a certain point, it’s saturation. It’s just sixteen plays and when you play five hundred snaps, it’s not that important. It just isn’t. Who are the best rerouters among outside linebackers? Who are the best edge setter? Does anyone in the media know that?”

-From Belichick and Brady by Michael Holley

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Matt Chatham: Revealer of truth. And guy who got stuck trying to shove his arms through a little kid’s bike inner tubes. 

Key Takeaway:

Know your winning stats. The winning formula isn’t always obvious. But understanding what really factors into your success gives you an edge in every endeavor. Analyze your own organization, or your own personal success. Know what works and which part of the performance may be distracting you from the things that matter most.

I hope the Patriots win the Super Bowl again this year. But even if they don’t, it sure is fun being a Pats fan. Because win or lose (and it is mostly win) they have found the winning formula to be in the mix every year.

Go Pats!

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The most inspiring statistic in Super Bowl history.

Wow! Originally I thought I would post something today about the Super Bowl LI commercials. But I barely remember them. The fragments I do recall are only because I’m trying really, really hard to come up with something. As if I’m being interrogated during a crime investigation.  Um… there was the Skittles spot. Um… then Alfa Romeo showed up for some reason. Justin Timberlake referred to an old NSYNC song. And Terry Bradshaw was a mess. I’m sorry. I’ll go back and watch them later to see what I should have remembered.

Last night was all about the game. It was hyper-relevant to me and my social circles because I grew up in New England as a huge Patriots fan. But I recently lived, and still own a home, in Atlanta. I have great love for my Atlantans and the way they embraced the Y’Albrechts.  I didn’t want either fan base to lose.

But I wanted the Patriots to win.

I won’t recap the entire game. FOX, ESPN and the NFL Network can do that ad nauseam.  I’ll simply share a couple of inflection points.

At the opening kickoff the game was close. Really close.

Then, when the Patriots went down by two touchdowns, the announcers were quick to point out that no team in Super Bowl history had ever come back from a 14 point deficit.

Gulp.

That concerned me, statistically. But come on, my team is the Pats! You know, Tom Brady, Malcolm Butler, Bill Belichick. We can make up 14 points wicked fast. It was early in the game. I’ve seen this movie before.

But suddenly it was 21 nothing. Even the eternal optimist in me was discouraged going into halftime down 21-3.

It didn’t get any better in the 3rd quarter. In fact, the Patriots were down by 25 points with just over 2 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter.  That was 2.5 times the largest lead any team had ever overcome in the Super Bowl! This was not good.

I felt like 12-year-old Adam, watching my team get steamrolled by the 1985 Bears. I was having painful Steve Grogan, Tony Eason flashbacks. Even Billy Buckner made an appearance.

There, in the lopsided 3rd quarter, an amazing Super Bowl statistic was born. Maybe the most shocking statistic in the history of sports. It has the potential to change your life if you let it. According to ESPN:

Atlanta had greater than a 99.5% win probability when leading 28-3 in the 3rd quarter.

Or, said another way (which may be statistically illegal):

New England had less than a 0.5% win probability when trailing 28-3 in the 3rd quarter. 

Yet we know what happened.

I am not viewing the comeback as a Falcons fan. I don’t see a letdown. Or a choke. Or an improbable loss.

I view the comeback as a Patriots fan. It was unbelievable in the truest sense of this overused word. And as the statistic shows, it was all but impossible.

But I also look at this crazy statistic outside of football. As a human. As a father. As a family member. As the owner of The Weaponry. As a friend of people battling with terrible hardships and nasty diseases and demons and addictions. What happened last night is a reason for the hopeless to hope. To believe the unbelievable. I have never purchased a copy of a championship game. But this game belongs in my library of reminders and inspirations. It may belong in yours too.

Winning in business is hard. It requires you to never give up, never give out and never give in. Let this game and this statistic serve as an inspiration when you are pitching new business, cold-calling, interviewing and recruiting. Let this game remind you to push harder when you are behind in revenue. And when you are ahead of projections. When you are losing market share and when creditors are calling. There is always something you can do to turn things around.

To my Falcons-fan friends, I know it hurts to sit on the other side of this inspirational teeter totter (seesaw). But the Falcons are on the rise. Great things will come your way too. Take it from me, going through a game like this, or getting demolished by the 1985 Bears, makes the eventual Super Bowl win even sweeter.