Today in Flock Talk, I spoke about the hefty expectations that accompany Mark Helfrich into his new office and new position.
Within the article, I refer back to some classic literature to express some points that I find relevant to the situation that Helfrich faces. The issue at hand is that Helfrich may be in the untenable position of a no-win situation.
For much of the off-season we have heard from various pundits how this program was defined by Kelly. At the heart of this thought process is the quiet nature of Helfrich. Unlike Kelly, he was not a brash coordinator that completely changed the culture; at least, not that anyone knows. Whatever imprint Helfrich had on the program, he was seemingly in the background.
Even the playcalling was speculated to have been, mostly, out of his control. Sure, he was responsible for game-planning along with other coaches, but not really for the play calling.
Maybe, though, this is where Helfrich's genius lay; not in being a mad scientist drawing up plays in the sand; but in his immaculate attention to detail. Every fine point of a game plan. Considering every possible move and counter move. Maybe his genius was in his strategic ability. That tends to fit into his personality a lot better than Kelly.
Kelly had vision and he had passion, and he paid attention to seemingly every detail. But, from my perspective, he paid attention to every detail from a large perspective and it was others that actually paid attention to the minutiae of the details.
The problem in 2013, unfortunately, is that if Helfrich goes on to win big, he will hear that he had little to do with the success that this is the "team that Chip built." If he loses? The criticism will be even worse! "How could he not win big with the team Chip left behind?"
Enlightenment philosopher and writer once said that "man is born free and everywhere he is in chains." This must be a little bit how Helfrich feels. He is his own coach and his own main, but is constrained by the expectations left behind by his predecessor.
It is really unfortunate because the one thing we can be sure of is that Mark Helfrich did have an impact on this team over the last four years. While most people have focused on the running aspect of the Oregon quarterbacks, think for a moment about the evolution of the position. That is Mark Helfrich. Without Helfrich, the Ducks may have been led by a strong of Masoli clones at the quarterback. While he was exciting on the field at times, the inconsistencies were unbearable.
Under Helfrich the quarterback play has evolved to the point where there are fewer and fewer flaws. Helfrich knows how to coach pro-style quarterbacks; and that is why Chip Kelly brought him to Oregon.
One of the quotes from Flock Talk was from Fyodor Dostoyevsky. "Taking a new step, uttering a new word, is what people fear most."
Truer words may have never been written, but fear not Duck fans, the next step and the next word from the Duck football team will not really be new; they will just have a new voice.