Defense or “Defenestration”….being good at either hurts…the competition.
Friday February 15, 2013 Prague, Czech Republic
Yesterday was Valentine’s Day and not only did I call home to wish Nancy a good day but I had left a card for her. Not a bad start to the easiest day of the year for me to forget, which I’ve done too often, much to the chagrin of my twenty five year marriage partner.
It turned cold and damp on Sunday, the last gasp of winter I hope. And, on Monday we practiced on a snow covered field which did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of our players. The first two weeks of practice have been somewhat of a ‘get to know you time’ and maybe that’s why we still didn’t look like much of a football team. That concerns me a bit, but our quarterback would help that picture and was due to arrive on Tuesday. Fortunately he did.
My driver, a player who lives close by my apartment, told me on the drive home after practice on Thursday, “Finally, we look like a real football team.” He’s so right on and at first glance it’s my opinion that our QB will make us a competitive team. He picked up our offense like he’d been running it for years with nary a stumble. He asked some good questions, made some even better suggestions and as soon as practice ended said to me, “I can’t believe how enthusiastic everyone is.” It is always the first observation I get from our ‘import’ American players. The common denominator everywhere I’ve coached in Europe is ‘Enthusiasm.”
We have lost our best Czech wide receiver who tore his ACL in a skiing accident last week and our remaining core of players at that position didn’t light my fire at all. The best of the group has had to play quarterback because the Czech QB is sick and that didn’t help. We have a couple tall, 6’6 kids, who show some promise but both are young and need another year in the weight room to gain the type of strength it takes to play football at this level. We are looking at bringing in two European players, one from Finland and the other from Serbia, to fortify the position. They both look better on film than our current crop. But I must say this, all of our receivers looked better, running routes and catching the football from our American QB. There is hope.
Taylor Breitzman, our young defensive coordinator, is working hard with the defense and it too is beginning to shows signs of life. Our best defensive lineman is still stuck in his hometown near the Austrian border and will join us next week. He’s a 6’6/265 kid with great potential. The front seven in pretty solid although we can use our second American import, Andre Whyte, as our strong side outside LB’er. He’ll add some much needed experience to the LB’er crew. The problem right now is at corner where we’re lacking a bit. One or both of our incoming wide receivers might need to help bolster that position. I think in the end we’ll be OK if not great on that side of the football.
In 1492 the word “Defenestration” was introduced to the people of Prague. It means, tossing someone from a window in order to do bodily harm. You Think? During those years there was somewhat of a religious conflict between the Protestant Czech people and the Catholic nobility. I’m not sure who threw who out the window but safe to say it had to hurt like hell. We’ve asked our men to show the offenses in the AFL (Austrian Football League) a bit of “Defenestration”!
It was during the latter part of the sixteenth century that the Habsburg Dynasty absorbed what is now the Czech Republic. And not until after World War I, on 28 October 1918, did Czechoslovakia declare its independence. Beginning in November 1989 when the communist eastern bloc fell one by one like bowling pins the Czech people overthrew the communist government in a movement, because of its non-violent nature, that became known as the “Velvet Revolution”. Then on 1 January 1993 the Czech’s and Slovak’s peacefully divided into two separate independent states. The gray communist days were over and Prague, along with the other ex-soviet states has blossomed. Prague is one of the biggest tourist draws in continental Europe and the economy has prospered accordingly. In May 2004 the Czech Republic joined the European Union. Unlike prior to 1989 you now see bright color everywhere and when spring arrives, so will the tourists.
Having been dominated by Austria for nearly 400 sometimes violent years, it’s our hope to reverse the trend and do some dominating of our own in the AFL. It’s way too early to predict anything and I told our players after practice yesterday to stay away from any social media temptation to let people know of our potential. We’ve been participating in the AFL since 2009 and never made the four team playoffs. I think it’s about time. My hope is to see if we can’t sneak up on those rascals from Austria.