The value of practice has been burned into my brain by countless coaches, my parents, my teammates, my friends, my friends’ parents, my parents’ friends, my mailman, my neighbors, random people on the street, etc., so forgive me if I sound brainwashed at any point during this writing.
Earlier this year, the Washington Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, took some heat from the media for saying, “Practice is a lot harder than the games.” If this statement is taken out of context, and left as a stand-alone quote, then yes, it is inappropriate, and probably a little bit offensive to opposing defenses. However, I would think that his coaches were probably happy to learn that he felt that way.
Practices are designed to be difficult for players both mentally and physically, so they feel prepared on game day. Maybe what Griffin should have said is:
“Because our coaches challenge us daily with practices intended to:
-Make us better understand the offensive scheme that we have installed for this week…
-as well as the defensive looks of the current opponent versus those schemes (and how we can adjust our schemes for the best possible outcome)…
-I felt well prepared for game time.
-Oh yeah, and I didn’t feel winded at the end of the game.”
Had he said the latter rather than the former, he would have been guilty of 2 things: an extremely long run-on sentence, and better explaining what he meant by his statement.
Practices aren’t easy in the NFL. Usual practices include chunks of time divided up for different drills. These chunks of time are called periods. Much like high school now that I think of it. Some of these drills that are done regularly are:
–Individual: The Tight End’s Coach (Alfredo Roberts in my case) will choose drills that are specific to their job in a game. Some days we focus on blocking, other days passing, other days ball security (fumble prevention).
–7 on 7: This is basically the offensive guys who touch the ball vs. the linebackers and defensive backs (not the linemen). During this time, the offensive and defensive lineman will work together to improve their pass blocking and pass rush.
–Special Teams: These periods are dedicated to making sure our punt, kickoff, field goal, punt block/return, kickoff return, and field goal block teams are in sync ready to go on Sunday.
–Team: Some of the most important work is done during these periods. Usually a “scout team” will mimic the defensive/offensive looks seen on film from that week’s opponent. It’s always interesting to see who will pretend to be some of the star players from the upcoming opponent. (I’m not sure who decides that, but would be interested to find out if it is the coaching staff, the scouts, or the equipment staff.) This time is where the offensive or defensive unit will try to work together to execute the plays that the coaching staff has installed for the opponent of the week. Usually a team period is given a specific focus such as:
-Team Run- Focus on blocking schemes and running the ball.
-Blitz- Focus on picking up defensive blitzes.
-Third Down- Focus on converting 3rd downs into 1st downs.
-Red Zone- Focus on SCORING TOUCHDOWNS!
This week we play Kansas City OUTDOORS! Sorry, I guess it may come as a shock to some that I was spoiled by Northern California weather for the past few years. In preparing for the Chiefs, we will be practicing outside (I’ll spare you the “neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow” line). Thankfully, we do have an indoor practice facility for weeks that our opponents have an indoor turf field.
Playing in the cold makes football more difficult:
-The ground is frozen and hard.
-Your hands are frozen and don’t have the sensation they usually do, making throwing and catching much more difficult.
-The ball is rock hard.
-Putting on a helmet that feels frozen like an ice cube isn’t the greatest.
-Wearing sleeves makes the ball more difficult to secure. So the skinny guys probably shouldn’t be wearing sleeves… (and the large ones think it’s a sign of toughness not to wear them. Ha!)
The good thing about playing in the cold?
-If you’re playing in wintertime that could mean YOU’RE IN THE PLAYOFFS!
If we win this week or next week, we guarantee a playoff birth. I don’t mind being a little chilly for an opportunity to make it to “the tournament”! Let’s Go Colts!