Questions — and answers — about what OTAs are all about:
What’s the real value of OTAs? They are very valuable. It gives coaches the ability to evaluate their personnel, continue to work out the kinks in their game plans, and implement their playbooks. For the team as a whole, it basically is the start of preparation for the upcoming season.
Players can get ahead in position battles during OTA’s; jobs can be won and lost. Every time a player sets foot on the field with coaches, it’s a job interview. These early camps give players the opportunity to work together and hopefully build strong bonds that will lead to victories. It also helps with timing issues — between quarterback and pass catchers, and other areas as well. The more repetition, the better the timing. With greater the familiarity with the schemes, you get less thinking and more reacting.
Does a lot get done? Yes, in the sense of evaluations, workouts and the building of team chemistry. These are vital parts of building a winning team. These elements of OTA’s are so important and should always be evolving — that is, if you are working toward maximum results.
Is building chemistry a real concept or overrated? Building chemistry is a real concept and very critical as it applies to new rookies and free agent signees. Every addition or subtraction tampers with a tean’s chemistry, so it’s important to give guys time to be around one another without the pressure of having to win a game.
Do the new guys learn a lot? Yes. I can remember my head spinning during my rookie camps and other team activities. The playbooks are complicated, but the most mind-blowing adjustment is the speed of the game. One of the first things you hear out of a rookies mouth is just how much faster everything is. An NFL practice is as fast pace as a college game. So getting acclimated to being a professional football player is critical and getting that process going as quickly as possible is also very critical.
OTA’s and mini-camps are great times for learning and teaching. That will always be valuable if you ask me.