Unproven quarterback John Beck is the presumptive starter and many newcomers, including mostly first-year players, will make the Redskins’ opening-day 53-man roster. The league’s oldest team last season, Washington should continue its major makeover, but it’s still bad timing for an ongoing youth movement.
I can still hear former Washington coach Joe Gibbs explaining the importance of the entire offseason schedule. The three-time Super Bowl winning head coach strongly believed the conditioning program and organized team activities were just as valuable, if not more so, than minicamps and training camp.
The league took disciplinary action against the Redskins because Gibbs, after returning to the franchise in 2004, went beyond the limits of permitted OTA work. Gibbs’s message to players was: Every second counts.
Several other teams have been penalized, accepting reduced practice time for pushing the limits during OTAs, emphasizing the importance coaches place on the sessions. OTAs and conditioning programs, which include weight training and endurance work, are essential in readiness for the season.
Repetition is the key to successful plays. Players will have far fewer practice reps than last season before the curtain rises on the next.
Don’t be surprised if some quarterbacks and receivers just can’t seem to get their timing set on timing routes. Blocking and tackling could suffer, particularly early in the season. With the high skill level of NFL players, even a little drop-off could hurt the league-wide product.
There’s also a greater risk of injuries.
This may come as a shock to some, but not all NFL players enjoy training. Management encourages players to attend offseason workouts that are not mandatory, in large part, to monitor their physical condition. For months, team trainers and doctors were prohibited from interacting with players.
Now, some guys will push themselves in rushing to get their bodies ready. No potential for problems there, huh?
NFL teams have top-notch training and medical staffs and the best equipment money can buy. Obviously, team physicians and trainers understand what players are facing and will act accordingly to help them. That doesn’t mean they’ll succeed.
Lost bonding time is another important factor.
Relationships are formed, renewed and strengthened when players train together at team complexes. The on-field trust that’s needed during November and December is forged during March, April and May.