Before the season began, I had a chance to check out Giants and Eagles training camps. I’d covered Eagles camp for the past couple years, so it was great to get a comparative look at how other NFL teams run their practices. They were both very well run, but the Giants practices were particularly impressive. Here were a few things I wrote about them at the time:
Lawrence Tynes is playing QB in CB drills. I like that. When the Eagles kickers aren’t busy kicking, holding, punting, or other kicker-like things, they’re usually just meandering around. I like that the Giants keep their kickers busy. Tynes is actually throwing some good balls too.
Remember Chas Henry’s noodle-armed fake punt pass against the Bears? I can’t help but wonder if that result would have been different if Henry were throwing passes all season in practice. Continuing…
There’s this weird buzzing noise every once in a while. I realize it’s the play clock. If the play clock runs all the way down, a loud noise goes off. While the players mostly ignore it, it at least serves as a reminder that you have to hurry your ass in and out of the huddle. The Eagles don’t do anything like this. After watching Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb unnecessarily burn timeouts for years, maybe this is something they should implement.
Like Eagles camp, by the way, practice is crisp. No wasted minutes. In fact, they seem to do a slightly better job in that regard than the Eagles. No surprise there really, with Coughlin’s militaristic style.
At the Senior Bowl this past week, I had a chance to get an extended look at both the Vikings’ and Redskins’ staffs in action. I came away highly impressed with the Vikings’ practices. The word I would use to describe them would be “energy.” For example, watching Mike Singletary run the LB drills was something to see. If he didn’t like the way you were running your drill, you did it again, and then again, and then again, all the while with this crazy man barking in your face to keep your eyes up and your butt down. If he did like what he saw, you got a lot a love – lots of clapping, lots of head/butt slaps. But one thing was very clear… the LBs wanted to run their drills the right way for Big Mike. There was similar intensity at all the other positional drills as well, with constant chatter from the other assistants. And it wasn’t just “energy” – It was also very well organized. They had an hour and a half per day to get as much done as possible, and they did a great job keeping every player busy for the full practice. As a spectator that was trying to take notes, it was almost difficult to keep up with everything that was going on all over the entire field. It was football overload… a great thing.
The Skins’ practices, on the other hand, were comparatively lethargic.
I had no such trouble being able to see all the action on the field for the South Team practices, and their players spent far more time standing and watching than the players being coached by the Vikings’ staff. I remember at one point half-joking with another media guy, asking if he knew what the point spread was, with the thinking that I’d be betting the North Team hard. The result of the actual game wound up being fairly predictable, at least to me anyway, despite the thinking that the South Team had most of the top prospects.
I want to be careful not to suggest that the Skins run lethargic practices with their own team at Redskins Park, because frankly, I’ve never seen a “real” Redskins practice. Furthermore, I realize that it might sound a tad silly to suggest one team outcoached another in an all-star game, albeit an all-star game with higher stakes. Still, what I saw down in Mobile from Shanny and Co. was rather unimpressive.