Will new HCs be more aggressive during OTAs?

Mike Florio and Chris Simms discuss how the nature of OTAs have evolved over the years, given 20 teams begin Monday, and assess how coaches could approach them differently.

Video Transcript

MIKE FLORIO: Did I mention teams start their OTAs today? This is the culmination of the offseason program, phase three. And it's so funny. I remember when they first coined the phrase, Chris. It happened at some point in the past two years that I've been doing this, where they started calling these practices, I remember at one point they called them quarterback camps. They had these different names.

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CHRIS SIMMS: Yeah, right, coded words.

MIKE FLORIO: And they, it's like, why not just call it football practice? And they avoided it. Because at the end of the day, for so long, and you were part of the NFL when this was happening, it was practice. It was normal practice.

The guys just didn't have pads on. But they're still out there beating the shit out of each other with helmets and nothing else. Well, I mean, they had clothes on, but you know. And I remember hearing that the offensive linemen were like, can we just wear pads?


MIKE FLORIO: I'm all banged up.

CHRIS SIMMS: Exactly, that's what is was.


MIKE FLORIO: Helmets hitting me.


MIKE FLORIO: Because you get grown ass men out there.


MIKE FLORIO: And what do you expect them to do? They're full of testosterone, they want to compete. You tell them, oh, oh, go easy. They don't go easy. And the coaches had no incentive to tell them to go easy until it became kind of a thing and the union got involved. And it's gotten under control since then, but this was the hallmark of the offseason program, the OTAs.


MIKE FLORIO: It's football practice for two or three weeks. And it was full contact, full go, just no pads. Everybody had helmets, cleats, and that's it.


CHRIS SIMMS: Yeah, no, you're right. I mean, it was like to the point of it was aggressive, it was full speed. It was everything except, yeah, no full contact, no knock the receiver out when he's running across the middle, right? But there was plenty. Enough to where--

MIKE FLORIO: It still happened sometimes.

CHRIS SIMMS: Definitely. Still happens.

MIKE FLORIO: It would still happen and be a big fight.

CHRIS SIMMS: Right, right. It's hard, like you said. It's hard to control everybody's emotions like that. And you're right in the fact that like linemen used to be like, can we just wear pads, because the defensive linemen, the way they're hitting hands and they're twisting and stunting and doing all that and running into the side of a guy to pick him to let the other guy come underneath and get after the quarterback--


--where yeah, linemen were like can we just put shoulder pads and thigh pads and all that on to protect ourselves here, because it was basically full speed without the tackling to the ground element.

And then like also like you said, Mike, it's hard to tell, oh, there's 90 guys on the field. You can tell the superstars and the starting D linemen, hey, take a little off the gas pedal here. Let's go 85%. That's good.

But guy number 85 on the roster who's trying to make somebody notice him, he doesn't know anything but like, I got to go full speed and show people what I got here. I only got a few opportunities. And that's where it becomes tricky and that's where I think the NFL had to step in a little bit and control this to a degree. And I think they got it in the right place now.

MIKE FLORIO: That risk is there every year. Those guys at the bottom of the roster who don't care about crossing the line. They're trying to get someone's attention. You're right. That's true every year. The coaches have to be in a position to take the steam out of those guys. The coaches at some level like that steam. It's easier to coach it out of a guy than to coach it into a guy.


CHRIS SIMMS: That's right.

MIKE FLORIO: They're concerned if you start coaching it out of the guy, it ain't going to come back.


MIKE FLORIO: And the other teams to watch, the teams with first year, first time head coaches, will they be a little more aggressive?


MIKE FLORIO: Because we'll see. Coaches get whacked.

CHRIS SIMMS: Typically they do.

MIKE FLORIO: We'll hear about it weeks after the fact.


MIKE FLORIO: And a lot of times it's that first year guy or somebody trying to turn a program around. Like the Broncos, maybe you want to watch the Broncos a little more carefully.


CHRIS SIMMS: Change the culture, new team.

MIKE FLORIO: Sean Payton in there kicking ass and taking names.


MIKE FLORIO: Right. And they're willing to skirt the possibility of having to pay $50,000 grand or whatever the fine is. And if you do it multiple times, then you start having to worry about draft picks. The Seahawks have had multiple violations in the past.


MIKE FLORIO: That whole spirit of competition. Yeah, go out there and compete and compete and compete. And have to ask yourself, it's a business calculation.


MIKE FLORIO: Is it worth the risk of getting whacked if the benefit is, my team is better suited to compete on Sundays during football season? This is the preparation. The foundation is being laid.


The guys are here, let's go out there, let's begin the process of crafting our best 53 and getting the right mindset in these players. Why wait until July? They're here, let's do it now. That's the balance. And I'd say for some teams, it's strategic. Willing to take the risk--


MIKE FLORIO: --that the NFLPA is going to order a--

CHRIS SIMMS: Push the limit.

MIKE FLORIO: --a film of practice, and possibly punish us.


MIKE FLORIO: Because we come out of it with a better collection of football players.

CHRIS SIMMS: Yeah, that's right. I think, I think teams are willing to push the limit. I think teams a lot of the times almost call the bluff of the NFLPA representative that's on the football team, to where they know that they can call, like every team has two representatives, where they know they can call and be like, hey, we were on the field an hour too long today.


We had 10 people get knocked to the ground. Nobody's supposed to get hit out here. That can go on. But teams are willing to kind of call the bluff. And a lot of the times, the guy that's the NFLPA representative, he's a guy that also loves football and loves the team, and he's willing to, OK, we stayed on the field for 25 or 30 minutes, so what.

That's the sacrifice of it. So I do think teams are willing to take those chances. And I know that's not full through. There's a lot of players that try to do right by the guys that are NFLPA representatives and do call and tattletale.

But they also get a little bit of a reputation around the NFL, too, if you're that guy that does that too much. So to your point, yeah, this is the time of the year we're team building, get it ready for training camp, this is who we are. We got to buy into a mantra. And that's where it can get a little emotional and out of hand in the OTAs at times.