There will be plenty of fans and media members paying a closer look to this season’s training camp for the Bengals. It is the first time in over 15 years that Marvin Lewis won’t be running practices, and everyone wants to know what the Bengals new head coach, Zac Taylor, will be doing different.
Taylor gave a sneak peak on Geoff Hobson’s Choice Podcast this week, and it seems like Taylor will be taking an interesting approach:
“We’ll have a couple of more days off than teams have historically done,” Taylor told Hobson. “When we’re on the field we want our guys to play fast and physical. We’re not going to be on the field for three hours. It’s closer to two hours. That way our guys are fresh, top-notch and at their best.”
It almost sounds counter productive to shorten practices in order to have a better team, but this is actually an interesting way to go. If you hear stories from guys who played in the 70’s and 80’s, it wasn’t uncommon for players to not be working out heavily around the calendar year. In fact, it was pretty common for players to use training camp as a way to get back into football shape.
More recently, players have been taught that they need to be constantly working out, or else someone is going to pass them. One positive to that becoming the norm, is that players don’t need to rely on raining camp in order to get their bodies to an acceptable level of fitness. In fact, having long training camp days on top of players spending most of summer getting into shape can lead to overworking players and injuries.
It is also interesting that Taylor notes he has heard of another successful coach using this same approach.
“From what I heard of Paul Brown, that’s very similar,” Taylor said. “Making sure when the first game rolls around these guys are fresh, prepared and ready to go and be confident in what they’re doing. Maybe not all that much different than what Paul Brown used to do.”
There are definitely worse coaches to show as an example for why you think your training camp style can be successful. Again, those were different times, but this approach is probably more applicable now than ever.
This era of football, it seems like most teams are trying to get in more and more snaps at practice, when maybe it is time to start thinking about doing less. The only downside really comes for those depth players or players fighting to make the roster. The less snaps they have, the less chances they have to make an impression. That is probably the biggest valid argument against doing less during training camp.
Taylor is obviously taking a little bit of a chance here. He is banking on these guys playing better because they won’t be as worn out as some other teams late in the year. It also will hopefully cut down on injuries. He will probably also get a slight boost in morale cutting down on the longer practices.
Whether all of this ends up working out as Taylor plans will be seen over the course of the season. He is clearly setting out to make some changes though, which is what he was brought here to do.