FNF Coaches Talk — Bill Belichick on Mentorship, Ryan Day’s Bucket Concepts, Illinois Uses GPS Monitoring

FNF Coaches Talk

Welcome back, Coaches. It’s Monday, and we had a busy weekend of watching the NFL Draft. Here are a couple of stories we noticed in the last few days.

1. Bill Belichick On Coaching, Mentorship, And Leaving A Legacy (Forbes)

When Bill Belichick weighs in on coaching, we try to share that whenever we can. Forbes has a great Q&A with Belichick — mostly about his charitable foundation which has raised more than $1 million for scholarships for kids in need. In addition to talking about his foundation, Belichick talked about what it takes to build cohesive teams.

“Put together a group of unselfish people with a common interest and goals. They will find their own way to work together and create their unique chemistry.”

On the weekend of the NFL Draft, it’s also easy to get caught up prioritizing all of the Combine measurables when evaluating players — height, weight, 40 times, broad jump, vertical leap, etc. Belichick says those metrics have very little to do with what makes a player great.

“Having a team attitude, being coachable, has a strong work ethic, learns from mistakes, improves, can communicate, and is willing to help others.”

How do you get your most talented players to become team-first players?

2. Film Study: By bucketing concepts together in the offseason, Ryan Day’s game plans come together (Eleven Warriors)

After deferring such duties to fellow coordinator Kevin Wilson that season, Ryan Day returned in 2018 as the main play-caller for Ohio State. Once again, his influence led to gains, as the Scarlet and Gray attack trailed only Oklahoma in average yardage-per-game with 535, and tallied more passing yards (5,100) than any other team in the country as Barrett’s successor, Dwayne Haskins, shredded virtually every single game and season school passing record.

Now, with the program fully under his control in just his third year on campus, Day shared some of the secrets to his success at the Ohio State Coaches Clinic earlier this month.

“I believe with all my heart in bucket organization,” he told the audience. “We have certain buckets on offense. They are concepts that our players will learn.”
These buckets are grouped as concept types, with runs characterized either by zone (such as Tight or Outside zone) or gap principles (like Power or Counter). Within each bucket, there are numerous variations that may be incorporated to attack the weakness of that week’s opponent. However, each and every variation is taught beforehand during the offseason and spring practice so that the players are familiar with them by the time they’re included in a fall game plan.

According to Day, what makes the different plays within each bucket different is simply a change in responsibility for only one or two players, making it much easier for the team to execute while changing the look entirely for the defense.

When it comes to designing the passing game, the process is no different. First, he and the staff create buckets for short passes (like screens and RPOs), medium passes (like Snag), crossing route combinations (like Mesh), isolations (that get a specific player matched up against an overmatched defender), shot plays down the field (such as Sail), and finally, situational passes that should only be called inside the red zone or in two-minute scenarios.

How do you introduce your players to the different schemes you might run on a given week?

3. Illinois joins a growing number of football programs that use GPS technology (Hastings Tribune)

Thanks to Illinois’ recent purchase of athletic vests that include a Global Positioning System device to track performances, coaches and athletic trainers are collecting data to help them optimize players’ physical conditioning in practices.

The speeds were recorded by the 44 Catapult vests Illinois players wore during spring practice, which wrapped up Wednesday. The Illini are among a growing legion of FBS programs embracing new ways to incorporate technology and analytics. Northwestern, for instance, has used these vests for several years across different sports, including basketball. Notre Dame also uses the technology for multiple sports.

Players wear the vests under their pads; the vests have a pouch for a GPS device to monitor movement and physical output. Catapult’s website says 2,100 teams across 39 sports use its wearable technology product.

A staff member sits at a corner of the field with a laptop next to an antenna that tracks and monitors players — and not just their speed. Catapult records data points such as duration of work, how long players maintain certain capacities of work, distances run, route running and explosiveness off each leg.

What new technology has helped your team improve the most in the last year?

What’s driving the conversation in your locker room? Email Managing Editor Dan Guttenplan or Tweet us @fnfcoaches. Don’t forget to use that hashtag #FNFCoachesTalk!