FNF Coaches Talk for Wednesday, Nov. 21

Happy Thanksgiving, Coaches! We hope you enjoy your holiday. Take a look at these stories we’re discussing in our newsroom if you have a chance.

1. Embedded in New Orleans: The Ritz, the Rout and the Reason the Saints Are Unstoppable (Peter King’s Football Morning in America)

This is a fun story if you’re interested in learning about how the best offensive minds in football install a game plan. New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton granted FMIA columnist Peter King access to his team’s Saturday evening meetings, and King shared his experience with readers.

One really interesting part of the story — and it’s applicable to high school coaches — is the walk-through on the second floor of a hotel.

Payton called out the name of Sunday’s bizarre play: “Q stop, G snug. Right empty. QB 38 Z Crush Alley.” On cue, Brees joined two wideouts to the left in a bunch formation (three receivers, snug to each other), while jack-of-all-trades-quarterback Taysom Hill joined the same type of bunch formation to the right.

Payton is installing a trick play — like many trick plays before it — with the sole intent of confusing the defense.

Payton thought for a minute, giving a John Nash look into the distance. “Part of it, really, is thinking of something that they [the Eagles] haven’t seen. That’s the job of a game-planner. You want eight heads to turn to [smart Eagles veteran safety] Malcolm Jenkins and be like, ‘What do we do?’ “

It’s a great look at the purpose of walk-throughs, how to target opposing players with injuries, and how to involve everyone from the offensive coordinator to the quarterback in the game plan.

How do you make sure that you’re welcoming all voices when you’re scripting a game plan?

2. New Ideas for Old School Football Coaches (American Football International)

This article encourages coaches to get out of the mindset of doing things in practice just because it’s the way it’s always been done. The author argues that full-contact, testosterone-driven workouts have become outdated, and executing without mistakes is much more important.

What are the most important things we can accomplish at football practice? I believe you can boil down it all down to four simple things.
Gaining and maintaining speed
Execution of fundamentals
Absence of mistakes
General preparation for opponent

The author also argues that many coaches confuse practicing hard with practicing fastHe encourages coaches to time players in and out of reps to ensure they are building speed while practicing.

Why do football coaches allow players to practice slow?
If a team’s effort level is high, coaches will mistake effort for speed. Football coaches love effort. In addition, if everyone on the team is a step slow, the fast guys still appear fast.

In what ways have you changed your practice philosophy over the years?

3. For High School Athletic Fields, Grass Vs. Turf Still Unsettled (Martha’s Vineyard Gazette)

The field turf debate was the dominant point of discussion in a Massachusetts town meeting this week. This story doesn’t really get into the upside and downside of making the switch to turf, as much as it shares the process of trying to gain approval from the town.

Huntress expects to complete a master plan, including surface material recommendations, by Dec. 15.
Moderated by Oak Bluffs town moderator Jesse (Jack) Law 3rd, the meeting saw comment from athletes and coaches, including from outside the high school program.

Coaches — One thing to be aware of. This debate always stirs up a lot of strong feelings in the community. If you’re planning to invest district dollars into a field renovation, be prepared for comments like the one by this commenter at the end of the story.

The Dec. 15 deadline for Huntress’s final report and cost estimate is interestingly consistent with the timing to propose a warrant article at the April 2019 town meetings. The plan is comprehensive and will be expensive. It should not be broken apart into phases. This was only the first of hopefully many public discussions on the athletic fields and high school renovation. Subsequent forums should be advertised so more folks are aware and can plan to participate in the dialogue. We need a 21st-century learning facility. The athletic fields are a part of this renovation and should be included with the overall cost and bond issue for renovating the high school building which will be between $60-$100 million.

What is your process for getting district funding for facilities improvements?

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!