Most fans see the only the glamorous part of the NFL, the three hours on Sundays with the big plays and big hits. But not all of football is excitement. There is a lot of tedious repetition during the week, work that is necessary to pull off what happens on game day.
And this work must be done in an organized manner and that is something that falls to the head coach. Jay Gruden is in his first season as an NFL head coach so he had to construct a weekly schedule of when to do what needs to get done.
He didn’t make it up from scratch. He used his own ideas and he drew from his experience as an assistant coach.
“Yeah, a little bit of both, from Coach [Jim] Haslett obviously and what they did here,” he said. “But I was in Cincinnati, obviously my brother was in Tampa, so we pulled a little bit from everywhere.”
Gruden talked about the cycle that is repeated 16 times a year, with a few wrinkles thrown in for the bye week and a few prime time games.
“The big thing is, you want to get in in the morning and introduce the team you’re getting ready to play and install all your basic runs and base passes,” he said. “Then you come out and you walk through some of the new things that you’re doing, then you have lunch, watch the walkthrough, then you come out and practice, then you’re able to watch practice and get them out of here. So Wednesdays and Thursdays are quite the grind, you know, really for players both mentally and physically. Sometimes the tempo will tend to drag because you’re showing cards and it doesn’t happen as fast as you want, but it’s a very necessary part of the game.”
Saturday’s game against the Ravens is the third preseason game, the “dress rehearsal” for regular season. That doesn’t apply to just the game, it applies to the preparation leading up to the game. Gruden wants to make sure that the players are mentally prepared for the endless hours of preparation to come.
“I told them today after practice that you just have got to deal with it,” he said. “That’s the way football is at 31 other places, I believe, and it’s a grind but it’s necessary. For us to get to where we want on Sunday afternoon, we have to really prepare this way. Later in the season that could change, but right now that is the way it will be.”