As teams start to wind down their offseason programs, with most ending by mid-June, it is a good time to reflect on what may or may not have been accomplished and why these sessions are so important to NFL teams.
These coaching sessions and mini-camps seem like they drag on forever for the coaches and players, but they have become very important in today's NFL. With rosters changing more and more each year, it truly is a great way to teach and get repetitions on the field. Clubs were always able to have classroom time in the offseason, but the on-the-field sessions are new to the league in the last five to seven years, and although the veteran players don't always agree, I think the positives heavily outweigh the negatives.
In most cases, coaching staffs now try to install the majority of their systems during these padless practices and mini-camps. They experiment with new ideas and test new philosophies all before training camp. Once these sessions end and players scatter for a month off before camp, the biggest bulk of the teaching, learning and installing have been done. Training camp becomes a game of recall and execution, which speeds the learning curve for most, especially the young guys and new additions to a team. They come to camp with a base of knowledge that allows them to let their instincts take precedence.