Football is a true team sport that necessitates proper execution. So, you'd think the inability of players to take reps together would severely hinder their progress.
But the New England Patriots apparently are pleasantly surprised by what they can accomplish virtually.
In a video conference with reporters Wednesday after being named to the Patriots' All-Decade Team, defensive tackle Lawrence Guy shared an important positive of New England's virtual workout program with team facilities closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
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"It’s a different way of learning," Guy responded, referencing the video conferences and "virtual workouts" that have replaced in-person team meetings and walkthroughs. " ... You can help pretty much everybody in the aspect of getting what you need to do on paper and through words. So, you might see it, you might hear it without fully understanding it. You can ask a little bit more questions because you’re in your comfort zone.
"When you’re up at the facility around everybody else, you’re moving, you’re doing everything, you might feel uncomfortable. But now that we’re not able to do that, you hear more questions. You hear more things being said and trying to get more detailed into it. Not that we weren’t that detailed, but you can just see it developing."
Guy makes an interesting point: Some players may be more comfortable asking questions about plays from the comfort of their own homes, rather than on a practice field where a coach or veteran is breathing down their necks.
The lack of in-person interaction also means fewer distractions, so players might notice details about a play virtually that they may have missed during a live practice.
Guy also believes this virtual learning environment will benefit the Patriots' rookies, who may actually have more interactions with veterans out of necessity.
"I truly think when the rookies come in and they get to experience something that’s different -- their learning curve is going to be there, but I feel like we have resources, we have the players that are able to reach out and talk and help them out," Guy said.
"And that’s going to help every single player get a little bit closer with their teammates through this time because we don’t have that interaction on the field, so we want to have more interaction on the phone, through video chat and try to get to know each other that way."
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick admitted over the weekend that New England's virtual program -- which began last Monday -- has gone "better than I had expected," so it appears those interactions are happening.
The Patriots face a monumental challenge this season without Tom Brady under center, but perhaps a strong "virtual" offseason can help give them leg up in 2020.