Sitting and waiting to play with your new toy is no fun.
That essentially is what it’s like for Redskins offensive coordinator, Scott Turner. The coronavirus lockdown has the newly name OC forced to meet with his players virtually.
In a pandemic-free world, with a new head coach named, the Redskins would have had a two-week jump start on the rest of the league to meet players and install their system. Turner says despite not seeing his players on the field, they are making use of the time given to them.
“We’re putting a lot of work in, obviously abiding by the rules the NFL has set forth — four days a week, two hours a day,” Turner said.
Same as all the others. The Redskins QB’s choose to start at 1pm each day. The reason? Alex Smith is in Hawaii. No one seems to complain – and if anything, the others wish that they, too, were in paradise for workouts.
As for putting his new offensive system in place, Turner says he is breaking up by installs.
“We have gotten through, I think, so far six at this point,” Turner said. “They are separated by play type and then we will do a situational install.”
Turner said everyone’s brain works differently so the staff tries to group things together as best they can. It’s slightly different for the quarterbacks,
“The big thing there is just every play, explain to the them what the objective is on that play, what we are trying to accomplish and what the philosophy is,” Turner said. “That’s something that’s are trying to express to those guys.”
Running those meetings are Turner and Ken Zampese, Washington’s quarterbacks coach. Then there’s Luke Del Rio, the son of Jack, the defensive coordinator. He’s only 25, but is quickly emerging in his new role as offensive quality control coach, organizing notes and coming up with useful information for the quarterbacks.
While head coach Ron Rivera continues to stress competition, he has named Dwayne Haskins Jr as their guy. Kyle Allen is the backup quarterback.
And then there is Smith.
The 13-year veteran missed all last season after suffering one of the most gruesome injuries in NFL history in Week 11 of the 2018 season. He participates in all the meetings, but we wait to see if he can miraculously return to the field.
An ESPN E:60 documentary featured Smith’s rehab process, giving the world an inside view into the destruction of his leg and the power of his mindset to try to overcome it. Rivera has recently said Smith will have to be able to “protect himself” in order to compete at camp in August.
At the end of the 2019 season, Smith adamantly told reporters he planned to return to the game: “Without a doubt”.
It would be nothing short of a miracle, and proof of modern-day medical practices, if that becomes a reality. Some say he’ll never play again, while others say it wouldn’t surprise them given Smith’s determination.
In the meantime, Smith continues to be a leader in the virtual meeting room offering as much input as he can. Setting the example for Haskins on how to prepare as an NFL quarterback. Haskins openly admits how smart Smith is and how willing he is to learn from him. Haskins also sees Turner as a young coach he can relate to.
It’s a new offense for Smith and Haskins to learn. Allen is more familiar, having played in it for two years in Carolina. But in the virtual classroom, Turner says all are equal.
“We’re kind of throwing a lot at them,” Turner said. “In the beginning of every meeting, we do some quizzes, tests. Just test their retention.”
All are quizzed at the same and all taking their own notes. Allen has said he is more than willing to help others learn the system when he can.
So how will we know the effectiveness of these virtual meetings and who has a firm grasp of the offense? From player to coach, I am told there is only one way — when live practice takes place. Until then, Turner and his quarterbacks will Zoom away.
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