PHOENIX –- The annual NFL owners meeting offered a rare chance for head coaches to kick back and wax. These were observations that stuck:
No need to sweat it
Jack Del Rio made an intriguing revelation about how other coaches here reminded him that each season nearly 25 percent of their rosters are flipped. So, Del Rio has figured that in nearly three years when the Raiders get to Las Vegas, many of the current players won’t be around.
"The future is exciting," he said. "But I’m going to live in the now."
We chatted privately about a late-season, emotional talk we had last year where he had shared how much it meant to him to coach the Raiders after growing up basically down the road from the team’s complex.
"We’ll all be creating some new memories," Del Rio pensively said.
Finding Philip Rivers’ successor
The Chargers are mulling drafting a quarterback. It will happen in this draft or the next one. Philip Rivers turns 36 on Dec. 8. Rivers recently said that he is engaged and excited about his 14th Chargers season and that whatever quarterback the team brings in better prepare to "sit a while."
Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn responded: "I loved it. He is the ultimate competitor. That’s what you’re looking for in a quarterback."
Yet, the Chargers are not messing around. They will draft a quarterback soon and expect Rivers to help groom him.
Lynn, a first-time NFL head coach, said his peers here were being "very nice, very thoughtful, very welcoming."
He was told he realizes that come September they will want to beat him by 50 points, right?
"Sure!" he said. "Because I want to beat them by 50, too!"
A bigger, taller version of Reggie Bush
Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera was asked who Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey is similar to in the NFL. Reggie Bush?
"He’s bigger and taller than Reggie Bush," Rivera said. "He’s got all the qualities you’re looking for. He’s got his own style as a runner. It’s a unique set of abilities. Do you want him as a running back or a receiver?"
McCaffrey is going to be a first-round pick in part because he can be effective at both.
Can the Browns make their draft picks stick?
The 1-15 Cleveland Browns from last season will remain just that: the past, head coach Hue Jackson insists. Jackson had little interest in dissecting 2016. The gutting, the makeover process continues for Cleveland with the first, 12th, 33rd, 52nd, and 65th overall picks and much more in the upcoming draft.
The prime slots are one thing, nailing them another, Jackson said.
"There are a lot of things that I’d like to go back and do differently, but I don’t want to talk about last year," Jackson said about his debut season. "Our staff has done a great job of positioning for this draft, but now we’ve got to hit. We’ve got to get it right."
The Bills head coach is too busy to sleep
New Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott offered insight into his sleep schedule. Basically, he doesn’t have one.
He is known for his MMA training and tireless energy and said each day he enjoys tackling the Bills job with passion.
"I know the importance of getting rest and I try to fit it in, but I’m up between 3 (a.m.) and 5 (a.m.) each day," he said. He works late into most nights, he said.
And how will this defensive-minded coach impact quarterback Tyrod Taylor?
"I’m going to trust our offensive staff, but there are things from a defensive perspective that I can add to his growth," McDermott said. "I think a lot can be accomplished by self-scouting and we will do a lot of that as we go."
Marvin Lewis’ secret to longevity
Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis was asked how he has become the longest-tenured coach in Bengals history as he enters his 15th season: "No. 1, communication. Everyone must come out of the same foxhole."
Blake Bortles’ next step
No coach was more impressive in his presentation than Doug Marrone of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
He was particularly succinct when discussing one of the points he will stress this season with his young quarterback, Blake Bortles.
"You’re always looking for that increase in accuracy," Marrone said. "These young quarterbacks come from a college game where the windows they are throwing into are sometimes wide open. The speed of the NFL rarely allows such big windows. It’s tough, but that’s a thing to emphasize, the understanding of closing defensive speed in our game and how to teach and stress accuracy as such an important trait."
Making them wait
On the flip side, Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson arrived a couple of minutes early for his 7:15 a.m. chat. Other head coaches did, too. The rest of them sat and let it rip. Pederson stood for a bit, sat down for a bit, reminded everyone his time started at 7:15 a.m., watched his watch, and literally did not commence until exactly 7:15 a.m.
It was a stupid moment.
No excuses in Detroit
You have to give it to Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell for putting the best face and spin last season on quarterback Mathew Stafford’s injury to his right throwing hand that clearly hampered Stafford’s game. Caldwell is consistent. He was at it again here, with at least a caveat.
"Just like I said during the season, he was good enough to play with it," Caldwell said. "Obviously, it affected him and he did not function as normal with the injury. But we are not going to make excuses. He made the best of the situation."
This is an attitude adjustment that Caldwell has tried to instill across the Lions locker room for the past three seasons -– no excuses. It’s needed. It’s part of the reason he is still their coach.
Bridging the gap between college and pro offenses
Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy is at the forefront of offensive minds and leadership in the NFL, and he does not receive enough credit for it. His coaching job last season –- a 4-6 start turned into a division title and NFC championship game appearance –- was not luck. It was a testament to his ability to teach and to adapt.
He illustrated that again when he analyzed two subjects that have several NFL offensive coaches and general managers frustrated: how the college spread offenses are producing limited NFL, pro-style quarterbacks and how college offensive linemen in that system are not mastering power blocking as much as simply engaging their defensive counterpart for a couple of seconds before the ball is quickly dispensed in both the pass and run games.
"I love offensive linemen, but there’s a reason they are offensive linemen," McCarthy said. "We teach them footwork and hand-to-hand combat. We can work with a lineman from any system on those two things.
“The spread offense, the run-and-shoot, whatever it is, that doesn’t bother me from a quarterback’s perspective. The great thing it’s done for the college game is it’s balanced the competition between the bigger schools and the smaller schools. I think if you start to think about quarterbacks solely from the offense they ran in college, you are starting to box yourself in. I tend to think that those types of systems enhance a good player. If anything, it shows me the variety of what he can do and gives me more ideas of what I can do with him."