All right, it’s time for another mailbag. Y’all seemed to enjoy the one I did last week, and I’m thinking about making this a weekly thing.
If you have any questions you’d like to ask for the next one, you can find me on Twitter @geoffschwartz and slide into my DMs.
Here are some of the best questions I got this week:
If you could rearrange the current schedule we have (draft only at the end of April and less time for OLs to practice), what do you think would be the best for the players (rookies and vets) and the league? — @CGK21
Clearly, the newish schedule (since 2011) is helpful toward the players. They have FAR less time in the facility as before the current CBA. We used to report back to work in the middle of March. Now it’s the middle of April. There are time limits in the facility now, between 4-6 hours the entire spring. The old schedule? Nothing.
Training camp is vastly different, too: No more two-a-days, mandatory days off, and shorter time spent in camp. This schedule is awesome for veterans. It keeps them fresh. I’m never going to advocate for anything different.
However, the game play would clearly improve if players hit more in camp. I’m not sure two-a-days are needed, but I think coaches should use their training camp time to hit more often. We’ve seen the teams that hit in camp succeed in the playoffs, like the Chiefs, Patriots, and Eagles.
Secondly, it’s ridiculous that coaches aren’t allowed to talk or coach ball during the months between the end of the season and the first day of the offseason program. If players want to be in the facility, they should be allowed to meet with the coaches and get on the field with them. This would be so helpful for younger players who need the extra practice time and/or reps.
What OL position can a rookie learning the NFL come in and have the easier time with the transition? — @damnllama
Thanks for this question. Never thought of this before. I’ll give you the toughest: It’s center. There’s so much on your plate, with learning a new offense and then controlling that offense at the line of scrimmage and IDing who the line is working.
The “easiest” for transition could be left tackle and I’ll tell you why. When you’re an elite left tackle, and of course rookies normally aren’t, you’re on an island by yourself. An offensive line coach who coached Hall of Famer Jon Ogden once told me their pass protection was that Ogden blocks his DE, and the other four work together. He said a young rookie went to help Ogden early in camp and he yelled at him, “Ogden gets paid to block by himself, go help the center.”
So I think my answer is left tackle, but even then, the job is freaking tough as the blindside protector. But I’m sticking with it.
Why don’t defenses slide-move most or their entire DL right before the snap more often? It seems to me it would mess around block schemes much more than confuse defenders — especially against teams that snap the ball late and wouldn’t have much time to adjust, or rookie QBs, etc. How quickly can the OL/TE/RB adjust and communicate those pass-pro schemes? — @razaard
Another great question. Well, the issue with moving before the snap on downs where a run is possible is defenders would get out of gaps too often and open up the defense to getting gashed.
To counter this, defenses might move a player at the snap, like a defensive tackle spiking, or two players at the snap. That can cause offensive lines to screw up fits on zone runs and double-teams.
To the last question, there’s no timetable for this. It’s important to have a unit that can communicate well and switch things off as they unfold. This is why a unit who’s played together for a while typically handles these issues easier.
Also, of course, a quarterback who knows where to send his offensive line and running backs. I played 11 games with Eli Manning and in those 11 games, he was fooled by a blitz once! One time!!!