Category: NFL

Share & Comment:

Knowing the why of the OTAs

I was searching interview clips from the Steelers OTAs and I stumbled onto an example of a 24 carat gold Coach Tomlinism. I had to rewind it about six times and write it down word for word so I would be able to capture its glorious essence in full. The quote is as follows:

Coach Tomlin: Man, really excited about getting started today. It’s significant, but at the same time you got a real perspective, in the grand scheme of things, it’s probably not.

After I recovered from my confused double-take reaction to that statement, I realized that Coach T might be coaching in May, but his coach speech is in January play-off mode. It sums up the OTA activities about as perfect as a sentence can, regardless of syntax.

Take for example, the first video of the offensive line that was released. I saw Dan Moore Jr at left tackle, Nate Herberg at center, and Broderick Jones still at right tackle, and my first reaction was overreaction.

Then, I was hit with the real perspective that in the grand scheme of things, it probably wasn’t significant at all. It was the first day of OTAs, and of course they are going to work through every possible combination of the line. What players are mixed and matched in May could have no bearing on who runs out of the tunnel on opening day. OTAs are the time of year when a team hopes for the best yet prepares for the worst.

What will be significant in these OTAs is the offense getting an introduction to the new playbook and its author…uh…Arthur Smith. He made a one sentence statement that is worlds apart from the offensive approach of the last few seasons. He wants the players to “know the why” of the play. I’m sure the previous OC didn’t stress that aspect of his plays. I’m not positive he knew the “why” of his own game plan to begin with, in all honesty. It felt more like he had a magic 8 ball with about six plays in it, and whatever side of the triangle appeared in the window was good enough for him.

Have you ever been in a situation where you were instructed to perform a task, but you didn’t have a sense of the big picture? Did it make the task more difficult to understand and keep you from performing your best, or buying into the strategy? I know I’ve been there, and it can have a big impact on the end result.

We as fans might have that knee jerk reaction to seeing players lining up in positions or groups we would rather see others in during the OTAs but remember, it’s just May. It’s probably not significant in the grand scheme of things. It’s the things we can’t see in those clips that could be far more significant, such as a player understanding and buying into his role even when the play isn’t necessarily designed for him. Come September, when we get to see an actual NFL caliber offense game plan where everyone understands and buys into the why, then we will see it. I can’t wait.


Sign up below for the latest news, stories and podcasts from our affiliates

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.