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Insider Blog: P.I.

Posted May 24, 2010

Playbook Installation is what drives the importance of practices without pads

OTAs…so what’s the big deal anyway?

Scan some Q&A transcripts from various head coaches across the league over this past week and search for the terms “playbook” or “install.” By themselves, the two are very prevalent in the Q&As. Put those two words together and we’ve got an answer to “what’s the big deal anyway?”

Playbook Installation.

This is the time of year that coaches throw the basics of their playbooks at their players. Chiefs head coach Todd Haley hasn’t put a percentage on how much of the playbook will be installed over the next month, but New Orleans’ Sean Payton was recently quoted as putting that number around 75%. Generally, this is similar approach to that which occurs across the league.

With the Chiefs hiring two new coordinators on each side of the football, playbook installation is another reason that overall OTA attendance is such a key component for practices otherwise conducted in helmets and t-shirts. Having 85 of 86 rostered players in Kansas City last week was a major victory, particularly when this is the only time of year that players can skip out on team functions without receiving fines or discipline.

With that said, the Chiefs aren’t starting a ground-zero either. Some of the terminology might be changing and there will be some tweaks here and there, but Charlie Weis’ offensive system is very similar to Haley’s which will allow Kansas City to continue in the offensive progressions made over the second half of 2009.

“It’ll be our playbook so-to-speak and it’s our system that goes back way before me and it’s just what I learned, what Charlie learned and how we do things,” Haley said. 

“One of the key reasons for Coach (Charlie) Weis being the guy, was there were a lot of tie-ins through the years with he and I,” Haley continued. “So what we had to go through as an offense last year and learn really on the fly missed a training camp of learning, the critical thing was now not to go back and start over. It’ll be our playbook so-to-speak and it’s our system that goes back way before me and it’s just what I learned, what Charlie learned and how we do things. I would say it’s going to be a nice transition for the players.

This wasn’t so a year ago with Haley and then-offensive coordinator Chan Gailey. When Haley took over pay-calling duties just a few weeks prior to the regular season, Gailey’s playbook was scrapped and Haley’s was implemented. Many of the things that the Chiefs were working on at this time last year were thrown out with the fire as well.

For the long-term benefit of the team, switching coordinators at that time was a move that Haley thought bettered the franchise. Most won’t argue that fact today with the direction that this Chiefs offense is heading under Weis and Haley for 2010, plus Gailey landed on his feet as well with a head coaching gig in Buffalo.

The move was criticized at the time, but in the end appears to have ended with a win-win situation for both parties. That final outcome, however, doesn’t darken the fact that there was some monumental short-term struggles after the switch had been made; namely due to the practice time lost out in offensive installation due to the timing of the change.

As time went on last year, the Chiefs offensive chugged forward along with it. Offensive results grew with time, as should be expected with an increased comfort level in the system.

Virtually every major offensive statistical category improved over the second half last year. Sacks were cut in half from 30 to 15, the team put up an average of 86.2 more yards per game and led the NFL in yards per carry with a 5.2 avg. In total, 25 different categories improved across the board for the Chiefs in games 9-16.

Part of the success was the rise of Jamaal Charles and the arrival of Chris Chambers, but a great deal of the improvement had to do with comfort in executing scheme. For Kansas City to continue its progress, the team so desperately needed to hit the ground running in OTAs. By all indication, they appeared to do so.

Playbook installation continues today at 10:30 AM for OTA #4. We’ll have updates from the practice field later this afternoon.

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