Former NFL head coach and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips reflects on the career of an All-Time Great in J.J. Watt, and recalls how he knew from the start that Watt was a superstar in the making.
The 33rd Team asked some of its contributors the best way for NFL players to avoid injury during training camp, preseason and the regular season. Among the responses in the video above:
- Wade Phillips believes strongly in holding out players in the preseason, especially for those who have strong practice habits.
- Marvin Lewis shares a story about a change he made to his practice week in Cincinnati after doing research on what was keeping Aaron Rodgers so fresh in Green Bay.
- Eddie George discusses the unique offseason training regimen he kept while playing in Tennessee.
- Bill Polian is a strong advocate of mandatory conditioning work before training camp starts. “Bill Parcells used to say, ‘Six weeks of strength and conditioning before they even pick up a football.”
Wade Phillips discusses how Texans’ running back Dameon Pierce can make a big difference to the success of their offense this season. Pierce has been the talk of the Texans’ training camp, and performed well in their first preseason game.
Houston ranked last in rushing last season, and Pierce’s performance has to be encouraging for the Texans. Phillips reminisces on how Earl Campbell took his team from the bottom of the rushing rankings to the top in just one season, and calls Pierce an outstanding running back.
“When we first got Earl Campbell, we were towards the last in the running game and then we led the league the next year,” Phillips said.
Wade Phillips has coached in the NFL for almost five decades and has seen his share of great players come and go. In the video above, the longtime NFL defensive coordinator and head coach breaks down why he believes Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald is a shoe-in to be enshrined in Canton one day.
Phillips compares the drive and talent of Donald to other Hall of Fame players he has coached, including the late, great Reggie White in Philadelphia. Phillips also details what he believes separates players like Donald from other players in the NFL.
In their first preseason game on Saturday, the Dallas Cowboys committed 17 penalties, costing them 129 yards. It was a carryover from Dallas’ Wildcard loss to the San Francisco 49ers last January and should be concerning for coach Mike McCarthy and the NFL’s most-penalized team in the 2021 regular season.
Mike McCarthy’s reaction to the Cowboys’ 11th penalty early in the third quarter pic.twitter.com/VKBSRA5BNF
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) August 14, 2022
Here’s how I would handle a game like that if it happened with one of my teams:
Hammer the Point Home
If you have a game where you have a lot of penalties, and it gets you beat, you can really hammer that home as a coach.
You can ask your team, “Were they better than we were? Or did we beat ourselves with too many penalties?”
Address It in Practice
If you have too many holding penalties, then at practice you should have an official that will call those holding penalties. When a player gets whistled for a hold, you take them out.
When I worked with Dan Reeves in Denver, he used to take someone out if they made a mistake. If they jumped offside and got whistled for it, he’d make them run a lap.
You have to make everyone on the team know that the player did wrong. You have to make an example of them in practice to try to eliminate those things.
Sure, you’re trying to embarrass them a little bit, but you’re making a point. You’re saying to the team, “Hey, we can’t have those things, and if we do it in practice, there is going to be some kind of penalty for it.”
You can say it’s treating them like kids, but I think it’s treating them like men, because now you’ve told them straight: “Hey, this is what’s going to hurt our team.”
That’s how you make sure players know they’ve got to be accountable.
The 33rd Team asked longtime NFL Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips to comment on New York Jets’ QB Zach Wilson’s injury. Here was coach’s response:
Having your starting QB play in the first preseason game is not smart.
Fewer preseason games now makes a little bit of difference. When we had four games, you normally didn’t play your starters much at all in the first preseason game. Then over the next three, you gradually ramped up how much they got on the field.
But Now, Things Have Changed
People have started saying that preseason games don’t make much of a difference. What makes the difference is having your players ready for the regular season. You don’t see guys like Aaron Donald play in the preseason, or Tom Brady take very many snaps in the preseason.
If you have a starter—especially a good one—you have to be careful with him in the preseason. To me, being careful means that you only play them a limited amount in the preseason, and especially not in that first game.
We Saw It With Zach Wilson
When you play your starters in the preseason, you’re taking a chance they suffer an injury. And for quarterbacks, that’s the number one position everyone looks to for wins and losses. You have to protect him first in the preseason. If he gets hurt and it’s a regular season game, well, that’s the way it goes.
Let’s not play the guy that will make a difference for you in a game that doesn’t count. If your quarterback’s out, your running back’s out, if every single person on the offense is out, you approach the defense the same way. When we play a game, we have to hold our opponent to less points than their defense holds us. You can’t have one side of the ball saying “We’re really good, it’s the other side of the ball that’s bringing the team down”, because that will bring the whole team down.