Hard to get a handle on this practice. I got there around 10 again and evidently missed all the Shanahan hoopla. Personally I always thought he was overrated. A very good coach, but not a great one. He would do well with talent, but didn't have the ability to make lemonade out of lemons (see his last few years there). The GREAT coaches are the very few who can consistently make the most of relatively mediocre talent, or adverse situations. (see 2001, 2006 and 2008 - all those teams vastly overacheived).
When describing a great coach, there is an old coaching adage which goes roughly, "He can take his'n and beat your'n, then take your'n and beat his'n" To get the true impact of this it has to be said in a deep southern or west Texas accent.
It is hard to believe that this already the ELEVENTH practice for the Pats and it hasn't been a week since they started. For the players it much seem like time has stood still. So since I'm kind of vamping until I can think of something to post, we might as well talk about the strategy of BB going a full 10 days of 2 a days, with all but one so far, in full pads. IIRC the last several camps rarely if ever had 2 days in a row of 2 a days, let alone 10.
Now the hitting has been very controlled, but its hitting nonetheless. Is BB being too tough? Will all this hitting effect the Pats negatively as the long grueling season wears into December and January? These are legitimate questions for a guy who had previously been known for taking care of his players.
Let me try and answer my own question, at least from my point of view. When you break down a typical Pats practice, there its really only about an hour long...at best. The typical Pats practice is scheduled for and hour and fourty five minutes. It opens with some kind of walk through/teaching excercise. Rarely more than jogging. Then they take a good long time to stretch, followed by some controlled running drills. Things like going over the bags, hip turns down a line, deflection drills, etc, etc. All this takes a least 45 minutes, so, in the AM, its almost 10:15 before they break into their position groups to go over individual fundementals, followed by group drills and finally team work. By 11 the autograph hounds have already made their way down to the perimeter, and practice is winding down.
What we AREN'T seeing are the kinds of terribly strenuous periods we picture in the movies. BB standing before his troops, all running in place as a whistle blows and they hit the dirt and get up (hence the name up/downs), with BB yelling how fatigue make cowards of us all. There are no periods of full sprints, for 10 minutes like we all ran in HS. No it all pretty business like. These practices are all about teaching and getting representative repetitions.
OK enough BS, lets talk about what I saw.
Andrew Walter is BIG, Drew Bledsoe Big, and at first glance has a very good arm. There was one play in particular when he was running a play action screen. With the defense on top of him, and throwing off his back foot, and with just a flick zipped the ball the 15 or so yds to the receiver. It was the kind of throw that takes a good arm. And THATs all I can say about Andrew Walter.
Today was Brian Hoyer day, with the rookie UDFA getting a lot of reps with the first and second teams. I hope he enjoyed it, I doubt he will get too many more like it. As to how he did, I can only explain it in these terms. He's a lot better than Kliff Kingsbury, but at this point, in a group of 4 QBs its easy to tell that he's #4, as you would expect of a UDFA. His best hope is to make the PS.
The highlight for me was the open field tackling drill. You know that's the drill where you have about 15-20 yds separating the runner from the tackler and the only ones who get tackled are the TEs.
Moroney and Taylor made the tacklers look particularly foolish. Alexander made one of the rare good hits in the drill.
Again, I find some of the fundementals of these PROFESSIONALs abhorent. Heads down, breaking down too close to the runner, etc. I almost wanted to leap to the field and grab some of these guys. BTW - although it was on the far side of the field you could see BB constantly making coaching points and doing a lot of gesturing.
I would like to see more effort put into the fundementals of tackling, even if it isn't at full speed. IMHO the level of tackling in the league as a whole had regressed over the last decade. Plus more guys are getting hurt, primarily IMO, because they put themselves in bad fundemental tackling positions
My last observation comes from the short yardage running drill. It was interesting to note that despite the presence of 5 TEs, it was G, Dan Connolly, who ran with the 1's at FB.
By now you know about the final play of the practice where the offense caused the defense to run a lap. What was interesting to me was the passion and excitement of Brady and Light to the offense winning the drill. Neither was in the play, yet they celebrated like it was a superbowl. Just interesting
Finally, the lack of players is starting to tell. The DL was missing Warren, Seymour, Greene, plus a couple of back ups, as I wonder how we can get a definitive look at what the final DL will look like. But then again we aren't even into a week of work. Still a long time to go.