Going throughout an entire offseason process virtually in the NFL is a novel experience for everyone involved. The entire league has had to adapt to this new off-site environment and to try to find new ways to teach, as well as perhaps to place greater emphasis on figuring out how each individual learns to ensure that they don’t fall behind.
Zoom has been a ubiquitous presence in every NFL ‘locker room’ since meetings began, given that it has been the only way that players have had the opportunity to gather with their coaches. Instead of being in a room together, everyone is in their own homes, and ideally, muted, unless they have something to say.
I would imagine that all of you have gone to school before and have had to sit through a boring lecture or two that you don’t feel you got much out of—perhaps because you dozed off or simply eventually lost your focus because you couldn’t keep your attention trained on the topic or the speaker.
An NFL meeting isn’t really all that different. It’s a lot of learning and a lot of note-taking. Maybe you’re more interested in and invested in the subject, but it’s very easy to imagine that a lot of players would find it boring. Now throw it all online.
T.J. Watt was on The Morning Show on The Fan earlier this week, and he talked about the Zoom meetings and how it took an “acclimation period” for everybody to get adjusted to. “We just had to go through a process where some guys were uncomfortable with meeting in Zoom meetings”, he said, “but obviously just through doing it more and more we got more comfortable with it”.
“We just have to learn how different people learn”, he went on. “I think some people really enjoyed the Zoom meetings. Some people would just rather watch film on their own or watch film with another teammate of theirs. I enjoyed it. It was nice to be able to be with the guys, and if any of the young guys had any questions, they can always shoot me a text and I’ll shoot them back videos of any drills they want to do, or just any film that they need”.
The last comment also highlights the importance of having leaders within the locker room who are willing and able to step up into something of a coaching role. Watt, entering his fourth season now, is such a player who is capable of translating his knowledge and the coaches’ lessons into a player perspective that his younger teammates can understand.
Even with training camp opening in a couple of weeks, however, the Zoom meetings are not going away. Meetings will remain virtual when possible, and since everybody is staying in their own homes, as they have been since March, that shouldn’t be a problem.