Shanahan goes strictly by his book

Coach draws line in his first camp with Redskins

August 22, 2010|By Sam Farmer

LANDOVER, Md. — It isn't just how you practice that matters to Mike Shanahan. How you park your car counts too.

Shanahan, the Redskins' new coach, runs an organized and efficient program that adheres strictly to the book. His book. That became even more apparent recently when Dan Steinberg, who writes the D.C. Sports Bog for, detailed some of the training camp rules Shanahan has for his players.

Some of them are predictable: Players are required to run — not walk — to and from the huddle, on and off the field and 5 yards past the ball during drills.

But Shanahan also mandates that players not on the field stand completely behind the ropes or lines, and he has been known to fine players for double parking at team headquarters or for parking in handicapped spots.

"I started thinking to myself, like, 'Did I double park today? I didn't think I double parked,'" guard Mike Williams said recently, according to Steinberg's blog. "I'm dead serious. He asked guys to do the simple things.

"If he asks you to run off the field, he expects you to run off the field. He's just setting a standard and saying, 'Hey, guys, this is what I'm talking about, and so this is what we've got to clean up as a team.'"

Players seem to appreciate the way he conducts practices, which are not as intense as Joe Gibbs' yet not as unstructured — and unfocused — as Jim Zorn's. Shanahan's general rule is one practice a day, usually in shoulder pads and shorts, not much hitting and a lot of running of plays.

"I know that a lot of teams work on individual drills and tackling and all kinds of things, but we're pros and we should be at the point where we should just run plays," tight end Chris Cooley said. "It is the best way for us to mesh as a team."

Shanahan has the credibility to convince his players to buy in. He's one of five current coaches to have won a Super Bowl and one of two — with the Patriots' Bill Belichick — to win more than one.

Here's a look at the two other new coaches:

•Chan Gailey, Bills: Although Gailey spent some time coaching with Shanahan in Denver, the two have a vastly different approach when it comes to running training camp.

The Bills under Gailey have one of the most physical camps and began this one with 17 consecutive days of full pads. Gailey felt his team needed to get tougher, and for good reason. The Bills have been pushed around in their rough division for several years, and they led the league in number of players on injured reserve in 2007 and '09.

It was rare for Dick Jauron to stage a full-contact practice, and that country-club atmosphere took a toll during the season.

"Coach Gailey is trying to change the culture around here, change the mindset and attitudes," safety George Wilson said, adding, "Hey, the past 10 to 12 years for this organization haven't been working, so, hey, let's give this a try."

•Pete Carroll, Seahawks: Carroll isn't a college coach trying to adapt back to the NFL's way of doing things. He's convinced the practice methods he used at USC will work in the pros.

His camp was very upbeat — often against a backdrop of a large group of Seahawks fans and pop music pumping through big speakers — and didn't involve a lot of hitting. There was a scoreboard in the corner of the field so a tally could be kept on the offense and defense. (For example, the offense gets a point for a run of 4 yards or longer; the defense gets a point for an interception.) Everything is about competition.

Carroll frowns on players fighting at camp, unlike some coaches who see it as part of the territory. He doesn't want players doing anything in practice that would get them penalized in games.

Over the doorways inside the facility are signs reading, "I'm in!" Accordingly, the players have bought into his way of thinking.

"He's confident in who he is and his principles and guidelines that he wants us to go by," quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said. "Very similar to his strategy or philosophy on playing an opponent.

"He doesn't talk about the opponent ever, really. He kind of more talks about us: 'I care about us, I don't care about them.' So it's easier to be focused. We're focused on what he's doing, what he's asking and what we're doing."

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