OTAs (Organized Team Activities) are routinely regarded as unimportant activities that hard nosed head coaches like to impose their will on the players. For some teams, especially veteran ones with little to no change in coaching staff, this may be true. However for every team, especially those with young players, numerous rookies, or a new coaching staff, OTAs are increasingly important. For the 2012 Atlanta Falcons, OTAs will be absolutely critical.
An important phase of OTAs is installing the playbook on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. The OTA period of the offseason schedule is important as all players get practice and repetitions in the base offensive and defensive formations. Gaining a solid understanding of the basis of the schemes is crucial when teams make their offensive and defensive playbooks more complicated and intricate. Training camp is all about perfecting the offense & defense; OTAs are about learning the X’s and O’s of the playbook.
The Falcons are in a good situation as they have no players holding out for a new contract. They have everyone available for learning and practicing the formations and plays the team will run during the regular season. On the other hand, the Falcons also have brand new Offensive and defensive coordinators who will each bring their own new scheme to the team. From top to bottom, special teamer to All-Pro, each player will need to learn the playbook during this crucial time.
A guy like Drew Brees can afford to miss his team’s OTAs while holding out for a new contract because he is in total command of an offense that is not going to be changing from 2011 into 2012. While his teammates will not have the benefit of having him during OTAs, not having him in OTAs will not kill their team. I wish it would, but I don’t think it will. I am pleased that the Falcons have nearly the entire 2012 roster ready and willing to participate in this offseason’s OTAs. Matt Ryan and Sean Weatherspoon need to continue their commitment to immersing themselves in their playbooks– the fate of the 2012 season depends on their understanding of the intricacies of the playbooks.