JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Jaguars wrap up their off-season work this week with a mandatory minicamp.
What's the difference between OTAs and mini-camp practices? I recently asked Paul Posluszny the same question. His answer: “Nothing.”
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Really the only difference is that OTAs are voluntary and mini-camp is mandatory. Mandatory, of course, meaning that if you’re not there, the team can fine you. A lot!
The Jaguars off-season practices are unlike practices by other NFL teams. The Jaguars practice hard. Really hard.
While there are no shoulder pads or contact, it's still very physical. There are no wasted minutes. It is hot, it is grueling and the expectations on every player are very high.
I’ve been part of literally hundreds of off-season practices in my career. And without a doubt the most intense and demanding practices I've watched or participated in are the Jaguar practices. That’s what you can expect from a Tom Coughlin practice.
Tom is a future Hall of Fame coach.Two Super Bowl championships and success in Jacksonville make it a sure thing.
In my opinion, his greatest attributes as a coach are hard work, consistency and the demand for excellence.
The day he was brought back to Jacksonville I knew things were going to change. We all did. We were going back to how things used to be. We were going back to a tough, physical, old-school approach to getting a team to play at a high level. And not surprisingly, that’s what we saw in 2017.
So as minicamp begins Tuesday, what could Tom possibly be looking for from his football team?
Most importantly, the quarterback will continue to be evaluated. Blake Bortles played well last season. He’s good. But he can be better. He would tell you that.
Coughlin is looking for consistency. Every rep, every drill, every practice. At this point, Blake shouldn’t have the real bad plays that have haunted him in the past. That shouldn’t happen in minicamp.
It doesn’t mean you don’t make mistakes, but you can't make the mistakes that make the boss scratch his head. How Blake carries himself is also very important. His body language, his demeanor, his presence on the field. All very important.
Tom is also looking very closely at his young players in this minicamp, and not just how well they do on the filed. Tom doesn’t just evaluate his players on the field, they are evaluated off the field as well.
Are the young players workers? Do they pay attention in meetings? Are they on time? Do they work hard in the weight room? Do they act like pros? Is it important to them? In fact, who they are and what they do off the field is as important as anything else.
Lastly, Tom wants to see who has improved from last season.
In the NFL you are either getting better or you are getting worse. No matter who you are, if the coaches don’t see improvement, you may not be around much longer. That goes for everyone.
Are you a better tackler than you were last season? Are you more consistent catching passes? Are you better with your footwork in the pocket? What it comes down to is this: can you help this team win games more than you could last season?
Make no mistake, these OTAs and minicamp practices are critical to the success of the Jaguars this season. What you do in the spring has everything to do with how well you play in the fall.
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