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Inside how an NFL assistant prepares for game day: "Scheme only gets you so many yards"

SI has a really interesting look at how Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy prepares for games using virtual reality film study, and while we found that interesting, we were even more intrigued by the approach that Bills running backs coach Anthony Lynn has adopted to prepare his guys for game day.

As a player, Lynn spent a number of years with the Broncos behind legendary back Terrell Davis, where he collected two Super Bowl rings. It was there that he learned that "scheme only gets you so many yards. The special backs get what's blocked and then some." According to SI, Lynn's explains the primary objective each week is to find ways to slow the game down for his guys.

To help accomplish that, Lynn gives his running backs some homework each week. Here are two quick excerpts from SI's column detailing that approach.

"There’s also homework. Early in the prep week Lynn hands out packets of worksheets, with one page for each play in the game plan. For all running plays, the backs write in the formation, the defensive front and how the concept is blocked. They must draw one dot for the primary read and two dots for the “second-vision” read, and they must highlight the big alert, if there is one.

Running backs also have to turn in a "weekly player film criteria sheet" which includes 21 questions that can only be complete by watching film. Sample questions from the sheet include:

  • What are their primary fronts?
  • When they're in 8 man spacing, who is the 8th defender in the box? And how are you going to beat him?
  • How will your defender try and rush you? How will you stop this?
  • What is your biggest advantage in this game? How will you maximize it?

Head here to read the whole thing, including more insight from Lynn on his approach to game planning.