Associated Press photo
Associated Press photo

At Rex Ryan’s practices in Buffalo, gone are the days of backups getting 10 plays a day and guys standing around while the starters practice. A new practice plan has been devised that is allowing the organization to work smarter, and more effectively.

“In this business, for some reason, smart and efficient are bad words,” Bills general manager Doug Whaley told the Wall Street Journal in a piece on the new practice plan.

Now, instead of wasted time and reps, new offensive coordinator Greg Roman has brought a practice plan with him, inspired from his time in San Francisco. In it, two practices are run on separate parts of the field so that plays are constantly being run, and reps and constantly being taken by the starters and backups alike. Roman’s philosophy suggests that younger players need to be engaged at all times in order to maximize their development.

In the traditional practice, guys that are buried beyond the two-deep on the depth chart would only get a handful of plays to demonstrate the new techniques and schemes that are being required of them. Now those same guys are seeing their rep numbers are double and triple, which should lead to better on-the-field results, in theory.

Another way that the Bills are getting more plays in is by not correcting mistakes on the field. Instead, coaches are doing that in the film room.

“We are not going to call a timeout and stop the practice on the field to tell a receiver he needs to take a two-yard split inside the numbers. The quickest way to get better at football is to play football. Not watch football and not talk about football. It gives players the opportunities to make mistakes.” Roman explained.

Wide receiver Robert Woods added that the fresh new approach has been very beneficial to players because it allows them to practice “stress-free without walking on eggshells” afraid of blocking the wrong defender, or running the wrong route.

The new practice plan seems to have found a solution an age-old coaching problem; increase the reps, plays, and potential for learning, without adding time to practice.

Read the full piece from the WSJ here.