Rex Ryan has talked about it for months—setting up two sessions of team of team work simultaneously on the practice field; an effort to get more reps for his quarterbacks and his entire roster. On Tuesday, the first day of Organized Team Activity, he was able to put his plan into effect.
During 11-on-11 team work, and the 7-on-7 drills, the Bills had two different offense-versus- defense drills going on at the same time at opposite ends of the field.
The Bills are back to work in Orchard Park with the first week of 2015 OTAs.
"We had the two-spot drills, which we talked about, where you've got the first and second groups going on one part of the field and the threes going on the other," Ryan said Monday night, in an appearance on The John Murphy Show. Quarterbacks EJ Manuel and Matt Cassel worked primarily with the first and second teamers at one end of the field, while QBs Tyrod Taylor and Jeff Tuel worked at the other end with the rest of the roster.
Ryan says the idea came from his new Offensive Coordinator.
"Greg Roman did that in San Francisco. And we said, let's give it a shot right now. It makes sense for development, especially for the younger players, and also about giving the reps to your quarterbacks."
"You can't say you're not getting any reps, because they're all getting reps," Ryan said. And as he tries to evaluate the play of Manuel, Cassel, and Taylor and determine which one should start, the extra reps will help the evaluation process.
"As we know, it's a three man competition, they all need work," Ryan said on the radio show. "It's not a true competition if you're not going to give them work. I liked that today. And I can understand the drill. I'll be excited to watch the video, too, because now you get twice as many snaps."
The Bills Head Coach says his staff will have to adjust to having two different sets of offense- versus-defense going on at the same time. The coaches will have to fight the tendency to split their attention from one end of the field to the other.
"I think it was good to go to some of the young coaches and say, 'hey guys we have to learn how to coach off the tape as well, because you want to go through these plays.'" Ryan said he caught himself trying to watch both snaps at the same time. "I tried to do it, and your heads on a swivel, you don't see anything. You will pick it all up on tape, though."
Along with making practice more efficient and providing more snaps for the coaching staff to evaluate, the plan to have two separate team offense versus defense sessions at the same time could be a benefit in the area of conditioning for the players.
"Absolutely, and they're football reps," Ryan said. "There's a difference. You can be in shape, you can lift all the weights and do all the running, but it's generally straight line. When you get to football, it's a lot different. You can be in shape, but being in football shape is a lot different."
Ryan has scheduled a total of ten Organized Team Activity workouts over the next three weeks. Then the Bills will have a three day mandatory minicamp in mid-June, the final workouts before training camp opens in late July. The coaching staff will have plenty of time to evaluate the roster battles over the next month. But as far as a decision on a starting quarterback, Ryan says he's in no rush.
"Ideally, you'd like to do it sooner rather than later," Ryan told host John Murphy. "But I think this will go through two or three weeks into training camp. We'll see how it goes. Especially having the three guys, you want to get all the looks you can. But ideally, you'd like to be able to make that decision sooner rather than later.