Bills head coach Doug Marrone and his staff has put together a plan for everything since the day they arrived at One Bills Drive. While it's certainly not unusual for an NFL staff to have everything mapped out, there are additional challenges for a new staff. To this point however, Marrone and his assistants have laid some good ground work, and most recently put together the goals for training camp.
Through the spring practices the three coordinators got the majority of their playbook installed. There are still some unrehearsed portions of their schemes that will be covered for the first time come training camp.
"We're probably somewhere in the 90th percentile in each phase," Marrone told Buffalobills.com. "Some things are hard to put in without being in pads. The goal line and the short yardage come into play. To put it in before pads puts players in a bad situation because there is going to be contact in those situations. We'll wait until we're in pads for that."
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"I would say we're probably around 75-80 percent (installed)," said defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. "We wanted to make sure we get our core concepts taught. And then in minicamp, we were able to put a couple of
new things in and tweaked a couple of calls that we thought would be better against our offense, rather than just the generic playbook way that things were put in."
Even though everything is new for the players this season, Pettine and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett were generally pleased with the progress made by the players.
"I give a lot of credit to the coaches," said Hackett. "The coaches have done a great job because we do have a lot of young guys on this team. They've done a great job getting them ready with a brand new system, being in the NFL, not having them be intimidated. Being able to go out there and actually compete."
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"We're pleased with where we are from an installation standpoint," said Pettine. "We've already laid out the install for training camp. And we're going to get that pushed out to the guys so they can get a head start. But we're excited about package-wise where we are because this is a smart group that can handle a lot and we're going to throw a lot at them."
With the players already aware of the expectations for training camp, the coaches can move forward in accomplishing the main team objectives during those critical three and a half weeks at St. John Fisher.
"For training camp it's about putting together a team and learning how to win as a team," said Marrone. "What's the best formula for us to win as a team? To create the competition so we don't make any mistakes in personnel decisions and the best players rise to the top."
"We want to come out of it healthy," said Pettine. "We want to take that next step in learning, and I use the phrase graduate level a lot. I think that's where we're headed, guys understand the basics now, but they need to learn the subtleties of the defense and take it to that next step.
"We never want to just line up and play. We always want to have an idea, whether it's down and distance whatever the circumstances of the game are—kind of get a feel for, 'Hey, is this a run situation, do I need to be alert for a vertical pass here, is this a heavy run situation, can I change my stance a little bit?' All those little details."
Often times there's a singular theme that a head coach will key on for the entirety of training camp. Marrone has a bit of a different approach.
"I take training camp in stages," he said. "Stage one for when we get in there, to stage two when we convert to the preseason to stage three where we're getting ourselves ready and prepared for the season. It's not an overall body of work from day one to the end where there's one mindset to it. There are a few stages in there for me."
Heading into the season an obvious goal is to have starting roles nailed down, but Marrone and his staff are relying on the players to help determine those roles through the course of the training camp practices and the preseason.
"The competitions will all work themselves out," Marrone said. "The players truly make the decisions. The players are more in control than they think. They think the coaches sit up there and say, 'I think he'll start.' Or maybe, 'He's a great guy I think we'll go with him.' It's not that way. They have a lot more of a part in the decision making process by how they go out there and play."