The NFL launched its inaugural Coaching Clinic last weekend at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center, training and developing the next generation of coaches in the league.
"The genesis came from the question of how do we preserve the game. At the core, the game is made up of coaches," said Troy Vincent, the NFL's executive vice president of football operations. "When you start thinking about the institutional knowledge, we have a great game that has been produced by great players and great coaches.
"As we look at the future, we're always looking for the next talent. We have to have the same focus as it pertains to who's developing the athlete. Who's coaching, who's going to be the gatekeeper of our great game? It begins with great coaches."
Every NFL club was represented by two coaches, typically in their first, second or third years of coaching at the professional level. Over three days, the participants learned how to coach proper fundamentals from former coaches such as Norv Turner, Al Groh and Dave Wannstedt, along with former executives Rod Graves and Bill Polian.
"They're getting a thorough grounding in technique and the focus is on the offensive and defensive lines, and quarterback," Polian said. "Hopefully next year we'll do the other positions. It's really an in-depth opportunity for these guys to learn how to coach technique and what to coach in the NFL. Many of them have come in from the college level where they've been quality control people or in the NFL, and haven't had a chance to do hands-on coaching. They hear from the best in the business on how to do that."
Polian is a member of the NFL Development Committee, consisted of former NFL personnel such as John Madden. This idea has been in the works for a couple years now as the committee wanted to bring back the mass clinics that have faded over the years.
The speakers, referred to as the faculty, presented using film followed by walkthroughs on the field.
"It brings it to life," said Groh, the former Jets LB coach (1997-99) and head coach (2000), who led the outside linebackers walkthrough. "It's a visual. In this short period of time, I'm going to conduct it with these young coaches the same way I would with rookies coming in to rookie minicamp. I have a short weekend to impart the basic fundamentals of the position to them."
Groh continued, "I hope when everybody leaves here, they have an increased knowledge of the game. An overall, across the board knowledge and respect for the commitment it takes as a player and a coach to really excel at the most competitive game in the world."
Vincent said the goal of this weekend was to add tools to the toolbox for the current coaches. The biggest tool was allowing the participants to form their own coaching philosophy while picking the brains of many who tasted success on the sideline.
"Eventually, I think the long-term goal, and we'll evaluate it over this weekend, is this may be something we can push down to the college level," Graves said. "Make it available to college coaches and high school coaches because the information being shared here by this outstanding faculty can be applied at all levels of football."