Former NFL player blames limited time in pads for the league’s wretched OL play

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Derrick Deese spent 11 seasons in the NFL, playing every position on the offensive line at one time or another. He has never seen offensive line play this wretched.

Giants left tackle Ereck Flowers and Lions left tackle Greg Robinson became the faces of the league’s offensive line problem Monday night.

While many blame it on the college ranks for failing to properly train offensive linemen for the next level, Deese offers a different theory. He cites the reduction in padded practices that came with the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement in 2011.

“I think when you come down to practice, offensive line needs more practice time than a defensive lineman does because there’s so much stuff to learn — so many more variables we have to understand,” Deese said, via The 49ers Insider Podcast with Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area. “For one defense, sometimes there might be three different ways to block that play. So when you start cutting down practice schedules, and say you only have this amount of time per week, and this amount of time per day, it’s hard to get all of that in. It’s hard to get all the reps you actually need to be successful. When they cut that down, something’s going to suffer, and you see what suffers.”

Teams no longer can hold two-a-day practices in pads at training camp and are permitted only 14 padded practices during the season with a maximum of one per week.

Deese, 47, knows first hand the reasons for the limitations: He has undergone 17 surgeries and needs three more. He said all the rules changes have made the game “a lot safer,” even if the reduction in practice time has made it more difficult for offensive linemen to develop.

28 responses to “Former NFL player blames limited time in pads for the league’s wretched OL play

  1. There will never be “safe” tackle football, and reducing practice time is affecting quality of play. Derrick Deese wasn’t forced to play college or pro football, and the game provided him with a standard of living many people don’t possess. And Deese was able to use his NFL experience to land a radio broadcasting position. Once more, despite all the surgeries, the overwhelming number of former NFL players say they’d do it all over again.

  2. O linemen can’t practice their craft without more time in pads. It takes time to master the subtlety of illegally jamming your hands under the defensive linemen’s pads to hinder their progress under the watchful eye of the referee.

  3. The big thing that Deese and many of us are missing is that Ziggy Ansah is a beast. No, I mean a real beast. Like Deacon Jones. Flowers isn’t the best tackle to ever put on pads, but he’s far from the worst. Ansah will make a lot of OT’s look silly. The coach that left his OT one on one with Ansah is the one who’s looking silly.

  4. I think he is absolutely right in what he says. Between the NFLPA and the League making dumb choices, the product is suffering a great deal. It isn’t “watering it down”, it is basically giving the public a less than adequate product at the start of the season. Is that good for football? Of course it isn’t, but both sides have other agendas and the fans are left watching poor play at the start of the season, until the teams get up to speed. No wonder ratings are down!! But I am sure others will try to blame it on other things and not on the poor play.

  5. All of the above has some truth but you could make all of this much better by just easing up on the constant holding calls. I’m not saying let everything go but in the “old” days offensive linemen were actually allowed to play and that included subtle holding on almost every play.

    Now, one hand slips to the outside of a jersey and it’s 10 yards.

  6. Biggest reason is that don’t learn it in college any more. The NCAA has restricted practice hours and lots of teams run offenses other than the “pro set”. Some never even put their hand on the ground.

  7. “In their push for avoiding any possible lawsuit from the players, the NFL is watering down their product.”

    Fixed your statement for you. Its very clear the league cares zero about player safety except in relation to how it could affect owner profits.

  8. Isn’t this something the NFLPA bargained for in order to increase player safety in the off season?

    On one end, he’s complaining about performance, but also complaining about needing surgeries and conceding that these rules make the game safer.

    Not to be that guy, but that was the point and the trade off. The quality of the game goes down hill in exchange for safety. It’s not a horrible compromise. Of course, they also could have increased roster sizes to allow for more substations thus allowing for less cumulative strain. But then again, I also wouldn’t have signed a 10-year owner friendly CBA, so what’s I know.

  9. charliecharger says:
    September 19, 2017 at 7:02 pm
    The big thing that Deese and many of us are missing is that Ziggy Ansah is a beast. No, I mean a real beast. Like Deacon Jones. Flowers isn’t the best tackle to ever put on pads, but he’s far from the worst. Ansah will make a lot of OT’s look silly. The coach that left his OT one on one with Ansah is the one who’s looking silly.
    ———

    Please Flowers makes everyone appear to be a “beast.”

    For those who aren’t LIons fans, you would have thought Ansah wasn’t even in the league in 2016.

    But he is a “beast.”

  10. hawkforlife says:
    September 19, 2017 at 7:22 pm
    All of the above has some truth but you could make all of this much better by just easing up on the constant holding calls. I’m not saying let everything go but in the “old” days offensive linemen were actually allowed to play and that included subtle holding on almost every play.

    Now, one hand slips to the outside of a jersey and it’s 10 yards.
    ————-

    Ostensibly not last night, because Robinson and Wagner did nothing but illegally hold Vernon and Pierre-Paul all game last night and weren’t flagged for it but three times.

  11. Its all about give and take. Pros and cons. Give more safety to players, product suffers. There is no way around it. The game is not the same trying to be safe. We see both sides, but too many rule changes, too fast makes for confused players, fans, officials. what is a catch? Who knows?
    Heres what I know. NFL games are boring. I still love watching college, high school, and pee wee. I predict baseball will win out because they never change rules and stick with tradition. Same rules for over 100 years. Oh yeah, baseball doesn’t charge extra to watch games on tv.

  12. hawkforlife says:
    September 19, 2017 at 7:22 pm
    All of the above has some truth but you could make all of this much better by just easing up on the constant holding calls. I’m not saying let everything go but in the “old” days offensive linemen were actually allowed to play and that included subtle holding on almost every play.

    Now, one hand slips to the outside of a jersey and it’s 10 yards.
    ————-

    Ostensibly not last night, because Robinson and Wagner did nothing but illegally hold Vernon and Pierre-Paul all game last night and weren’t flagged for it but three times.
    ______________________________________

    I really don’t understand the thumbs down here. Yes, holding occurs and it’s not called but if it weren’t a focal point of the refs maybe it wouldn’t be so one sided. Offensive linemen have no chance against rotated fresh incredibly athletic defensive fronts. Viewers want scoring but it’s hard to score if almost every possession you back up 10 yards for every 5 plays.

  13. charliecharger says:
    September 19, 2017 at 7:02 pm
    The big thing that Deese and many of us are missing is that Ziggy Ansah is a beast. No, I mean a real beast. Like Deacon Jones. Flowers isn’t the best tackle to ever put on pads, but he’s far from the worst. Ansah will make a lot of OT’s look silly. The coach that left his OT one on one with Ansah is the one who’s looking silly.
    ——–

    I don’t think anyone is missing that because I don’t think anybody is talking about that being the only example of bad offense of line play.

  14. Did another poster on here seriously advocate that even more holding needs to be allowed than currently? OL are given more latitude to hold than ever before and a lot of them still can’t get their job done. Poor OL play isn’t a rules problem, it’s a coaching problem specifically at the college level.

  15. The bigger issue is that virtually all colleges play the spread option, OL technique isn’t needed especially at tackles. Until the NCAA moves back to a traditional offense, the NFL will need to create a minor league to develop the proper technique.

  16. ramos86 says:
    September 19, 2017 at 7:34 pm
    Isn’t this something the NFLPA bargained for in order to increase player safety in the off season?

    On one end, he’s complaining about performance, but also complaining about needing surgeries and conceding that these rules make the game safer.

    Not to be that guy, but that was the point and the trade off. The quality of the game goes down hill in exchange for safety. It’s not a horrible compromise. Of course, they also could have increased roster sizes to allow for more substations thus allowing for less cumulative strain. But then again, I also wouldn’t have signed a 10-year owner friendly CBA, so what’s I know.

    This is completely false!!! All Deese did is say that padded practices help the players perform better on gameday. He never said complained about his injuries. The only question he was asked regarding injuries was how many surgeries he has had, and how many more he might need. He was not asked to evaluate how he felt about the surgeries. So stop trying to stir up a controversy by writing down false information.

  17. “I think this is a big reason why NFL is as good as it used to be Teams no longer can hold two-a-day practices in pads at training camp and are permitted only 14 padded practices during the season with a maximum of one per week.”

    I think this is a big reason why NFL is as good as it used to be but some of it is up to the player & the real needs to be set so it is up to the player to put in extra work IF he wants to let him

  18. Bill Belichick agrees:

    “I just think in general, fundamentally it’s difficult to play on the offensive and defensive line. You’re playing a contact position with pads, and you’re practicing it without pads the majority of the time. That usually develops a lot of bad habits, and a lot of the techniques that a player would have the chance to work on and improve with pads, that opportunity just isn’t there without pads. So, it’s hard to improve at those positions when, a lot of times, you’re practicing techniques that are really not the ideal technique or, in some cases, incorrect, and it just develops bad habits, especially on the offensive line.

    “I think that . . . without being able to practice, favors the defensive players a little more, whereas the offensive unit has to work together and be able to block things at more of a game tempo with pads and penetration and combination blocks and things like that. It’s just hard to simulate those and hard to get the timing of those when you’re just standing up watching each other without pads on a lot.”

  19. realityonetwo says:
    September 20, 2017 at 5:33 am
    Maybe a lot of teams just suck.

    ——-

    They all do, quite honestly. Why do people think the Pats won five rings? It’s not “cheating” – it’s because these teams are run by idiots. Mike Shanahan singlehandedly screwed the Atlanta Falcons and the city of Atlanta out of their first SB ring.

    So how can you expect a good product? When the coach would rather let his own arrogance surpass the desire to win and make a city proud for the first time in ages – what’s the point? Might as well go do something else.

    You’re fooling yourselves if you think the Falcons had a legitimate chance at winning.

    Why do I bring this up? Because it’s a problem league wide. So many arrogant coaches/FOs who don’t really care about anyone but themselves. Look at the Jets, Chargers, 49ers, Redskins, etc and tell me they care about a winning product.

    If you do, you’re part of the problem.

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