As NFL teams tried their best to adapt to the unique environment presented by the 2020 season, virtual meetings became the norm across the league with in-person contact highly restricted.
While everyone will certainly enjoy the chance to resume a more normal routine hopefully for the start of the 2021 campaign, some of the adaptations made during last season could stick around. The expanded roster rules and increased injured reserve return availability are some of the tangible procedural items that could become permanent moving forward. But the ability for teams to meet from separate locations could be beneficial as well.
Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll certainly thinks so.
Carroll said in the lead up to the team’s playoff loss to the Los Angeles Rams that he felt like the meetings done via Zoom throughout the season had actually had a positive impact on engagement from the players.
“There’s something about the communication with the Zoom format that has allowed us a really in-depth communication that we would not have thought would exist,” Carroll said.” There’s been a really good relationship with players developed through that, almost the intimacy that you have because it’s almost like it’s one-on-one. And one of the observations is that the players, when they have the opportunity to respond, it seems like they’re more comfortable responding when we’re in these situations.
“I think it’s something that we should always use to some extent. There’s something to it. I’m making no excuse at all for having to go this way. I think our guys jumped at it, tried to innovate the way they communicate, the way to find the right tools and the right system of utilizing the interaction, the back and forth and all that has given us. I think it gave us a little edge this season. I thought we came into camp, really better than we had otherwise at times and that’s still surprising to me.”
Teams could not be in-person over the offseason and had to do all of their activities via video conferencing. It wasn’t until training camps began in July that players could finally come together at the team facilities to get ready for the season.
Carroll will definitely want to have his players back together when the environment allows for it. But maybe some of the offseason meetings remain virtual. Perhaps the Monday meetings after games don’t require in-person attendance so player. It’s possible other adaptations to made last season to accommodate the needs of the moment find a way to influence future meeting and practice structures as well.
“It’s not nearly the interaction and the fun that it is when you’re together in person and all that,” Carroll said. “There’s a richness to that that you can’t capture any other way. But we’re gonna have a lot of information here, you know, at the end of this year about what this has been all about and I’ll love to see what the science shows and, you know, the research and all.”