Smell that? The fresh-mown grass, the sweat, the hope filling the breeze? No, not baseball. That is the lovely scent of football's offseason getting up your nose.
Today, you see, is the first day of the NFL's offseason workout programs for some lucky teams. According to the new NFL collective bargaining agreement, teams with new head coaches can take the field starting today under a very specific set of guidelines.
Only teams with new coaches can begin work today and, as the Dolphins have new coach Joe Philbin on staff, they are among half-a-dozen teams able to get on the field and moving starting today. Everyone else must wait a couple of more weeks.
The Dolphins, however, are working by their own schedule. They are not starting today. Their offseason workout program is scheduled to begin April 10. I don't really know why the Dolphins are not getting right to work and instead are waiting until next week.
I don't think it's that big a deal, frankly. But the timing here does suggest Philbin is working on his own clock.
So what happens once the offseason workout program begins?
As Brian McIntyre points out on Mac's Football Blog, Phase One of the offseason workout program limits workouts to strength and conditioning and rehabilitation for the first two weeks. Only full- and part-time strength-and-conditioning coaches with no additional duties are allowed on the field. Quarterbacks may elect to throw to uncovered receivers at this time.
Phase Two is a three-week period that consists of limited on-field work with coaches. Individual drills, offense or defense only drills (no offensive vs. defense), special teams drills (kickoff team only, kick return only, etc...) are allowed. Helmets are not allowed to be worn, so one-on-one workouts pertaining to pass rush, pass coverage, pass protection, etc...are not allowed during this phase of the off-season workouts.
Phase Three is the final four-week period of the off-season workouts. Teams are permitted to hold ten (10) days of Organized Team Activities (OTA), with a maximum of three (3) days the first two weeks and a maximum of four (4) days in either the third or fourth week, with a Mandatory Veteran Minicamp held in the other week. During a week with three OTA days, a fourth non-OTA workout governed by the rules in Phase Two is allowed.
No live contact or one-on-one drills are permitted in Phase Three workouts. Teams are allowed to do offense versus defense and special teams drills, provided no live contact occurs. Teams may also require players to wear helmets, but no shells are permitted in Phase Three workouts or the minicamp.