While we’re still waiting on more news about the XFL’s return, it’s looking more and more like the burgeoning league has already made and impact on the football world.
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio has recently tweeted out articles suggesting that the NFL incorporate several XFL concepts, such as Team Nine and more helmet speakers for playcalling. The XFL’s 2020 season proved the effectiveness of such, and football as a whole would be better off if some of these innovations catch hold.
The original rationale behind Team Nine was to keep a reserve of players who were staying conditioned and trained. This would not only improve the readiness and ability of reserve players to get called up to rosters, but it would also help mitigate some of the injuries and acclimation that inevitably happen in the workout process.
While obviously players picked up from such a reserve will need time to learn playbooks, build chemistry and mesh with the locker room, keeping them ready to go will help teams plug and play these pickups much quicker. Veterans can stay sharp, and young players can learn.
During the season, FA hopefuls traditionally train with their own people, on their own terms but having a steady program will improve the quality of play simply by keeping things consistent. Playing with other pro prospects with a steady hand coaching, working with playbooks, progressions and reads is a massive benefit to players who rely on oft-scarce reps to develop their game.
One of the biggest roadblocks to player development in this league is the limited availability of meaningful reps in OTA’s, training camps and practices. Giving high-upside prospects more time to refine their play is good for the game as a whole.
Quarterbacks will improve their ability to go through progressions and read defenses. Wide Receivers can work on expanding their route trees against pro-calibre DB’s. Tight Ends, who classically take longer to adjust to blocking/route running in the pros. Lineman can refine their technique in the trenches, rather than in shorts. You get what I’m saying.
Team Nine was one of the XFL’s better ideas, and an institution like this in the NFL would be a fantastic development for players, teams and fans alike.
One of the XFL’s most exciting innovations was the installing of comms in every offensive players helmet. This allowed playcallers to communicate directly with their offense and get plays off without needing to huddle up. For the XFL’s purposes, this was to improve the speed of the game and allow up-tempo no huddle offenses to dictate pace.
Mike Florio claims this development in the NFL would help socially distance players, without the need for them to huddle in close proximity to each other. We obviously don’t know how effective this would be, considering that players share locker rooms, cafeterias, hotel rooms etc, but the push to reduce contact is understandable.
Regardless of motivation, this development would certainly help transform the NFL game, and adding more on defense would help balance things out as well.
In the XFL, we saw 2 defensive players with headset access to the sidelines, but perhaps the NFL could consider tuning in all the players. Position groups coaches could call out coverages, blitzes and alignments pretty effectively, and help adjust to the breakneck pace offenses could take with this level of communication.
While we’re taking a look at some of Oliver Luck & Co’s innovations, maybe the NFL could consider the adjusted kickoffs for player safety and sky judges for refereeing accuracy?