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A Scout’s Take: How NFL Clubs React to Wins and Losses

Washington Commanders v Chicago Bears Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Before social media sites like Twitter became popular, fans had few ways to voice their frustration after their favorite team lost. Some might call into their local sports radio show or just be pissed off while enjoying an adult beverage at their favorite watering hole.

Today, with the popularity of Twitter and other social media outlets, opinions — usually negative — are tweeted out on almost a play-by-play basis. To say there is an overreaction is an understatement. There is a reason for that though, as fans have an emotional interest in their team, and they want to see them do well. Others have a financial interest in a game because they may have bet on the outcome, and if the bet went the wrong way, there is obvious frustration.

Fan's reactions are impulsive and far more severe than a club will react. Why? Clubs can't waste time worrying about a loss or enjoying a win because another game will be played the following week.

Regardless of a win or a loss, clubs generally do the same thing after a game. Experience tells them not to overreact and be too emotional about a loss. Plays happen quickly, and in many cases, the result of just one play can turn around the outcome of a game. That was the case for the Chicago Bears Thursday night when rookie Velus Jones muffed a punt inside his own 10-yard line. That muff gave the Commanders an easy touchdown and a win. In all probability, if there was no muffed punt, the Bears win the game.

After a game, coaches and front office evaluators review and grade the game tape. This is done position by position and player by player. It is a long, tedious task that must be done. Depending on the size of the position group, a position coach could spend up to four hours grading his players.

Some position groups, like the offensive and defensive lines, take a long time because each player has to be graded on each play he is in the game. A coach is looking for consistency from each of his starting players. If he sees a certain player making the same type of mistakes too often, then maybe it's time to demote that player. Sometimes that's easier said than done, as the backup might not be ready to play at a level to help the team win.

Following the grading of the players, the coaches meet and go over those grades and discuss any changes that may be needed going forward. There are usually two separate meetings, with a meeting held by both the offensive and defensive staffs. Once those individual meetings are complete, the entire coaching staff meets to go over the game. That will not only cover player performance but also things such as play calling in certain situations. The object is to continue improving, and the only way to be done is to review the game and play calls constructively.

Once the coaches are done with their meetings, each position coach will meet with their position group and review the game tape play-by-play. These sessions are always constructive, as the purpose is to let the player see and learn from his mistakes and show him what he should have done. Good plays are also reviewed and why the play succeeded is discussed.

When game review and meeting with the players are done, the game is put behind everyone. The result was a win or a loss, and nothing can change that result. Corrections and discussion on those corrections have been made, and then it's move on to the next game.

There is no time to dwell on defeat as game plans and practice schedules have to be drawn up for the next game. If the previous game was on a Sunday, by the middle of Monday afternoon, the coaches are beginning work on the next game. On Mondays, position coaches study the tape of the group their position will be playing against, looking for tendencies and weaknesses. Most of the game plan for the following Sunday is put together on Tuesdays. Touchup work is still being done on the game plan throughout the week, depending on any new information received.

While the coaches are hard at work on Tuesdays, most clubs give their players Tuesdays off. The players are back in the building on Wednesday, and in their early position meetings the players begin to receive the game plan.

In short, clubs don't dwell on losses and revel in wins like fans do. There’s no time. Part of Monday is used to review the game and then prepare for next week, and then by Wednesday, the entire team has their eyes on the next one.