Shout out to Dave Zangaro and his article for the players' quotes.
If you don't remember, voluntary offseason workouts began yesterday and the returning veterans saw some changes that Bill O'Brien and his staff have implemented.
Said T.J. Yates:
"It’s completely different, just as far as the weight room, it was completely different. There’s a 40-yard turf in the middle of the weight room, all the squat racks on the one side look like and Erector Set. There’s so many different things we can do and we haven’t even scratched the surface of all the stuff that we’re going to be doing."
With new and different workout facilities, perhaps Bill O'Brien is taking the Chip Kelly approach to strengh and conditioning. A big believer in sports science, Kelly intensified the Eagles' offseason and in-season workouts but also fortified them with personalized nutrition plans for each player to go along with ample recovery time.
Said Shane Lechler:
"I mean, I’m up for anything. Whatever they want to do, I’ll do. I think it can only make us better. You can only lift the same weight and run the same runs so many times, it’ll be nice to do something different."
So other than O'Brien, who's responsible for these drastic changes? York Daily Record had an interesting article on then-Penn State strength and conditioning coach Craig Fitzgerald, who-- you guessed it-- now works for O'Brien and the Texans. Here's an excerpt:
During stretching, Fitzgerald sensed a lull in his players because of the situation (following the gut-punch loss to Ohio State), the atmosphere (small, quiet crowd) and the weather (spitting rain, freezing temperatures). The moment jolted Fitzgerald, and he acted.
He pulled off his shirt, leaped to the turf bare-chested and bounced up, as if ready to lead a battle charge. He immediately was swallowed by a mob of celebrating white jerseys as he screamed and arm-pumped. Senior linebacker Mike Mauti was so fired up he crashed into Fitzgerald, leading with his shoulder pads. [Video of this below].
The key is knowing how to motivate consistently day after week after month. Unlike O'Brien and his assistants, strength and conditioning coaches interact with players closely the entire year.
His impact on the Nittany Lions, in a sense, can be greater than the man who hired him.
"He's the best thing to happen to Penn State," Mauti said. "He gets those guys going, and it's almost as much mentally as it is physically.
"When you're home sleeping, his wheels are spinning, 'What can I do to make these guys better? How can I get these guys to the next level?'"
Sounds like an interesting, if not intense, kind of coach. Bringing some mental strength to the team would certainly help during those critical late-game moments that have irked us so much the past few seasons. Or how about primetime games? Too often the Texans have wilted under the bright lights and the heavy gaze of the entire nation.
The Trade Down Option
Trading down and stockpiling draft picks is what this reader wants the Texans to do.
Said Chris Myers:
"I’ve done some stuff outside the box type of stuff, but they’re having some new ways of training. As long as you approach it with an open mind, you’ll be alright."
Some new ways of training seems to be exactly what the Houston Texans need, as they've seemingly been snakebitten with the most untimely injuries to key players the past three seasons. Many of the injuries have been flukes-- like Brian Cushing's knee inuries, Matt Schaub's foot-- but fresh voices and perspectives could give the Texans' roster a whole new focus on staying healthy on the field. It certainly worked for Kelly, who saw his Eagles go relatively injury-free in 2013.
"[Fitzgerald] is a super high-energy guy and that’s what you need in a weight room staff. All of his assistants are the same way. Very good at encouraging, not putting you down type stuff, but stuff that gets you better... You can see the fire and the energy that he brings into his job and I think that’s going to carry over with all the guys."
Whatever it takes. I'm ready for this new generation of mentally strong, Captain America-ish brand of Houston Texans football.