New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick feels he has a connection with the Washington Redskins, although he has never worked for the organization in any capacity previously.
That may be the case in spite of Belichick never working for the Redskins during his storied NFL coaching career, per The Washington Post's Mike Jones:
"Belichick has faced the Redskins plenty of times as an opposing coordinator and head coach. But his connection goes back further than that.
"In 1975, Belichick got his start in the NFL as an offensive assistant for the Baltimore Colts. The head coach at the time, Ted Marchibroda, served as offensive coordinator for Washington from 1972-74. When he came to the Colts, Marchibroda brought his playbook with him, and basically left it intact. The only necessary changes were left in Belichick's hands.
"'When Coach Marchibroda came over from the Redskins, he brought the whole Redskins program with him,' Belichick said on Monday before practicing with the Redskins. 'I remember just everything we did, one of my jobs was to white out 'Washington Redskins' and type in 'Baltimore Colts' on it and then Xerox it off. It was literally the same -- the same offense and Maxie Baughan was the same defensive coordinator and it was the same defense. I remember there was a couple pages somehow that snuck into the playbook that Redskins didn't get whited out and I heard about it on that.'
"The Colts and Redskins scrimmaged in 1975, and Belichick recalled that the matchup 'was really like an intersquad scrimmage because every call was the same, every play that they ran was our play and every defense that we ran was their defense.'
"Belichick had good familiarity with the Redskins having grown up in Annapolis. He was a Colts fan, but said he didn't hate the Redskins.
"Belichick eventually climbed the coaching ladder and joined the New York Giants' coaching staff for a decade, serving as linebackers coach from 1980-84 and defensive coordinator from 1985-90. As an NFC East rival, Belichick and the Giants obviously saw a lot of the Redskins.
"'This organization has a lot of tradition, great history and of course when I was with the Giants we had a great rivalry at the Redskins and and Coach (Joe) Gibbs and playing them twice a year, sometimes three times,' Belichick recalled. 'Those were some great battles that I'll never forget. They were just a huge part of my career. That was Redskins, (San Francisco) 49ers -- those were kind of the biggest names on the schedule each year.'"
Belichick emphasized to ESPN Boston's Lee Schechter on Aug. 5 the situationial scenarios the Patriots worked on in joint practices with the Redskins:
"As the New England Patriots take part in Day 2 of joint practices with the Washington Redskins, head coach Bill Belichick says the biggest benefit of this type of environment is working on 'the situations.'
"With Monday's practice focusing on basic situations of first, second and third down, the remaining joint practices are about getting more situational for Belichick.
"'Today we're going to get into red area and and third down and two-minute and tomorrow we're going to get into some more situational play and I think that's where a lot of the value comes on this,' Belichick said before Tuesday's joint practice.
"'Let's face it -- there's no team in the league that's going to have their starting offense and defense on the field on the final drive of the game in preseason like it's going to be in the regular season. So in order to get work like that, this is a good opportunity to get it against somebody else. Not only the situations, but just playing another team in that situation, trying to stop them or trying to score.'
"Belichick also stresses that situational practices help team develop communication skills that players simply cannot acquire from preseason games and typical practices.
"Joint practices with Washington will gradually kick up the situational intensity leading up to Thursday night's preseason opener."
The Redskins and Patriots joint practices could pave the way for a new trend and innovation in the future, writes ESPN's John Clayton:
"Dual practices aren't unusual. About a half dozen occur each summer. But the New England Patriots' visit to Washington Redskins camp this week was structured in a unique way that could become a regular part of future training camps.
"On Monday, both teams went through base offense and defense matchups. On Tuesday, they broke it down into situational alignments -- third downs, red zone, two-minute drill and others. Both teams were scheduled to clean up things on Wednesday.
"There were no fights. Injuries were at a minimum, and the work was exceptional. In the future, scrimmages of this type could be more beneficial to teams than half of the preseason games. Since the current CBA was signed in 2011, coaches have struggled to prepare teams. Padded practices were limited. Two-a-days were eliminated, and contact time is minimal.
"With commissioner Roger Goodell looking find ways to shrink the preseason to two games, Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Redskins coach Jay Gruden showed how teams can get more out of their camp time. As Belichick pointed out, a team's first stringers are likely to see only a handful of situational plays in four preseason games. In a scripted scrimmage, the teams could get 25 such plays if they want, plus they can get tape of their players facing other teams.
"Interest wasn't a problem, either. The Tuesday practice drew 21,665. Given the right practice arrangement, teams might draw more fans in a three-day scrimmage than they would in a preseason game.
"The Patriots and Redskins were on the field for almost three hours Tuesday. Even though players were fatigued in the final hour, Robert Griffin III led several Redskins in doing wind sprints after practice.
"Even though the Pats and Redskins haven't played a preseason game, they are ahead of most of the teams in the league in getting ready for the games that count."