Patriots coach Bill Belichick has a lot of memories associated with the Washington Redskins.
He especially remembers whiting out the franchise’s name in a playbook.
When Ted Marchibroda took over the Baltimore Colts in 1975 after serving three seasons as the Redskins’ offensive coordinator, Belichick was in his first year on an NFL staff as a special assistant for the Colts.
“[Marchibroda] brought the whole Redskins program with him,” Belichick said Monday before the Patriots and the Redskins held their first joint practice of the week in Richmond, Va. “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 it was the same defense.”
The tedious task wasn’t without a few hiccups.
“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,” said Belichick, entering his 15th year with New England.
The teams faced each other in three scrimmages that preseason, and Belichick is 2-1 against the Redskins as the Patriots’ head coach, with the last meeting coming in 2011.
The clubs’ joint practices this week came about pretty simply. Belichick called up Washington general manager Bruce Allen — and then Jay Gruden after he was hired as coach — when he saw they opened the preseason against each other. The game is at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
“We felt like we could make it work based on what our goals were and talking about our philosophy and how we work and so forth,” Belichick said. “As we got into more specifics, the actual drills and how they would be done and who would work against who and so forth and so on and all that, it seemed very workable.”
Belichick said it’s rare to see the inner workings of another team, so the opportunity to do it was too valuable to pass up.
“You can go around to some colleges, but that’s a little bit different setup,” he said. “So, in the NFL this is one of the few opportunities we would have to work with another staff, another team. You always pick up something because there’re a lot of outstanding coaches on this team. Whether it’s a coaching point or a drill or something they do, I’m sure that we’ll be able to take a few things away from here.”
Of course, minimizing injuries is a priority in the preseason. Belichick said he and Gruden have been able to get on the same page about practice expectations.
“We don’t want to come out here with a long list of injuries,” he said. “We want to get better as a team and build our teamwork against another group, another organization, but not at the expense of putting guys in the training room. We want to work together.”
After nearly two weeks of pitting his personnel against one another, Belichick said these joint practices will provide new competition and new perspective. But the players aren’t the only ones who benefit.
“It helps the coaches because we need to sharpen up our skills on that, too,” he said. “That’s what we’re going to be doing every week, is recognizing things, making adjustments, correcting them, getting information to the players. Again, when you’re practicing against your team every day, there’s less of that. It’s a lot more challenging with a new team and a new situation like this.”Follow Rachel G. Bowers on Twitter @RachelGBowers.