The 24-hour rule is condensed to 12 hours. On-field practices are walkthroughs. Meeting time is less and simple is more. Players know they have about 60 fewer hours to recover from the previous week's game, so sleep is cherished, hydration is mandatory, and mental toughness is highlighted.
Welcome to the challenges a short week presents. It's just the way of the world in the NFL and there is the benefit of the mini-bye week following the Thursday night game, but it's a tough week for players and for coaches. For the players, many of whom have told me through the years that it takes until at least Wednesday to fully feel physically recovered from a Sunday game, the task is very difficult.
Players who take recovery seriously have the most success. They are the ones who make sure to sleep well and to drink fluids and to get massages and to stay off their feet when possible. If there are players who don't have a strict week of recovery, a Thursday night game can be problematic.
For the Eagles, this short week represents their first with Head Coach Nick Sirianni, who on Monday explained the approach he's taking with a locker room of players who reported to the NovaCare Complex on Monday afternoon for a team meeting and some film study. Welcome to Thursday … already.
"Make sure you're keeping things simple and not getting too complicated because you're not going to have the live reps of doing things that you're going to do in games," Sirianni said at his Monday press conference when asked about the keys to success on a short week. "Keep things simple, keep things that guys can learn and execute, that you've been executing all year. Then again, also be able to attack them enough to where you're going after the style of defense they are. There's always a happy medium in that. Definitely be able to do the things that we can execute knowing that we don't have a lot of time to get ready for this game.
"Also, this week will be walkthroughs because we've got to get our legs back underneath us, so it's resting the guys as well. Having more mental reps, having more walkthrough reps to get their bodies physically ready to play. But, a lot of this is going to be a 'get ready mentally for this week.'"
OK, so what the Eagles are in store for is ...
1. Keep it simple scheme wise. There won't be a lot of game-specific tweaks to the playbook as the Eagles prepare their game plan. The plays they will run on Thursday night are the ones that they've repped many times in practice and in game situations already.
2. The emphasis will be on classroom work and on-field walkthroughs, so the players have to absorb and process what they are being taught off the field. They're going to watch Tampa Bay's video and will need to be on the same page long before Thursday arrives.
3. From a player recovery standpoint, that process should have started the instant the players walked off the field in Carolina. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Loosen the body with massages and cold and hot tubs. Sleep plenty and well.
4. Go out on Thursday night and win a football game against the defending Super Bowl Champions and quarterback Tom Brady, who is coming off a win over Miami in which he passed for 411 yards and 5 touchdowns, compiling a 144.4 passer rating in the process. What will be Defensive Coordinator Jonathan Gannon's plan? Brady has seen it all and he has defeated it all.
5. On the backside, the players will have a long weekend off and some extra days to recover before hitting the road for a game at the Las Vegas Raiders, who will have an interim head coach in Rich Bisaccia after Jon Gruden resigned on Monday night.
The win over Carolina? A super-solid comeback and hopefully one the Eagles can parlay into more success, but it's so far in the past the players won't even think about it for a second moving forward. There is too much work to do in a short period of time this week. Thursday Night Football has its plus side, once Thursday night's game is complete. Between now and then, it's a grind everyone has to take seriously to maximize every moment of prep time.