BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – For all of the hype and hoopla, the Super Bowl, as players and coaches like to remind us, is still just a game.
But there is one significant difference: due to the construction and takedown of the staging, halftime is quite a bit longer: for a regular-season game, it’s around 12 minutes, but at the Super Bowl, it’s at least a half-hour.
For routine-minded NFL teams, that’s significant. On one hand, it means more time for adjustments and go over things with players, but on the other, it means players’ bodies can cool down, and they may not be as physically ready as they need to be for the start of the second half.
On Wednesday, Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson simulated that 30-minute break during his team’s first practice here in Minnesota; coach Bill Belichick has done the same thing with his Patriots team before their Super Bowl appearances.
Pederson said Thursday things were a bit sloppy after the long pause, but it was still a teachable moment.
“Number one it’s been a couple of days since we’ve been on the practice field, so it’s typical that you’re going to have not quite as crisp a practice,” Pederson said Thursday during his team’s media session at the Mall of America. “But for me it was just about talking to the leadership of the guys.
“It wasn’t a hey, get the guys together, get the coaches together and start browbeating everybody – we’re so late in the season now that we know how to practice – but just making sure that we understand, one, that’s why I did the break, was to put us in that situation, now we understand it, so it was a very teachable moment for our guys, our coaches and how to prepare for the second half of a football game.”
Even if things weren’t as crisp as the coach would have liked, Nick Foles believes the experience was instructive as the team continues to work toward Sunday.
I think practicing the length of halftime is something that will really pay off,” Foles said. “You always hear ‘practice like you play,’ well that’s similar to what we’ll have to go through on game day because of the different time allotments for everything.
“But then coming out in the second part of practice, it wasn’t as clean as we wanted. We still got a lot of great work in, and in any moment there’s a great teaching moment, so I think just addressing it early I the week before the game is huge, and the guys are aware of it, and coach does a great job of teaching in those moments, so glad it happened now instead of the game.”
Veteran defensive lineman Chris Long noted that not every practice can be perfect, even during Super Bowl week. Long was in the Super Bowl last year with New England, and has first-hand experience with the long halftime and how best to deal with it physically.
“Really, it all flies by in reality. It is longer, but as long as you stay moving around, for some of us older guys that means not stopping moving at all,” Long joked. “Some of the younger guys might be able to kick their feet up and lay down in their lockers.”
Via the Eagles’ practice pool report, there was no extended mid-practice pause on Thursday; the team had a situational day with a lot of up-tempo work.