It was a busy day at the Washington Commanders' training facility last Friday. Dozens of players moved from one end of the practice field to the other during rookie minicamp, all of whom were trying to make a strong impression on their new coaches.
Amid the hustle and bustle that occurred as the offense and defense went through individual and team drills, one word stood out among the rest: "Finish!"
"This is a little different this year having Eric Bieniemy out there," head coach Ron Rivera said before practice began that day.
That much has been clear from the time Bieniemy took over as the Commanders' offensive coordinator earlier this year. Meetings are earlier, breaks are shorter and mistakes are not tolerated. Those are the rules that come with a championship-caliber coach, and anyone thinking about slipping up will be called out, regardless of whether Bieniemy is 10 yards away or halfway across the field.
It hasn't taken long for the rookies to understand that the standards are high.
"He's loud from the jump," said running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. "Sometimes he's quiet, but he's watching."
What Bieniemy looks for the most as he peruses around the field and surveys team drills is attention to detail, and that includes everything from finishing drills -- Rodriguez got reminded of that when he messed up on a drill and Bieniemy yelled at him to finish from across the field -- to having the right footwork on plays.
"If we have a flat route, it's knowing where we're going and not getting too vertical," Rodriguez said. "Just getting straight to it. And then just small stuff. Like when we catch the ball, [make a] tight turn."
If a player does make a mistake, it doesn't take long for Bieniemy to point it out. Ask Nolan Laufenberg, who got an earful from the offensive coordinator when the operation in the huddle wasn't up to par during 7-on-7 drills.
"The center is in the huddle for a reason," Bieniemy yelled at Laufenberg. "Take control!"
There's a reason Bieniemy harps on those details so much: failing to execute everything correctly can lead to bigger mistakes.
"You may start thinking that you'll take a play off because the ball is not coming to you," Bieniemy said in a message to the team when he was hired. "The next thing you know, somebody is running behind you, and you miss a block. It's all about executing with great attention to detail and making the very most of that opportunity."
Check out the top photos of the Washington Commanders going through Wednesday's practice during the offseason workout program. (Photos by Emilee Fails and Kourtney Carroll/Washington Commanders).
Once the players get the details down, speed is their next priority. Practicing at high tempo is something offensive lineman Braeden Daniels is used to from his days playing for Utah, but Friday's practice was "up there" in terms of the most intense practices he's had.
"Everything we do is with intention," Daniels said. "We're out here to work, we're out here to get better, and we're out here to win games."
Daniels said Bieniemy "brings the juice," and that helps motivate the team even further.
"He's pushing us to get better each and every day, and that's what we're here for."
It's not that Bieniemy expected everything to be perfect; it was the first real day that the rookies were able to practice together, and about half of the players on the field that day were only there as tryouts. So, there were bound to be mistakes as they learned more about Bieniemy's coaching style.
It didn't take long for the rookies to understand what Bieniemy expects out of them. Luckily for them, there's still plenty of time to correct their errors.
"You could tell he was lowkey pissed off," Rodriguez said. "We're trying to fix it, and we will tomorrow."