It’s been a huge offseason for the Eagles, one that’s seen plenty of change on both sides of the ball…but there may be no position that carries more excitement than wide receiver. After adding Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith to the roster, the Eagles proceeded to dig deep into the Draft, selecting both Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson, as well as versatile running back Donnel Pumphrey.
With just two more weeks until the Eagles converge at the NovaCare Complex for Training Camp, many of the targets Carson Wentz will be throwing too this year have joined the quarterback in North Dakota to workout and bond. This in itself is a direct reflection of the culture Pederson began embedding one year ago, when Sam Bradford invited the Eagles receiving cast out to Oklahoma. This time however, the direction is clear.
After selecting Wentz with the second overall pick in the draft last year, the Eagles made their intentions of developing a new franchise quarterback clear. This in itself left newly resigned quarterback, Sam Bradford, in a tricky predicament. After initially holding out of OTA’s, Bradford returned to work and hosted the Eagles wideouts for a week of bonding ahead of the regular season…but an underlying tone of uncertainty clouded the remainder of the offseason. That cloud that would later be rain with news of shock trade that sent Bradford to Minnesota.
Through a tumultuous offseason and rollercoaster rookie campaign for both coach and quarterback, there was one consistent message from start to finish…that this team is a family. It’s not like Pederson had much to deal with in his first year as head coach…
- Traded up to draft their next franchise quarterback before dealing with an understandably unhappy Sam Bradford.
- Negotiated a ground-breaking extension for Fletcher Cox.
- A controversial sexual abuse allegation filed against Nelson Agholor.
- Their franchise right tackle dealing with a ten game suspension.
- Reinvented their WR corps, releasing the recently signed Reuben Randle and Chris Givens in favor of younger guys with higher upsides, who potentially lacked experience or success of the aforementioned.
- Traded their starting quarterback to Minnesota just eight days before the start of the regular season.
And yet somehow…the team pulled through and the bonds between teammates grew stronger after a season prior that nearly tore the locker room apart. As we look to the future, Pederson’s competitive culture that strives to get the best out of everyone while embedding family values, has resulted in Wentz bringing an entirely new cast of wide receivers (with some familiar faces) out to his hometown in order to get some work in before the start of Training Camp.
It’s not the first time we’ve seen Carson Wentz take that responsibility upon himself either. It was only just over a year ago that he and Jordan Matthews turned up to the NovaCare Complex early in order to work together on timing. Through a combination of acquiring players with the right mindset (and releasing those who lack it…*cough* DGB), and a coaching staff primed to develop a core bursting with potential, the Eagles are looking much more like a cohesive unit in comparison to where they stood one year ago.
When asked about Wentz’s plan to bring out his teammates to North Dakota, Pederson spoke only highly of his quarterback.
“I think it’s huge. I think it’s big.” The Eagles Head Coach said at the end of Mandatory Minicamp. “I think it just shows the leadership that Carson has and the rapport he has with the receivers and the confidence that he has in those guys.”
Pederson also referenced the chemistry between the receivers as a whole.
“…they have worked extremely hard together working on chemistry. Now they have some time away and we’ve got to spend the first couple days in camp kind of getting that back a little bit. But it’s been a good spring for them.”
It’s not just the wide receivers and tight ends who were receiving some love from Wentz either…
To put it simply, with a year under his belt of building relationships and understanding the different personalities on the Eagles roster, Doug Pederson has been able to craft a culture that has only been cultivated by a quarterback who has his eyes set on success. With some much needed stability across the roster, comes the premise of excitement, motivation, and a belief that the team are all working toward the same goal…something that under Chip Kelly appeared to sporadically appear.
It’s only something small…and they might only go out to Dinner a few times, but it’s definitely an extremely promising sign that there is a new culture in Philadelphia. The question is, will that marinate into a winning one?
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports