The impact that COVID-19 has had on the world is unprecedented. Everybody has been affected in some way and the NFL is no exception. In a parallel universe, Doug Pederson and his band of merry men are sat inside the NovaCare Complex right now, going through meetings, preparing for OTA’s, and working through individual drills. In this reality however, Pederson has had to think outside the box.
It’s an interesting landscape to examine. Some NFL teams, like the New Orleans Saints for instance, have just been told to show up for Training Camp. Others are holding virtual meetings in order to get rookies up to speed and enhance that togetherness. Pederson has gone one step further and included virtual workouts to his program.
As far as workouts go, teams are permitted to provide up to $1,500 worth of equipment to each player. They can’t help an MTV Cribs-like transformation, but they can at least provide gym gear, weights, resistance bands, and any other necessities.
“It’s something that I definitely had time to think about the offseason when we had to leave our building around March 13th, March 14th at that time.” Pederson explained when talking to reporters yesterday. “It gave me time to prepare and time to think about how I wanted to handle the offseason. I just felt like with so many new staff members, even [Eagles Director of Sports Performance] Ted Rath being new to the team, new to the sports performance department, that I wanted our guys to be exposed as much as I could to him and our strength and conditioning staff. I basically wanted to put our guys in an offseason program. I wanted them to work out. I wanted to do meetings.
I just didn’t feel – and listen, this is my own belief –I just didn’t want guys to be idle. I think when you become idle, you get a little bit … it becomes a challenge. And so, this way, it gets the guys up. It gets the guys moving. It gets the guys thinking about football. And is it right? I don’t know. We still don’t know if training camp is going to start on time or not. But, at the same time, I do know that at least we are getting some football done and hopefully we’ll be better off for it.”
It’s an interesting route to take, but arguably one that reflects on how Pederson continues to approach his role. Let’s not forget that Training Camp itself has seen plenty of changes since his arrival. The 10/10/10 practice returned at his discretion, and padded practices were used aggressively early on before being adapted and toned down when the risk factor increased. This is the latest in a long-line of subtle tweaks to try and lift the Eagles ahead of their competition.
“It’s just something that, through a camera, and through a Microsoft Teams meeting, just to see them progress, see them work out – that’s part of the virtual workouts.” Pederson explained. “That’s why we did the virtual workouts this way so our strength staff can focus on spending quality time with these players. Is there a measurement that we can use? I mean, again, we just have to trust the fact that these guys are doing everything in their power to be in top shape. We can’t fly to them. We can’t go see them work out, whatever. We can’t do any of that. And so, we are just asking that they take this serious. This is their job and we’ve got to trust that as coaches.
A step like this requires enhanced levels of trust in players and that in itself creates responsibility and accountability – two things that as we know, are foundations in this era of Eagles football. While the rest of the league is scrambling to formulate a plan and get through this chaotic period, Pederson’s intuition has once again pushed the Eagles to the front of the pack.
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