The Eagles are scheduled to start their Training Camp tomorrow. The rest of the Country is looking to the NFL for a response after a COVID-19 outbreak derailed the MLB season just days into its opening. For the Eagles, it’s business as usual down at the NovaCare Complex, where Doug Pederson held a zoom conference with reporters on Monday. Here is all you need to know.
The return of the bodyguard
The Eagles’ decision to bring back Jason Peters hardly came as a surprise, but the 38-year-old will return to Philadelphia as a right guard, not a left tackle.
Peters allowed 3 sacks on 872 snaps last year at left tackle and although he was flagged frequently, he earned a PFF grade of 82.4…which is beyond impressive for someone his age. Now, the 38-year-old faces a mammoth task of not only transitioning inside to a position he hasn’t played in for years but doing so on the other side of the field where every movement is now mirrored in comparison to what he’s used to.
Doug Pederson was naturally asked about the return of JP almost instantly.
We had many conversations with Jason. We took a look at our roster obviously and felt that where Jason is and the type of player he is, obviously his leadership on the football team, that the transition would be relatively easy. I’m not going to say it’s going to be easy, but relatively easy, for him being a veteran guy moving into that guard spot and quite frankly, we love where Andre is at. He’s had a tremendous off-season.
The things he did for us last season, the couple games that he played, and started for us, he did well and it’s just going to be a great opportunity for him moving forward. I’m looking forward to really getting these guys, those five guys, working up front with Stout [Offensive Line/Run Game Coordinator Jeff Stoutland] to see where they can go this season.
‘Relatively easy’ is an extremely confident outlook on a player switching sides and positions without a preseason and only left with a limited training camp, but does Pederson have any reason to be less than fully sold that this was the right call to replace the injured Brandon Brooks?
Jeff Stoutland has long-been an offensive lineman whisperer and Peters has been an Eagle since before Pederson was a QB coach with the team in 2011-2012. If the Head Coach is all-in, then that should be enough.
Obviously camp will look very different this year. There’s no preseason and without OTA’s in the rear-view mirror, this period will be even more important for all involved. Pederson gave some insight as to how the Summer will look for his Eagles team.
Really training camp has been divided into three phases, much like the off-season program, so it’s phase one, phase two, phase three. We are in this phase one, strength, conditioning phase right now. And then we get into the acclimation phase. Then once we get into the training camp, the so-called training camp, or the padded portion of camp, I have to do what I feel is best for the football team from a standpoint of putting the guys in position to succeed on the field. Meaning, we have to have answers on a lot of our players, especially the young guys. We haven’t seen these rookies live and in person.
So it’s my job as the head coach to — from a scheduling standpoint as we go throughout this training camp, to put our guys in competitive situations to see what they can do and then do the best we can at the end of training camp to come up with the 53.
Again, that’s something as I alluded to earlier just coming up with creative ways, whether I do more scrimmage situations. I do a couple live practices during camp, anyway, and I have to do maybe some more scrimmages and put our young players and put the guys we need answers on in those situations. I have to come up with ways of having game-like situations in practice because we are missing the preseason games.
While there are clearly set guidelines to work within, it seems as though that Pederson and his staff still have a fair amount of control over how the team can operate within those boundaries. Debating more scrimmages or ‘roster-battle spotlight scrimmages’ as he was alluding to does seem like an intelligent way of slaloming through what must be a very stressful time, knowing that the roster has to move from 82 to 53 in a matter of weeks, with such little opportunity to evaluate talent.
The Eagles embraced a youth infusion this offseason, but it may come round to sting them in the immediate future. It’s going to be tough, but tempering expectations for players like Jalen Reagor is going to be important, or is it?
No, I wouldn’t go that far because, as you know, every year, there’s going to be a rookie or two that really steps up and performs and catches our eye. It doesn’t matter if he’s a guy on offense or defense. He can be a starter on special teams. We can’t forget that.
As coaches, we have to get our young players caught up extremely fast. I will tell you this: We had a really good off-season, as virtual as it was, with the meetings. We spent some time virtually with our rookies this past week and these guys are in a really good place mentally.
Pederson referencing special teams is interesting, but it does seem as though there’s sense of confidence surrounding his younger players and the virtual offseason that the team constructed. Maybe they’re in a better place to succeed than we thought.
We’ve all wondered what the protocol is should an Eagles player contract the Coronavirus, but what about a coach?
I’ve thought about that quite a bit, the closer I got here to camp and being in the building. We have to have a plan for everything as you know.
I think there has to be a plan in place for any coach or any staff member that may miss a couple days or a couple weeks because of the virus.
So those are all things that are running through my mind. Again, we are in a different environment and we all have to do our part to protect ourselves, protect our players and our families and hopefully we minimize any setbacks.
Pederson citing that there needs to be a plan in place in case any member of staff contracts it at least shows an attention to detail and level of concern that arguably isn’t being echoed by other areas and organizations right now. That in itself speaks volumes.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports