The Eagles assistant coaches were made available to the media early this morning. They sat at tables for an hour and answered every and any question directed their way. Unfortunately I wasn't able to talk to everyone, but here are the notes I have from the assistants I did hear from:
QB coach, Bill Lazor
- When asked about Matt Barkley, Lazor said "he is just who we thought he is." He felt the Eagles did a good job scouting him, and added that he's smart and accurate.
- Lazor touched on the benefits that Dennis Dixon brings as a veteran backup. He mentioned his experience on Super Bowl winning teams (albeit as a backup) and the kind of insight from that he can share with the younger QBs.
- A specific issue that he said they're working on with Michael Vick is his footwork.
OL Coach, Jeff Stoutland
- Want to know what makes a good offensive lineman? According to Stoutland, it's one who can "see it all". He said if he were to ask an OL "What did the safety do on play 2?", they should know the answer. They need to see and understand everything happening on the field in front of them, not just their individual assignments.
- Stoutland praised Jason Kelce for attending rookies and selected vets days even though he wasn't required to. "Kelce is here early because he loves football. He's like that kid in high school who never leaves the gym. He's a gym rat." He later praised Kelce for being a great communicator. It's clear Stoutland holds his projected starting Center in high regard.
- Interesting nugget: Stoutland used film of Eagles LT Jason Peters to coach kids in college. When he accepted the Eagles job, his colleagues teased him: "What are you going to do, show film of Jason Peters to Jason Peters?"
- When asked about former first round pick OG Danny Watkins, Stoutland said that he's "worked his butt off" this off-season, but he'll have to prove it when the pads go on.
- Another fun Stoutland quote: "Players learn best from pictures and video." He said that a coach can draw circles on a board all he wants, but "a player doesn't look like a circle, does he?" From what I can glean, he's a very hands-on teacher.
- On the subject of offensive line communication, he said Todd Herremans is the "the best communicator I've been around".
Defensive Coordinator, Bill Davis:
- Davis touched on the Eagles former use of the wide 9 4-3 defense. He said the problem with it was "you're asking safeties to come down and be primary run defenders" and that can leave the secondary vulnerable to give up big pass plays.
- When asked about the 3-4 defense, Davis said "the beauty of the 3-4 alignment is there are different ways you can bring that 4th rusher". He later talked about how this is used to cause turnovers by generating confusion and putting the QB on edge.
- Davis stressed that the key to a good defense is not just having a strong blitz package... but being able to create an illusion of the blitz. The combination of those two things is what's important. He discussed how Jim Johnson was a master at this, and how that's what made him so great.
- One of the concerns from switching from a pure 4-3 to a 3-4 is that you're asking your defensive ends to do more in coverage than they used to. Davis talked about how a DE can match up with a WR in coverage. He said it's not about asking them to cover a receiver vertically down the field, but doing things that maximize the defensive player's skill set. Such things would include DEs re-routing receivers and operating in short area coverage zones.
Defensive Line and Assistant Head Coach, Jerry Azzinaro
- On the subject of batted passes, "long athletes create space problems for quarterbacks". He compared this to the disruption of passing lanes in basketball caused by Syracuse's 2-3 defensive zone.
- Curious as to what the title of assistant HC really means, I asked Azzinaro about it directly. He told me that your "eyes have to be wider open". He said that as a positional coach, there's more of a tunnel vision effect going on. Now that he has this added responsibility, he's more aware of the things owner Jeff Lurie, general manager Howie Roseman, and HC Chip Kelly want out of the team.
- He noted that it's important to have defensive lineman who are versatile.
And last, but not least:
DB Coach, John Lovett
- Lovett mentioned multiple times that it's hard to get a feel for his DBs since there haven't been any pad sessions and the new CBA doesn't let them be as physical even in non-contact activities.
- Highlight quote: "I'm silently excited about [Bradley Fletcher]".
- He said as far as he knows, Kenny Phillips is on track with where he needs to be, but they have to see how his knee holds up after practices.
- I asked Lovett if he was concerned about some of the players they've acquired with injury history (Phillips, Fletcher). He talked about the importance of how the team is taking care of the players now [think: sports science] and eliminating non-contact injuries.
That's about all the insight I gleaned from those guys. It was clear these are people who really know what they're talking about and have a passion for what they do.
Up next: Assuming I hear from the veteran players reporting to NovaCare today, I'll have a post up tonight with those quotes.
Don't forget to follow me on Twitter for more training camp updates.
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