It's only been written a million times that the Eagles don't have a lot of talent on the offensive side of the ball. Perhaps they have a little more talent than it seems, however. A player like third year Trey Burton has been underutilized to this point in his career.
The special teams stud has flashed offensive potential; he had a great catch and run in the last year's Eagles-Lions game. Burton has impressed observers in practices this offseason. On Thursday, he made a great one-handed catch streaking down the field in stride. This play caught the attention of Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich.
"I love Trey Burton," said Reich. "He's a football player now. That guy understands the game. He's very athletic, he’s got good size. Some guys just know how to play. You can put them on the field and put them in any position it seems like. He really impressed me in OTAs. There were times he was running routes outside [and] on the tape it looks like it's a receiver, and yet he's 245, 250 pounds, and plays tight end. I'm very impressed with him and looking for some good production from him."
There's been thought the Eagles might use Burton at fullback, but he hasn't gotten a lot of reps at that spot. He's actually been lined up on the outside more often.
Philadelphia already has Zach Ertz and Brent Celek at tight end, so it's not like Burton is about to become a starter any time soon. Still, he deserves some looks on offense. It's a good sign that he's got the attention of Eagles coaches so far.
More quotes from Frank Reich's press conference on Thursday below.
Q. On Day One, how do you feel like the offense looked?
FRANK REICH: It was a good day, a good first day. We're servicing each other out here a little bit, so it should look clean, but there were very few mental errors. Looked sharp today.
Q. On that last throw there, QB Carson Wentz had a bomb – 35, 40 yards, whatever it was – and everyone kind of gets a little excited. Are you the same way and are you eager to see how he looks?
FRANK REICH: We’re eager to see how we develop as a team, first and foremost, and certainly that's going to include great individual performances and days. So yeah, he finished up, had a few nice plays today. But overall, what we're happy about, is just how you take it from the meeting room to the field and minimize the errors and make plays that are there. Today is the first day, and we're inside servicing each other, but it was good.
Q. How do you feel about the running back depth?
FRANK REICH: I feel good. We’ve got good quickness, good speed, guys are smart, versatile. We’ve got guys that are all good in protection as far as knowing -- this offense, you've got to be great in protection. We'll end up doing a lot of stuff, making a lot of calls, and so what everybody has shown through OTAs and the way you come in, we expect good things out of our running backs, good production.
Q. How do you like the way your quarterbacks across the board are adapting to what you guys are presenting to them?
FRANK REICH: Yeah, very well. Doug's [Eagles Head Coach Doug Pederson] system, the guys have learned really fast. They've studied it hard, and they feed off of each other. They challenge each other. That's the way quarterbacks work. You study together, you challenge each other, you're always asking questions. I give them a lot of credit. They've picked it up very quickly.
Q. I missed part of what you said. You said the offense as a whole, you like the overall abundance of talent you have to work with here?
FRANK REICH: Absolutely. I think this offseason seems like every right move that we could have made, that’s what -- to me as a coach, it feels like every time we had a chance to get something done from a personnel standpoint, we got it done. So that fires you up as a coach. You’re never going to -- it's never the perfect world, but as far as the realistic world, I thought it was a home run. Now it's up to us as coaches to coach these guys up and for them as players to get ready to go and make the most of the opportunity.
Q. How much can you mix and match with this wide receivers group? It seems like there's a lot of guys who can play inside and outside.
FRANK REICH: We have to. That’s the way it is these days anyway because there's injuries and guys get dinged. You've got to learn every position. Every receiver -- well, most receivers, kind of have a natural fit outside or inside, but it's only to their benefit and to your benefit if you cross-train guys. But at the end of the day, you need guys outside who can separate and make plays versus man coverage, and then inside you need guys that are tough and can do something with the ball in their hands and make plays, make contested catches over the middle and find ways to get yards after the catch. That's kind of what you look for from the group, and we'll see how that develops during training camp.
Q. What is the play calling situation going to be like? How is the system going to work?
FRANK REICH: That’s to be determined. Doug said he's thinking -- Doug is calling the plays, and [in terms of] how it goes in [to the quarterback], I’ve been around a lot of different systems and done it a lot of different ways, so it all can work. You commit yourself to whatever way the head coach wants to do it, and it's all good.
Q. What's unique about Doug's system versus some of the other systems you've been in?
FRANK REICH: I mean, obviously the West Coast. This West Coast hybrid system obviously has a very long, winning track record, but how it's adapted in the run game, now with some of the zone-read stuff and all the different ways you can scheme wide receiver throws, when you get a heavy box, I think that's what Doug did really well in Kansas City. Of course I went up against it six times in three years playing against that team, so I saw it firsthand. It's fun now to be on the other side of that. I never realized how much you could get out of some of those things in the running game until I got here, watched his tape, talked to him about what he's thinking and how they're doing it and how they're reading it. It's been a really good thing for me as a coach learning from him how they've done that, and it just helps the O-line. It helps the run game when you can have those kind of things schemed into it to take advantage of it.
Q. You saw Pederson’s offensive system against New England in the playoffs a little bit and you saw it out here today, but QB Sam Bradford is not necessarily a guy who's going to tuck the ball and run a lot. Each quarterback seems to have a different skill set with regards to that, but are there different packages and different things you can do?
FRANK REICH: Absolutely, absolutely. You don't have to pull it a lot. Most guys will tell you that all you've got to do is pull it once a game or once every couple games and get something positive because the threat [makes] defensive coordinators [have] to prepare for it. Sam has a lot of strengths. I'm just telling you, that guy has great feet. As far as quarterback play, he's always on balance. He's very accurate. He’s extremely, extremely accurate, and his footwork in the pocket and how he sets the target line and how he stays on balance. He keeps a narrow base. Fundamentally he is rock solid, and that's why you see the accuracy and the touch that he has. Those are certainly things you take advantage of, whoever -- and then just like any other position, whoever is in there, you take advantage of their strengths.
Q. After having a couple of days to watch the quarterbacks, is the pecking order kind of shaking out the way you assumed it would?
FRANK REICH: Yeah, it's been according to plan. This has been the plan all along. What is shaking out is you see guys getting better. You see all of them getting better, learning the system, getting better, pushing each other, and I think if you can continue to create that culture at every position and as an offense, where we push each other to get better, that's only going to be good for our team.
Q. Wentz looked pretty comfortable and pretty decisive. What was the general vibe from him on the field?
FRANK REICH: He had a very good day. He was very decisive, very sharp and crisp. All three quarterbacks, to be honest, had a very good day today, and certainly Carson did, as well.
Q. Is there anything specific you'll work on with Wentz going into the season?
FRANK REICH: There are always little things you're working on. The number one thing is learning the offense. Number two thing is, fundamentally, there are always little things, but those are -- really it all starts from the ground up, so with all the quarterbacks right now, our emphasis is footwork. Pretty much the philosophy with quarterbacks, is at this level, you really don't mess too much with the upper body mechanics. Maybe there are a couple things you talk about, but not too much. But you really focus -- My philosophy and our philosophy, is this game is played from the ground up, so you start with the feet, and if your feet are right, most of the time everything else is going to be right.
Q. Having a chance to do this job close to home, what's that like for you?
FRANK REICH: It's great. It's great to do it close to home and have friends and family calling up, seeing the news every night or reading stuff. It's just more interaction, more interaction with people you know and love and family and friends. And then of course just the culture for football. I mean, this is the kind of culture I grew up around, the passion for football and the fan base, and so that makes it a lot of fun.
Q. Maybe a more rabid fan base than what you're used to in the past at some of your other stops?
FRANK REICH: Absolutely. I mean, this fan base is -- this is where you want to coach. This is where you want to play and be a part of something like this.
Q. A lot has been made about Wentz and the wobble with his passing. You were just talking about the footwork. Is that where you kind of start with that? Do you think everything straightens out?
FRANK REICH: I do think that footwork is the answer to not every question, but a lot of questions, and personally I have no concerns about -- whatever wobble -- there's been nothing that has made me think anything other than we're getting better. That thought actually has never really crossed my mind that much.
Q. Can you talk about LT Jason Peters? What did you see from him on film last year and what have you seen from him through the spring?
FRANK REICH: What's been most impressive to me about Jason, is at his age, just the quickness he still possesses and the athleticism he still possesses. That's probably why he's going to be one of the all-time greats, and he'll go down as one of the all-time greats and be in the Hall of Fame. But particularly on backside cutoffs. In the run game when you're running certain runs, it's just so -- backside cutoff blocks are so imperative, and for him to show the quickness and the athleticism during all of OTAs that he has shown, and you could argue maybe you're not in your best shape at OTAs, that you're really in your best shape now, and just the attitude he did it with. After all these years, he still has a great positive attitude.
Q. You talked about the scheme last year. In that scheme Peters didn't really get any help. Neither he nor RT Lane Johnson got help. Will you give him a bit more help in certain situations this year?
FRANK REICH: Absolutely. You know, I mean, it's got to be part -- now, he doesn't need much help, but you still give it to him. Even the great ones need a breather. Even when I was a quarterback coach in Indianapolis with Peyton Manning, we would have what we would call breather plays where Peyton didn't have to do everything. He'd see everything [and] then he'd manipulate it. Sometimes you just need a breather play. Even the great left tackles of the league, just every now and then, ‘Just give me a little help.’ That helps them set up their defender for other things that they can do, and there are a lot of ways you can help them: you can chip help, you can give them certain alignments, motions, run some screens and stuff like that. I think that can help.
Q. How about during the week? Can Peters get a breather? Is there a plan in place yet or is that still to be determined?
FRANK REICH: Yeah, I know Coach [Doug Pederson] and Stout [Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland] have talked a lot about that and how they're going to manage him and his body. That will be an important thing for him I think to keep him fresh.