Each week Patrick and Dave discuss the week that was and will be. It’s Two Guys Interneting Football!
Dave: Patrick, Doug Pederson had an interesting quote the other day when asked about some rookies. "I love the work these guys do in shorts and helmets, but sometimes, once you get the pads on, it becomes a different animal." This isn't anything remotely earth shattering, but it seems like every year we have to remind ourselves that looking good in May and June is basically worthless. Every season, for every team, a player or two turns heads in shorts and then is nowhere to be found when the pads come on. This year it is far and away Jalen Mills, who is talked about in hushed tones as if he has a starting job already locked down. He hasn't practiced a single rep in pads. And not for nothing but he's going up against a really lackluster group of WRs, and with QBs with warts throwing the ball.
Mills is probably a legit NFL player, if not for character concerns he most likely would have been drafted a few round earlier than the 7th that he wound up going in. So it's unfair to compare him to deserved UDFAs such as Ifeanyi Momah, Henry Josey and Russell Shepherd, to name a few. But it feels like Mills has the Na Brown Award already won the way people are talking about him.
Or am I being a wet blanket?
Patrick: History has said you're not being a wet blanket. That said, Mills was said to be a Day Two talent who slipped because of character concerns (more on that later). So it's not like some UDFA from Upper Middle Central Alaska State is coming out of nowhere. This is a dude who was productive in the SEC and has a chip on his shoulder. Do I expect him to start? Absolutely not. Do I expect him to contribute, at least a little, when games start mattering? Probably, yeah.
Speaking of character concerns, the big news of the week is, unfortunately, #culture. Linebacker Nigel Bradham was arrested for allegedly assaulting a pool employee. Pederson has said Bradham won't be released, and that they'll handle this as they get more information. This feels much more like the old school way of handling issues like this (though let's not kid ourselves - when issues arose with Chip Kelly, it's not like he handled them ideally, either). Bradham is too important to the X's and O's to outright cut or discipline for too long. But are you worried about the precedent this sets with other guys?
Dave: No, because, like Agholor, we got two different stories very quickly. We don't know for sure what exactly happened, though I have confidence the Eagles do. There's definitely a problem in the NFL with players actions off the field, but if we rush to judgement every time, we're not doing anyone any good. Maybe Bradham didn't punch first. I'm not cutting a guy for that. If he did, then they should discipline him.
After Chip coldly dismissed players he simply didn't like, a little patience could go a long way with the locker room. This is where being a former player and an Andy Reid branch could be an advantage for Pederson, he should have a pretty good understanding of how to gain and lose a locker room, and Reid usually had the team in his corner. And let's not kid ourselves, the Eagles have knowingly taken on a handful of "character issue" guys this year, so to a degree they have live with the consequences. They knew his character when they signed him.
Patrick: You bring up an interesting point with Chip dismissing guys he didn't like. Earlier this week Jason Peters talked about how Kelly's system wore him out, which contributed to his down year. We've heard some anecdotal evidence that guys were tired of Kelly and his outside-the-box methods. Now that there's a more traditional NFL head coach running the show, do you expect the team to look different in camp? Obviously we haven't seen the whole "five quarterbacks lining up at once" thing, but I do wonder if the team will look drastically different come preseason. Practices are already supposed to be tougher during camp, so I think this will be an interesting thing to keep an eye on as the season goes along.
Dave: I take comments like that with some salt. Every time there's a coaching change the players always praise the new way. It wasn't that long ago that veterans were saying they were feeling fresh thanks to Chip's methods. A year ago Peters was toeing some of the company line by saying they wouldn't miss anything with Mathis cut. Look at SF, where in 2014 players were mocking the simplicity of Kelly's offense, and now the team is praising it. It happens all the time. That said, it was pretty clear during the season that Peters had had it with Kelly. And we know that some of the methods, such as the sleep monitors, were not popular, and Pederson has scaled that back.
So yeah, camp is going to be pretty different, which is to say normal, especially for Eagles fans after 14 years of Andy Reid. We're already seeing that. But will it be better? There are a bunch of young guys who need to develop, and considering the lack of development under Kelly, Pederson's methods can't be worse. Circling back to how we started this conversation, Pederson has a point when he said:
"This schedule we’re about to partake in, this training camp, took this team to many NFC championship games, it took them to the Super Bowl, and it’s won a ton of games... I went through it in Green Bay as a player with Mike Holmgren, I went through it as a player with Coach Reid in 1999, and then obviously back a couple of years ago. This schedule is proven."
It's hard to argue he's wrong.