When the Philadelphia Eagles announced their roster cuts this weekend, it was evident the team did not simply keep their 53 best players.
If that was the case, Shelton Gibson and Donnel Pumphrey would not have made the team. The rookie draft picks really struggled this summer. Bryce Treggs, who ended up landing on the practice squad, clearly outplayed Gibson. Pumphrey was outperformed by rookie rusher Corey Clement and even Byron Marshall.
Despite this truth, the Eagles opted to show patience with their young players. Howie Roseman talked about the challenge of not wanting to give up on them despite the bad tape they’ve put out.
Yeah, I think it also goes back to how much time you're really giving these guys. And then what we think when we're drafting them. The conversation we had this morning is, when we drafted every single one of those guys, including some of the guys we let go, we're not just going, ‘Hey, we just made that pick.’ We're excited.
And when we make the decision to pick them, we have conversations like, ‘Hey, this guy may not be ready Day One; this guy may need some time. Here are the things he may need to work on.’ We try to balance that. But we are also going to make a concerted effort to try to develop them and spend the time, not just reading off cards on scout team, but really spending time with them and developing the person and the player and try to help them on some of the deficiencies that maybe they have.
Roseman wasn’t just posturing when he was talking about developing the young players.
On Monday, head coach Doug Pederson revealed he plans to implement a new method to develop guys on the bottom of the roster and the practice squad.
HOW WILL YOU FOCUS ON DEVELOPING PLAYERS?
I think with that bottom third or so of the roster, and one thing I’m going to implement this year is actually time spent after practice with those guys. Developing their talents. They more than likely don’t and won’t get a bunch of reps obviously with the offense or defense from a game plan standpoint. They get all the service team reps, as you know.
But at the same time we want to make sure we’re maximizing their talents and also maximizing my young coaches that are on staff. By developing those guys and spending time after practice for 10-12 minutes and just going through drill work specific to what we’re doing offensively and defensively. We don’t let those guys sort of just drift by the wayside, so to speak. We continue to watch their development and watch their growth.
HOW MUCH CAN THE HEAD COACH AND MAIN COORDINATORS HELP GIVEN THEIR NORMAL RESPONSIBILITIES?
It won’t fall on the coordinators as much. It’ll fall on the position coaches. And they’re responsible for detailing the work of these younger players. And then our assistants, our quality control coaches, and offensive or defensive assistant coaches will be able to take these players onto the field after practice and put them through some fundamentals and some drill work that will keep them coming along.
HOW IMPORTANT IS TO CONTINUE TO DEVELOP GUYS LIKE DONNEL PUMPHREY AND SHELTON GIBSON?
It’s very important that we continue to develop all of those [young] guys, especially the two you mentioned, because you never know. They’re one play away from being active. Being in a football game. I’ve been in that situation before so I understand.
So my message to the practice squad players and the guys on the 53 that could potentially be a healthy scratch on a game day, my message is this: you’re a snap or two from entering a football game. So we have to, as coaches, we’ve got to make sure we’re doing our part by helping them and developing them so if and when that day comes they’re ready to play.
HOW DO YOU BALANCE WINNING EACH WEEK VERSUS DEVELOPING PLAYERS?
It’s a little bit of a fine line because obviously, my focus, and the coordinators’ focus, and really the position coaches’ focus, is on that specific game plan and that week. But we also know that part of our jobs, too, is to maintain the development of our younger players. And we’ve just got to continue to do that. Really, I’ve been on the practice squad, so I understand that you’re constantly looking at a card. And it may not be what we do offensively or defensively, but to get those 10-12 minutes after practice repping plays that we do or a route or a drop [into coverage] by a DB or linebacker, is valuable for that person’s growth and development the entire season.
Pederson is hardly re-inventing the wheel with his plan to have assistant coaches work with young players after practice. But his methodology does show an increased emphasis on player development.
Earlier this summer, Pederson revealed his new approach to training camp practice. Instead of having the entire team stand on the sidelines while one group of players practices on the field, the Eagles split their units with the main coaches and coordinators working with the starters while position coaches and assistants worked with the reserves.
Now that the regular season is here, the main focus will be winning each week, as it should be. But it’s nice to see the Eagles are still making some time for player development as well. We’ll see if it pays off, eventually.