The Eagles are still doing their offseason program virtually, and head coach Doug Pederson spoke to the media on Tuesday morning about the team’s progress, what they’re getting from their remote meetings, and his expectations for the season.
Here’s what the head coach had to say:
On the logistics of the virtual offseason
Pederson gave a detailed look at what the offseason program has looked like for the team. It began with virtual workouts with the veteran players, and even though they are voluntary, everyone was involved on the first call and afterward. They just started working with the rookies last week, so they are now in their second full week with the entire football team.
They’ll continue to hold both virtual workouts and virtual meetings, along with position coaches working directly with their players. This will be their method until the end of the offseason program.
Heading into this unique experience, Pederson had several weeks to prepare and figure out how he wanted to handle the offseason. With several new coaches and training personnel, he wanted the players to be exposed as much as they could to the strength and training staff — he wanted to put the players through as much virtually as he could.
“My own belief, I just didn’t want guys to become idle.”
This way, Pederson explained, it gets the guys up and moving and thinking about football. At least they’re getting some football done.
“I’m preparing as if we’re going to be back in our building by training camp. Nothing is definite, nothing has been said, but I’m preparing that way.”
Trust has been his messaging throughout the offseason program so far, and was even his focus coming off last season. But when the virus hit, trust became even more prevalent.
“I have to trust the players to get themselves physically ready.”
“They need to be in the best shape of their lives,” Pederson said. “And the players have embraced that.”
Some guys are limited in what they have available for training, some have gyms at home, but whatever the situation, they need to use whatever they can to get ready. The only way the Eagles’ staff can check on players’ progress is through a camera and holding those virtual workouts with the training staff.
On when the team gets back to the facility
Pederson was candid that he doesn’t have an answer to what things will look like once they’re back in the building, but the medical team and trainers are in the process of discussing those things now.
As for how much time the team will need to be ready once they get back on the grass, Pederson thinks a full training camp can suffice.
“It’s going to take all of the 5-6 weeks of training camp to be prepared for the regular season.”
Training camp is conditioning the mind and body for the physical part of the game. With a full training camp, they should be able to get enough contact and padded practice in, but they would need to be smart about it to get the guys ready for opening weekend.
The head coach admitted, “It would be unfortunate,” if someone were to come down with COVID-19 once they get back together. But, moving forward with all the precautions and necessary testing and medical data they have in front of them, they would be able to handle it if someone were to come down ill.
On the rookies getting experience
They are making due with the virtual setup. The coaches have been meeting and getting the guys as ready as possible, but they do need the grass time to see what they can do and what they’ve taken away from the offseason from a mental standpoint.
Pederson noted that the hardest thing is getting a gauge of where the guys are. During meetings, the coaches ask a lot of questions to see how much the players have taken in. But, from the meetings Pederson has been in, the players have taken really good notes and being able to see the guys virtually helps as well.
On how the offense will look with new coaches
The head coach said that one good thing is that they were able to meet as a staff quite a bit before they had to vacate the building, and during the virtual meetings, you see the dialog between all the coaches and players. It’s been fun to see how the conversations evolve and how detailed they are.
Schematically, from the naked eye, he doesn’t think you’ll see a lot of different concepts or ideas, but it’ll be the subtleties in what they do — those are the things they’ll work on in training camp. Pederson pointed out that this offense won a Super Bowl just a few years ago, so they’re looking for ways to make it better rather than a complete overhaul.
As far as the quarterback room goes, Pederson talked about how Nate Sudfeld is someone they have a lot of confidence in and will compete to be the backup to Carson Wentz. Second-round draft pick Jalen Hurts is just now picking up their system — he’s a young player and has a lot to learn about the QB position. But, Hurts is doing a good job picking up the offense and spitting it back to Press Taylor.
Pederson wasn’t able to compare WR coach Aaron Moorehead to his predecessors because what they’re doing this offseason virtually is so different than being on the field. He hasn’t been able to see Moorehead coaching the players through drill work, etc..., but it seems like the wide receivers (especially the rookies) are retaining the information they go over in meetings.
“From the mental side of it, what he’s taken from our meetings as a staff to the players, seeing the players grasp that information has been very positive.”
On Jason Peters and Andre Dillard
“With Jason Peters, listen, we’ve always said we’d stay in touch with him during the offseason — and we have.”
But, as they move forward, Andre Dillard is the guy they drafted to be the left tackle for the team. Dillard is taking command of that role this offseason, and Pederson said that he has a lot of confidence in the second-year player. The head coach also talked about Dillard having the skill set that they want for the position, and adding strength is something he can do this offseason.
Later on, he said that not just Dillard, but all the starters will need to get caught up to speed and will need to be tested early on when they get back on the field. Pederson will need to put them through tough practices early in training camp.
Dillard had a chance to get some game experience last season, but with any player, if more time is missed, there will be setbacks.