Lost in all the talk of players and coaches in regard to the lockout is the strength/conditioning side of things. Players can go to local gyms or hire a trainer or do whatever to push themselves, but they aren’t getting the direct supervision of Barry Rubin.
The Eagles hired Rubin last year to come in and revitalize the strength/conditioning program. He replaced Mike Wolf, who had done a good job in the past, but wasn’t challenging players the way he needed to. Rubin brought a fresh perspective to the team and the players loved him. Go read or watch player interviews from last spring and you’ll see the name Barry Rubin pop up quite a bit.
Often times we wonder what kind of an impact a strength coach can truly have. These players were gifted athletes in college. What difference can one workout routine make compared to another? Go ask Trevor Laws. He bought into Rubin’s ideas and worked hard last offseason to change his body. Laws needed to get bigger and stronger, but wanted to retain his quickness and athleticism. I’m sure he took a look at Mike Patterson and wondered if that’s what would happen to him. Laws and Patterson were about the same size when drafted. Patterson bulked up for the Eagles 2-gap scheme. He’s now at least 325 pounds. His athleticism is largely gone. Laws knew he needed more bulk and power, but probably didn’t want to go down the same road as Patterson.
Rubin found a way to get Laws up around 300 pounds, with added strength and power, but while letting him also keep his athletic ability. Laws was not a functional run defender in his first two years. He struggled with single blockers, but was absolutely dominated by double teams. People would drive him 10 yards off the ball at times. That changed last season. Laws was able to anchor better against the run. He was better than ever at getting off the ball and into the backfield. He had a career high 4 sacks. He deflected 5 passes and picked off one. Suddenly Laws showed signs of why the Eagles spent a 2nd round pick on him in 2008.
LeSean McCoy tweaked his body under Rubin’s supervision. McCoy was able to be a workhorse runner all year (assuming you consider 15 carries a game a workhorse). He blocked well. He caught passes. The one thing he didn’t do was get hurt and miss time. McCoy looked faster in 2010 than he did in his rookie year, despite being heavier and stronger. Rubin designed a really effective program for McCoy. Shady bought into it and the results speak for themselves.
King Dunlap added bulk to his frame so that he could anchor more effectively. I guess having Richard Seymour push you around for 3 hours will inspire a body change. Dunlap easily had the best year of his young career.
Unfortunately Rubin isn’t able to work with his players right now. I hope there is some secret communication going on. Rubin can design a workout program that the players can do on their own. They don’t need him watching over their shoulders every day. That would be ideal, but it isn’t necessary. Honestly, there is probably more benefit for players to talk to him than assistant coaches. Players who have questions about scheme and the playbook need extensive, complex answers. Often times they need to watch film with the coach to fully understand the point being discussed. Rubin is a guy that can answer a simple question or offer short advice and get some impact from it.
There are plenty of young players who would benefit from working with him. CB Trevard Lindley needs to bulk up, but in the right way. Rookie Center Jason Kelce needs to get bigger and stronger. LB Keenan Clayton must get stronger if he hopes to push for a starting job. LB Jamar Chaney may tweak his build if he’s expecting to play on the outside. DT Mike Patterson might need to re-invent his body to be a better fit for Jim Washburn’s system. And so on.
Obviously the guys rehabbing injuries would also benefit from Rubin working closely with them. Not every trainer in the world is experienced in how to build a program for someone who is recovering from a torn ACL or shoulder injury or whatever.
Barry Rubin quietly had a big impact on the 2010 Eagles. I hope we soon get a resolution or lifting of the lockout so he can get to work on the 2011 Eagles.