Adaptability

Posted: June 8th, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Comments Off on Adaptability

May has come and gone. No Eagles player attented a minicamp or got hands-on coaching at the NovaCare facility. That won’t happen in June either. Training Camp is still tentatively scheduled for July/August. Preseason games are still scheduled. The regular season is still planned, but the fall feels like it is an eternity away.

Football coaches are control freaks. They have detailed schedules for how to spend every minute of every practice. You don’t go to the field for 2 hours. You stretch for 15 minutes. You then have an individual period for 15 minutes. There could be a group install for 30 minutes. Then you’re back to an individual period for 15 minutes. Then you could have a special teams period.

Schedules matter. Coaches love routines. They want things done the same way over and over. Normally that mentality works well for coaches and players. This year is different.

Teams must be able to adjust on the fly. Not all coaches will handle this well. Those that do will give their teams an advantage.

Doug Pederson has shown the ability to adapt well during his time with the Eagles. Remember that 10 days before his season opening game, the Eagles traded his starting QB. Sam Bradford went off to Minnesota (for a first round pick!) and that paved the way for Carson Wentz to take over as the starter. Remember that Wentz was hurt for most of that preseason. Pederson still got him ready and the Eagles got off to a 3-1 start that year.

Pederson handled the 2017 injury to Wentz brilliantly. Instead of watching a great season fall apart, Pederson embraced his backup QB and adjusted the offense to Nick Foles’ strengths. There were some ugly December performances, but Foles and the offense were spectacular in the NFC title game and Super Bowl.

It isn’t always about the QBs. Pederson had to adjust the 2019 offense after losing DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery and Jordan Howard. That paved the way for role players like Boston Scott and Greg Ward. Pederson and his coaching staff had the backups ready to play. Those players delivered in key situations.

Pederson has shown flexibility in other ways. The Eagles had consecutive west coast games back in 2017. Rather than going back and forth, the Eagles stayed on the west coast between games. They lost the first game and rebounded with a huge win over the Rams.

Pederson is the only Eagles coach to have to deal with regular season travel to England. The Eagles went to the UK in the middle of 2018 and won that game.

Let’s talk about practice. Late in the 2017 season, the players let Pederson know they wanted tougher, more physical practices. He listened to what they had to say and adjusted the practice sessions. The team responded by winning a championship.

When Pederson was a player and young assistant, Training Camp was held at Lehigh University. The Eagles quit doing that when Pederson was coaching in Kansas City. They moved TC back home to the NovaCare Complex. Pederson embraced that and left it alone. In the last couple of years, Pederson has started to mix in some practices at The Linc so young players can get used to a stadium environment.

Why do things the same way over and over if you can find a better way? Pederson keeps an open mind and embraces the idea of change rather than fighting it.

The 2020 season is going to be unlike any other in history. We don’t know what practices are going to be like. Will there be fans at games? What kind of special precautions need to be made in case anyone gets the Corona virus?

Teams need to be creative and flexible to navigate complex situations like this. Pederson has a history of handling tough situations pretty well. He listens to his players and coaches. He adapts when he needs to.

We tend to think of good coaching as X’s and O’s or fiery speeches. This year good coaching could be something very different.

It sure feels like the Eagles are in good hands for a situation like this.

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