Spring Wrap Up

Posted: June 6th, 2021 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 2 Comments »

The Eagles just wrapped up OTAs. There were no 7-on-7 or 11-on-11 drills. This was all individal work. Normally this would feel pretty unsatisfying, but after last year when Covid wiped out all of the OTAs, something is better than nothing.

Do we know anything about this team right now? No, not really. With all the changes, we won’t find anything out until there is some actual blocking and tackling.

There is still value the OTAs. The Eagles are a younger team. The OTAs gave the coaches a chance to do a lot of teaching. Instead of focusing on scheme, the focus was technique. Young players need that. Think about Avonte Maddox and the way he talked about eyes. The coaches beat that into his head while going through drills. You can bet the coaches had specific messages for different players. We’ll have to wait and see if the coaching makes a difference, but I like that kind of specificity and detail.

Players talked a lot about the energy of the coaching staff. This is one of the youngest staffs in the league so it makes sense that they coach with a high energy style. We need to see how that translates into results, but the players seem to like it so far. Pete Carroll is a high energy coach and has had a lot of success at USC and Seattle with that style. Young players seem to respond well to it.

There is a different vibe to this team than there was a year ago. Take Andre Dillard for example. There were a lot of concerns with him a year ago. Was he ready to take over at LT? Was he physical enough? Was he tough enough? Dillard tore his bicep and missed the season. Jordan Mailata played LT most of the season and looked pretty good. It would be easy for Dillard to see that and give up.

Quite the opposite. Dillard said the minute he heard he was out for the year, he set his sights on 2021. He changed his diet and focused on lower body workouts, doing whatever he could to help get him ready. Dillard acknowledges there will be a competition for the job and seems to have a good attitude. He seems more driven than in the past. Dillard has never lacked talent. He needed to get stronger and he needed to play tougher/more physical. Maybe the bicep injury will turn out to be a blessing in disguise. It seems to have really gotten Dillard into the right frame of mind.

A lot of writers talked about the competition at LT. I thought this was just noise. Mailata showed more last year than Dillard has in his young career. I thought Mailata would win this competition easily. Now I’m interested to see if Dillard can make this a real competition. Regardless of who wins, the key is for the Eagles to get someone to play well.

The whole team feels hungrier. Maybe going through a 4-win season did that. Maybe shedding veterans and adding young talent is key. Maybe the new coaching staff is pushing the right buttons. Whatever happened, there is a different vibe.

*****

We didn’t get to see a lot of DeVonta Smith, but he looks like the real deal so far. He runs great routes. He catches everything thrown his way. Those are simple statements, but we haven’t said them about an Eagles receiver in a while. I’m excited to see Smith in action.

Smith, and six other rookies, signed deals. That leaves only OL Landon Dickerson and LB JaCoby Stevens without contracts. They should be taken care of soon. This isn’t like the old days when rookies held out and there were al kinds of contract issues. I remember driving up to Training Camp in 2006 and hearing about DT Brodrick Bunkley’s holdout on the radio. I do not miss that drama.

*****

Nick Sirianni met the media at the end of practice on Friday. Sirianni didn’t offer a lot of in-depth info (shocker). He did talk a lot about competition. He and the coaching staff have found a variety of ways for the players to compete during practice and away from the field. Sirianni said something I’ve never heard. He wants his players to practice at competing.

Doug Pederson preached competition in the 2017 offseason. That team embraced the idea and it helped them to go win the Super Bowl. Spoiler alert…this team isn’t going to win the Super Bowl. Creating a highly competitive environment is smart for the new staff. I mentioned Pete Carroll earlier. He’s created that kind of environment in Seattle and it has served him well.

Competition is a core value for Sirianni, and now the Eagles. It is important to preach that early and often. There won’t be any confusion about what he wants or expects. The players have heard about this from Day 1.

One of the issues with the previous staff is that they seemed to stick with their favorite guys too often. Sirianni and his staff are saying all the right things about the best players playing. We’ll have to wait and see if their actions match their message.

*****

Nothing significant about this. I just found it interesting.

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2 Comments on “Spring Wrap Up”

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