Tough Times Ahead

Posted: June 18th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 38 Comments »

A few people have asked me about recent comments from Andy Reid that he would run a tough Training Camp this year.  What happened last  year?  Were things soft?


Before you jump on a high-horse to blame Big Red for the crappy season thanks to Club Med, 2011 was an anomaly.  Reid normally runs one of the hardest camps in the entire NFL.

Football is a process sport.  Remember that part of what got Andy hired here was his big blue notebook.  He had a schedule for everything.  Things were done in a certain way and at a certain time for a reason.  You are constantly building.  Strength and conditioning work lays the ground for OTAs.  The OTAs lay the ground for Training Camp.  That leads into the preseason.  And all of these activities shape the team for the regular season.  If things go well, all things prepare the team for the postseason.

Last year the players showed up at Lehigh with no preparation.  There was no official S&C work.  Guys worked on their own or with a trainer, but that’s different than having Barry Rubin push you.  There were no OTAs.  All the teaching, conditioning, and coaching had to be done at Lehigh.  That meant a different kind of Training Camp.

In the past, Reid always went 1’s against 2’s.  There was plenty of tackling to the ground, as well as some thud tackling mixed in.  There were 2-a-days.  That meant full pads and contact in a morning and afternoon practice session.

The first Reid TC I went to was 2005.  I was shocked at how physical the camp was.  The 11-on-11 sessions featured a ton of running plays.  Was this the Eagles I was watching?  It seemed like Reid used those live sessions to try and make the team tough.  There was some passing, but not near as much as I expected.  What he did was use the 7-on-7 drills and individual drills to work on the passing game.  Since you could only practice so much, use the 11-on-11 sessions for physical play.  The most fun player to watch at that camp…RB Ryan Moats.  Boy could he scoot.  If only he had been able to learn the playbook and become a complete RB.  Kid had serious talent.

I also attended the 2006 TC.  I remember watching practice with a buddy who was a TC regular (PhillyPhreak 54 to EMB readers).  He was the man to talk to and listen to when it came to Lehigh practices.  He went to a ton of them, took good notes, and paid attention to details.

Phreak told me that Andy was a different guy in 2006.  He wasn’t the quiet overseer.  Reid became very hands on, with every group on the team.  He’d been so bothered by the play of the 2005 team that he was changing things up at Lehigh.  Reid also had a new item up there…a play clock.  He was aware that getting plays in was taking too long and wanted the team to work on that.  It was in the 2006 season that Reid turned over calling plays to Marty and that helped the offense out.  You may not like Marty’s choices, but the actual operation of getting plays called more quickly is a big help.

Reid keeps an open mind when it comes to TC and how he can changes things to deal with specific issues.  What could he change this year?

We know one thing for sure.  Reid has decided to move the full pads/contact practices from the morning to the afternoon.  The NFL/NFLPA have taken away 2-a-days.  Teams are now only allowed one live session a day.  The other session is just helmets/shorts and a walk-through.

My guess is that Reid has made this change for a couple of reasons.  First, he wants to toughen the team up.  By going live in the heat of the day, it will be as rough as possible on the players.  Reid wants to push them.  He wants them to have to dig deep and become physically, mentally, and emotionally tough.

This may sound stupid to some.  I think anyone who has gone through a football practice at the high school level or above knows what I’m talking about.  Football practice is hard.  You’re tired from running around at 100 mph and doing all the little things in drills.  Then you’re sore from hitting/tackling.  The heat wears you down and drains you physically.  At that point you have to motivate yourself to do your best.  It takes focus and desire.  The coaches see who handles this stuff well and who doesn’t.

The other reason to do this is to make the best use of the time.  People tend to learn best in the morning.  They’re awake.  They’re focused.  If you can’t hit, then make those teaching sessions as effective as possible.  Last year Andy had them in the afternoon.  The players were tired from the morning practice.  They were full from eating lunch.  They wanted to get the sessions over with so they could get back to their rooms or whatever.

Now you teach in the morning.  Then you go live in the afternoon.

This is inconvenient to some people, fans included.  Would you rather have happy fans in July or January?  Reid can be user-friendly or he can put out the best product possible.  He obviously wasn’t happy with last year’s regular season results and feels that the time in Lehigh wasn’t what it needed to be.

I am interested to see if he gets back to 1’s against 2’s.  The theory was that you didn’t want starters hitting/tackling starters.  Too much risk of injury on every play.  Let the 1’s go against the 2’s and the starters will have the advantage.  Last year when there was very limited tackling and a lot more teaching, Reid did have 1’s go against 1’s.  There wasn’t as much risk of injury with the limited contact.

Let’s hope the groups that benefit the most from all of this are the LBs and Safeties.  They had serious tackling issues in 2011.  Some of the players have changed and that should help, but the returners will benefit from a tough, physical TC where they are allowed to take down runners and receivers.

There is no definitive proof that tough TCs work better than those that are less physical.  It seems like the trend around the NFL is actually to dial down contact.  Some teams don’t allow any tackling.  I guess I’m old school.  I like the hitting and tackling.  Let’s hope it pays off this year.

* * * * *

Jimmy Bama has a post up that breaks down a very effective Eagles play from the 2011 season.  Good stuff.

38 Comments on “Tough Times Ahead”

  1. 1 teltschikfakeout88 said at 11:38 AM on June 18th, 2012:

    Tommy, I used to look for PhillyPhreaks blog entries on TC over at the Eagles Website. Dude had some very good coverage. No offense to you as I have told you this is the first and probably only place I come to for Eagles coverage; but……I think you should try and invite Philly Phreak to do some blog entries over here during TC….or not…..just something for the suggestions box.

  2. 2 TommyLawlor said at 11:41 AM on June 18th, 2012:

    I’d love to have Phreak’s reports, but the last I heard he had moved back to Texas. He’s also married now. Used to have lots of free time to run up to Lehigh and do his reports, but things changed. Our loss. He was the king of TC reports.

  3. 3 teltschikfakeout88 said at 11:53 AM on June 18th, 2012:

    Foiled again…..How much of a donation would be needed to get you up to Lehigh this year?

  4. 4 TommyLawlor said at 11:58 AM on June 18th, 2012:

    More about time than money. I’m trying to plan things out. I’ll let you guys know if I’m able to get up there.

  5. 5 Aaron Yang said at 12:46 PM on June 18th, 2012:

    i have never had time before to make it out to a TC because i was always so busy during the summers but i was planning on going for the first time this year. i’ve been asking around at BGN and others that went but do you have any suggestions of recommendations? what would be the best time to go during the week? when is the best time to go during the entire training camp (beginning, middle or end)? and what time would be the best during the day? i know that the pads dont come on until the afternoon now…so im assuming then. but would it be good to just go for the morning half and stay all day? im probably missing a few other questions i’ve had but any words of wisdom from TC regulars would be greatly appreciated..

  6. 6 Matthew Butch said at 1:04 PM on June 18th, 2012:

    TC is awesome- I’ve gone two out of the past three years (not last year). If its the same as when I went, the first Friday after the vets report is the first live hitting day.

    Not sure about the morning sessions- but there is a LONG time between morning and afternoon sessions. Something like 3 hours. And there isn’t much to do there- you have to drive around to Lehigh or to Allentown.

    So I think the best bet is to get there early afternoon.

  7. 7 Eric Weaver said at 4:12 PM on June 18th, 2012:

    I generally go on the days where there are the best collective of autograph sessions. Meaning, if its QB, WR and o linemen that day or corners, rbs and tes. Those are the types of days I try to go to get signatures. Not that I care if I get signatures as much, but it’s just a nice addition to your morning.

  8. 8 Kristopher Cebula said at 4:25 PM on June 18th, 2012:

    i generally try to go the first week because there is less hitting toward the end of TC. i generally go during the week because it is conducive to my schedule and there are less crowds. after the morning practice, there is some down time. i generally go into Bethlehem and have lunch at the local brew pub. it’s a cool little town. after i kill about two hours i usually go back down for the afternoon practice. if the morning is just a walk through this year, i would probably just skip it. i’m 2 and a half hours away and have to leave at 5 am to catch the morning practice. i think i’d rather sleep in than watch the helmets and shorts runaround

  9. 9 Aaron Yang said at 11:12 AM on June 19th, 2012:

    thanks for all the tips guys..maybe hopefully we will be at the same camp if you guys go too and can hang out or something. im so excited to see some actual football with pads on…even if its just training camp.

  10. 10 babapsu said at 4:58 PM on June 18th, 2012:

    tommy. i’m from bethlehem, don’t live there now, but could easily hook you up with a place to stay for free. PBR on tap even.

  11. 11 TommyLawlor said at 5:53 PM on June 18th, 2012:

    I’ve been known to sip a beer or two up there. If I do go, I might hit you up for info.

  12. 12 Eagles1991 said at 8:19 PM on June 18th, 2012:

    Also, has anyone here discussed getting you access to the coaches film that is do out this year. I would gladly contribute……maybe even get you some pudding if ou throw in a pair of sunglasses

  13. 13 Eric Weaver said at 11:58 AM on June 18th, 2012:

    The worst thing for me was eating lunch and doing the second session. I even have that problem at 30. haha If I need to cut the grass or do other work around the house, I tell my gf no dinner for me until I’m done. haha

  14. 14 iskar36 said at 3:35 PM on June 18th, 2012:

    I’m a supporter of the idea of moving practice into the afternoon to build mental toughness, but I think you bring up a good point. Some of the things that Tommy pointed out which made the afternoon sessions more lethargic will still happen. Hopefully, that doesn’t end up translating into the players developing bad habits and playing lazy in the live sessions. Having said that, I think overcoming that is the job of the coaches to make sure to keep the players focused despite getting tired and not allowing them to make lazy plays and develop bad habits.

  15. 15 Kevin_aka_RC said at 11:59 AM on June 18th, 2012:

    @Tommy, it’s also “easier” to run a more physical or focused training camp after you’ve had a bad season. It’s a lot harder to motivate veterans after playoff success. Players aren’t dumb: most of them will always work harder after failure than success.

    Keep in mind this is a “young” team too. One of my favorite additions Reid has done was the 30+ club: days off for vets per the recommendations of Runyan and Dawkins. This year, that applies to Vick, Mathis, Babin, Jenkins, Hanson and Asomoguha. IMO Trent Cole at 29 deserves to be part of that. I wonder if it applies to Dorenbos? Long snapping and magic are tough jobs.

  16. 16 TommyLawlor said at 12:11 PM on June 18th, 2012:

    The 30+ club…forgot about that. Good point. Another nice twist by Reid (or whoever thought of it).

  17. 17 Anders Jensen said at 12:02 PM on June 18th, 2012:

    AR also said he moved it because Rubin advised him to it because of having to meals in there stomach .

  18. 18 Eric Weaver said at 4:22 PM on June 18th, 2012:

    But they eat breakfast. It’s not like they are starving until noon.

  19. 19 TommyLawlor said at 4:49 PM on June 18th, 2012:

    Reid said that the later practice would allow the players to get properly hydrated and to have 2 meals in them. Maximum energy, I guess. Players do sweat a lot and burn through calories at TC.

  20. 20 Matthew Verhoog said at 5:02 PM on June 18th, 2012:

    Andy knows food

  21. 21 TommyLawlor said at 5:52 PM on June 18th, 2012:

    I don’t think you need any secret evidence from the NFL on this point.

  22. 22 rage114 said at 12:34 PM on June 18th, 2012:

    One thing that has been a constant on Andy’s teams is that come November and December, the Eagles always seem to be the “fresher” team.

    I don’t know if that is directly related to the hard practices in August but there sure does seem to be a correlation.

  23. 23 Matthew Verhoog said at 5:04 PM on June 18th, 2012:

    I wonder if it has to more with managing in-season practices well. It’s hard to think that TC will make the biggest difference late in the season. You would think the teams that do TC well will come out of the gate in good playing shape.

  24. 24 Cafone said at 5:34 PM on June 18th, 2012:

    But of course the flip side of this has been that the Eagles under Reid have traditionally started off the season poorly.

  25. 25 TrentColeHamels said at 4:57 PM on June 18th, 2012:

    Cox signs. Cross that one off of the list.

  26. 26 TommyLawlor said at 5:54 PM on June 18th, 2012:

    Good news. Let’s just hope he doesn’t jump on the Brodrick Bunkley Cheeto’s diet.

  27. 27 TrentColeHamels said at 6:09 PM on June 18th, 2012:

    Or read Corey Simon’s self-help book “How to Take Plays Off”

  28. 28 A_T_G said at 9:40 PM on June 18th, 2012:

    Well, that explains the strange “Many pleased to finally get Cox into the fold” tweet I saw earlier.

    Sorry, I just can’t help myself.

  29. 29 TrentColeHamels said at 10:06 PM on June 18th, 2012:

    I heard the Cox deal took a lot of massaging on both sides.

  30. 30 Ben Hert said at 8:02 PM on June 18th, 2012:

    The title of this post scared the crap out of me. When Captain Optimistic says its tough, then I really get ready to buckle down.

    Edit: In no way was that meant to be snide or demeaning, just a h/t to quite possible to only optimist in Philadelphia sports.

  31. 31 the guy said at 8:19 PM on June 18th, 2012:

    Some day Tommy should just go full Negadelphian without any warning.

    It would be epic.

  32. 32 Anders Jensen said at 8:55 PM on June 18th, 2012:

    It would scare the hell out of me. When I want negalphian point of view I read as he always have more negative spin to everything

  33. 33 Eagles1991 said at 9:46 PM on June 18th, 2012:

    That would become an instant classic! I like the sunglasses website he sets up from time to time. Killer deals!

  34. 34 TommyLawlor said at 10:12 PM on June 18th, 2012:

    @ Ben…

    No offense taken.

    I wondered if the post title would throw anyone off, but figured since nothing had happened in past few days it wouldn’t be a big deal.

  35. 35 Mac said at 10:32 AM on June 19th, 2012:

    It was an attention getter to say the least, but in a good way.

  36. 36 Anders Jensen said at 9:01 PM on June 18th, 2012:

    Tommy, do you have any notes on the newest Eagle? I love his size, but he seems to have no athletic ability at all when I look at his pro day results.

  37. 37 Mac said at 10:21 AM on June 19th, 2012:

    Is it possible that our LB and S guys struggled during the regular season because they got used to missing tackles going up against Shady McCoy?

  38. 38 austinfan said at 12:25 PM on June 19th, 2012:

    There’s a very good reason for 1s against 2s, you know what the 1s can do, that’s why they’re starting, you want to know who can hold their own against the 1s. So the 2s are really the tryout squad going against real NFL players in practice, and you can move guys up or down, depending on how they play, if Hughes is getting burned, give Lindley a shot tomorrow.

    The 2s will get a bunch of time in the first couple exhibition games, then play a lot of the 4th, after that they’re on scout team duty, special teams and spot play. So you both want to know who can play, and prepare them in case they have to play.

    Of course, in the case of backups like Landri and Tapp, once you know they’re healthy, and they’ve haven’t fallen off a cliff in the offseason, you don’t have to give them as much PT. But guys like Cox, Dixon and Thorton need every snap they can get against the first team OL, watching them eat Reynolds won’t tell you much.