For millions of children across the United States, school is about to be out.
For the Philadelphia Eagles, school is just getting started.
With Doug Pederson, Frank Reich, Jim Schwartz and a completely new playbook and schemes to learn, memorize and implement, the Eagles’ most important task of this offseason is simply the retention of new information.
“We have put a ton of offense and defense and special teams in, and the retention level of what the players have learned throughout the entire offseason has been very good,” Pederson said this weekend during the lastday of voluntary OTAs. “So what they will retain from the end of next week for about six weeks until they return, how much of that will retain?”
The Eagles are expecting (optimisticallyof course) all 90 players to report to mandatory minicampthis Tuesday. The team will have a week to work together before players have the rest of June and most of July off prior to returning to Philly full-time for training camp.
They will need to do their homework while they are away, as the season kicks off in September and a lack of mental acuity could mean another losing season. Pederson has liked what he’s seen so far.
“They are challenging each other and that’s the thing you see on the football field,” the coach said. “They are competing every single day, offense versus defense. But that’s what you want to see. You want to see the guys take it as far as they can go and they are embracing that and coming away with a good team unity and those are things you want going into training camp and going into the regular season.”
Interestingly, when compared to last year, the defense has simplified and the offense has gotten more complicated.
“I think everybody’s stress level is lower,” defensive end Marcus Smith said.”It’s definitely less responsibility. You can just go for the ball.”
“It’s very simple for the players,” defensive backLeodis McKelvin said too, echoing the simplicity of Schwartz’ defense.
“There are a lot more plays, more concepts in right now compared to this time last year,” Sam Bradford said of the scheme on the other side of the ball — referencing Chip Kelly’s simpleplaybook from the last three years.”Last year was very repetitive in practice, you would see the same plays and you would get to run the same plays multiple times, whereas this year we have a big play book. You might get one rep of a play one week and that’s it. You really have to learn from what you see on tape.”
And when minicamp breaks next week, the players better do their homework. Otherwise the team is in trouble.