Eagles Wake-Up Call: Doug’s Different Approach

How is the Eagles' new coach handling training camp and sports science?

Doug Pederson. (Jeff Fusco)

Doug Pederson. (Jeff Fusco)

The tempo. The music. The socks.

It’s not difficult to notice the differences between Doug Pederson’s methods and Chip Kelly’s approach, and the divergence will become even clearer when training commences on Monday. Not only will the Eagles tackle, but they’ll wear pads about three out of every four days. The majority of the practices will be “thud,” meaning they’ll hit up high without taking anyone to the ground.

“The only way you can properly fit offensively and defensively, you have to put the pads on and you have to hit,” Pederson told a group of reporters before minicamp. “For instance, if you’re looking for a fullback, you gonna go out here in shells and tell me you’re going to find a fullback? I want to see him run downhill and hit a MIKE linebacker. I want to see him strike a defensive end. I want to see if he can hold up. Do his legs collapse? Does he stay up? Can he power through the block?

“I want to see if guards can pull. I want to see if linebackers can tackle. I want to see receivers and DBs test each other, and the only way you can do that is in pads.”

Pederson also wants his team in pads to make it easier to evaluate the quarterbacks, so he can get a better sense of where Sam Bradford and Carson Wentz stand.

“Blitzing when you have blitz periods, people are kind of running at you, backs can step up and take on a blitzer. All those things are greater evaluators to quarterbacks for me,” Pederson said last month. “Are they going to drop and escape? Do their eyes lower? Are they just throwing off their back foot, or are they going to stand in there – their eyes are downfield on their progression, and boom, they made the right protection call? All those things are part of practicing in pads and that initial clock for a quarterback is all part of that.”

Pederson has also handled sports science differently, saying he was “really unfamiliar” with it before he arrived in Philadelphia. However, Jeffrey Lurie made it clear after Kelly was fired that he wanted to keep some of the program intact, and Pederson said he sees “some merit” to it.

According to Pederson, Director of High Performance Shaun Huls, Head Strength Coach Josh Hingst and Director of Sports Medicine/Head Athletic Trainer Chris Peduzzi are still in charge of those operations.

“A lot of that stuff has been cut way back,” Pederson said. “I think it was introduced, and now, great, it was introduced. Now let’s pull back on it. If guys want it it’s there available to them, but at the same time we’re not going to force it down anybody’s throat, so to speak. The availability is there. But it’s been introduced to the team and they’ve been exposed to it for the last couple of years. At the end of the day, they’re football players. And, again, it’s that one-on-one communication. ‘How are you feeling? Are you getting enough sleep? I can tell if you haven’t slept last night.’ It shows up. Out here it’s going to show up.”


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The Eagles will have two open practices at Lincoln Financial Field, on July 31 and Aug. 14. Practices at the stadium allow for a greater capacity than at a Lehigh practice – and easier access to fans from the city and New Jersey – but there are only two dates available.

The team could hold more open practices at the Linc — there were four such practices in 2013 and three in 2014 — but that would require availability in the stadium complex.  When there’s a major event at the stadium, such as the Coldplay concert on Aug. 6, setup and breakdown time is needed. Also, practices are more limited on one field at the stadium compared to three fields at the NovaCare Complex.

“I guess the one negative, if there is one, is the fact that it’s not open, necessarily, to the public,” Pederson said. “That’s probably the one downside. But having the two stadium practices this year helps that a little bit. Yeah, I’m looking forward to having it here.”

Martin Frank of the Delaware News Journal on Pederson’s relationship with Jim Schwartz.

When Kelly was hired, he wanted a 3-4 defense. He hired Davis to make that work. Davis could use the players however he saw fit, but he had to follow the scheme. It did not go well.

Schwartz is under no such restriction. And as a defensive coordinator and head coach, he has a track record in which his defenses consistently ranked among the top 10 in the NFL. The Eagles also signed three of Schwartz’s former players in Buffalo – linebacker Nigel Bradham, and cornerbacks Leodis McKelvin and Ron Brooks.

Still, Pederson said he and Schwartz talked about that power structure when Schwartz was hired in January.

“There were certain questions I asked about that,” Pederson said. “He fully understands his role, his situation. He loves where he’s at as a coordinator. He did the head coaching thing. He understands it. It’s a great resource for myself to have a guy like Jim on this coaching staff. He understands. He knows. He respects that. He knows that my message to the team is also directed to the staff, and they’re going to say the same thing.”


Five days until training camp.