By: Al Thompson
The head coach of an NFL team has the difficult job of bringing a large group of talented young men together to bond with the common goal of winning a championship at the sport’s highest level.
Eagles coach Doug Pederson knows he has a special group, with enough skills and ability to win it all in 2019, so what he says, as the leader, matters.
There is a five-and-a-half-week gap between the end of minicamp and the start of training camp.
That is a long time for his players to be away from their coaches after spending several months working together.
Pederson was asked what he said to the players as they left for the last break before the grind starts when rookies and selected veterans report Wednesday, July 24. The first full team practice will take place on Thursday, July 25, at NovaCare.
“Honestly, it’s simple: No. 1 is I appreciate — and I told them this — that I appreciate all the hard work,” Pederson said at his last news conference. “This week, everybody was here. The entire off-season that the guys were here. That I appreciate their effort, their hard work, attention to detail.
“And then secondly, I basically just said, hey, enjoy the next five and a half weeks. Spend time away from football with your family. Spend time with them and friends.
“And then the third, and probably the most important thing, is get your mind ready to go. Get your mind right these next couple of weeks. And that’s just not players. I was talking to myself, coaching staff, everybody because when we come back in July, we hit the ground running and we’re ready to go.”
Pederson appears to have come up with a battle cry for 2019, “Everything matters.” The fourth-year coach was asked what he means by that slogan.
“Everything we do in life and really anything we do in life matters,” he said. “There is always — you have choices and consequences to those choices. The decisions we make sometimes matter, and so I feel like as a football team, as coaches, as players, and even as personnel, support staff, everybody in the organization, everything we do matters. It matters to winning games or losing games on the football field.”
Pederson went further: “So I just want to keep reiterating that point with our team. Just getting them to understand that if we jump offsides in practice, we’re probably going to jump offsides in a game, right? If we don’t do the little things right in practice, we won’t do them in the game. Everything that we do matters.”
A year has passed since the Birds won the first Super Bowl in franchise history. While there are still plenty of players on the team from 2017, Pederson seems to want to impress on his players that this season is on its own.
“I think that it just comes to light now that we’re on the sort of brink of a new season,” Pederson said. “That you can kind of start fresh and start over and get ready to go for another season; yet you can look back and learn from mistakes, learn from failures, learn from successes. And so, again, with that, everything that we do matters to how we perform on game day.”
Camp note: The majority of the training camp practices will be hosted at the team’s NovaCare Complex practice facility in South Philadelphia and will be open to select fans, including season ticket members, charitable organizations and corporate partners.
The Eagles will host a public practice at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday, Aug. 4, at 7 p.m.
The evening’s festivities will honor and celebrate the country’s armed forces as part of Military Appreciation Night.
There is a $10 admission for the open practice. The money from ticket sales will go to the fundraising efforts and overall commitment to advancing autism research. The teams states that “one hundred percent of the ticket proceeds will support the highest quality and most impactful autism research to improve the lives of affected individuals and families now, as well as foster the acquisition of knowledge, technologies, and discoveries that will bring new opportunities in the future.”
There will be other activities at the open practice. Go to the Eagles’ website for more information.
Tickets are on sale and can be purchased for $10 by visiting www.ticketmaster.com.
Seating at Lincoln Financial Field will be on a first-come, first-served basis. All individuals over the age of 2 years will require a ticket for entry.
Follow Al Thompson on Twitter @thompsoniii