After nearly two months of video meetings and home workouts, Eagles Head Coach Doug Pederson informed his players Monday that he was ending the virtual offseason program early.
Pederson could have continued to hold workouts through June 26. But Pederson was so pleased with how the players have responded to the virtual offseason that he felt it was the right time to end it and give the players time away from the game before they are scheduled to convene for Training Camp in July.
"I just really feel like we're in a good place right now as a football team," Pederson said during an interview with Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro on Monday. The entire interview can be heard on the Eagles Insider Podcast, presented by Lincoln Financial Group. "With the uncertainty of when Training Camp is about to start, I still wanted to have these guys fresh and ready and prepared mentally that way. By shutting things down, it gives them time to kind of catch their breath a little – coaches and players."
Under normal conditions, the Eagles players would have had this time to themselves anyway as mandatory minicamps, which usually conclude in mid-June would have marked the end of on-field workouts before a lengthy break.
But with an unprecedented global pandemic, this offseason – and the year of 2020 in general – has been anything but routine.
The abnormal offseason has prevented Pederson and his coaching staff from having any face-to-face interactions with the players, and although the NFL allowed coaches to be among the 100 employees in team facilities back on June 5, Pederson has kept all of the Eagles' work virtual throughout the offseason.
Despite the circumstances, Pederson believes the Eagles achieved a lot during the offseason. One of his proudest accomplishments was keeping the players connected despite being scattered across the country.
Pederson, worried the players would get bored with virtual meetings and workouts, had to get resourceful. He did so by inviting sports luminaries including Phil Jackson, Steve Kerr, Charles Barkley, Mike Trout, and CC Sabathia to impart their wisdom to the team. The result was an engaged group throughout the voluntary program.
"It's just different ways of getting the job done," Pederson said. "For me, it's allowed me to really think outside the box."
Next on the docket for the Eagles is Training Camp. Pederson is still preparing as if camp and the 2020 season will happen as scheduled, but is ready to adapt if changes come his way.
"My focus is on the football team right now and just making sure they're safe and healthy in these next couple of weeks whenever we do get back to football and get back into our building," he said.
"Training Camp will probably look a little bit different," he added. "Obviously, we know regular-season games could possibly be a little different, but we'll just take it one day at a time, and when we get there, we'll make those decisions."