One year ago as Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg emerged from the team's post-draft mini-camp, he saw a lot of new players in new positions. Some of them were rookies. Some of them were veterans new to the system. All of them had a lot to learn. Fast forward to now and Mornhinweg sees the same thing because, well, he has been schooled to think that way.
Football coaches are teachers by trade and, in fact, by job description. Mornhinweg's offense scored a franchise-record number of points last season, but the year ended on a sour note, the team has made a semi-large decision to make a change at quarterback and some of those young players from a year ago are being counted on even more heavily now.
So the approach remains the same: Teach, teach, teach.
"You simply have to start from Day 1. Last year we had an awful lot of young and new," said Mornhinweg. "This year, we're very young. Not quite as new, but still very young. So whenever you start the new year, you start from Day 1. The post-draft camp was the new year and we went to the basics.
"Whatever they did last year is over and done. We're turning the page. The players have to prove themselves all over again."
This is the cautious approach, the Marty Mantra. He never gets too far in front of himself. He never lets what happened in the past affect his next decision. The Eagles have a ton of talent on offense and they also have a lot of questions and with that, a whole lot of the playbook to digest in the months ahead.
Working with all of this youth and all of this talent is, Mornhinweg admits, an exciting proposition.
"We've got quite a few young players who had success early here, and in some cases they had that success as rookies," he said. "I've been pleased with their production early. They know they need to get better every day, though. That way, you don't put a cap on yourself. If you get better every day, you'll be a pretty productive player here."
We sit here every day and project who will do what and how in the offense. Can LeSean McCoy be the go-to running back? Is there enough depth in the backfield? How can Mornhinweg and head coach Andy Reid keep all of these playmakers happy? Kevin Kolb ... oh, yeah. He has a bunch of questions, too.
What about a guy like Jeremy Maclin, who was so good as a rookie. How do the Eagles really know that he is ready to take another step forward, rather than decline into the dreaded sophomore slump? Isn't the offense counting on Maclin to deliver in a big way?
"We're around the fellas quite a little bit, every day, and let me tell you this about Jeremy: He's a football player. He's a pro," said Mornhinweg. "He knows that there is no substitute for hard work and preparation. He is here every day going through that process. So, I feel very good about Jeremy and his second year in the NFL."
Of course, Mornhinweg knows that the remainder of the spring and the summer will tell him more about the group, about the possibilities, about the players meshing.
To this point, Mornhinweg bases a lot of his feeling for what he saw in the post-draft mini-camp. No pads, no tackling, just a lot of film review that Mornhinweg generally liked.
Quite a little bit.
"I thought we had an excellent mini-camp, an excellent start to the season," said Mornhinweg. "All of the players did an excellent job. We had a really good first day and then the second day -- you try to anticipate it, and you try to avoid it, but it is never as good as the first day -- we had a little dip. There are several reasons for that. One is the new guys. We have installation and you can see the new guys spinning a little bit.
"Normally, the third day is good, and it was outstanding. So from my standpoint, we had an outstanding mini-camp, just outstanding."
There is a long way to go here. The teaching has just started. The rookies are gone and won't be back for another week. The veterans are on their own, in a sense, working in Barry Rubin's strength and conditioning program and then catching football and running patterns and doing the detail work on their own.
High expectations? You bet 'cha. The Eagles intend to make serious noise with an offense that is young, and talented and learning every day of the 2010 year.