MOBILE, Ala. – In the context of the offseason that is, the Eagles have a lot going on. They've solidified their tight end position for the foreseeable future, finalizing deals with Zach Ertz and Brent Celek. They're continuing to investigate ways to keep their core together. And they've convened at the Senior Bowl to scout potential draft picks with an eye on April's NFL Draft.
Executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman and offensive coordinator Frank Reich met the media after Tuesday's practice, and both viewed the recent moves and the Eagles' picture ahead with optimism.
"Two different situations," Roseman said when asked about Ertz and Celek. "When you talk about Zach, young player that we drafted, on the come, has tremendous talent, tremendous work ethic, the type of player that we want to keep in Philly for a long time.
"And then on the other end, Brent Celek. What he means to our football team, what he means to our organization on and off the field. In this league it's so hard to find guys who can block at the point of attack, pass protect, separate (on his routes), catch the ball. A true Eagle. I'm just real excited for those guys and their families and for our coaching staff and our football team."
The Eagles aren't finished trying to work some deals with their younger players and when Roseman was asked about defensive linemen Fletcher Cox and Vinny Curry he said only, "We want to keep our good, young players."
The model is one Roseman has worked for years: The Eagles are looking "2, 3 years out," said Roseman as the team sends the message to the entire locker room that performance will be rewarded. Beyond that, Roseman said the Eagles are continuing through the process of hiring in the personnel department – no real update there – and that the coaching staff is nearly completed.
Reich has known head coach Doug Pederson since the two were in camp together in Carolina way back when (1995) and they've kept in touch over the years, shared their offensive visions and now are building an offense together here. Both say the offense is a "hybrid West Coast offense," and what that means, exactly, remains to be seen. Pederson wants to establish the line of scrimmage, run the football effectively and minimize turnovers. Reich shares that approach, but he obviously brings a different view to the table after two seasons in San Diego as the Chargers' offensive coordinator.
San Diego put up big numbers, led by quarterback Philip Rivers. At the 2015 midway point, the Chargers were the No. 1-ranked offense in the league, said Reich. Injuries bit into the San Diego attack along the line of scrimmage and at wide receiver (leading receiver Keenan Allen missed the final two months of the year) and Reich was a casualty after the season.
And now, he's here working in tandem with Pederson.
"Working with Doug," Reich said when asked about "what intrigued him" most about taking the Eagles' job. "This business is all about people. It's all about people, it's all about connecting with people who have the same values, who have the same kind of philosophies as far as football, who get the most out of players. You look at what they did in Kansas City this year, the string of 11 games (wins), Doug's success, the people he's worked with. It's all about the people you work with and having that same vision, the same like-mindedness and philosophy about how to get the most out of guys and what systems you want to run."
The Eagles are labeling this offense "a kind of hybrid, multiple thing," said Reich. It isn't Andy Reid's West Coast offense. It isn't the up-tempo from Chip Kelly. It's adjusting from one week to the next and having flexibility and multiplicity. It's about running the football effectively and using the short-passing game to move the chains and about throwing the football down the field for "chunk" plays.
There is so much more to learn about the offense that Pederson and Reich will put together, with input from quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo, an offensive coordinator in Cleveland. Jim Schwartz will handle the defense and work on his attacking style with the personnel the Eagles have on the roster and Pederson will oversee an offense that goes in a new direction with a lot of question marks – who plays quarterback is tops on the list – at this point very early in the offseason.
There was nothing earth-shattering in Mobile, Alabama on Tuesday. But there was progress. The Celek deal helps the salary cap and keeps a respected veteran and a good football player here for what likely will be the remainder of his career. Who was the last Eagle to start and finish his career here, having accomplished something worthwhile? Mike Quick, who played with the Eagles from 1982-90? There haven't been many, certainly not in the free-agent era of the NFL.
Roseman is working the salary cap and getting deals done and adding to the personnel department and the coaching staff is getting a sense of the current roster and of each other. That's the order of the day at the Senior Bowl, a critical and fertile spot to be for the Eagles in the roster-building process at hand.