Ending their Organized Team Activities and the offseason program as well on a Thursday afternoon indoors at the NovaCare Complex, the Eagles did so with tremendous energy, connection, and tempo, and now are away for a period of six-plus weeks before Training Camp begins in late July.
Most important, perhaps, is that they ended the offseason program a healthy football team after such a long 2022 season. The next step? Return to the NovaCare Complex razor-sharp and ready to compete with a roster featuring wall-to-wall talent.
"You want them to come back in great shape," Head Coach Nick Sirianni said, "and you want them to make sure they're doing the right things off the field."
They did all the right things on and off the field these last nine weeks that included six OTA practice days, translating between the lines what they learned in the classroom after taking deep dives into the schemes introduced by new Coordinators Brian Johnson and Sean Desai. The emphasis of the offseason is to condition, connect, and to sharpen fundamentals and technique. Sirianni expressed his pleasure that the Eagles, throughout the roster, did all of the above.
The offseason program, then, was a complete success in the head coach's eyes.
"I think you just see the fundamentals continuing to grow," Sirianni said. "That's from the guys that just got here, the fundamentals of what we're trying to look like, but then just how much better, too, the guys that have been here are with their fundamentals. They just keep getting better. That's just our message. That's what we strive to do is to get better every day, and you're really seeing that a lot of our players, that their fundamentals are really improving. One reason is because they're really working hard at it, and two, we're devoting a lot of time to it in our individual phases of OTAs."
Sirianni pointed out the performance of fourth-year wide receiver Quez Watkins as one that stood out and both he and quarterback Jalen Hurts praised Watkins and what he's done these last few months.
"I love his attitude, and I've said this to him, and I have no problem saying it here, some people around here, and it's not in this building, we have a ton of confidence in Quez Watkins, but I kind of sense from him – he's never said this, but oh, some people think I stink? Wait. Wait. That's how he's attacked every day. That's how he's attacked practices, and I think that he looks really good," Sirianni said. "We know he has a lot of talent, and I'm excited about that. I really like the way he's gone about his business because he can't control anything but what he can control, and he can't control what other people think about him. He can't control anything like that. Can't control things that may have happened to him last year, the opportunities that he got last year or did not get. All he can control is how he works, and I've really been excited about how he's gone about his business."
Said Hurts about Watkins: "He's been doing a really good job. He's been playing a number of different positions and he's been doing a really good job at them. Quez is a guy that I came in with (they were both drafted in 2020) and I worked out with before we both got drafted here. We tore it up on the scout team our rookie year and I have all the trust in him. He's hungry to use everything as fuel and I'm glad he's taking that approach. I'm excited to see the show he puts on this year."
The spring was about gathering the team, making sure everyone is on the same page, and starting the 2023 step-by-step process. It's a long grind of a season and the first step is complete. Now the players and coaches take some needed downtime to gear up for Training Camp and the regular season, Sirianni's third at the helm, that follows.
If there were questions about the identity of this football team and what Sirianni wants in his group the previous two years, those have been dispelled. Who the Eagles are has been very well defined, said the head coach.
"For the past two years, I know that's what we talk about a lot is 'Who are we?' We're fast, we're physical, and we're for each other," he said. "I think that they feel that when you have those – being physical – they know that they have an advantage when they step out on the field. So, I think that's offense, that's defense, that's special teams."
Add it all up and it's a team that has special aspirations once again. First, though, a break, and when the Eagles return to South Philadelphia in late July the fun truly begins for everybody.