Frank Reich has been around the NFL for 25 seasons as a quarterback and a coach and he knows not to jump to conclusions. He knows how to measure progress in the spring, when there are no pads and there is no tackling. He knows what he sees right now with this Philadelphia Eagles offense.
"The no-pads things, that's always the little asterisk," he said. "You've always got to find ways to improve and I think we've done that. For all of the players, how can they handle all the material? All of the installs are in. There's a lot of information and now it's all thrown at you.
"There's been a lot of good stuff, but we've still got a ways to go."
The offense is going to look a lot like the Andy Reid version of the West Coast offense that head coach Doug Pederson knows so well and used effectively as the offensive coordinator in Kansas City, but there are going to be some tweaks. The Eagles want to play to their personnel, so maybe the tight ends will have some added responsibilities or perhaps the wide receivers will move around more and run some different routes. It's always evolving based on personnel and the matchups from week to week.
The core, though, is that the Eagles want to win the line of scrimmage, minimize their mistakes and score touchdowns in the red zone. That starts with the quarterback, and that room is headed by Sam Bradford.
Reich can't say enough good things about Bradford's performance in the spring.
"Sam hasn't only been good in OTAs, he's been great," Reich said. "His production, everything about the way he has performed in OTAs has been, and it's not an overstatement to say this, off the charts. He's really been good."
Reich understands that for it to work for Bradford, the cast around him has to be on point. The offensive line, revamped with the addition of Brandon Brooks in free agency and a couple of draft picks, has looked "fast off the football," in the spring, says Reich. The coaching staff wholeheartedly believes that left tackle Jason Peters has gas left in his tank. Peters has not missed a day in the Organized Team Activities. "He looks like he's moving at a very high level," Reich said. That's encouraging.
A young group of wide receivers needs to step up and play more consistent football, and catch the ball confidently and be in the right spots. The running game that appears to be headed by Ryan Mathews must stay healthy, of course, and needs to run downhill and play physical football. Darren Sproles, who has yet to report to the voluntary workouts, has Reich excited.
"I've been thinking and dreaming about that the whole offseason," Reich said when asked about Sproles' role in the offense. "This guy is phenomenal and incredibly productive. That's what we're looking for. We're looking for a guy who can come out of the backfield and run routes in a way that few guys can like him, from the backfield. He's a very effective ball carrier, as well. I'm looking forward to working with him."
Tight ends? Look for them to be a major factor. Zach Ertz, Brent Celek and Trey Burton are going to be large parts of the offense in every phase.
"It's a versatile and very smart group of tight ends," Reich said. "You learn through this that you can use these guys in a lot of ways. We have to make the best use of what they can do. It isn't just Zach Ertz catching passes. Brent Celek understands how to use his body and how to use leverage to get open. He isn't just a blocking tight end. He's going to be part of our passing game. And I've seen Trey Burton line up as a wide receiver and he runs routes and he looks legit. He looks like a wide receiver with his technique and his speed. He can really help us, too."
Of course, it all circles back to the quarterbacks, and not just Bradford. Daniel is the backup who is the master of this scheme and Wentz oozes ability.
"We're very fortunate to have those three guys," Reich said. "Sam has looked phenomenal, he really has. He's throwing the ball well. He's such a talented passer and he's so smart. Chase has more than held own and has really looked good. He has a complete command of the offense. And Carson is Carson. He's been everything and more that you hoped he would be to this point. There is still a lot of room to grow.
"It's been good, but we need to keep pushing and get better."
That's the update, and it's encouraging. The pads are not on, and there is always that caveat. But for now, the Eagles are pleased with the progress, with a three-day mini-camp at the NovaCare Complex ahead.