We wrapped up OTAs and minicamp in Philadelphia earlier this month, and I’m really excited about where we are as we head toward training camp and ultimately the 2016 season.
Those several weeks we spent together were great. It was an opportunity for us to grow as a team, and it’s all football. There were new guys trying to make the team and earn a job. This is kind of the first stage of accomplishing their goals, and guys were competing at an extremely high level.
For those of us who are back from last year, a lot of it was still new for us this time around. It was the first opportunity to understand what the standards are from Coach Pederson. Obviously, we hold ourselves to an extremely high standard, but every coach emphasizes different things, and guys are really responding well.
OTAs were the first opportunity for us to compete against each other and find out some things. I can tell already that our defense is going to be an extremely talented unit this year, and it’s been great going against them. Offensively, we’re really picking up the new system well, and guys are excited to be in a system like this.
Learning a new scheme is always tough at the beginning. In this system, there are so many different reads you can see, so you have to be spot on. It’s tough at first, almost like learning a new language, but guys are really starting to catch on and learn the different words that are associated with what we’re trying to do. It’s definitely a process, but guys are picking it up well. It’s a tight-end-friendly offense, so I’m also really excited for that.
There are so many ways as a football player that I can still grow, and I think Coach Pederson is the guy to help me reach my full potential.
IMPROVING MY GAME
I want to be a leader of this team. I want to be a guy that my teammates can lean on when they need something done, and I want to be a guy we can look to when we need to make a play. I’m working every day to be that guy. That’s not something that comes instantly. It’s built over time. It’s been building for three years, and I’m looking forward to taking the next step this year.
That means that every day after practice, I look for anything that wasn’t up to my standard. One play might stick out to me, and so the next day, I go in and say, “Hey, I’m not going to make that mistake again.” Each and every day I try to see something on film that I can improve on, and OTAs and minicamp gave me a great opportunity to try new things and see what works and what doesn’t work.
Coach Pederson is an unbelievable teacher both on and off the field. He sits up in the meeting room and details every single route exactly how he wants it, so there’s not a lot of ambiguity. You can line up a tight end or a receiver in a certain spot, and everyone has to know every spot in the playbook in order to be successful.
I’ve had the opportunity to move around a little bit, and it’s been fun for me to do that. It’s something that I did more in college at Stanford, that I wasn’t able to do the past couple of years. It’s not a knock on what I’ve been doing or the offense that I’ve played in before. It’s just something different, and something I like about this style of offense.
The one thing that hasn’t really changed is the blocking. Everybody has similar blocking schemes. Probably the main difference is that the quarterback and the running back aren’t going to be in a shotgun set 90 percent of the time. But at the same time, you’ve still got to make each and every block possible. It was that way last year and it will be that way this year.
Sam Bradford has come to the offseason workouts with a ton of excitement, juice and confidence, and has been running the first unit. From the standpoint of someone who will be catching his passes, I’m happy to have some continuity at the position.
The two of us together had a couple of great games in regards to our individual success at the end of last season, and that gives us something to build on. But at the same time, we didn’t achieve our goal as a team of winning games and that’s all that really matters.
We’re really focused right now on being the best team we can possibly be, and helping each and every person as an offense reach his potential, whether it’s the tight ends, the running backs, the offensive line, the receivers or the quarterback.
That’s what the spring and early summer is for: growing as individuals.
A FIRST GLIMPSE OF CARSON
Carson Wentz is a great kid, and he’s got a ton of potential.
He’s extremely hard working, so that bodes well for him in this league and for us as an organization. Carson’s got a big arm, and I think the game is slowing down for him every day. Every rookie has to adjust to the speed. I was the same way for sure. But he’s definitely adjusting well.
Each person, each rookie is different. With Carson, you can see and understand from the beginning that he gets it. He comes in with his head down, and all he wants to do is work hard and prove to his teammates that we can trust him. That’s something you respect as a veteran player.
I think he’s getting very comfortable and I know he loves Philadelphia already, so there’s a lot to like there.
AROUND THE FIELD
We’re all working every day to be the best team we can possibly be, and we feel like the sky is the limit for this squad in 2016.
Our group of receivers has been great. I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do during training camp, during the pre-season games, and into the season. Our offensive line has been great to work with from a tight end’s perspective as well. This is a very deep and talented group and Couch Stoutland is the perfect coach to lead them.
The same goes for the defense under Coach Schwartz. It’s tough as an offense to go against this system, just the way he constantly attacks and puts pressure on the offense. It’s not just one guy making plays. The whole defensive scheme has stood out in the short time I’ve seen it under him and I know guys are really excited to play for him.
His defensive line is always tough, and we have an incredible front seven. Honestly, our entire defense is extremely talented, so I’m really looking forward to seeing what they can do when they’re going against someone else.
THE NEXT STEP
At the end of every year, you look back and analyze what you could have done better and how you can move on and be successful going forward. Right now, all 32 teams have that mindset. We’re improving each and every day in the offseason, and everyone is chomping at the bit for the start of training camp.
With minicamp done, we’ve got about a month now before we report back for camp. The time is going to fly by, but it’s an opportunity for us to focus on our individual weaknesses and improve those. Then when camp comes around, it’s kind of building the team camaraderie and really focusing on the team.
Some of us are going to get a head start on establishing some of that camaraderie and chemistry during our time off. We’ve put together a group of skill position players to go out to San Diego in July to train.
I went down there last year to work out with a strength coach I really like, Todd Durkin. I met up with a bunch of guys down there last year and we’re going to do the same this time. I know Sam will be there; Chase Daniel is always out there. Darren Sproles is always out there. It’s just a chance to get together, throw the ball around, and work on some things.
Personally, over these next several weeks before I report for training camp, there are a lot of things I can work on. First and foremost, I’m going to get with my blocking coach again. I’ve already talked to some of the linemen about doing it with me.
I’m also aiming to get in better football shape. When you’re training for a new season, you have to do it in stages. Spring is more of a strength time, to build your strength back from the season, and maximize your strength potential. Then in the summer you want to keep building strength, but also get in the best possible football shape you can be in.
The main goal is to be as healthy as you can be going into training camp. Last year, I wasn’t where I needed to be in that regard, so I’m really focusing on taking care of my body this offseason. I thought last year I did a good job, but obviously it wasn’t good enough. My body feels great, so I’m really excited about maintaining that and getting healthier. Conditioning-wise, there is never a level where you should feel conditioned enough, so the work never really stops.
So I’m definitely going to work on improving my blocking, my route-running, and getting in the best shape possible over this next month to finish the offseason on a high note.
After that, it’s back to Philly for training camp. I truly can’t wait.