This Eagles camp has been talked about at length the past couple of days and not for the players on the field in particular. It’s about what head coach Nick Sirianni said earlier this week, that the team wouldn’t be hitting much and wouldn’t be tackling to the ground. Now, this isn’t that drastic of a change since Nick’s first camp last season but it’s certainly being discussed heavily. I’m here to tell you that while I lean a certain way, I have no strong feelings about the “old school” vs. “new school” NFL camp debates. I do however have immense curiosity in seeing how the first 5-6 games of this year goes to make my final determination on the issue.
Last season, the Eagles were the healthiest they’d been in about five seasons. Some of that might be attributed to the fact it was one of the younger/rebuilding Eagles teams of the last five years, or maybe you attribute some of it to their “Club Med” style of training camp where they implement 90 minute max practices, more off days and no tackling. It’s kind of a tough thing to exactly pinpoint, but the healthiest season in a long time has me thinking Nick could be on to something here. Now the knock against it last year was the sloppy play in the first 7 games of the year. Missed tackling and the highest penalty rate in the league had people doubting his methods last year. I attribute SOME of that to a rookie head coach on a learning curve with a team of personnel that he wasn’t completely familiar with his players yet. There’s definitely credence to both sides of it. I don’t think it can all be attributed to a “soft” camp.
This year, if they come out as a polished machine and injury free, I’ll be a believe in the “new school” model that Nick is implementing. The NFL is a war of attrition and being one of the healthiest teams has to slightly improve your odds of competing overall. Look at the Ravens last year, they lost 3 main players in camp in the same week and it severely impacted their season. There’s a lot to be said for protecting players in camp. Here’s to hoping that Nick is right on all of this because if the birds can stay healthy, they’ll only be increasing their odds of making a deep run this year.