THE NO. 1 STORY IN SPORTS IS AND WILL BE THE VIRUS FOR THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE
Eagles head coach Doug Pederson held a press conference...no matter how many story lines the team's new roster produced, the subject always returned to the coronavirus
How many times have we watched a commercial come on television that begins with “In these uncertain times?” All day and night.
It's a pretty accurate line.
There isn't one element of our lives that isn't affected regardless of what stage your home state is at with regards to reopening.Gyms, hair salons, barber shops, restaurants, flea markets, faith organizations and schools that are all trying to figure out the safest way to start the pain-staking path to finding normality.
The Philadelphia Eagles are no different. Head coach Doug Pederson and his staff are trying to get his team in shape, learn new systems and develop chemistry without actually being about to be in the same room or run around their practice field together.Everything the team does is over the phone or looking at each other through computer screens.
Pederson held a virtual press conference recently and he was how much can he tell from the classroom settings and the virtual stuff he's been doing with rookies, how much can you tell if they are ready to hit the field when you get the green light to come in to NovaCare?
“That is probably the hardest thing, is just getting a gauge of where the guys are,” said Pederson, now entering his fifth season as Eagles head coach. “Obviously, as coaches, we ask a ton of questions back to them to see how much they have regurgitated and how much have they understood what we have put in.
“And it’s a time where we can kind of slow things down a little bit," Pederson continued. "So they do understand and yet, it’s probably the one thing that if we don’t ask enough questions, it’s hard to get a gauge. So that is probably the biggest challenge moving forward. But I would say, for the most part, the meetings that I have attended and been in, the guys have really understood, and they are taking good notes. You can see them through the Microsoft Teams platform that we are using, and we just can’t wait to get them on the grass.”
Pederson was also asked how much time is it going to take for you to be ready to start a football season, grass time, especially with regards to the rookies?
“I do think because we've missed the entire off-season,” Pederson said. “It's going to take all of the five to six weeks that we have of training camp to be prepared for a regular season. I think that you have to -- that's part of training camp is conditioning the mind, conditioning the body for the physical aspect of the game. In the spring and summer, it's about the mental side, and then just your physical conditioning from workouts and running and things of that nature.”
Like every coach in pro sports, there must be plans in the works if a key player tests positive for COVID-19. The team certainly cares for every human involved with the Eagles, but if the virus affects the ability to be successful on the field, it is the coach's and player personnel department's job to be prepared.
“I think it would be unfortunate, obviously, if someone were to come down sick,” Pederson said. But I think moving forward, all the precautions, all the necessary testing, all the medical data that we have now in front of us, I think from a medical standpoint, we would be able to handle someone if they were to come down ill at that time.
“It's a little bit of a hypothetical question that's somewhat hard to answer, but because so many guys would be in the same rooms -- so many coaches, so many players -- the organization, would be possibly affected, so it would be unfortunate if something like that did happen.”
Pederson talked about many subjects during his time with reporters.
He answered questions about the Jason Peters – Andre Dillard situation at left tackle. Pederson talked addressed his suddenly crowded wide receiver room and how he plans to use his new coaches, but the elephant in the room is the virus and how is has turned the sports world completely upside down.
Instead of talking about the strategy being put together for the 2020 season, the coach is being asked what are some of the protocols being discussed for when things are opened back up in terms of testing, spacing, ways of keeping guys safe? What's that going to look like from what he's been told so far?
“Those are all things that (Eagles Chief Medical Officer) Dr. Arsh Dhanota and his medical team, our trainers, are in the process of discussing right now – what is that going to look like. I don't have a definite answer at this time. I wish I did. It’s something that I think when Dr. Arsh has more information, maybe when there's more testing available, just his plan. I lean on him because he's in the know. He understands this virus, this pandemic, and what it can do to the human body. So, at this point, I don't have a definite answer.”
Finally Pederson was pressed to answer whether he is confident that the Eagles will be on the field in late July. The coach said he can only deal with what's in front of him.
“I'm preparing as if we're going to be back in our building by training camp,” He said. “Nothing is definite, nothing has been set, obviously, but I'm preparing that way to be back in the building hopefully in mid-July so we can be on the grass. That's my preparation. That's my mindset right now as I prepare for training camp. That's one of the things – we get these guys back, it's got to be full steam ahead.” *
Follow Al Thompson on Twitter @thompsoniii