EAGLES

The hidden value of Eagles walkthrough practices

EAGLES

The word “walk-through” conjures images of a short, lazy, informal practice where most of the team is goofing off, the coaches are trying to get everybody's attention, nobody gets anything done, and it’s over in 20 minutes.

And that was the case once upon a time.

No more.

Nick Sirianni altered the Eagles' training camp schedule this year, eliminating a practice every third day and replacing it with a walk-through. That’s in addition to the usual walk-throughs the Eagles run late every afternoon.

And a Nick Sirianni walk-through is serious business.

“The walk-throughs are huge for us,” Dallas Goedert said. “Just going against different fronts, seeing different things, (the defense is) bringing different pressures, it just kind of puts us on a one-up in slow motion before it happens in full speed. If we have any adjustments we can change it and talk about it afterwards before we get out to practice and do it full-speed, so we can maximize all our reps.”

Sirianni replaced four full practices this training camp with walk-throughs that might not be nearly as physically intense as practices but give the players just as many mental challenges.

They give the players an opportunity to get their legs back, and be energized the next day when full-scale practices resume.

Every Eagles coach since Andy Reid has had an Over-30 day every few days, where older players sit out practice to get their legs back.

But now, with the walk-throughs replacing practices, guys like Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Lane Johnson and Brandon Graham won’t miss any work. So they’re getting the mental reps without it taking a toll on their body.

 

“When we are in walk-through, it's full speed to the snap,” Sirianni said. “That means we are jogging to our alignments, we’re doing our motion, and then the ball snap, but your mind is working full speed the entire time.

“So, OK, we got a couple more walk-throughs (this summer), but we expect intensity to be even harder at practice than ever before because your legs are going to be fresh. We are trying to practice hard, fast and physical as much as we possibly can. That's our secret to how we're going to get better, a little bit better each day.”

Walk-throughs are most definitely not days off. The players are still at the complex all day, and they’re working as hard as every other day when it comes to film study, meetings and practice corrections. They’re just saving their bodies.

One coach described a walk-through as a meeting on the field. The focus is on the cerebral aspect of the game, but the players are still on the field walking through plays with the same attention to detail as they would have in a conventional full-pads, full-speed session.

“I think the walk-throughs are invaluable, I really do,” offensive coordinator Shane Steichen said. “Because you get so many reps in those walk-throughs, and you can give multiple looks. There are all these problem solvings that you’ve got to have. You can give them a base look, but you want to give them multiple looks in those walk-throughs so when they come up in practice or in the game we are ready for them. It's been really valuable.”

Piano teachers preach the importance of learning a piece by playing it repeatedly very slowly. Once you master it playing slowly, it's easy to speed it up.

The same principle is at work here.

Learn it slowly, execute it quickly.

“For us, we think they’re really important,” Goedert said. “It might not be full speed on our body, giving us a chance to recover a little bit that way, but it’s definitely full speed mentally. Want to make sure all the splits are right on where they’re supposed to be, everybody’s first two steps are right where they’re supposed to be. If you can line up and know your assignment, shoot, it puts you halfway there.”

Maybe the biggest proponent of walk-throughs on the team is Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay, the Eagles’ MVP last year.

“That’s more time I really get to focus in and lock in on stuff,” Slay said. “Asking questions during the play. Repeat it if we need it, because in a live practice you can’t repeat plays.

“I take walk-throughs way more seriously than a normal dude.”

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