In a weird twist, the Eagles have the ability to show plays and reveal formations and schemes in joint practices that they can't in a preseason game.
Another reason joint practices are more interesting to watch than preseason games and give both teams better work than preseason games.
Coaches can run anything they want in joint practices secure in the knowledge that 31 other teams aren’t watching.
Only one is watching and they're sworn to secrecy.
It’s all because preseason games are on TV and joint practices aren’t.
The Eagles on Tuesday finished two very productive days of joint practices with the Patriots, who they’ll face in a preseason game at the Linc on Thursday. Next week, the Eagles will be in Florham Park, N.J., for joint practices with the Jets on Tuesday and Wednesday in advance of their preseason game at the Meadowlands on Friday.
“There's only two teams that see this, ourselves and the Patriots or ourselves and the Jets,” Sirianni said. “We are very professional with them and they are very professional with us knowing we want to continue this relationship with both the Jets and the Patriots, so whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, right?”
In other words, film of these last couple days of practices stays with the Eagles and Patriots. Even if Bill Belichick is friends with a coach whose team faces the Eagles this year, under the Eagles’ agreement with the Patriots he won’t share video of the practices or details of any plays or formations with the other coach.
They're on the honor system here, so there's a high level of trust between the teams.
“Whatever happens on these practice fields stays here,” Sirianni said. “We're able to do a little bit more than what we do in a preseason game at this particular point because not all 32 teams get to see it.”
The Eagles have been participating in joint practices since 1986, when Buddy Ryan’s Eagles went to Oakland, Mich., to work with the Lions for a few days.
But this is the first time they’ve participated in two sets of joint practices in one summer, which shows you how strongly Sirianni feels about them.
Coaches love joint practices because they get to see their players against a different opponent instead of someone they know well, and they can control all the situations. And players love them because they break up the monotony of training camp and get their competitive juices flowing.
As the NFL trends away from preseason games — four down to three this year, and presumably two soon — joint practices are going to fill the void.
NFL teams can request preseason opponents with the intention of holding joint practices leading up to the game, and generally the league accommodates those requests when possible.
Most of the time joint practices are between teams that don’t play in the regular season and that are fairly close geographically. The Eagles and Jets do play, but Sirianni said the late date of that game — Dec. 5 — allows the two teams to train together in August.
“They’re going to have 13 games on us before we go play them, so that was a discussion and we talked about that,” he said. “Coach (Robert) Saleh and I talked about that and said, ‘Hey, we want to do this, but if we play too early in the season, it doesn't make sense.’
“When the schedule came out and it was Week 13, maybe we will go back and watch the tape and maybe they will go back and watch the tape, but you're kind of who you are at that time and they have a lot of other film to watch. That's why we are not as concerned about that.”