Will they be ready? Can they be ready?
The 2021 Eagles open the regular season in 13 days in Atlanta, and they’ll do it with their 22 projected starters playing a total of 325 preseason snaps and only seven of them playing more than 10 preseason snaps: WRs Quez Watkins and Jalen Reagor, LBs Alex Singleton and Eric Wilson, DBs Steve Nelson and Anthony Harris and OT Jordan Mailata.
Nick Sirianni isn’t the only NFL head coach that believes NFL players need very little playing time in the preseason games. But he has taken that philosophy to an extreme, and for a first-year head coach with a young quarterback this approach is unusual.
Why? It's all about the joint practices.
For the first time in franchise history, the Eagles participated in two sets of joint practices, and Sirianni believes the work they got with the Patriots and Jets rendered the preseason games unnecessary for most starters.
Will it work? We'll know next month.
But Sirianni is confident his team will be ready for regular-season football even though the starters watched most of the preseason games from the sidelines.
“This was a physical training camp,” Sirianni said. “Those guys practiced hard. I know there were times we were on the field for an hour and 15, times we were an hour and a half, times we were an hour and 45, times we were two hours, but we got a lot of work done. The only way you’re getting better every day is if you’re practicing hard and you’re going full speed. I believe that we did that the four weeks of training camp and got better every day.
“Now, it’s, ‘Hey, we’ve got another week of that to get ourselves ready, we’ve got another two weeks before we have to play, so let’s just stay on that course and continue to get better, continue to get better, continue to get better, so (we’re ready) once we stepped into Atlanta.”
The joint practices were intense and high-energy. They were definitely a higher level of work than the Eagles get by themselves.
But they’re not games.
Sirianni said he didn't decide not to play most of the starters against the Jets until after the second day of joint practices.
“Everything was evaluated,” he said after the game Friday. “Even at the practice with the Patriots, we had intentions of playing (the starters) in that game. Everything was on a case-by-case basis. … We got a lot of work done against (the Jets). I know we’re leaving New York a better team than when we came to New York. We feel like we got the work done that we needed to. Nothing was final until after that (Wednesday) practice and we were like, ‘We’re probably good, we don’t need to see them (in the game).’
“You guys were at that practice against the Jets that second day. Even the first day, that was a hard, physical practice. To me, the way we played that practice was a game. The way we played that practice was a game. And we treated the post-practice just like we would treat a post-game. When we came in and evaluated, we did the whole film session and the charts we look at just like a post-game."
Is Sirianni a visionary or did he totally misread where his football team is? Somewhere in between?
We'll know soon.
“To me, you don’t ever come off of two days, rest (for a day) and play another game," he said. "So I didn’t think that would be good for our guys health-wise and I felt good about where we were, and that was the decision I made.”
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