Once again this spring, Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni opted to go with a lighter, more player-friendly set of OTAs than Birds’ teams had in years passed. When players gathered at the beginning of the month for these off-season workouts, Philadelphia was one of just two teams to hold as few as six practices, as well as no mandatory minicamp this spring.
Sirianni could have had as many as 13 practices over four weeks — 10 voluntary practices with a three-day mandatory minicamp, but chose to scale it back even more in order to avoid injuries.
Critics argue the lack of contact and time on the field will leave players unprepared when the regular season bell rings, especially now that most starters simply do not play in preseason games. Add in a 17th game during the regular season and some worry it’s just too little off-season work.
It’s a stark contrast to two other teams in their division — the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Commanders — both of whom were fined and disciplined for violating OTA rules outlined in the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Dallas coach Mike McCarthy was fined $100,000 for running a practice that was deemed “too physical.”
For the second straight year Mike McCarthy was fined by the NFL for having practices that were deemed too physical, according to owner Jerry Jones. After being fined $50,000 last year, McCarthy was docked $100,000 and the Cowboys have lost an organized team activity for 2023.
— Todd Archer (@toddarcher) June 16, 2022
No one outside the Cowboys knows exactly what it was the NFL deemed “too physical,” but as Blogging the Boys noted recently, there was an altercation between players during one practice.
For what it’s worth, there was a recent report of rookie defensive tackle John Ridgeway getting into it with second-year offensive tackle Josh Ball. Perhaps that is what set off alarms for the NFL as a whole.
Meanwhile down in DC, head coach Ron Rivera was also fined $100,000 and the team has lost two OTA sessions next year as a result. Last week, Rivera angrily ranted at his players after a hit by safety Jeremy Reaves on WR Dyami Brown.
We all know about the Reaves hit. Forrest rocked Harmon at one point too. Overall, that physicality costs the Commanders cash and reps (in 2023) https://t.co/Aw2cu6kWQM
— Pete Hailey (@PeteHaileyNBCS) June 17, 2022
Brown stayed down on the field for a few minutes but was otherwise OK, a lucky break for the Commanders.
As for the Giants, new head coach Brian Daboll appears, like Sirianni, to be erring on the side of caution with regard to forgoing pads and contact, but conducted 10 OTA practices in all, a handful more than the Eagles.
The Eagles are banking on fewer OTAs and lighter practices without pads will help them avoid situations like this and, as a result, they don’t run the risk of getting fined or losing OTAs next season. Rivera and McCarthy are old-school coaches and are likely to change the way they handle the off-season anytime soon, and it remains to be seen if one method is better than the other.
It’s just interesting the divergent paths the Eagles have taken from two of their other rivals in the division.
For more division discussion, check out the latest episode of The NFC East Mixtape.