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NFL AM: Eagles Coordinators Say Don’t Assume Bradford Is The Starter

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Eagles OC Frank Reich say there will be competition at quarterback:

It wasn’t as much of a needle mover on Tuesday when new Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz made a comment about the quarterback position, but when new defensive coordinator Frank Reich doubled down on Schwartz’s comments Wednesday on the 94WIP morning show.

Tuesday Schwartz got the ball rolling Tuesday when he used the word race to describe what’s going on at quarterback when lauding rookie signal caller Carson Wentz.

“Don’t judge (Carson Wentz) on somebody else and then also, don’t predetermine the results of the race,” Schwartz said. “Just let him go play.”

While the comments of a defensive coordinator might not convince you that there might be competition at quarterback, the comments by Reich made the competition seem much more real, despite the fact that the Eagles have been adamant that the depth chart (at least for now) is Sam Bradford, then Chase Daniels before Wentz.

When asked if Bradford was the clear No.1 quarterback on 94WIP Wednesday, Reich wasn’t nearly ready to hand the whiny quarterback the job.

“No, that’s probably not the right impression,” Reich said. “I’ve been around this business a long time as a player and as a coach, and one of the things I’ve really come to appreciate is it’s not a contradiction to say you’ve got to have order. Because if you don’t order it’s chaos. So, if you’re the head coach you gotta come in and you’ve gotta establish order. There has to be organization, there has to be order, but the other thing that — as coaches — that you’ve got to establish is a culture of competition. This is one of the most competitive industries in the world and so, to say that there’s not competition, that’s just the furthest thing from the truth.”

“So, I don’t see the problem with creating order and competition at the same time, personally,” Reich continued. “Every one of us as a coach and a player, you’re working harder to get better, but in that process you have to establish order and things have a way of working themselves out.”

Of course all of this stems from the fact that, as Bradford has acknowledged, whether it’s sooner or later, this will eventually be Wentz’s team. While it seems Reich and Doug Pederson aren’t ready to just hand the kid the keys to the car as many top-5 selected quarterbacks, eventually might be a lot sooner than later.

“He’s got a contagious personality, he’s a winner, incredibly smart,” Reich said of Wentz. “For a young guy, about as smart as you could be. Showed all the right signs in every way.”

Ben Roethlisberger disappointed he won’t have Martavis Bryant:

The Pittsburgh Steelers offense hopes to do special things in 2016, but they’ll have to do it without one of their top wide outs as Martavis Bryant is suspended for the season because of pot.

We won’t spend much time on how bizarre it is that a quarterback who has been suspended for likely doing some pretty horrific things to women commenting about how he’ll be without his teammate for an entire season for grass, but it is bizarre.  Or at least it should be.

Regardless, the Steelers quarterback spoke Tuesday about how disappointed he is to be without Bryant, despite suggesting he believes the Steelers can still put up 30 points per contest.

“I reached out to him a lot when it came to the off-the-field stuff the first time around,” Roethlisberger said. “It was very disappointing, and we will miss him.”

The Steelers will miss Bryant. Outside of all-planet wide out Antonio Brown, the suspended wide out is the team’s most talented receiver, and he’ll leave a hole in the offense some other guys will have to try and fill.

“He was a big weapon for us, obviously,” Roethlisberger said. “He is one of the best and had a chance to be one of the best in the NFL. He was growing and getting better. It hurts.”

As long as the NFL continues to suspend players for something as silly (and possibly helpful to their brains, maybe you should look into that NFL) as smoking marijuana, other guys will have to step up in their place. As Steelers wide out Markus Wheaton explained, Pittsburgh has guys ready to just that.

“This opens up a lot more opportunities, but it (stinks) that he is not out here,” Wheaton said of Bryant. “We wish Martavis was here. Only thing we can do is move on. We have a lot of hungry, willing and able guys.”

Tampa Bay Buccaneers move practice to the morning:

While there’s a lot of talk about how teams like the Miami Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have an advantage at home (despite all of their combined lack of success in recent years!) because of the heat that most of the league isn’t used to playing in.

However, what most people never consider is the accumulative effect of those teams having to practice in that heat all year and all week long leading up to the games. New Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter isn’t one of those people, as he explained on Tuesday that the team will practice in the morning all the way through the team’s fourth preseason game.

“We did a little study and in August when we’re out here it’s on average 11 degrees cooler at 8:45 a.m. than it is at 2:45 p.m., so I did quick Idaho State math [laughs] and figured that out and said, ‘Jeez, it’s 11 degrees cooler. Why don’t we practice in the morning?’, so it didn’t take a brain surgeon,” Koetter joked. “The last 10 years I’ve been coaching in the South I really do believe there is a cumulative effect over the course of the season, from August until the end of the year, when you’re out here, even if it’s for walkthrough at 12, 1, 2 [p.m.] and it’s 95 degrees and the sun is beating on you. I just think there’s a cumulative effect. We are going to do everything we can to try to chip away at that. There’s some things we can’t get away from, but we’re going to do what we can.”

On top of practicing earlier, the team will continue to look for ways to allow guys to stay cool and hydrated through the hot Florida practices as Koetter explained when asked if that’s why players were without helmets during certain portions of practice.

“That’s just one of those things that makes good common sense. If you can get a couple of 10 minutes periods in there where those guys can get those hats off – you guys can all feel for yourselves right now, it’s warm and it isn’t even humid yet. To get those helmets off for a couple periods, it just forces us to let them cooldown a little bit, but still try to get some work in.”

A change in practice habits and strategies will likely be the first of many differences between Koetter and his former boss Lovie Smith who often said, if you’re going to play in the afternoon, you should practice in the afternoon during his two years as Buccaneers head coach. Whether it’s stopping a player in the middle of an impassioned pre-game speech because of the use of some profanity, or running his players into the ground because, “we play in the afternoon,” it’s safe to say there are more than a couple of Lovie Smith mistakes that we won’t be seeing Koetter make in Tampa.


About Pat Donovan

Pat Donovan

Pat Donovan has covered the NFL for almost a decade and is a host and producer for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers radio flagship 620WDAE/95.3FM. Pat covers the NFC South and NFC East for Football Insiders. Follow him on Twitter, @PatDonovanNFL.