The player purge happened earlier this offseason, but the Eagles' decision to move away from sports science is a recent development. Until now, it looked as if it would be the only surviving remnant from the Kelly era, as the team retained the services of Kelly's sports science guru Shaun Huls (who's officially known as the director of sports science and reconditioning).
But after seeing Doug Pederson's comments from mandatory minicamp, it's become clear the new head coach is distancing himself from his predecessor, even if he's not entirely forbidding the use of sports science.
"A lot of that stuff has been cut way back," Pederson said, according to NJ.com. "I think it was introduced, and now, great, it was introduced. Now let's pull back on it. If guys want it, it's there available to them, but at the same time we're not going to force it down anybody's throat, so to speak."
"The availability is there. But it's been introduced to the team and they've been exposed to it for the last couple of years. At the end of the day, they're football players. And, again, it's that one-on-one communication. 'How are you feeling? Are you getting enough sleep? I can tell if you haven't slept last night.' It shows up. Out here, it's going to show up."
When Kelly, now the 49ers head coach, ran the Eagles, he used sleep monitors, "on-field GPS systems worn by the players during practice, protein-infused smoothies after practice, daily hydration tests and many ... other elements," as NJ.com's Matt Lombardo explained in his article. Instead, Pederson will rely on enhanced communication with his players, which allegedly wasn't Kelly's strong suit.
Again, this doesn't mean Pederson is banning the use of sports science. He just isn't making it a priority or requirement any more.
"We did GPS in Kansas City, we're going to do GPS here," Pederson said. "I think it's an accurate measure of how much a player might be running and moving around at practice. But ultimately, I'm going to come to you and go, 'How are you feeling? How are your hamstrings today?' 'I feel great, coach.' 'Well, your numbers say this, but how are you feeling?' 'I'm a little nicked.' ...
"You can't just go off a chart, I don't think, and say, 'He's running a little bit too much. He's doing something that he shouldn't.' But those are all communication things, and with myself, Shaun and Josh, and the whole medical staff, we communicate those things, and we monitor a guy's progress just based on that."
It's unclear, however, why Pederson can't rely on both sports science, which would result in him having more information about his players, and communication, which can build healthy working relationships. The two don't seem mutually exclusive.
Kelly didn't fail in Philadelphia because he relied too heavily on sports science. He failed because his personnel moves flopped, which resulted in more losses than wins in his final season. Similarly, Pederson won't succeed solely based on his communication with his players. A ton of other factors -- like the health of his team, which sports science can positively impact -- will also play a role in his future successes and failures.