Aug 272010

Eagles re-focus on strength and conditioning in the weight room

August 26 Philadelphia Daily News

“WHEN THE Cowboys physically dominated the Eagles up front in those back-to-back blowouts that killed what had been a promising 2009 season, the Birds didn’t bring in a whole bunch of bigger, stronger offensive and defensive line starters. That kind of change is hard to effect overnight.

They did change their strength and conditioning coach, and the philosophy behind their offseason workout program.

Mike Wolf had been in that spot for 15 years, and was named NFL strength and conditioning coach of the year in 2001 by his peers. But you started hearing last season about players going to outside trainers and touting the results – several were working with Steve Saunders in Cherry Hill – and then when the Eagles got pushed around by a team they are going to have to play twice a year every year, well, change was in the air.

“To be honest with you, coaches, I guess, felt like some of the games we lost, we got outphysicaled,” wideout Jeremy Maclin said yesterday. “We weren’t going to do that this year. That’s one of the things we wanted to kind of focus on, and I think we definitely hit that.”

Barry Rubin, an assistant to Wolf the past two seasons, took over the head job in January with a mandate to move more toward the free-weight strength program Rubin ran when he was the Packers’ strength coach, from 1999-2005, and away from fancy weight room machines.

Neither Rubin nor anyone else around the team is willing to directly fault Wolf or his approach, but the fact remains that a change was made, for a reason.

“Mike did a phenomenal job the 11 years he was with me,” Eagles coach Andy Reid said yesterday. “Barry uses a little more free weight. The one thing, the influx of young players that we’ve had here, I thought we’d change and do a little more with the free weights. I’d just say it’s a combination of things, with the influx of these young guys, knowing that they’re going to get an opportunity to come in and play for us, and then the younger players we [already] had on the team, their increased strength. That’s really the direction we’re going with.

“It’s what I did as a player [at Brigham Young] and then as a coach in Green Bay. At the same time, Wolfie had great success here. But I just kind of wanted to get back to that.”

Rubin, 53, presides over a weight room reconfigured to his specifications, dominated by seven big lifting platforms, each adorned with an Eagles logo set into a hardwood surface, below a barbell rack. The back area of each setup features a bench for free-weight pressing.

“Those things, you can bench, you can squat, you can power-clean, you can lat-pull. Those things have pretty much everything; it’s like a home gym in a little box,” center Jamaal Jackson said.”

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