Doug Pederson had trouble getting to sleep Sunday night and then was awakened early by the line of thunderstorms that blew through the area, but it wasn't as if he was going to sleep in anyway.
"I've been through this so many times. Fourteen years as a player, and this is my eighth as a coach. Twenty-two years doing this, and it never gets dull," Pederson said. "The first day is always exciting. It's almost like a little kid."
Finding the real excitement at the opening of training camp on Monday wasn't that easy, particularly after one had hurdled the police barricades and avoided the prying gaze of those secret black helicopters in the sky.
Within the peaceful, green space of the NovaCare fields, everything was predictable and calm. The players, most of whom are not destined for long careers in the National Football League, executed non-contact drills under the searing sun that had very little relation to the strains of actual football. Come Saturday, two days after the full squad reports, the Eagles will put on full pads and start tackling to the ground. If you think Pederson was excited for Monday's appetizer, wait until then.
School is back in session and, with Pederson, is it old school. There will be hitting and plenty of it. There will be instruction on the field rather than the frenetic practice pace under Chip Kelly in which repetitions were collected like Pokemon, blindly and without pause. There is still a musical component to some of the practices, but it is little more than a low, thumping beat now, a muzzled growl compared to the full-throated roar of a year ago.
"You've got to pace yourself. It's a long camp, and you have to take it day by day," Pederson said. "But I was excited to pull into work this morning."
We're about seven weeks from the start of the regular season, and Pederson got a healthy dose of the questions he will be answering between now and then. Guess what most of them were about.
Pederson laid out the rough parameters of the team's unique quarterback situation. Sam Bradford is the starter and will be until he isn't. Chase Daniel is the backup. Carson Wentz is a pupil in the class, and if everything goes perfectly this season, he'll never put on a game-day uniform.
"Sam's the guy. Sam's the guy. I'll stick to that," Pederson said. "Chase is No. 2, and Carson is No. 3."
Pederson said he wouldn't try to predict the future. Things change. Circumstances are altered. People get hurt. Games are won or lost. Everything that seems apparent at the end of July could be different by October or November or even September. So, while the plan might be to "red-shirt" Wentz, plans are fluid, and the flow could move in a different direction any time.
"I can't speculate that far out," Pederson said, asked if Carson would ever dress this season. "Going into the season, there's a good chance it starts that way."
There's also a good chance the Eagles will keep Pederson from sleeping on other nights but not for the same reason. In order to move up in the draft to land Wentz, and in order to move past some of the talent and contracts of the Kelly era, Pederson has been dealt less than a full hand by general manager Howie Roseman.
It won't become apparent to most of us how many cards are missing until the games begin. The coaches will have a pretty good idea before that, and eventually Pederson will have to answer for things that aren't necessarily his fault. That's what comes with being the head coach, however, and on this sunny day in July with nothing but promise and optimism ahead, he was fine with that bargain.
"I wanted to be here extremely early," he said.
Pederson didn't sound as if, Sam Bradford aside, he was all that anxious to see Wentz in a real game sooner than later. He mentioned twice that the rookie needs schooling on his footwork, on his drop from center, and on how his eyes surf the progressions on the field.
"Little things," Pederson said, but, other than throwing the football, that sounds like a fairly complete reading of the to-do list.
Throwing the football isn't a problem for Wentz, but against non-existent or phantom defenses on Monday, Bradford and Daniel both looked like All-Pros as well. The receivers, whoever they were, caught everything, and the encouragement of the coaches could be heard above the moaning bass notes coming from the speakers and the chatter of helicopter blades overhead.
Everyone was excited to get going. The franchise had endured a three-year thunderstorm that shook the trees to their roots, but now it was morning and a new day. Doug Pederson was almost the first one in the parking lot. The trick for any head coach, of course, is to avoid being the first one out.