Posted by Jeff:
This past Monday at the NovaCare Complex in south Philly, the Eagles players and their new head coach, Chip Kelly, dominated sports headlines as they worked together for the first time during their organized team activities (OTA). It was the first time, through the eyes of the press that we had the chance to see what former the Oregon head coach could bring to the NFL. Perhaps just as notable as the activities on the field were the manner in which the press was drooling during the OTA’s over Twitter. Anyone could tell from his tweets that reporter Jeff McLane loved the atmosphere. After having been shut out of OTA’s practices for well over a decade under Andy Reid, the press finally had the opportunity to see what Kelly and his staff has brought to the Eagles.
We’ve wanted a glimpse into whether Kelly’s brand, coaching style and practice format might transform pro football for years and years to come. After only one day of OTA’s, it seems highly possible that may happen.
There was the infamous loud music. AC/DC, Van Halen, 50 Cent, Black Sabbath, Foo Fighters, Nas, D.J. Tiesto, Dropkick Murphy’s, and Queen were a few artists to blare through the speakers pointed directly onto the field. The idea, from what OT Jason Peters has said, is to bring distractions to practice that’ll help prepare the team for playing away games. The noise, disturbance and commotion are obviously part of a plan to keep precise disciple at the forefront of playing football. Mr. Kelly says there’s a great deal of science behind the music. I hope we, as fans, are able to understand this down the road.
For true football fans, we wanted to hear and read about the fast-paced tempo of practice that is supposed to set this team apart from others. There are 21 “periods” of play running and work that last anywhere from five to ten minutes apiece. Everyone is involved and has the same timeframe and chance to make an impact during practices. Kelly likes to run approximately 70 4-second plays to prepare the team for real-time conditions. If there’s a mistake, it’s not immediately discussed or even corrected on the field. Learning from the mistakes is corrected within “teaching” periods away from the field. This is quite the contrast to the Reid era.
Actually, everything is quite the contrast to the Reid era. Everything from what the guy’s put into their stomachs, to the signals on the field, to the music, to the players knowing more than just their own positions. After talking to the press, WR’s DeSean Jackson said he now has to know the other wideout’s patterns, not just his own, and thus, the overall concept of the offense. He only ever needed to know the Z wide receiver position. Now, he has to understand the X, A and Y receiving routes on the same play.
Speaking of DeSean, it was nice to hear he was back taking punt returns on special teams. Those who have said playing him on special teams is too much of a risk don’t know what they’re talking about. Putting your very best players with attributes to gain yards, score points and win games is the goal. Especially when a guy with Jackson’s speed (and contract dollars) requires more than just route running.
Listen, the show Kelly gave the press and others in attendance was very cool and completely different from what we’ve been used to for years. And honestly, I don’t think we’ve seen anything yet. Kelly’s not going to show all of his cards this early. However, as excited as many of us are, there is one reality we must keep in mind. There simply isn’t a long list of successful NFL coaches who’ve never taken a pro snap nor had prior professional coaching experience. As fans, many of us love what we’ve seen so far in these OTA’s, but let’s wait and see what training camp and what the beginning of this 2013 season brings. This Eagles team obviously has a long way to go from what they’ve been the past couple of seasons, but it’s a lot of fun, thus far, watching this change and overhaul.