Eagles Wake-Up Call: Chip Kelly’s Plan For Practices

During Chip Kelly’s time at Oregon, his practices became the stuff of legend.

From a November article by Chris Brown of Grantland.com:

For all of the hype surrounding Oregon games, Oregon practices might be even better. Oregon practices are filled with blaring music and players sprinting from drill to drill. Coaches interact with players primarily through whistles, air horns, and semi-communicative grunts. Operating under the constraint of NCAA-imposed practice time limits, Kelly’s sessions are designed around one thing: maximizing time. Kelly’s solution is simple: The practice field is for repetitions. Traditional “coaching” — correcting mistakes, showing a player how to step one way or another, or lecturing on this or that football topic — is better served in the film room.

But will those methods translate to the NFL? We asked Kelly how his practices at this level will differ from the ones at Oregon.

“It really depends on how many guys you have,” Kelly said. “So obviously, training camp’s going to be different because you’ve got more guys there. And then when you get in during the season, you’ve got 61 guys, counting your practice squad, but not everybody’s healthy. A lot of times, that becomes a daily adjustment.

“How do you plan, and how do you make it efficient so when you play on Sunday that you’re the freshest team out there? That’s kind of the key.”

The concern voiced by Kelly’s doubters is that he’ll expect to take what he did at Oregon, plant it in the NFL and hope that everything works. But clearly, that’s not the case. Kelly has constantly preached the need to match scheme to personnel.

And he’s also obviously putting a lot of thought into how to run practices with different rules and roster limits.

“I think you have to adjust to the numbers,” he said. “We obviously had more numbers in college. The Philadelphia Eagles are a football team, not a cross-country team. If we go at the pace that we practiced at at Oregon, then we’d have a real good cross-country team. We’re not playing in Valley Forge Park. We’re playing in the Linc, so it’s got to be an adjustment. I’m aware of it, and I’ve studied it, and I’m really trying to formulate that whole idea of how we’re going to do it.”

The Eagles won’t practice for a few months. We’ll see what Kelly comes up with.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Is Kelly closer to finalizing his staff? Here’s the latest from Mobile.

Kelly and Nick Saban connected at the Senior Bowl.

Giants linebackers coach Jim Herrmann withdrew his name from consideration for the defensive coordinator job.

Here are five playoff observations with an Eagles slant.

Joe Banner says he felt like Kelly was too much of a gamble.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Tony Dungy, whose son played for Kelly, talked to SI.com’s Peter King about the new Eagles head coach:

“He’ll be good,” Dungy said. “One of the things everybody’s getting wrong is that he has to coach one way. Not true. He’ll adjust. I think he’ll be able to win in a lot of ways. I think the offense he’ll run will be very similar to what Buffalo ran with Jim Kelly, the K-gun. High-pace, fast tempo. His thing is tempo, and making a defense respond to what he’s doing. Say it’s 3rd-and-5, and you have all these tendencies from watching his offense — what they’ll do on 3rd-and-5. But your pre-snap stuff is out the window because their tempo isn’t going to give you time to substitute or to think that much. The thing with Chip is it’s not just the scheme or the plays he’s running. His detail work is strong. He outhustles, outpaces, out-thinks people. His practices are so fast. His team gets used to doing everything at a faster pace.”

Jim Washburn apparently has found a home:

COMING UP

We’re back at it from Mobile. If McManus starts saying “y’all” today, I’ll know it’s time to head North.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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