1. After Kelly finalizes his coaching staff, much of the attention will shift towards the quarterback position. You know the options by now. Nick Foles and Michael Vick are currently on the roster. The Eagles could add a signal-caller such as Alex Smith via trade or free agency. And they could also look to add a QB in the draft.
“You really do have to look at that position long and hard,” Kelly said, when asked about drafting a quarterback. “Sometimes, guys get overlooked. Russell [Wilson] went in the third round. Tom Brady went in the sixth round. The problem I think people have is when they try to find the next one. That’s where you’ve got to catch yourself. You’ve got to have a standard of what you’re looking for and see if the people match up to it.”
That goes hand-in-hand with what we wrote about earlier this week. Kelly comes to the NFL with specific traits (and even measurements) he’s looking for at each position. He’s on record as saying he wants a quarterback with big hands. And he’d obviously prefer one who can at least present the threat of running.
Howie Roseman said Kelly had “deal-breakers” at certain positions. We’ll find out in the coming months what those might be. But Kelly made clear that he won’t force a quarterback pick early.
“If there’s no one there, and there’s value to take a defensive back, I don’t think you should reach [just to pick one],” he said.
2. Some have wondered whether the Eagles are falling behind in the personnel-evaluation process this offseason. It’s Jan. 30, and they don’t have a coaching staff in place. The combine is in a few weeks (Feb. 20), and free agency starts on March 12.
But Kelly and Roseman aren’t concerned. One reason is that even coaches who are heavily involved in the personnel process don’t start thinking about the draft and free agency until January. Weekly game-planning during the season just doesn’t allow for it. It’s a different story for the GM though.
“We try, and myself, I try to get as many, if not all of the players that we have graded in the first six rounds on film before we came here,” Roseman said.
“When you talk about coaches and the evaluation process, it kicks into high gear after the season anyway. So this really is the start of the evaluation process for coaches.”
While Kelly might have just gotten started, it’s clear that his first priority is to churn film on the players currently on the Eagles’ roster. I’m sure he’ll talk to Roseman and others within the organization, but listening to Kelly, I really got the sense that he wants to form his own opinions without outside influences.
“I love watching film, so I’ll try to get everything,” Kelly said, when asked how much of each player he plans on watching. “Obviously, with some guys that have been in the league for 10-plus years, that would make it kind of difficult. Our video department has been great. [For example] If you’re a defensive back, there’s point of attack plays. There’s a lot of different things that are involved with it, but that’s a fun part.”
3. To me, the most fascinating aspect of Kelly’s transition is not what offensive scheme he’ll install, but rather how he’ll run practices. We wrote about this last week. Kelly said he realizes he’ll need to adjust, but the up-tempo practice sessions were a huge part of his program at Oregon.
“In our practice, everything was about the minor details,” said Oregon running back Kenjon Barner. “Nothing was about the big things. The minor things make up for the big things. Attention to detail is key in all of our practices.”
Kelly also pushes the concept that practices are for reps, not verbal instruction.
“As fast as we go in practice, you don’t really have time to correct right then and there because you’re on to the next play,” Barner said. “We take care of everything else in the film room. When we get together in meetings, we take care of all that.”
But how will that translate to the NFL? It’s not as if the practices and games are unrelated. Kelly ran practices a certain way so that Oregon would have advantages during games. You would think if he loses one part, he loses the other.
“I’d put money on the fact that we got more snaps a day than anybody in the country,” said Oregon offensive lineman Kyle Long. “And I feel like, in large part, that reflects how well we were conditioned come Saturdays.”
4. Throughout the coaching process, we’ve emphasized the importance of finding someone who could adapt to personnel. That’s a major question with Kelly. He’s said all the right things, but we still need to wait and see what he actually does.
While tweaking scheme to personnel is crucial, remember that Kelly is also trying to build a program and bring on players who will fit. It’s a long-term plan being orchestrated by a guy who has only lost seven games in the past four seasons.
“There’s two things you’ve got to be conscious of,” Kelly said. “How do we build this to make it look like the way we want it to look like? But you may not get there to exactly how you want it to look. That doesn’t mean we’re not going to try to win every single game we play. So it’s a process.”
Kelly scoffed at the idea of bringing in coaches who were familiar with his scheme. Instead, it appears that Pat Shurmur, someone with a different background, will be his offensive coordinator. Asked if he’s used west-coast concepts in the past, Kelly said, “Yeah, everybody has. That’s the unique thing. If you weren’t in the room with Amos Alonzo Stagg and Knute Rockne, then you stole it from somebody.
“We didn’t invent this. They were running the no-huddle a long time ago. The Buffalo Bills ran this offense a long time ago. Sam Wyche did it with the Cincinnati Bengals. It’s just trying to figure out what your team does well. And that was a strength of us at Oregon. Is it going to be a strength of us in Philadelphia? I don’t know our personnel well enough to say that. But we don’t play until September, so I hope that between now and then, I’ve got enough prep time to figure that out.”
5. I’m anxious to see how Kelly handles discipline. Kelly is described as a players’ coach, but he certainly had to deal with some off-the-field issues at Oregon.
Perhaps more important is how he deals with on-field mistakes.
“Oh, he can get on you,” Long said. “[But] he would never degrade a player publicly. All of his criticism is constructive. Everything he says has a reason behind it.”
That goes along with what we wrote about yesterday. Kelly believes in explaining the methods to his madness. He encourages the “Why?” questions.
“If I miss a block or something, he’ll say, ‘Hey Kyle, make sure you’re going to him, not him.’ And that’s that,” Long said. “Then he expects you to get it.”
And if you don’t?
“Just like any business, productivity is key. And if you don’t produce, then you won’t have an opportunity to be part of the machine.”