Eagles Wake-Up Call: ‘Science Over Tradition’ With Kelly

When told last week that Chip Kelly had hired a sports science coordinator on the Eagles’ staff, Oregon running back Kenjon Barner was not the least bit surprised.

“He was huge with science over tradition,” Barner said. “Everything that we did at Oregon was based on science.”

Such as?

“How we practiced, what time we ended practice, what time we started practice, what time we ended meetings, what time we ate, how we rehabbed, just everything was based on science,” Barner explained. “He was huge on science, always looking something up, always bringing some type of fact or number to us in a meeting. He’s huge on that.”

Shaun Huls, the sports science coordinator, was not available when the Eagles introduced their staff earlier this month, so we’ll have to wait to find out what exactly his plans are.

But the “science over tradition” mantra has already made its way to Eagles players. During a phone interview last month, center Jason Kelce mentioned that specific part of Kelly’s philosophy when I asked him about the new head coach.

“I’ll do pretty much anything a coach tells me to do. That’s kind of how I’m wired,” Kelce said. “But I’ve been with both realms of that where you kind of have the old-school coach who says, ‘Listen, I’m doing it this way because it’s the way I’ve always done it. And I’ve done it for 50 years this way and I know it works.’ It’s an awful way to motivate a player.

“You take something and you explain it to him. ‘We’re doing it this way because scientifically it’s been proven to lead to this.’ You give them examples and stuff like that. Naturally, people are going to buy in. People want to be better – not just in football. And if you have a plan set out of things that are proven, it will naturally motivate people more.”

By all accounts, that’s exactly the way Kelly plans to run things.

“The players today do not do it ‘because I told you so,’ ” he said during a coaches’ clinic in 2011. “We do not live in that society anymore. Some of us grew up in it, but it does not work anymore. Players today want to know why. Tell them why. If you do not have a good reason why we do things, we probably should not be doing them.”

WHAT YOU MISSED

Here is Mike Mayock’s take on a few key Eagles-related draft questions.

Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner answered questions about his speed yesterday. Could he be an option for the Birds at No. 4?

How might the Eagles’ current pieces fit in a 3-4 or 4-3 under scheme? Here’s a player-by-player look.

A look at free-agent defensive tackles, courtesy of T-Mac.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Brian Solomon over at McNabbOrKolb.com makes the case for Cedric Thornton to have a role going forward:

The question in my mind is Thornton. Jim Washburn liked him because he, like Cox, had inside pass-rushing skills. But breaking down the numbers, Thornton was actually a better run defender in his first extended NFL action. At 6’4″, 309 lbs, he’s a physically-gifted player. You could slot him in as Fletcher Cox’s backup easily and hope that enables more pressure. But why not give him a shot at the 3-4 style strongside end? That position values run-stopping first, and Thornton can do that already. When the nose tackle comes off the field on passing downs, he can slide inside and provide interior pressure. With the old guys out of the way, that seems like a move that could maximize current talent in 2013 and beyond.

Jimmy Kempski at Blogging the Beast found that the Eagles have only drafted one offensive lineman in the first three rounds since 2008:

The Eagles were always known for drafting OL talent under Andy Reid, and to some degree that’s true. If you look at the chart above, you’ll see that no teams drafted more total offensive linemen than them over the last 5 years. However, they did not use high picks on the OL during that span. Only two teams (the Cardinals and Titans) drafted fewer offensive linemen (0) in the first 3 rounds than the Eagles (1). And that “1″ was Danny Watkins.

COMING UP

Draft talk, free agency talk and more.

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  • http://twitter.com/nielsrosenquist Niels Rosenquist

    Man I’m getting excited about Kelly. The “I told you so” stuff is such nonsense when motivating people. If we can have a couple of decent off-seasons (draft and signings) and some lucky bounces we could….never mind, I almost forgot I’m an Eagles fan.

  • PaoliBulldog

    A coach who can explain why (s)he wants something done in a particular way not only shows respect for the player but also accelerates the learning process. Once you understand the “why,” you’ll always remember the “what.”

  • JofreyRice

    I’m all for giving Thornton a shot at the strongside end, but I’d like to see them hedge the bet by adding a huge guy from the draft in the mid-rounds. Thornton looked a lot better in the preseason than he did in the regular season–I wouldn’t be too comfortable just handing him the job, I liked the idea of him and Cullen Jenkins fighting for the spot. Kwame Geathers from UGA, Devin Taylor for S. Carolina would both be good competition to bring in, and both fit the long, tall thing that Kelly’s looking for.

    • Will

      Cullen Jenkins was released in the last week or so.

  • http://twitter.com/ChurroTom Churro Tom

    “Jimmy Kempski at Blogging the Beast found that the Eagles have only drafted one offensive lineman in the first three rounds since 2008:”

    No they didn’t.

    • goeagles55

      “No they didn’t.”
      Yes they did.

      Last non-firefighter O-lineman picked in first three rounds was Winston “turnstile” Justice in 2006.

  • ICDogg

    The Eagles did invest another 1st round pick in an O-lineman, though, when they traded for Peters.

  • meangene

    Hearing the coach of my favorite team saying stuff like that quote from the coaching clinic at the end of the piece is just…hard to put into words how happy that makes me as a fan. I believe in you Chip Kelly let’s do this!!!