The changes Chip Kelly is implementing extend well beyond the locker room shake-up.
One area where players are already noticing a difference is in the weight room.
“The weight conditioning is a little bit more up-tempo than it was under [previous strength and conditioning coach] Barry Rubin,” said center Jason Kelce during Thursday’s fund-raiser for the Herremans Foundation. “I think that part of the reason why is because we’re going to run up-tempo. Instead of being able to relax and just kind of walk around the weight room and do your lifts, it’s more at a steady pace where you have a set amount of time rest period. I think the receivers and those guys might be doing a little bit more conditioning. They know they’re in for a lot of running in this offense.”
While Kelly has been reluctant to detail exactly which aspects he’s bringing with him from Oregon, by all accounts, speed and tempo will be big parts of the Eagles’ program.
Players have been allowed only minimal contact with Kelly on football-related matters, but they are preparing to be pushed during spring practices.
“It’s going to be very intense, is what I’m expecting,” said offensive lineman Todd Herremans. “But I think that April 2nd, we’re going to start our training sessions, and that is going to be simulating what we’re going to be doing in practice and in the games. It’s going to be pretty intense. Constantly going, you’re going through one drill, and then you’re going to jog to the next one, and then you do that, and then you jog to the next one. So you’re constantly moving, and he’s basically probably going to get us in the best shape of our life.
Asked what he’s doing to prepare for the new pace, tight end Brent Celek said, “Just run as much as you can. Just try to stay in shape from when the season ended. That way, it’s easier. I think that no matter what, when we go out there for that first practice, we’re all going to be hurting because the new tempo is probably going to be getting all of us. You’re going to learn on the run. No matter how hard you try to train for it, I don’t think you can probably train for his tempo.”
The one question that will be asked repeatedly is: Will the players buy in?
Kelly’s answer in the past has been that as long as everyone is interested in winning, getting guys on board won’t be an issue. He was described at Oregon as a players’ coach. And several of his former players have even referred to him as a genius.
One key aspect of his philosophy is that Kelly and his staff believe in providing thorough explanations for everything they do, something Eagles players already seem to appreciate.
“There’s a lot of strength coaches that have been here that don’t really let you know why you’re doing some of the stuff, but everything he tells you, there’s a reason why you’re doing it,” said Herremans.
“I think the vast majority of the guys are all for anything he’s trying to do,” added Kelce. “I feel like everybody’s kind of bought in at this point. As with anything, any type of change, you’re going to have a few guys that don’t like it, but they usually come on about two or three weeks later and are fine with it, so it’ll be good.”