Kelly Sets Tempo During First Eagles’ Practice

Chip Kelly believes in two speeds: game speed and teach speed.

“If you’re going to do something else at any other speed, then why do it?” he said.

Sporting a green and white visor, a black sweatshirt, grey shorts and black Nikes, Kelly stood before a roomful of reporters and explained his philosophy, following his first practice as the Eagles’ head coach.

“We segment our practices in a certain manner,” he explained. “If we’re going to have a full-speed team period, then the next period after that is a teach period because we know we just can’t continue to go for 35 minutes straight of all team.

“Even though you change what the situation is, there still needs to be a break in there. We want our guys to understand to play at a game tempo, we have to kind of gear it like game tempo. Really, it’s short bursts, get in and get out, get your work done, and then let’s go back and teach mode.”

For the most part, it’s the same way Kelly ran practices at Oregon – music playing and maximum reps. The point of the three-day mini-camp is to set the tone for the months ahead. Kelly has players going through about 15 percent of the playbook so that they can move at a fast pace without getting confused. The next step is to watch film of practice, identify teaching points and get back on the field the next day.

In general, Kelly doesn’t anticipate his practices lasting as long as other teams in the NFL. But on the first day, the session started at 12:30 and went more than two hours.

“It’s not how much offense we get in at this point in time, because again, we’re not playing a game, but it’s can we get them out there so they can execute?” he said. “We’re not going to overload them so that we’re not getting any plays run both offensively and defensively. We’re giving them enough where they can execute, enough where we can vary and handle the situations that we’re in, but not so much that we’ve just overloaded ourselves.”

While the first regular-season game will not be played for another five months, this is the start of the build-up. Efficiency and preparation are cornerstones of Kelly’s philosophy. The last thing he wants to do is put a player in an unfamiliar situation during a game.

“I’m just not that confident calling a play that we practiced seven days ago in a walk-through at a critical point of time on 3rd-and-7,” he explained. “We call it, and then turn around and go, ‘I can’t believe we didn’t execute.’ Well, that’s probably on us as a coaching staff because we didn’t get it in.”

Kelly said he’s impressed with the way the players have bought in this offseason. One key element has been the coaching staff’s commitment to explaining why it’s doing things a certain way. That’s something that has resonated with players in the past few weeks.

“We’re not doing it just for the sake of doing it,” Kelly said. “We’re doing it because to me, and philosophically, it’s been proven that it helps you win. I think it’s a real efficient way to practice. We practice a lot shorter than other teams. We get our work done in a quicker amount of time. And that’s part of the whole process. Does that mean that we’re going to play in games like that? No. We certainly understand that, but it’s a tool in our toolbox that if we have to dial it up, we feel pretty comfortable in doing it.”

It’s only one day, but so far, so good.

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