Eagles Wake-Up Call: Kelly Calls On Dick Vermeil

The leap from college to the pros is not an easy one for a football coach, especially when that coach enters the show in a crazed east-coast football town like Philly. Lots of stumbling blocks, and plenty of people to point out the instant you get tripped up on one.

Fortunately for Chip Kelly, he has a connection to a man who knows exactly what that ride is like, and how to properly maneuver.

“The only guy I’ve talked to extensively about making the jump from the college to the pros was coach [Dick] Vermeil. He’s been great,” said Kelly. “If you’re a college coach or a pro coach, the respect people have for Dick Vermeil, and he’s been great. If I’ve had questions, I’ve had the opportunity to call coach and kind of bounce some things off of him.”

Vermeil, in a phone conversation with Birds 24/7, downplayed his role in helping Kelly transition to the pros. He says that he has spoken to Kelly a couple times by phone, and joked that any face-to-face interaction has quickly been interrupted by someone else in the room seeking the new head coach’s attention.

But Kelly obviously sees value.

He sought out Vermeil before taking the Eagles job to talk about Philadelphia and ex-college coaches who have tried their hand in the league.

“First he asked about Philly. I said it is a great place to live and a great place to coach,” said Vermeil. “I said the fans are passionate and a little on the intense side and they care. Those are all good things. And I said this is a tremendous organization that has done it as well as almost anybody but no Super Bowls. Somebody’s going to do it, and I said it might as well be you.”

Asked what the biggest challenge of moving from the collegiate ranks to the NFL was, the former UCLA head man answered “practice” before the question was all the way out.

“I had scout teams in college, varsity, junior varsity. In the NFL I had 53 guys on the roster,” he  said. “It was very hard adjusting practice the way I wanted it, so I doubled it up.”

Vermeil explained that the common procedure in the NFL at the time was for practices to run about 1 1/2 hours, with teams working on offense one day, defense the next, and then finally a combo session. But the Eagles weren’t going to really improve unless they got considerably more time in, so Vermeil made the practice times twice as long after his first year.

Kelly, like Vermeil before him, has to overhaul an entire system and cultivate his own culture, but does not have the same freedoms Vermeil once enjoyed. The days of doubling down on practice time are over.

“His problem is going to be getting better within the [confines] of the new CBA,” said Vermeil.

It took Vermeil some time to get traction on this level. The Eagles went a combined 9-19 his first two seasons before posting a winning record in 1978. Patience doesn’t seem to run as deep as it once did.

He cited “support staff and willingness to listen” as the keys to making a successful transition from college to the NFL. You need the personnel, and you have to be comfortable in your own skin.

“He is obviously an outstanding coach and he isn’t going to lose that ability to coach,” said Vermeil. “I think there have been head coaches who have come in and think they have to be different; they’re intimidated by the 35-year-old offensive lineman. That won’t be Chip’s case. He has a lot of confidence. He’s not arrogant, he’s confident.

“I think people will like him.”

WHAT YOU MISSED

What will a Kelly training camp look like? We take a look.

More love for Matt Barkley.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Ashley Fox calls the Eagles the most intriguing team in the NFL.

Kelly was revolutionary at Oregon, where he led the Ducks to a 46-7 record in four seasons and introduced college football to his fast-paced, no-huddle spread offense. The Ducks redefined what it means to play fast. In 13 games last season, they ran 1,077 plays, a number that would have ranked seventh in the NFL’s 16-game schedule. Oregon averaged 82.8 plays per game, a number that would have made New England, which led the NFL last season averaging 74.4 plays per game, look slow by comparison.

Can Kelly’s up-tempo offense work in the NFL with a bunch of players who have never run it?

Tommy Lawlor believes this coaching staff can help Mychal Kendricks take the next step.

Bill McGovern is here to focus on OLBs, but he developed Luke Kuechly into one of the best MLBs in recent college history. He might have a nugget or two that could help Kendricks. And while Bill Davis track record as DC is only slightly better than Les Bowen’s as a polka dancer, Davis does know how to coach LBs. He got great results from D’Qwell Jackson last year. Karlos Dansby thrived under Davis in Arizona. Keith Brooking thrived under Davis in Atlanta. You could counter that all those guys were stars anyway, but that’s part of the point. Kendricks has that kind of talent. He needs the right coaches and system to bring it out of him. Kendricks should develop into a top shelf LB.

COMING UP

We’ll take a look at what the media are saying about the Eagles.

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  • nicksaenz1

    I still have no idea how Ashley Fox got a job at ESPN writing about football.

    • southy

      What do you expect? It’s ESPN. If you compare her to all the other ESPN football columnists, her writing fits right in, actually.

      At least she’s a blatant Philly homer. That’s something I can support. :)

      • nicksaenz1

        It’s just incredible that they look for poor writing and analysis.

        • southy

          Not so much poor writing as simplistic and obviously sensational. They’re intentionally dumbing it down for a national, international, and not necessarily football savvy audience.

          I happen to think that’s the wrong move – you can at the very least educate your readers on nuances of the game as you report on it, kinda like the WSJ does with finance – but it’s helpful to know there’s a reason and they’re not all complete idiots.

          Well except maybe Jemele Hill.

          • MediaMike

            That would be a nice contest. Who is more intellectually dishonest in their editorial writing; WSJ or Jemele Hill?

          • theycallmerob

            Well played sir

          • nicksaenz1

            Can’t stand Jemele Hill. It’s rare that she makes a point that doesn’t revolve around race.

        • GEagle

          Nick, you know who is really pathetic in that regard?….The 76s beat writers!!!! I like to bash the Eagles beat writers for their gossip, rebel rousing, Foles is being traded because he isn’t fast crap, but the Eagles beat writers look like Pulizer prize candidates compared to the sixers beat reporters. I’m almost happy that the sixers have a silent GM that won’t tell Philly reporters anything, because they are that bad!!!!

          • nicksaenz1

            Haha I wouldn’t know. I don’t follow any NBA team really and can’t even bear to watch until April because it’s such a soft league.

          • eaglepete

            I thought Kate Fagan was decent until she left.

    • http://www.philthycanuck.com/ Adam

      Whats her deal anyway? Does she have any sources at all? I’ve never heard her breaking a story.

      • theycallmerob

        Most of their bloggers/writers don’t seem to break many stories; they simply elaborate on schefter’s tweets

      • southy

        She’s a columnist, not a reporter.

    • MediaMike

      Her writing is a war crime. And I don’t see much homerism in her work. I wish more of what Jaws says on ESPN would make in into virtual print on the web site.

      • southy

        Really?

        Two of her articles in the past week or so alone:
        Most intriguing team in the NFL: Philadelphia Eagles.
        Most Compelling Teams Series: 2004 Eagles (T.O. story)

        • nicksaenz1

          She writes about Philly because it’s what she knows since she wrote for the Inquirer. It’s not like her bias is as glaring as Graziano’s.

      • nicksaenz1

        I’m not a big fan of Jaws either. Guy just relishes in the fact that ESPN has kept him relevant.

        • GEagle

          It’s unbelievable how bad a guy like Jaws can be, inspite of all his connections and access to the entire NFL world. Sometmes I listen to him, and can’t even believe what I’m hearing

          • nicksaenz1

            Often times when I listen to him dissect plays and critique a QB I want to scream because, as much as we all love him from the playing days, he was a horribly inaccurate career passer. Worse than Vick, sadly. It’s not the dissecting so much as the audacity to critique when he wouldn’t have hit sand falling off a camel.

          • eaglepete

            Jaws is great breaking down film, its just a matter of wearing out your welcome. Hes being doing it a while now so in this world everyone has to start nit picking and hating at some point and that point has arrived. Hes still very good, his playing career has zero to do with his analyst work. Oh and every fan thinks they are an expert, I think that is far more annoying (not you, just in general)

          • nicksaenz1

            I’ll agree with wearing out his welcome when it comes to dissecting. He can do that well, but he annoys me more and more. Agree to disagree with career having or not having an effect. I don’t want to listen to a guy who couldn’t do it himself tell us how good or bad a QB is. It affects credibility in my opinion. Same with Dilfer. I like Dilfer as TV personality, but something about his critiquing another QBs ability bothers me when he was awful. (Yes, he won a ring, courtesy of Jamal Lewis and the Ravens’ D, not because he was a good QB).

          • eaglepete

            right, I kind of get the credibility thing as in how dare you overly bash a guy when you werent that great yourself. However, its not really fair in terms of the job as an analyst vs player. Many great players are terrible analysts.

          • nicksaenz1

            Fact, many great players are bad analysts, but it doesn’t mean they don’t know what they’re talking about. Usually its the difficulty of communicating it on camera.

    • theycallmerob

      I followed Simmons over to Grantland, and haven’t looked back. His writers are out of ESPN’s league.

      • http://www.philthycanuck.com/ Adam

        Only problem is Simmons is a huge Boston homer.

        • theycallmerob

          oh most definitely. But we share a hatred for LA and NY

          • eaglepete

            nah, Boston has taken over in terms of hatred for me. Their fans with the recent winning in all 4 sports have easily become more annoying than any NY fans and thats tough to do. I cant stand anything Boston anymore, I root against them fervently. Loved seeing Bruins go down in spectacular fashion. Simmons is much better writing than on TV, although hes gotten a little bit better over this NBA season.

          • nicksaenz1

            He was awful during the draft though. Pretty sure everyone but Jalen Rose at the table wanted to punch his facelifted face.

        • nicksaenz1

          At least he’s open about it so you can take into consideration when reading his stuff.

        • Engwrite

          So lets see. . .he is a big basketball fan, from Boston, where the Celtics are one of the great franchises of all time, having won 1/4 of all the NBA championships, with teams that played like teams. Wouldn’t you be a homer?

          • http://www.philthycanuck.com/ Adam

            Sure I would be, but I’m not a journalist. If a guy is writing a piece about a sport where I know he likes one team more than the others, how can I trust the objectivity of his content? I don’t think homerism has a place in sports journalism, but that’s just me.

          • theycallmerob

            To be fair, he’s still more objective and accurate than plenty of “experts”

      • nicksaenz1

        I read Grantland. Far superior to ESPN writing.

      • GEagle

        it’s really not even a comparison

    • GEagle

      I think by now it’s pretty obvious that I’m like a crakhead for NFL news, with that said, I literally NEVER even visit espn anymore. Like I literally haven’t even checked out ESPN in MONTHS!!!

      • nicksaenz1

        I’m in an ESPN fantasy league with some buddies. It’s the main reason I go. Their fantasy writers are better than the real sports writers.

        • theycallmerob

          yea, unfortunately i’ve been using their sites’ FFL since about day 1, and just too comfortable to make the switch. free and easy.

          • GEagle

            Would be awesome if Tim n Sheil joined but that’s a long shot…be fun to battle with the insiders

          • nicksaenz1

            Just made my comment about them joining and saw this. Hope they do!

          • GEagle

            Th more of us that ask, the better chance we have of them joining…..I assume we are going to have enough people to have a league(Im su Cliff will join) just need to figure out a commissioner and what site we want to use

          • nicksaenz1

            Cliff would join. I’d honestly prefer ESPN’s over Yahoo’s.

          • theycallmerob

            well, it seems we’re up to 5.

            any other takers?

          • nicksaenz1

            I like their site much better than Yahoo, which I used for the first time last year.

          • Dan

            I’m in

        • theycallmerob

          any interest in joining another league? we could create a 24/7 FFL contest

          • GEagle

            I’m definitely Down to join another Fantasy league..as in count me 100% in…Lucky for me, I’m used to yahoo leagues so I literally haven’t had any use for ESPN in a while

          • Richard Colton

            I’m in. Who draws the lucky week one match-up vs. Dutch’s “Rambling Unicorns?”

          • GEagle

            Hhahaha awe man, I would give ANYTHING for thatnhonor

          • nicksaenz1

            Not opposed by any stretch. Maybe we could convince the Bulldog and Sheil to join?

          • theycallmerob

            the people have spoken!

  • cliff henny

    by national media, think kelly is calling spurrier. find the comparison to him extremely fustrating. kelly does strike me as having much more in common with Vermeil, who’s dedication and desire over-whelmed him into early retirement. hopefully vermeil gave kelly bit of advice there. best case we’re 3 yrs away from being SB competitive, dont need kelly getting us there and being so over-worked he’s made himself sick. getting cart before horse here a bit, but doesnt seem like kelly has or even cares to have many interests outside of football. we’ve seen it once with vermeil, can easily see it happening to kelly if he doesnt pay attention.

    • Dominik

      I don’t think Kelly will be more over-worked than a few other NFL Headcoaches. Belichick is doing it for years now and after watching the movie about him (A Football Life), I don’t think he has much free time, either.

      Eat, sleep with your MILF wife (Kelly even saves these 5 minutes… :D), sleep, eat, drive to the building of your team, drive home – and let the circle begin.

  • Johnny Domino

    Perhaps Dick recommended a nice wine for the training table.

  • GEagle

    I actually recorded a 35minute podcast with Vermiel 2 weeks ago…just haven’t figured out what to do with it yet. I can say he seems very impressed with Chip Kelly, and seems to really believe in the direction that he is taking us

    • theycallmerob

      Where are you posting it??

      • GEagle

        That’s my problem…I did it for a project In grad school, but I don’t really know what to do with it yet. I’m trying to parlay it into a few things…but as of now, it’s still in my back pocket…
        dick was gracious enough to give me an hour of his time, but he said he will be at most of the training camp practices, so I thought it was a good idea to get the 2nd half of the interview after he has time to witness some of training camp. It’s on video, still haven’t transfer it to audio(waiting to get the 2nd half of it)
        At the very least I’ll post the transcript some time…if anyone can thnk of some intelligent questions to ask him, I would love suggestions. Its focus is the Eagles future under chip Kelly. I didn’t really get into the past, but he does mention the past in many of his answers comparing and contrasting how he did things back then with his impressions of what Chip is doing now,
        ..
        I get the impression that he is extremely high on chip, but by nature Dick is a very positive person and he has a great personal relationship with Chip, so you can’t ever expect Dick to bash anything…The most negativity I got from Vermiel was Open ended answers like…”it’s going to be interesting to see if so and so can work out at the NFL level”…But there were some questions were he gave really positive answers but you can sense he really believes in it….but for me the best part is just being able to bounce stuff off him off record when the camera wasn’t rolling…What a great guy!!!

        • Dominik

          To help a student in his scientific career is a great thing to do. I don’t care if he is retired and has some time off, he doesn’t get anything out of that, money or reputation wise, and still does it. Exemplary! So yeah, he sounds like a very nice guy.

          • GEagle

            Yeah man…I can’t even begin to tell you what a great guy he is, it would sound like BS. Certainly one of the quality dudes in this world

          • Dominik

            Personally, I try to help the scientific process as much as possible as a test person at my university. It’s just essential that there are enough persons for all the experiments.

            But I’m not a former very successful football coach, so that’s that. ;)

          • Jack Waggoner

            Glad you got to experience that first hand.

  • Jack Waggoner

    Those of us old enough to remember what things were like before Dick Vermeil took over the Eagles know what he meant to this team and this city and why he is still so well loved here.