Eagles Wake-Up Call: Is Chip Kelly Going Down the Wrong Path?

Inevitably, Chip Kelly will stumble a time or two as he continues his transition from college to the pro game. Some lessons can only be learned through experience.

Longtime NFL reporter Sal Paolantonio believes that the former Oregon coach is on the verge of making his first notable mistake.

“Chip Kelly has to start getting this team solidified,” said Paolantonio during an appearance on 97.5 The Fanatic. “You can’t say in July, in the National Football League to professional football players who have been out there for months, that the depth chart is written in sand. It’s just the wrong approach. It’s a college approach. That’s not the professional approach. It doesn’t work.

“The quarterback situation is the most unsettled in the league. It can’t happen like that. You don’t have 90 guys you can plug in and out. You don’t have guys that are interchangeable like that. There’s a big dropoff between starters and substitutes in the NFL. You don’t have the same dropoff in college. It’s ‘Welcome to the pros.’ I think he’s making a big mistake by stringing everybody along.”

Kelly has stated on numerous occasions that all starting jobs are up for grabs and that there essentially is no depth chart yet. He restated his position on Tuesday.

That approach can be unsettling to some players.  Michael Vick was hopeful that a starting QB would be named prior to camp, but didn’t get his wish. DeSean Jackson – who found himself working with the second and third stringers for a time this spring — took it a step further, saying that “the team” wants to know who the starter is going to be. He later expanded on those comments. 

“As far as myself, I don’t really know what the team is OK with and not OK with,” Jackson said. “At the end of the day, I don’t know where it stands, who’s going to be the starting quarterback. I wish I could know, but at the end of the day, that’s the coach’s decision, so I guess you have to play that how it goes.”

Kelly held open competitions at Oregon, believing that it brought the best out in his players. Given his resume, that method was obviously successful for him in college. But does it work in the pros, where you’re dealing with bigger egos, better competition and bigger talent gaps between starters and backups?

“There is a depth chart for a reason in football. You develop chemistry,” said Paolantonio. “You’ve got a brother next to you you’re going to fight with in the trenches. You’ve got to depend on that guy…If you don’t name your starters and get them situated in the NFL especially, when you’ve got the grueling 16-game schedule — not 12 games, not practice three weeks, go play a college schedule — it’s practice six weeks in the grueling hot sun at a high tempo and then play 16 games. Much different animal.

“You’ve got to start plugging in your starters. You’ve got to start letting them communicate with one another and develop chemistry. There’s a reason why it’s been done this way for 93 years. That’s why it’s done that way.”


Vick talks about the possibility of being the backup.

Sheil offers some practice observations from Tuesday’s hour-long session.

Kelly addresses the media after his first training camp practice.

Matt Tucker and Brad Wing get off on the wrong foot with Kelly.

A look at Michael Bamiro‘s strange path to the Eagles.

Ifeanyi Momah is trying to knock off the rust that comes with a long layoff.

Lane Johnson expects to play at a high level immediately.


Mike Florio offers his thoughts on the QB competition.

The longer it takes for Kelly to decide that Vick has emerged as the starter, the greater the chance that Foles will be the guy who gets the job.  Though it seemed to be a foregone conclusion when the 2012 season ended that Vick wouldn’t return, both he and Kelly were intrigued by the prospect of working together.  But Kelly hasn’t sufficiently been impressed to give Vick the job.

If Kelly isn’t by now, he may never be.

Jimmy Kempski offered this note in his Day 2 recap:

The QBs practiced taking snaps from under center today. That may not sound like something worthy of a bullet-point, but it is the first time I’ve seen them do it this offseason. The Eagles have almost exclusively run out of the shotgun to this point.


Rookies and selected vets practice today at 2:25. The rest of the team reports Thursday.

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  • nicksaenz1

    I think Sal’s point would hold more weight if we were discussing a team that had been a winning franchise at the point Chip took over, say a NE, PIT, BAL, etc. But we’re not. We haven’t had a winning season in 2 years, and were abysmal last season. And while Chip says the chart is in sand, some starters are known, mainly the OL, which arguably is the most important piece in terms of building continuity. There’s a lot of new pieces as well, which require full pads practices, maybe a preseason game or two, to determine what he’s got. If we were going to keep the status quo and not make guys work for it and be accountable we might as well have kept Andy then, too.

    • G_WallyHunter

      Ya, Sal should know better than to do this. Looking at the circumstances, I think Chip is doing what needs to be done. This team obviously needs to refind themselves, it isn’t a D that has 8 or 9 starters in place, it has about 4 or 5…
      Team needs to re-find themselves, what better than to make everyone earn it?
      These so-called starters that Sal speaks about will then rise to the top and prove themselves… I don’t see the big problem lol. These guys play football and compete for a living, if they don’t want to compete for a starting spot (or pass a running test), then you heard the man, pack your bags..

  • thereelmarlin

    Sal Pal plays the devil’s advocate at every step of the way. Its his shtick. I put very little into most of what he says.

  • asdfasf

    A new coach. on a new team. in a new league. with new players… Why is it surprising to so many in the media that he needs to evaluate those players in his system – with hitting! It’s logical.

    I can’t disagree with Sal more about our QB situation. There’s a number of teams that are worse off, Jets and Jags are the first to come to mind. He’s just trying to create controversy.

    To paraphrase a Chip quote I read: It’s better to make the right decision than the quick one.

  • Toms River Dave

    No olbs on this team worth a damn.Wide outs are weak. Too many holes. I love the birds but I’m realistic…cole has to go. Djax too. Got to move back to move ahead. Show vick the door

  • Toms River Dave

    No one deserves to be named starters. 4-12 teams are not chock full of starters

  • bushisamoron

    Most of the other positions are essentially settled and in the secondary there has been a complete overhaul so its appropriate that no starters are named there yet. The issue is one and one only-QB and NO ONE- fans, coaches, players are completely sold on anyone at this point. Let the QB’s compete. Aaron Rodgers plays for GB, not Philly.

  • scrapple sports

    After one day of practice, depth chart should be written in stone? Clay, maybe? Sal Pal is a joke at this point (and has been for years). Maybe someone should ask a follow-up question regarding the depth chart: Will there be open competition at every position every year, or is this a first year only thing? I’m guessing if Tom Brady was on the Eagles, the QB position wouldn’t be open competition.

  • dan

    So we should feel bad for these professional athletes that need to compete? How “soft” are these guys? How much coddling do they need? Go out and play….the best will win the position regardless. Sometimes a little bit of fear encourages people to focus and perform better.

  • PhillyDon

    It’s all a bunch of BS Screw these players and their egos and the thought that since they get the big bucks and in the league for a while that they deserve to start. Kelly’s handling it the right way but making it a competition and if someone making less money with less experience comes in and performs better then he deserves the job. As far as Jackson and Vick it wouldn’t kill me to see both of them gone.Vick? enough said and Jackson is just a cancer in the locker room as far as I’m concerned. Jackson’s more of a “what have you done for me” and not a what can I do to help my team win type of player. Its a shame but it seams like as soon as these young players get payed their whole attitude about the game/games changes for the worst.

  • GiveMeABreak

    Is there really any doubt that Mathis, Herremans, Peters, McCoy, Macklin, DeSean, Cox, or Ryans will start? You could probably add Kelce and Kendricks to that list. What’s the benefit to the team or Chip’s credibility from saying that these players’ positions are open? Even if you are a DJax hater, there is not any real reason not to name the others as starters. He has enough open positions that I am not sure it helps him to have all of the positions listed as open. It’s pretty insincere and contrived, which never helps anyone particularly someone new. Having said that, our talent deficit is so bad that we have bigger problems than whether Chip is pushing a somewhat tin story line.

  • aub32

    This is a non issue. The guys who are competing for starting jobs are splitting the reps evenly i.e. Vick v. Foles, but I have to hear anything about the guys who are so far apart in talent are splitting first team reps. So somebody let me know when Casey Matthews is splitting 1st team reps with Ryans. Until then Sal is just bloviating.

  • That Dude

    sal is a moron. He always looks for problems where none exists.

  • Fly High

    This is one of the dumber articles I have seen. Watching Kelly at Oregon, starters generally kept their roles, but everyone once in a while, a younger guy would be better,and just step right in. Everyone knew that they could never just rest on past laurels. It kept them on their toes.

    Another fact on defense – given the Eagles pace, they will play their “subs” more. There is more of a gradient then a solid line between ones and twos, at least at some positions.

  • G_WallyHunter

    Exactly lol… Dono what Sal is thinking really… the starters will simply differentiate themselves and that’s that. end of story

  • Basscase

    I remember when the “Dream Team” was first coined, he said they were going to go 13-3. Then, during his radio show, someone called him out on it, and he hung up on the caller after denying it. He hasn’t hosted his own show since then.

    Basically, I take anything “Sal Pal” says about the Eagles with a grain of salt. Barkley’s going to start 9 games and the team will go 9-7? What?!

  • Jim c

    Plus, I don’t think there is a bigger drop-off in the NFL–it’s that much more competitive, although Oregon wa slaoed at certian positions.