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.”

WHAT YOU MISSED

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.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

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.

COMING UP

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

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