Eagles Wake-Up Call: Kelly Reflects On Staff

kelly_400_102813One of Chip Kelly’s first orders of business after he was named Eagles head coach back in January was to fill out his staff.

While we’re only 11 games in, early returns on that front are positive. On offense, several players – LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Riley Cooper, Nick Foles – are having career years.

On defense, a unit that looked lost at times during the first month of the season has made steady improvement.

Perhaps most encouraging for Kelly is that individual players are clearly better now than they were in Week 1. There’s no debating the progress that’s been made with guys like Nate Allen, Bennie Logan, Cedric Thornton, Foles, Cooper and others.

That’s a credit to the assistants who work with the players on a daily basis.

On Monday, Kelly was asked to look back at what he wanted from his staff at the NFL level.

“One of the things that was very important to me was making sure we had the right fit, and from a right fit, it was a personality standpoint,” he said. “I thought it was really important to get a diverse group. You get too many people from the same pool, you all think alike and act alike, and that may not be the right way. I think it’s important to hear from different voices and different people and how people did it differently. But then you also have to have a bunch of guys that can put their egos aside and say, ‘Now that we have all these ideas on the table, we all have to come to the conclusion of what’s the best one and how are we going to do it.’ And that’s hard.”

Kelly wanted coordinators with NFL experience, so he brought Pat Shurmur and Billy Davis on board. He found value in keeping Duce Staley (RBs) and Ted Williams (TEs) from the previous regime. Jerry Azzinaro (DL) was the only full-timer who came with Kelly from Oregon. And the others came from a variety of places.

Jeff Stoutland (OL) left Nick Saban’s staff at Alabama. Bob Bicknell (WRs) was with the Buffalo Bills. And David Fipp (special teams) was with the Miami Dolphins. Linebackers coaches Bill McGovern (OLBs) and Rick Minter (ILBs) came from college. So did secondary coach John Lovett.

“The players learn from the coaching staff,” Kelly said. “If your coaching staff has a bunch of egos on it and they’re all acting in different ways, how can you not expect your players to act the same way? They’re going to emulate the people that are teaching them. So the biggest thing for us was to get a bunch of guys that really didn’t have egos, that were very intelligent, that were great communicators and say, ‘Hey, as a group collectively, let’s figure out a way to get this thing done.’

“So far, it’s been great. We’ve got a bunch of guys that I think have all made the next person, the person next to them, better. …To be able to have the ego to say, ‘That’s a good idea. I’m going to listen to it.’ And at the end of the day, who cares whose idea it is? It’s our idea when we walk out of this room. We have a bunch of guys that do that. That’s what makes working here a lot of fun every single day.”

Kelly was also asked about his management style. All NFL coaches are control freaks to a degree. But Kelly indicated that he doesn’t keep close tabs on how many hours assistants are spending at the office.

“My philosophy is you have a job, do it,” he said. “If I have to watch what time you get in in the morning and watch what time you go home at night, then I hired the wrong person. I think you have to empower the people that work for you. I think you have to empower them to do what they were selected to do.

“If someone watching over you and making sure they know what time you get in here in the morning and making sure they know what time you left here at night, I don’t think that’s what… we’re in professional football. If you have to worry about that… I’ve never asked that. I never did it when I was in college. Get your work done. You’ve got a bunch of guys that love it. You have more guys that you have to tell to go home than you do to say, ‘Hey, be around here.’ So if you wake up at 3:55 in the morning and you want to come in to work, come in to work.”

WHAT YOU MISSED

Here are 10 observations on the offense after having re-watched Sunday’s game.

How much of Nick Foles’ success is his own doing, and how much is Kelly’s system? T-Mac explores.

Eagles-Redskins, the day after. Find out why selfishness is no longer an issue on defense, how Connor Barwin is making an impact, five thoughts, No-22, game balls and more.

Foles’ toughness is getting tested, writes McManus.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

This gem from Jimmy Kempski of Philly.com will make you laugh. He looks at how many INTs Foles would have to throw to have a worse passer rating than various QBs around the NFL:

Tommy Lawlor of IgglesBlitz.com takes a look at what we’ve seen from Kelly through 11 games:

There is no panic when a starter goes down. The next player steps up and does his job. Good teams have a way of bringing the best out of backups. I think the backups sense the pressure of needing to play well so as not to let their teammates down. It also helps that Kelly has treated them as important pieces since Day One. Kelly has been demanding of them just like he has been with his star players. The backups might have physical limitations, but they are well prepared and should be confident. If Kelly didn’t believe in them, they wouldn’t have a spot on the roster.

COMING UP

We’ll hear from Davis, Shurmur and the players before they officially start the bye.

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