The media hit the sports science angle pretty hard on Tuesday before players took off to enjoy their bye week. With a grueling 11 weeks in the books and the stretch run fast approaching, there is a natural curiosity about whether Chip Kelly‘s methods have led to fresher bodies, and if the Eagles will hold some kind of advantage over the competition in December because of their meticulous training, conditioning and recovery program.
Opinions vary. Some players and coaches insist it’s been a big difference-maker. Billy Davis said he’s “amazed at the energy and the lack of soft-tissue injuries.”
Cary Williams, meanwhile, said he feels no different at this point in the year than he has in the past. That there are players all across the league that are doing the necessary things to take care of their bodies -- it just doesn't get the attention like it does here in Philly under Kelly.
Pat Shurmur looks at one player in particular to gauge whether the approach is a success.
"The guy I talk to frequently is Brent Celek to see how he's doing because he's a guy that's a very veteran player. He's a guy that gets out there and plays hard and takes a beating each week," said Shurmur. "I'm kind of watching it, like some of the other people in this building that are new to it. He's kind of my gauge because we've always had a great relationship. I ask him how he's feeling, how he's doing. I see a guy that each week has a high energy level once the game starts.
"Yeah, it works."
Celek agrees. The 28-year old opened some eyes early in the second quarter Sunday against Washington by taking a Nick Foles screen pass and breaking away for a 42-yard gain and a near-touchdown. He hit a gear that we haven't seen since...I'm not sure when.
We know about the sleep monitors and the heart monitors, as well as the GPS devices loaded with sensors that the players wear on the uniform to measure things like agility, force and acceleration. More locked behind closed doors and zipped mouths. There is an element of mystery to the thing, with former Navy Seal turned Eagles sports science coordinator Shaun Huls kept largely in the shadows.
But a lot of it is pretty basic.
"I mean we have massage people here every single day," said Celek. "We use foam rollers. We do a lot of soft tissue work, that type of stuff, stretching. Anything to maintain your body. Simple stuff, man. Sleeping."
Mychal Kendricks added that hydrating is a big part of it. "We drink a lot of water. A lot," he said.
Innovative coach with a new-age approach to taking care of his athletes. It's a catchy story line, and generally speaking an accurate one. But it's probably overhyped, as Williams suggested. The NFL attracts the sport's finest, including those that specialize in fine-tuning professional athletes. Part of the key is having a good pitch man to sell players on doing the right thing. The Eagles definitely seem to have that in Kelly.
"I don't think [there was any apprehension]," said Celek regarding Kelly's methods. "It makes sense. He wants you to be hydrated, he wants you to sleep better, he wants you to eat right and he wants you to take care of your muscles. Makes sense to me.
"I feel pretty good. I just hope it keeps going."
WHAT YOU MISSED
When did Foles pop on the Eagles' radar? And how is the team viewing the QBs recent play? We talked to Howie Roseman about it.
The Eagles' chances of making the playoffs are going up.
Kelly talks about what went into the hiring of his coaching staff.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
ESPN has the Eagles 12 in their latest power rankings.
The Eagles moved up two spots, their smallest weekly change in ages. But the really interesting aspect of this week’s rankings, from the Eagles’ perspective, is the company they are in. When they come out of this week’s bye, they will have five games left. Four of the five are against teams within two spots of the Eagles on this week’s chart: No. 10 Chicago, No. 11 Detroit, No. 13 Arizona and No. 14 Dallas.
So the Eagles’ push to hang onto their lead in the NFC East will be made mostly against teams with similar records and levels of strength. They are beyond the toughest part of their schedule -- facing Nos. 1 and 3 in the first month -- as well as the easiest part.
Les Bowen gives some thoughts on Foles and his future.
Kelly can run his offense effectively with Foles. The question is, does he really want to? Does he walk off the field after games like this last one and think that if he had "my quarterback," the offense would have been even better, and there would have been no need for a late Brandon Boykin interception to seal the deal?
We probably won't know that until the draft arrives, unless Foles wins the Super Bowl.
Players are on a break, but we'll keep rolling.