Bennie Logan didn’t know what to expect from an NFL locker room.
The rookie from LSU had heard tales about how the chemistry on a professional roster was far different from that of a college squad. But with his first year in the books, Logan’s perception has changed.
"You hear stories in college about the NFL - it’s not really like college bonding," Logan said. "But the thing that surprised me being here is everybody is a family. There’s a brotherhood here. Just to see the way the guys grew from Week 1 to Week 16, 17, to see the way that we grew and bonded together through the whole season was something incredible."
Players said their good-byes to one another at the NovaCare Complex Monday afternoon. They cleaned out their lockers, shared hand-shakes and hugs and exchanged numbers for offseason communication.
Many of the players will reconvene on April 21 for the start of the Eagles' offseason program, but as always, there will be roster turnover. New faces and new personalities will be added. And the front office will be forced to make tough calls on some well-liked players currently on the team.
Asked what excites him most about the future of the Eagles, Chip Kelly said: "I think the chemistry of this team. I think how our staff and our players interact and how receptive these guys are. That was a big unknown for me not knowing what it was going to be like in the National Football League. And if you listen to some people, it's drudgery. ...The only thing that's disappointing is we're still not playing right now, because it's an exciting group to be around. There's an energy around this group of guys, and that's hopefully in Year 1 if this is what we can do, we can learn to build upon this."
The way Kelly tells it, the chemistry is no accident. The Eagles' head coach is a big measurables guy. When he meets with Howie Roseman and company this offseason to prepare for free agency and the draft, he will offer specific height/weight/speed measurements for the different positions. He'll want to look at hand size, arm length and more.
But Kelly is also interested in how the 53 pieces fit together. Some of his methods are unorthodox, and he needs players who will be on board.
"I think you have to be thorough in your evaluations, and it's not just height, weight, speed, this guy can do this from a physical standpoint," Kelly said. "There's so many different factors that ultimately impact why a person is successful and not successful. There's a lot of really good athletes out there that don't maximize their abilities because of maybe an intangible quality. What's their passion for the game? How much are they willing to learn? How much are they willing to sacrifice? Not what are they willing to give, sometimes what are they willing to give up?
"So there's a lot involved in that process, and I just feel because we're not putting together a staff, we're not putting in new systems, we can spend a little bit more time on the personnel aspect of things. And our personnel department has done a great job of us articulating what we're really, truly looking for, and then those guys going out and finding it."
In 2014, new faces will appear, but Kelly is hoping the chemistry stays in tact.
WHAT YOU MISSED
Michael Vick sounds like he's ready to move on, writes T-Mac.
Kelly gives himself a grade of 58.8 percent in his first year.
McManus catches up with Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper - two pending free agents.
"I just need some security somehow, some way," says DeSean Jackson.
Setting up the offseason: Free agency, the draft, coaching changes and more.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
Peter King of The MMQB on Cooper's drop from the Saints game:
I think as redemptive as this season was for Riley Cooper, his third-quarter drop on a wide-open crossing route on third down was the biggest negative play of the game for Philadelphia. The Eagles trailed 13-7 when it happened—Cooper could have raced for at least 20 yards on the play—and the Saints, on the change of possession, drove for a touchdown to make it 20-7. Though the Eagles came back, that was one possession, in retrospect, where Philadelphia gave away points.
Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com was not impressed with Foles' play vs. New Orleans:
Philadelphia quarterback Nick Foles saved one of his worst games for last. Once again, his stat line (23-for-33 passing, 195 yards through the air, 2 TD passes) looks better than he played. He struggled to pull the trigger on a number of throws and held the ball too often.
Let the offseason commence. We'll have plenty more from yesterday's session at the NovaCare Complex, plus some All-22 action.