Wake-Up Call: Why the Vets Bought In

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Minnesota Vikings
Once the 2013 season was a wrap, Chip Kelly thanked his players for taking a chance on a rookie coach.

“He was just proud of his guys and just appreciative of everyone buying into his program,” said Eagles receiver/special teamer Brad Smith, via SI.com. “A lot of people didn’t know if it would work — a college coach coming into the NFL and how guys would respond and how they would respect him.”

It wasn’t so hard generating that level of respect in the latter stages of the season when the Eagles captured seven of eight to win the NFC East. It was early on, around the time that Philly was 1-3 and then 3-5, that could have presented problems. There were skeptics inside the locker room for sure, but the majority of players were on board despite the sub-.500 record.

Smith did not join the team until November, but it didn’t take him long to figure out why the veterans bought in.

“What’s different about Coach Kelly is his approach with the science and it’s backed up, there’s history behind it and it’s worked,” said Smith, who led the team with eight special teams tackles after joining the team in Week 11.  “Guys who have been in the league a while, all it is, people have done the same thing over and over again. But something new, something fresh and something that can actually make you feel better and help you perform, guys just love that.”

Several vets noted towards the end of the season that they had never felt this good, this late, in their entire careers. That played a big part in securing the hearts and minds within the Eagles locker room.

While the training regimen was on the cutting edge, those who were looking for Kelly to totally turn the sport on its head from an X’s and O’s standpoint may have been a little disappointed. Is it possible, Smith was asked, that Kelly was being a little conservative in his first season?

“What he does and what he draws up is definitely not normal and his thought process is unbelievable,” he said. “I think he has a lot more in there that he is going to bring out.”

WHAT YOU MISSED

One exec says Michael Vick “could be a very good bridge starter for two to three years.”

The Eagles signed receiver/special teamer Joe Anderson on Friday.

A couple notes on the Jets’ reported interest in Jeremy Maclin.

Our offseason outlook series concludes with a piece on the safeties.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

A landmark moment in professional sports occurred Sunday when NFL draft prospect Michael Sam from the University of Missouri  announced that he is gay.

Connor Barwin was one of many to offer his support.

Peter King believes the Eagles may be one organization that would not shy away from drafting Sam.

It could be that a liberal owner and progressive coach like Jeffrey Lurie and Chip Kelly of the Eagles will not care at all, and if he’s there in the fourth or fifth round will grab him.

Tommy Lawlor on Bennie Logan‘s role moving forward.

I think Logan will get better as he bulks up and gets more experience. My guess is that some of the desire for a new NT comes from the poor run defense in the Saints game. I re-watched Logan from that game and didn’t think he was a huge problem. In fact, I thought he played pretty well for parts of the game. The Saints went off-tackle for most of their key runs. The Eagles run defense was pretty darn good for the last couple of months of the season. Two games where the team was lit up were OAK and WAS. Both teams benefited from running QBs. RG3 went for 44 yards and Terrelle Pryor went for 94.

I also think people are thinking of the old school NTs when judging Logan. The huge guys are gone. Most NTs are reasonably sized these days. If Logan bulks up to 320, that should give him enough bulk to anchor against the run.

COMING UP

We’ll roll out a Twitter Mailbag, and more.

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