Three thoughts as the offseason conditioning program comes to a close:
— Chip Kelly brings an unmistakable energy to the proceedings.
He runs from station to station. If there’s a drill that requires an extra quarterback, he’ll jump in and throw passes. When he demonstrates a point to a player, he really demonstrates it, whether that means crouching down low or thrusting his arm up high in a swim motion. He might surprise a receiver by reaching in to swat at the ball, as he did to Jordan Matthews Thursday. Sometimes barking, sometimes joking, sometimes teaching, but always in motion.
I remember seeing some old NFL Films footage of Andy Reid from his early days as coach of the Eagles, and being struck by how involved he was in the practices back then: flying around, constantly instructing, very hands on. Towards the end of his time here he came off as more of an observer, and spent a good portion of practice standing a little ways back from the action, often side-by-side with trainer Rick Burkholder.
“A coach stays in a place for so long, things get a little stale,” said Todd Herremans, when asked about the players’ drive under Reid. “The system gets a little stale. Maybe they soften up a little bit and kind of get away from what they were doing in the beginning to have the success that they had.”
Perhaps Kelly will mellow as time goes on. But there is no mistaking that the head coach is currently operating with a full tank of gas.
“I love the game of football. I have a passion for it, so it’s not like if a conversation comes up three days from now about football, I’m on vacation, I don’t want to talk about it,” said Kelly, when asked if he’d be turning off the switch during the break. “I’d probably be the one starting the conversation to be honest with you.”
— Can’t imagine this spring went the way Matt Barkley was hoping it might. Mark Sanchez came in and started running with the twos from the jump. Barkley got a second-team rep here and there, but spent much of the OTA and minicamp practices (at least the ones open to the media) sharing third-team reps with G.J. Kinne.
“There is no decision. There’s no decision. We’re just getting reps. So there’s not a decision of who’s who,” Kelly said last week.
That’s not how it feels. There is still a whole training camp and preseason to go, but it’s pretty clear that Sanchez is currently ahead of Barkley on the depth chart.
I thought Barkley’s arm looked a touch stronger compared to a year ago, but not to a degree that it really stands out. Does he have enough zip on his fastball to make all the throws on this level? Will his game translate? Questions remain. Not sure when he’ll have the opportunity to truly answer them.
— There was a moment during the special teams portion of Thursday’s practice where Matthews fielded a kick and as he hit the open field, broke into this kind of elegant gallop that shot him through to the next level. There were a few instances like that during the spring that caught your eye and came off as high-end — whether it was an effortless leaping grab over a defender on a loft pass from Mark Sanchez, or a quick turn and burst after a routine hitch.
Rookie receivers face an uphill climb and we have a ways to go before we know whether Matthews can contribute in a meaningful way this year, but there were flashes over the course of the last several weeks that were encouraging.
“Definitely a great learning environment. I couldn’t ask to be part of a better team, a better organization. Coach Kelly, Coach [Bob Bicknell], Coach Pat [Shurmur], they’ve made it a great atmosphere for me to come here and actually learn, get better, I appreciate them for that, so now I just have to go out there and make sure I make plays for them,” he said.
“I think I did alright. The main two things that I always want to control is my attitude and my effort. I feel like each day I was able to come out and give that 100 percent, so I’m happy with those things but I have to continue to get better at the little things, too.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
Sheil’s final running diary of the spring.
Chip goes Flintstones, ‘Beautiful Mind’ on us during his final meeting with the media before training camp.
Check out our latest photo gallery from minicamp.
“Do you want blind obedience or informed acquiescence or self‑governance?” Chip gets philosophical.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Geoff Mosher touches on the kicker competition in his minicamp roundup.
The battle between kickers Alex Henery and rookie Carey Spear is looking more and more like an ersatz job competition. Spear, who’s been inconsistent, missed three consecutive kicks on his last day, two of which hooked wide left, one which found its destination in a spare parking lot. Maybe he’s got some first-year jitters, but for those expecting “Murderleg” to unseat Henery, don’t hold your breath.
Jeff McLane offered this note on Vinny Curry:
There was a rare chance to watch Vinny Curry line up as a 4-3 defensive end. The Eagles second team defense had its nickel package on the field and Curry was on the left edge in a three-point stance. He zoomed around right tackle Andrew Gardner and shot to quarterback Mark Sanchez. The play continued, of course, but Curry would have sacked Sanchez. Curry was perhaps the Eagles’ best passing down rusher last season, but he did most of his damage from inside. I wonder if Bill Davis and Jerry Azzinaro will try to get him in more one-on-one situations on the outside where he was originally drafted to play.
We’ll put a wrap on minicamp and start looking forward to training camp, which is only 35 days away.