Before I head to the NovaCare Complex, here are three Chip Kelly leftovers we’ve been meaning to get to.
1. A popular theme last summer regarding the Eagles was: How will Kelly adjust to the NFL game?
Considering Kelly was making the leap from college to the pros with four total years of head coaching experience, the question was a valid one. He has said on multiple occasions that he didn't enter the NFL with any preconceived notions or expectations. Now that Kelly's been in Philadelphia for a year, he was asked what the biggest difference was from college.
"I don’t know," he answered. "I don’t think it’s as big a difference as people think it is. There’s subtle things, but it’s still the game. It’s still 11 on 11. We all have no say. It’s all dictated by television. It was the same way in college as it is in the NFL - when we’re gonna play or when a game’s gonna be scheduled. I don’t think that it’s that drastic."
A reporter followed up asking whether the transition was easier because he made the leap from a big-time college program.
"There’s just more people watching," he said. "Honestly, I don’t think it is. Football’s football. Whether it’s Coach [Pat] Shurmur’s son playing in a high school game and going to watch that game being played. The game itself is just... it seems like there’s a lot more people and a lot more [scrutiny] if you look at it that way. I don’t look at is as scrutiny. I just think there’s a lot more passion and a lot more people playing. But I don’t think you approach the game any differently from one level to the next."
2. We've written at length in this space about the "whys" associated with Kelly's program. When he makes changes, he explains them. And players seemed to appreciate that in Year 1.
Kelly was asked where that questioning of conventional wisdom comes from.
"I was probably a pain in the ass as a little kid, I would imagine," Kelly said. "I questioned everything. I’ve always been a why guy, trying to figure out why things happen and what they are and just curious about it from that standpoint. And most of the time, the whys are right. We don’t change drastically. I think that’s kind of silly if you’re just changing for the sake of change. But I think you change when change is necessary. There’s a Latin term, ‘mutatis mutandis’ which is, ‘if there’s a reason for [change].’
"When I became a head coach, I had never been a head coach before and I had no experience being it, so I’m going to ask a million questions about how do you do this, and how does the training room, and how do you operate, because that wasn’t really under my domain when I was an offensive coordinator. In most situations, it’s, ‘OK, that makes sense.’ But I just wanted it to be explained why, like what’s your protocol and how do you do it? Anything that’s going to touch the football team, from there, I think you develop what you want, and your philosophies and how you want things to work."
3. You'll hear a lot of people in the coming weeks talk about how opponents now have a book on Kelly and his offense, but he doesn't seem to think that's much of a factor.
"I think everybody knows what a team’s going to do – not everyone knows, but I think they have a better understanding," Kelly said. "I don’t know how much it helps them, I guess. Like I don’t think we surprised people last year. I think people knew what we were trying to do."
Asked whether the idea that the Eagles do a lot of unique things offensively is overblown, Kelly added: "Immensely. I’ve said that since the day I walked in here. We’re not revolutionizing the game. I don’t know where that came from."
As we pointed out in our inside zone feature, the Eagles focus on using a lot of the same core concepts, but they dress them up differently. They run a lot of the same plays as other teams in the NFL, but they add wrinkles, different looks and use tempo. That's why Kelly constantly seems annoyed when others label him an innovator.