GREEN BAY, Wisc — Part of Chip Kelly‘s pregame routine is to run the stadium steps. He comes out a couple hours before kickoff, makes his way into the stands and stares out over the field before beginning his climb.
A historian of the game, there’s little doubt Sunday’s run held some significance for the first-year head coach, as did the events that followed.
“This place is awesome,” he said as he looked around Lambeau Field, per an eyewitness.
“It’s a special place. I think it’s just one of the iconic places in the league or even in football when you talk about playing a game in Lambeau Field,” he added after the game. “I thought the fans were really, really good. Most of the time when we come in on a bus we don’t usually have people clapping for us, and I think that says something about the fans of Green Bay that they are just big fans of the game. And there is so much history. That’s the same field that Vince Lombardi coached on, and I think that’s pretty neat, and I think it’s a lot neater when you win.”
In the bowels of Lambeau Field resides the Packers Hall of Fame, which is filled with an embarrassment of riches in the form of legends and trophies and history. The biggest luminary of them all is Lombardi. As you read his quotes that are painted across those walls, you can’t help but think that some of Kelly’s core philosophies have been at least partially shaped by him. Read more »
Ten tackles per game.
That’s the number Mychal Kendricks guns for. His brother (also a football player) preached that if you reach that mark regularly, you’re set. And so that became the standard.
Earlier this season, the chase for 10 got him in trouble. He kept count in his head during the game. If he had only four, say, deep into the third quarter, Kendricks would start pressing. Would ask DeMeco Ryans how many he had. Ryans never had an answer because he knew better than to keep track. Read more »
Every young quarterback has to go through the process of trying to win over the locker room.
In Pittsburgh back in 2004, starter Tommy Maddox went down with an elbow injury early in the season, forcing Ben Roethlisberger into action. Veteran lineman Alan Faneca was asked at the time if he was excited to see what the rookie could do.
“Exciting?” Faneca said. “No, it’s not exciting. Do you want to go work with some little young kid who’s just out of college?”
Roethlisberger went 13-0 as a starter that year and led the Steelers to an appearance in the AFC Championship Game. He was the 11th overall pick and wasn’t exactly replacing a legend, but there was resistance.
This is a brutally tough league and the window for every player is always threatening to slam shut. There is little patience for a project.
Nobody has given Nick Foles a stiff arm like Faneca did Roethlisberger. As the Michael Vick-Foles joint press conference illustrated, this is a pretty unique situation. Vick has put team in front of self-interest, and that has really set the tone. There is support for whoever is under center.
That’s not to say that Foles hasn’t been climbing uphill in some way. This preseason he was charged with not only winning the quarterback competition but also winning the hearts and minds of his teammates — some of whom once idolized Vick. Read more »
Reactions still vary from player-to-player when Riley Cooper is brought up.
Nick Foles, as an example. stood in the corridor following his press conference and sang the praises of the receiver during a phone interview with Peter King.
“I love Riley to death,” said Foles. “He had that [incident]. He has really grown as a person. I’ve always thought the world of him.”
Meanwhile, in the back corner of the Eagles’ locker room, Cary Williams struck a different tone.
“I mean he’s playing OK, I guess,” said Williams of Cooper, who had just put together a five-catch, 139-yard, three-touchdown performance against the Raiders. Williams followed with a compliment. ”Whenever we’ve needed him he’s come through…That’s one thing he’s been doing, he’s been working and when his name is called he’s been able to make plays whenever the ball is thrown to him.” Read more »
Chip Kelly has a bunch of sayings (“Chipisms” they’ve been called) that he’ll throw out there on occasion to get his point across. A couple examples from Thursday:
On doing things the right way: “Bad habits are like a bed; they’re easy to get into and hard to get out of.”
On the players’ attitudes: “It takes the same amount of time to be miserable as it does to be happy.”
And he’ll deploy an analogy from time to time as well. Like on this day, he compared the quarterback position to golf when discussing the ups and downs of Nick Foles.
“Sometimes that position is a lot like a golfer. You can go one week and be in contention and you’re leading and you have a great round, and the next week the guy doesn’t make the cut, and that’s unfortunate. But what we need out of Nick is consistency, and he understands that.”
So what kind of sample size do you need to properly judge a quarterback? Read more »
The joint press conference last week prior to the Dallas game carried some symbolism with it.
As the quarterbacks were walking off the practice field and towards the podium, they wore a look as if to ask, “Who’s first?” The Eagles’ PR rep solved the problem by waving both of them up.
Nick Foles was coming off the best game of his professional career and looked comfortable as he shared the moment with the vet. Michael Vick heaped praise on the young quarterback and said he would be ready if and when he was called upon again.
Some wondered if this was the passing of the torch. It at least felt like Foles had pulled even with Vick for a lap of the race, and who knows, maybe he can nudge in front with a quality outing against the Cowboys?
Instead, he crashed. And as he did, some Foles detractors/Vick supporters pointed at the wreckage and delivered told-you-sos to those that hitched their wagon to the second-year signal-caller. After a hot debate that raged for a couple weeks in Philadelphia, there was a moment of vindication for those who backed Vick.
But make no mistake: there were no winners as a result of Sunday’s performance. The search for a franchise QB is back at Square One. Read more »
Cary Williams spent a good portion of his Sunday barking at Dallas receivers. Mostly Dez Bryant. The two stood facemask to facemask several times. There was a steady dose of jostling and trash talking throughout the day. Miles Austin was greeted in a similar fashion when he wandered over to the right side of the defense.
This is how Williams conducts his business. Bradley Fletcher couldn’t be any different. He is quiet and soft-spoken and far from an agitator on the field.
Together Williams and Fletcher make up a cornerback duo that is playing a notch above expectations. Read more »
Tony Romo‘s first taste of real NFL action came seven years ago this week. It wasn’t pretty. Going in for the benched Drew Bledsoe in the second half against the Giants, Romo tossed three interceptions — including a pick six — in a 36-22 loss.
The Cowboys’ overall performance was so bad against New York, Bill Parcells felt compelled to ”apologize to the people of America” afterwards.
Romo told Matt Barkley about those early struggles following Sunday’s 17-3 Dallas win over the Eagles to help the rookie gain perspective. The USC product threw three picks in as many drives in his limited time against the Cowboys.
“He’s was kind of smiling and saying his first start he threw three picks,” said Barkley ”and that to learn to pass you’ve got to throw it.” Read more »
Michael Vick‘s renegotiated one-year contract is heavy on incentives. The longer he sits out, the more money he loses. Read more »
Billy Davis has been known to show some old footage of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense from time to time as a teaching tool. When this was brought up to Cary Williams Thursday, the veteran corner had an involuntary reaction upon hearing the Steelers’ name — his body rejecting it like it might some bad salmon.
“Ummm, aahhh…no…I haven’t seen it,” said Williams uncomfortably, before spitting it out. “I hate Pittsburgh, to be honest with you.”
Old habits die hard, especially for someone wired like him. The feisty corner couldn’t help but get worked into a lather when the Patriots stomped all over his grass this summer. Something in him triggered, like it did (in a much more subtle way) this week. Those are his bitter rivals. Or at least they were. Read more »