Eagles Wake-Up Call: The Sports Science Angle

When Chip Kelly first announced his staff back in February, he drew attention for appointing the league’s first sports science coordinator, Shaun Huls.

While Huls has not yet been made available to the media, there have been noticeable changes at the NovaCare Complex, from nutrition to sleep to training.

Kelly brought many of the ideas with him from Oregon, and a recent Grantland article sheds more light on the sports science angle.

Over the last 37 years, Australia has become the leader in the field, writes Noah Davis. After a poor showing in the 1976 Olympics, the government created the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) to advance the country athletically. The initiative worked, as the country improved greatly by the 1984 Olympics, and now 190 employees work for the organization, including 50 focused specifically on sports science.

The Australian Football League picked up on the sports science angle, and a man by the name of James Hanisch spent time as the head of sports science with the Brisbane Lions.

Writes Davis:

Hanisch knows a thing or two about excellent facilities. He left the AFL team after Chip Kelly recruited him to help with the football program at the University of Oregon. Kelly left for the Philadelphia Eagles, but Hanisch stayed and now runs the school’s sports science program. He is one of the first wave of Aussies to move to the U.S. to work in the discipline, and he believes more will follow as their services are increasingly in demand.

In other words, Kelly wooed the sports science expert from Australia to Oregon. Now, Hanisch is looking to help the Ducks maintain their competitive edge, asking players to not reveal the school’s secrets when they leave Eugene.

Meanwhile, according to a Forbes article last month, the Eagles recently became one of six NFL teams to sign on with Catapult Sports, a leader in athlete tracking technology.

How does it work?

During the NBA preseason, Jason Kidd wore a GPS sensor from Catapult that measured acceleration, agility and force, providing baseline numbers. During the season, when Kidd was recovering from injury, the trainers had him again wear the device to measure how close he was to 100 percent.

So far this spring, Eagles players seem to be on board with the changes – healthier food options in the cafeteria, sleep monitors, a new training regimen, etc. Kelly seemed to be at the forefront of the sports science movement in college, and that appears likely to continue now that he’s in the NFL.


Here’s my running diary of practice observations from Wednesday’s session.

The Eagles made some changes to their scouting staff.

Encouraging signs for the offensive line this week.

T-Mac has a great look at where things stand with Kenny Phillips.


Jeffrey Lurie is happy with the way things are going with Kelly so far. From Zach Berman of The Inquirer:

“I guess one of the things that we focused on in the search, but has been so ratified by what I’ve seen so far, is his sense as a program builder,” Lurie said. “We knew [he had a] dynamic offensive mind. We knew he thought about a lot of big-picture aspects. But his managing of the details of building a program and bringing people together in that building – the program building, not the physical building – I can see that’s why he’s been so successful.”

Tommy Lawlor of IgglesBlitz.com offers his take on Tim’s DeSean Jackson story:

I do think it is a good sign that Jackson went and met with Kelly. He could have sulked. He could have complained to the media. Instead he took the right approach and dealt with the issue. Kelly isn’t going to coddle players, but I don’t get the feeling he’s going to be a Parcells type that plays mind games either. Chip says here is what is expected of you. Do this and you’ll be fine. DJax now knows what is expected of him and seems to be meeting the expectations.


One more practice between now and training camp. We’ll have it covered.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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