Weekend Reading: Chip Kelly And Samurai Flags

We’ve mentioned a couple times how the Eagles are using special fly-swatter-like contraptions at practice to simulate defensive linemen during 7-on-7 drills.

Here’s a photo in case you missed it earlier in the week:

Three assistants throw those on, and suddenly, they are 6-foot-4 defensive linemen (or close to it).

According to The Register-Guard, Chip Kelly came up with the idea back in 2009. Oregon had a couple quarterbacks – Jeremiah  Masoli and Nate Costa – who were about 6 feet tall. So obviously, it was important for them to figure out how to find passing lanes.

The story of how Kelly came up with the idea can apparently be traced back to a movie from the early 90s.

Kelly said the idea for the new system came to him while flipping past the movie “Heaven and Earth” one night. It’s based on the system of flags samurai used to wear on their backs to coordinate themselves in battle, and I’m taking DSA editor A.J. Jacobson’s word on that one.

I did a little Googling, and apparently, those flags were called sashimono. From MyArmoury.com:

As a result of the improved tactics and bigger armies, the complexity of command, control and communications on the battlefield increased. To solve this problem, the identification flag (sashimono) was widely used after 1573. This was a cotton or silk cloth on a wooden or bamboo staff 0.9-1.5 m. long. The sashimono was attached to the soldier’s back and was always easily visible. Family crests (mon), stripes or other different emblems were featured on its surface.

So there you have it. And yes, this is why we love the internet.

Getting back to the Eagles, I’ve mentioned how Michael Vick has thrown two balls into the contraptions during practices open to the media. But Vick actually improved in avoiding batted passes last year. In 2011, per Pro Football Focus, he had one of every 30.2 pass attempts swatted down at the line of scrimmage. In 2012, it was one every 43.9.


Clark Judge of CBSSports.com stopped by Eagles practice this week. His impressions:

There’s plenty at Kelly’s mandatory minicamp you haven’t witnessed elsewhere, including three young men dressed as human flyswatters. Honest. They rush the quarterback by walking at him, with screens that extend from their shoulders up and over their heads to encourage passers to throw high.

Everything is designed to maximize time spent on the field, and the Eagles clocked in at just under two hours Tuesday. So call it a success. But I don’t care how fast or unusual workouts are, the only question that matters at this week’s minicamp is this: Will it work in the pros?

Here’s our full roundup of what the national media are saying about the Eagles, from Friday.


And finally, in case you missed Mike Missanelli’s interview with Cary Williams on 97.5 The Fanatic, here’s the podcast.

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