Back in early June, Chip Kelly sat at the head of a conference table in the NovaCare Complex and spent a full hour answering reporters’ questions about his program, his offensive scheme and his philosophies.
“If they didn’t line up right and they have nine guys standing over there and you have a play called that’s going to run into those nine guys, then maybe playing fast wasn’t the smartest thing to do,” Kelly said. “Sometimes you need to let things get settled down and get an opportunity to make sure that you’ve got the right look.
“A lot of things we’re doing, we’re trying to throw it versus the best-located safety. Well, we better make sure we locate the safeties before we snap the football. Do we want to run it at one guy or run away from another guy? You’ve got to make sure some of those things you can see before you start it. It’s just not all driven on let’s see how many plays we can get run.”
While the truth is the Eagles are going to move quickly, Kelly’s response serves as the foundation for much of what he wants to do offensively: spread the field out, look for a numbers advantage and count on the quarterback to make the right decisions.
“I definitely would take Lane Johnson,” Thomas, now a coaching intern with the Eagles, told 97.5 The Fanatic. “I’ve watched all of these guys. I’ve watched their personal workouts, I’ve watched some game film on them.
“When I look at Johnson, he can play left and he can play right. He’s an athletic guy. I’ve watched him play: he’s got long arms, great athletic ability and I think because he has experience playing at that right side, he’s a perfect fit.”
As it turned out, Fisher went No. 1 to the Chiefs, Joeckel went second to the Jaguars and Johnson landed with the Eagles at 4. Now that he works with him every day, what is his assessment of the rookie?
They adjusted to the new scheme, the new practice methods and the new environment in the spring and then the summer. They knew Kelly had great success at Oregon, but they didn’t know exactly how his philosophies would translate to the NFL.
There are tweaks and and adjustments and wrinkles, but many of the basic concepts – tempo, options, taking advantage of the numbers – are the same. And through two preseason games, the players are buying in.
“I haven’t been this excited about football in a long time,” said center Jason Kelce. “The whole way the offense is structured and the scheming and all the stuff we are doing, it’s really exciting to see where we are going to go.”
He had made it just a few steps off the line of scrimmage and said his foot “basically” got caught in the turf. He tried to go left, his right leg didn’t want him to, and he felt it pop before falling to the ground.
“I was devastated,” said Maclin, who addressed reporters in the Lincoln Financial Field tunnel Sunday. “It wasn’t the fact that it hurt, it was the fact that I knew what happened so I was emotional, knowing what was at stake. This is something that I love to do, I love to play football and knowing that I’m not going to be able to do that, knowing that I’m not going to be a part of this new era here in Philly this year. Hopefully I’ll be around for a few more years to come. I’m going to rehab, get stronger and be better than I was before.”
But next Thursday could affect the ninth-year pro. After moving to right tackle before the 2011 season, Herremans could be asked to slide back inside to guard, particularly if the Eagles use a first-round pick on someone like Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel, Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher or Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson.
So surely Herremans will be tuning in this year, right?
“I’m sure I’ll see it on Twitter,” he said.
Chip Kelly has been the Eagles head coach since January 16 but, because of the restrictions in the new collective bargaining agreement, hasn’t been able to hand out a playbook or talk any real football with his players. Until today.
The Eagles’ offseason program is now underway. The wheels can finally start rolling on the Kelly era.
The changes Chip Kelly is implementing extend well beyond the locker room shake-up.
One area where players are already noticing a difference is in the weight room.
“The weight conditioning is a little bit more up-tempo than it was under [previous strength and conditioning coach] Barry Rubin,” said center Jason Kelce. “I think that part of the reason why is because we’re going to run up-tempo. Instead of being able to relax and just kind of walk around the weight room and do your lifts, it’s more at a steady pace where you have a set amount of time rest period. I think the receivers and those guys might be doing a little bit more conditioning. They know they’re in for a lot of running in this offense.”
The health of the offensive line is obviously a major issue heading into the 2013 season. The Eagles lost Todd Herremans (dislocated foot), Jason Peters (ruptured Achilles) and Jason Kelce (torn MCL, partially torn ACL) to serious injuries in 2012. Their ability to rebound will be critical if Chip Kelly wants to experience some semblance of success in his first year at the helm.
With the offseason program set to begin on April 1 and the first minicamp a little over two weeks away, we checked in on the triumvirate’s status.
When Eagles players return to the NovaCare locker room in the coming weeks, they’re going to notice some changes.
Instead of having the space organized by positional groups, Chip Kelly has decided to mix things up. A quarterback might find himself next to a safety, a wide receiver alongside a linebacker, and so on.
“I think it’s going to help us blend a little better as a team,” said offensive lineman Todd Herremans, who hosted a fund-raising event for the Herremans Foundation Thursday night. “You’re with your position so much in the meeting rooms and everything like that. This will also have us hold each other accountable.”