Eagles, Meet Oregon

Posted: January 25th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 52 Comments »

One of the interesting things I found out while digging for info in Mobile is the culture change that is going on.  Chip Kelly is adjusting to the NFL, but the Eagles are about to start adjusting to Kelly and his way of doing business.

Back in 1999 there was a change from Ray Rhodes to Andy Reid.  The men were very different, but both were NFL assistants that spent time in the Walsh/Holmgren system.  They were more alike than many people might realize.  The big difference was planning, structure, and vision.  Rhodes was building a team to win right away.  Reid spoke of building a program, something that could sustain beyond one group of players.

Reid benefited from the fact that Joe Banner and Jeff Lurie had learned from mistakes during Rhodes tenure and hired GM Tom Modrak.  That helped set up a good power structure that allowed the Eagles to function as a more cohesive organization under Reid.

Reid was more innovative than Rhodes, but not in a significant way.  Both men ran the WCO.  Both preferred the 4-3.  Both men learned how to do business in the Walsh/Holmgren world.  Andy never worked for Walsh, but since Holmgren based what he did on Walsh’s ideas, it is still the same basic coaching tree.

This time around the coaching change features some real differences.  Chip Kelly isn’t an NFL guy.  Heck, he’s not even a conventional college coach.  Chip truly is an innovator.  He’s the guy people go to in order to learn something new.

Chip is cognizant of the fact his ideas are going to be different.  He’s bringing several members of his Oregon staff along to help show the Eagles what he wants done.  You see, most of the assistants have to learn what Chip wants just like the players do.

I think Chip was wise to put together a staff from a variety of places instead of just loading up on Oregon guys.  He had a good staff there, but not one that was ready to take over an NFL team.  The fact Chip didn’t try to bring all of his assistants here is a good sign.  That tells me that Chip understands he can’t just try to replicate Oregon in the NFL.  He’s got to adjust.

Chip does want to do  things his way for the most part and that means he needs help in teaching his methods.  Jerry Azzinaro isn’t here to run the defense.  He’s not going to implement a special scheme.  He is here to coach the DL and to set the tone for how Kelly expects guys to practice.

Josh Gibson was part of the Football Operations staff at Oregon.  One of his primary duties was to oversee recruiting.  He knows what Chip wants in players.  You would think he’ll be a good liaison to the Personnel Dept in Philly.  He won’t tell Howie Roseman who to pick, but he can help explain what to look for in players.

Greg Austin spent offseasons helping to develop young players at Oregon.  During the season, he helped run the scout teams in practice.  He is a former Nebraska OL that can relate to young players, but also understands how to sit in an office and grind away all day with tape study and note-taking.  I’m sure he’ll be a good asset to the coaching staff.  Austin knows the kind of information that Chip wants in scouting reports.

Matt Harper is a former Oregon DB that worked with the special teams units.  He would make a perfect assistant STs coach.  Harper could also help coach the Safeties if needed.  That’s a position he played.

Todd Lyght is a real interesting person.  He was a star DB in the NFL for years.  He left football for a while, but then decided to try coaching.  He did so at the high school level and wanted more.  He then became an intern for Kelly at Oregon (there were restrictions on how big the staff could be and no other positions were open).  Lyght was an assistant in 2012.  He is very new to coaching, but his background means he knows football, even NFL football.  Lyght would make a good assistant to the DBs coach.  NFL players will respect him because of his background.  Chip has to love the fact that a former NFL star was willing to be an intern at age 41.

You also have James Harris coming over.  He worked with the football staff at Oregon as a nutritionist and player adviser.  I’m sure he’ll work in a similar capacity with the Eagles.  Harris specialty was his ability to connect with players.  He’s a good listener and communicator.  I don’t know what specific benefits Harris presence will bring to the table, but he was important at Oregon.  There he was a big brother type to many players.  That may not translate as well to the NFL.  If he can help with the young players, there could be excellent value in that.

Notice that none of these guys are coordinators.  Only Azzinaro is a veteran coach.  Lyght is 43, but the other coaches are in their 30′s.  Chip isn’t bringing a group of older coaches to push the Oregon Way down anyone’s throat.  He is bringing young guys that can work with with the coaches and players to show them what Chip wants.  These coaches are also hungry and driven. They will do whatever is asked of them and there will be no complaints.  Since most didn’t have positions of major authority I don’t think you fear any turf wars with members of the Eagles support staff, Personnel Dept, or the new coaching staff.

Notice that several of the assistants are on the defensive side.  Chip is going to be very hands on with the offense.  He can teach those coaches and players exactly what he wants.  “Here’s how we teach.  Here’s how we prepare. Here’s how we practice.  And here is how we play.”  Whoever runs the defense will be new to Kellyball.  He’ll need some help.

The Eagles wanted change when they hired Kelly.  They wanted him to come in and work his magic.  They know this meant a merging of the worlds…Eagles and Oregon.  For the last 14 years, things were done Andy’s way.  This meant everything from choosing players to coaching them to strength training and rehab.

Barry Rubin is out as strength coach (I liked him quite a bit).  Rick Burkholder is out as the trainer (also liked him).  The coaching staff will be almost entirely new.  There aren’t going to be changes to the Personnel Dept, but now Howie and company have to learn what Chip Kelly wants in a player.

Chip has talked to his Oregon guys about how to work with the holdovers and new coaches to get everyone on the same page.  I’m sure there will be some butting of heads as there always is when you combine different things, but I don’t expect there to be any major issues since such a housecleaning has taken place.

Chip and the Oregon guys know they must learn the NFL’s style of doing things so they can figure out what works and what doesn’t.  Chip has publicly acknowledged that he may not be able to practice exactly the way he wants due to CBA rules and a smaller roster of players to work with.  I like the fact that he understands the NFL isn’t a bunch of idiots and he’s not the savior riding in on a unicorn to save the day.  Jimmy Johnson had great success in Dallas because he found the right balance of doing things his way and sticking with tried and true NFL methods.

For the last 14 years the Eagles were Andy’s World.  Now that has changed to Chip’s World.  It is too early to see the differences to those of us on the outside, but change is coming.  And that’s a good thing.

* * * * *

I’ll post a DC update, including Spags talk, on Saturday.

* * * * *

Because of the Senior Bowl coverage, I held Gimpy’s MAQB column a few days, but it is posted now.

* * * * *

Darrelle Revis might be on the market.  Am I interested?  Really tough question.  The guy is rehabbing a torn ACL.  He’s going to be a free agent in 2014.  What is fair compensation for him?

When healthy, Revis is one of the most dominant players in the NFL.  We just don’t know when or if he’ll get back to that point.  Adrian Peterson is a real freak.  We can’t expect all players to rehab like that.  Fool’s gold.

I would make a call about Revis, but can’t overpay for him.  Too many negative variables.

* * * * *

Jimmy did a recap of the players the Eagles checked out in Mobile.

We are scheduled to record an H2H show on Friday night.  We hoped to do them in Mobile, but were watching practice, writing about watching practice, or drinking and digging for Eagles rumors.  Priorities.

_


  • sprawl

    Great info here–looking forward to the next helmet2helmet and hoping it can top Chip Kelly 2:The Sequel

    • TommyLawlor

      Excellent reference.

  • shah8

    That listing of Kelly’s harem sounds like it could become a very political situation there. That doesn’t tend to have great outcomes on the field.

    • TommyLawlor

      Political? None are coordinators. None have major spots of power. What angle am I missing?

      • shah8

        spies, my man, friendly eyes on their nominal superiors!

        • TommyLawlor

          Maybe. The coaches Chip is bringing in aren’t likely to be threatened by the Oregon guys. The coaches know what they are getting into. If they aren’t comfortable, they won’t come here.

          Your angle would make more sense if the Oregon guys were getting mixed into an existing staff.

          • shah8

            Being half serious. Besides, it’s always very political on a coaching staff, as we learned to our sorrow this year.

  • ACViking

    Re: Eagles’ SR Bowl DB Interviewees

    I was struck by Kelly’s statement in a pre-SR Bowl interview that he’ll tell Roseman the size and shape of the players he wants at every position and it’s Roseman’s job to find them. (That’s my read, at least.)

    So earlier this week, I did a quick scan of the CBs recruited at Oregon during the Chip Kelly-era.

    They were all 5’11 and smaller. (Kelly’s apparently so intent on having CB’s that fit his size/weight profile that, according to Oregon’s official roster, CB Cliff Harris actually shrunk one inch to 5’11″ between 2009 and 2010.)

    On the other hand, Kelly’s safeties at Oregon were 6’0″ or more.

    So Jimmy ‘Bama’s list of the Eagles’ DB interviewees was very informative.

    The Eagles targeted CBs who have the same measurables that Kelly looked for in his college recruits . . . more the Sheldon Brown than the Bobby Taylor.

    The kind of recruits he looked for at Oregon at all positions may be a barometer for what we should expect for the Eagles.

    For example, fast-rising OT Eric Fisher from Central Michigan would fit the Ducks profile.

    But U-Georgia NT John Jenkins, at 359 lbs, would not at all (although that could have been a recruiting problem). On the other hand, Fletcher Cox is a perfect match. Oregon’s biggest D-lineman is D/NT Ricky Heimuli — who’s listed currently at 305 lbs. Last season he was officially listed at 321 lbs.

    I assume that Kelly wouldn’t rule out Jenkins if the guy projects to be as dominant as the Ravens’ Haloti Ngata (from Oregon).

    But, as he’s already indicated, he wants an attacking defense. That may suggest more 1-gap than 2-gap scheming — and players who fit that approach.

    By the way, the DE/rush-OLBs at Oregon tend to be on the tall side . . . more of a Jevon Kearse than a B-Graham.

    • Arby1

      “Oregon’s biggest D-lineman is D/NT Ricky Heimuli — who’s listed currently at 305 lbs. But in 2011, he was officially listed at 321 lbs.”
      Could this be a result of all that playing fast business?

      Not sure I like the idea of smaller CB’s if all other measurables are the same. What would be the benefit?

      • Iskar36

        Kelly wouldn’t put in categorical restrictions on any measurements. Furthermore, all other things equal, any coach would take the bigger, taller corner. However, the reality is that there are usually trade-offs when a guy is taller. Think about some of the fastest players in the NFL. They are typically smaller guys. On the other hand, think of some of the more physical players. Usually they are not going to be part of the elite speed discussion. I’m over simplifying things by only using two different measurables, but the point is, Kelly would not be looking for a “shorter” corner, but instead for a corner that has a certain skill set that happens to be more common among smaller CBs.

        • austinfan

          Actually, a lot of the fastest guys tend to be taller, DRC is a good example, but they also tend to be long legged and take a few steps to get up to speed, whereas D Johnson has only average long speed but gets to top speed in a hurry and can cut on a dime and give you a nickel and five pennies in change.

          There’s the “burst” factor, more compact CBs often can break on the ball quicker and change direction, which is why nickel CBs are often smaller than guys on the outside. In zone, the ability to come up quickly and tackle to eliminate YAC is more important than the ability to run 40 yards downfield with a fast WR.

      • Anders

        I think is weight drop is because of that. Dion Jordan, dropped from 240 to 225 this season because of the insane tempo.

    • aub32

      Jenkins looked good at times in the videos I saw of SR Bowl practice, but at his size how much can he be expected to do? Kelly doesn’t believe in time of possession, and that’s going to put a strain on bigger and possibly out of shape lineman. Jenkins did say he would get down to 341 by the combine, and that could be promising if true. If he has the work ethic, he would be a steal in the second round.

    • deg0ey

      Regarding the 1-gap attacking defense, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see something a little like what they’ve got cooking down in Houston.

      It’s ostensibly a 3-4, with three down linemen, but if you look at the alignment of those three guys in their base D, there’s a 6-tech, a 1-tech and a 3-tech. It’s essentially a 4-3 under front without the RDE. None of the NTs on their roster is listed at more than 307lbs – Patt, Jenkins, Thornton, Dixon and Landri are all big enough that they could take on that role.

      If the Eagles were to take on such a scheme, we might see something with Cole as the 6-tech, Cox as the 3-tech, one of the previously mentioned guys at NT and Graham standing up at OLB, primarily as a pass rusher.

      I also had a quick skim to see whether there’s anyone that has worked under Wade Phillips that might be of interest at DC. The answer is not really.

      -Ted Cottrell could’ve been interesting, but he’s 65 and has been out of work for a few years, so I don’t know whether he’d fancy coming back.

      -Reggie Herring is LB coach in Houston and was previously Wade’s LB coach at Dallas; has DC experience, but only in college (TCU, Clemson, NC State and Arkansas).

      -Greg Manusky could’ve been good, but he’s DC for the Colts, so not an option.

      -Brian Stewart was Wade’s DC in Dallas, but by most accounts wasn’t very good and only lasted two seasons.

      Here’s a good breakdown by a Texans blog of what they actually do, for those that aren’t aware http://www.battleredblog.com/2011/1/4/1913068/thats-so-crazy-it-just-might-work-examining-wade-phillips-3-4-scheme

  • A_T_G

    I had heard about there being dinosaurs in Washington, but there are unicorns in Oregon? I really must visit the northwest.

    • TommyLawlor

      There are unicorns wherever Chip goes. Just like there are empty PBR cans wherever I go.

      • A_T_G

        Interesting. We might be able to get Rex Ryan on the cheap, then. If we tell him one of the perks is mythically beautiful and constantly horny Oregonians walking around with their feet exposed, he might come on as an unpaid intern.

  • http://twitter.com/dfowler587 DF587

    Rumor out there is that Donatell is not as sure fire hire at DC as recently reported. As much as Chip wants to surround himself with “smart” people, does Mangini fit this category? He hasn’t seemed to draw any interest since losing the Cleveland gig, but the guy was once considered “boy wonder” to Belichick.

    • TommyLawlor

      When you look at his defensive numbers, there isn’t that much to be impressed with.

      http://www.pro-football-reference.com/coaches/MangEr0.htm

      • austinfan

        They’re not bad, he improved the defense in both places he was DC, never got a lot of resources to work with, and here’s the funny part, he was replaced by Mike Zimmer in Atlanta, the defense collapsed, Zimmer was fired after one year and went to Cincy and was a big success. Go figure.

        Not saying Donatell is a genius, but he has a solid track record, better than Fangio when SF hired him.

        • TommyLawlor

          We were talking about Eric Mangini, not Donatell.

          • austinfan

            Never mind (SNL reference).

  • ceteris_paribus1776

    I think it would be informative to see what sort of list of coaches other college-to-NFL coaches assembled from their college staffs. Is what Kelly is bringing over typical? Otherwise, the statement that Kelly isn’t loading up on Oregon guys doesn’t really hold up.

    To be honest, Caroll didn’t bring any of his coordinators along, and Harbaugh brought two. I don’t think we have enough information to suggest loading up on coordinators is or isn’t a bad thing. Still, the question about what Kelly brought compared to others is interesting on its own.

    • TommyLawlor

      Jimmy J brought several guys from Miami. Wannstedt, Butch D, Campo, etc.

      I think the statement is just fine as is anyway. Point is that Chip didn’t overvalue his guys and also didn’t feel the need to surround himself with cronies. He’s building a true staff.

      • ceteris_paribus1776

        I don’t know if everyone you listed is the entirety of Kelly’s carryover from Oregon staff, but it was 6 guys. I’m just trying to get a sense of whether or not that is typical compared to what other coaches have done. Jimmy brought one coordinator in Wannstedt, everything else was positional and assistant level, just like Kelly. My point is that it’s not entirely clear whether or not Kelly overvalues his guys unless you compare it to what others have done. I’m not making a judgement call on whether or not overvaluing your guys is or isn’t a bad thing, but if we are going to base our opinion on Kelly building a staff as being complete and objective it would be nice to have a little better idea of what it means to overvalue his guys.

        What do you mean cronies? Who surrounds themselves with cronies?

        • TommyLawlor

          Do you hire friends instead of the best candidates? I’m not too keen on Gus Bradley hiring Bob Babich as his DC. Bob was his boss at NDSU for a few years. Bob is a good LBs coach, but was terrible as the Bears DC. Maybe that works out in JAX, but can’t say I’m a fan of the move.

          I think John Harbaugh stuck with his old friend Cam Cameron too long. They fired Cam in the middle of the year and now the team is in the Super Bowl.

          There is no definite rule. You shouldn’t avoid friends if they are really good, but being able to go outside your comfort zone is a good thing.

          Johnson brought most of his defensive staff to Dallas in 1989. As it turned out, that was a great move since they were great coaches. Saying he brought the DC and some positional guys is underselling it. You had the DC, DL coach, and DB coach. Not sure about the LB coach. That’s literally a whole side of the ball being the same as it was at the previous team.

          • aub32

            We should be more aware of that than anyone. Reid hired his friend, Juan Castillo, as DC, and now he’s coaching for the Cheifs.

  • ceteris_paribus1776

    Ansah has that raw JPP intrigue about him. #4 is way too early at this point, but an interesting prospect. I really like Okafor. Smart player who I could see easily making it as a 3-4 OLB.

    • deg0ey

      Walter Football’s latest mock has him going to the Chiefs at the top of the 3rd. From what I’ve seen of him, he could be pretty devastating as a 3-4 end on the opposite side from Cox. If he could add a few pounds, he might even be an option as a 1-gap NT.

    • 47_Ronin

      If there was a redraft for 2010 would JPP go 15 or top 5? So is the 4th pick too soon to take a good pass rusher?

      • ceteris_paribus1776

        Of course if you know the guy is going to be a good player 4th isn’t too high. The problem clearly is that he is raw and you simply don’t know. Moore, Werner, Montgomery, and Jordan may all be taken ahead of Ansah.

  • P_P_K

    Great writeup. You captured many of the reasons I am excited about Chip’s arrival, as well as scared sh*tless.

    • TommyLawlor

      I think we all feel that way.

  • austinfan

    3-4: key is one gap or two gap.
    Base 3-4 is run less than 50% of snaps, two gap NT would then be off the field, but a one gap NT would shift to DT, so you don’t draft a two gap NT high.
    In the nickel, most teams go to a 4-2-5, so you like OLBs that can play with a hand on the ground, or you have to rotate in 4-3 DEs on passing downs.

    S-B: they looked at zone type CBs, Donatell is coaching zone in SF, otherwise he was a 4-3 DC. If they go zone, Aso and DRC are history, Marsh is probably moving to safety, Hughes might be gone and Lindley gets a shot. Advantage of zone is it’s easier to find CBs, you don’t need 4.4 speed, but you do need to be a good tackler. They’d be looking for guys like Flowers and Verner.

    Chip – I think Lurie and Howie expect growing pains in 2013 as Chip learns the NFL game. This is more a remake the roster and see what works season, which allows them to play a lot of rookies, take chances on guys in camp (Everett Brown) and move guys to new positions. Chip wasn’t hired to bring the Oregon offense to the NFL, he was hired because he was a smart guy who’d figure out the NFL game and implement what he thinks he can make work. So you give him a year to play mad scientist, and worst that happens, some players are exposed, some schemes are discarded, and you have a great 2014 draft. The same applies to his coaching staff, some will fall short and be replaced, others will become fixtures.

    • goeagles55

      4-2-5 is still the most common nickel alignment, but 2-4-5 and 3-3-5 are slowly becoming more popular.

      • austinfan

        Still pulling the NT.

        One way to deal with OLBs who can’t play with their hand in the ground, plus, since they’re your best athletes, it allows you to keep them on the field.

        • deg0ey

          The good thing is that the Eagles can already a field a 3-4 front with the guys they currently have. It wouldn’t be the best in the world and wouldn’t necessarily be a ‘conventional’ 3-4, but we don’t have to reach for a guy because of a gaping hole.

      • phillychuck

        2-4-5 and 4-2-5 are basically the same scheme with slightly different techniques by the outside guys in the front 6, and slightly different blitz options.

  • aub32

    I am glad you mentioned Revis. It’s so intriguing, and you have to expect he will come cheaper (as far as a trade) due to the injury. Revis is a perfecter of his craft. So I can’t imagine him not doing everything to get back up to form.

    I wonder if the team would consider him> After the Kelly, Asomugha, and Ryan’s moves I would not put it past them. You have to wonder if they will feel trepidation after how Nnamdi worked out or enthusiastic based on how well the Ryan’s trade worked out.

    According to Stephen A. he’s seeking 16 mil a year. I don’t see why we couldn’t give it to him, after signing Nnamdi to something similar. With the contracts soon to be reworked or voided, I am sure we will have the cap room. Hell if Foles or some other rookie come in as QB this year or next, we will have plenty of money freed up.

    I like the idea of the move and wouldn’t mind parting with a 3rd and conditional 2nd for next year. Thoughts?

    • A_T_G

      I don’t think we will look at it the same way we did Nnamdi. At the time, we thought a few vets would put us over the top. I truly hope no one thinks Fevis will be he last piece we need.

      I hope we are willing to bite the bullet, and use the r-word.

      • deg0ey

        Totally agree with this…

        Whilst I think that with a solid draft and the right FA acquisitions could put us back in the playoffs (that’s more a function of Jerry Jones ad RG3-torn-ligaments keeping the Skins and Cowboys from being competitive) there’s no real danger of the Eagles actually going all the way for a few seasons at least.

        I’m hoping for a solid 8 to 10 win season in 2013 coupled with some encouraging signs of what the team can achieve going forward.

        • aub32

          I agree we are not one piece away, but if our O line returns to form, and we pick up an OT, we are pretty set on offense. I trust/ hope Kelly and Shurmur can get some decent to good QB play, or at least design an offense that will mask his deficiencies. Our D needs a good deal of work, but a true shut down corner can hide a lot of warts. Think how different the Lions, Cardinals, and Bengals games go if we were able to take away their number one option.

    • ceteris_paribus1776

      I heard Jets were asking for 1st and 2nd. With the #4 pick in each round that’s quite high. Plus the 16mil in salary…he better be the best corner in the league for 5 more years if you make that deal.

  • T_S_O_P

    It can’t be by accident that some of the defensive and special teams coaches that he has hired have experience in either the spread, read option or pistol.

  • CTAZPA

    I found this link from digging through one of Tommy’s links from last week. It’s an Oregon Duck fan’s analysis of Chip’s offensive plays. Tons of action, diagrams and “devoted fan” commentary make it a worthwhile watch.

    I’m an Arizona Wildcat alum, so you’ll forgive me if I find the guy to be a buffoonish, Madden-wannabee, dog-obsessing nerd. Good videos, though.

    http://fishduck.com/playbook/#playbook-offenceanalysis

  • phillychuck

    Any feasibility to trading Nnamdi plus a pick for Reavis? Jets might think he’d be fine in their scheme. Or would the money derail any talks along those lines?

    • TommyLawlor

      Nnamdi’s salary makes him untradeable as far as I know.

  • ACViking

    Re: The 49ers’ Drafting of Kappernick

    Think back to Jim Harbaugh’s arrival to SF before the 2011 draft.

    The team’s QB was free agent Alex Smith. Harbaugh convinces him to stay.

    In the draft, the 49ers pull a trade to move up to get Kappernick.

    Kappernick’s got a brain (3.7 GPA), plus a gun for an arm and he runs like an NFL HB.

    And Kappernick’s coming from U-Nevada . . . where he learned the pistol read-option offense from College HOF coach Chris Ault — a brilliant offensive coach.

    Theory: When the 49ers GM Trent Balke pulled the trigger on the move to get Kappernick at the top of Rd 2, Harbaugh had already planned to move to the read-option — assuming Kappy could play in the NFL (w/ his 3.7 GPA and 4.4 in the 40 plus a cannon-arm). Kappy’s speed and his treat to run would tie DEs and OLBs in knots, creating phantom blocks and natural running lanes.

    Harbaugh saw the future . . . and it was Chip Kelly’s offense.

    At least, the argument could be made . . . and, as Kelly says, it’s all about the personnel.

    • eagles2zc

      An intriguing matchup in the SB, Ravens D against the zone read. My guess is that Lewis and Co. will try to put the hurting on Kappernick early and often. Then again, a Kappernick run may not even be necessary if ’9ers can run it down their throat the traditional way

    • eagles2zc

      An intriguing matchup in the SB, Ravens D against the zone read. My guess is that Lewis and Co. will try to put the hurting on Kappernick early and often. Then again, a Kappernick run may not even be necessary if ’9ers can run it down their throat the traditional way

  • Anders

    Hey Tommy. I dont know if you have already answered this question before, but what do you think of trading for Alex Smith? To me he seems more than athletic enough and good decision maker. The only thing lacking from his game is the deep ball.

  • NoDecaf

    Any last minute articles on who to keep an Eagle eye on today, Tommy?