Mychal Kendricks and Chip Kelly

Posted: March 30th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 51 Comments »

Chip Kelly loves athletes.  He loves playmakers.  He loves versatile players.  He loves long/tall defensive players.

Mychal Kendricks rates highly until that final point.  Kendricks is only 5-11.  Kelly would prefer 6-2 or so for an ILB.  So what is Chip Kelly going to think of him?  This is one of those situations where it is really tough to know Kelly’s thinking.

The main argument for Kelly liking Kendricks is that height/length is the only area where he’s deficient.  Kelly saw Kendricks as a starter for 3 years in the Oregon/Cal matchup.  Kendricks had 10 tackles and a sack in 2010.  Kelly will know that Kendricks had 8.5 sacks and was more of an edge player that year.  Kelly saw him slide to ILB in 2011 and then lead Cal in tackles, while also putting up 14.5 TFLs and 2 INTs.  Kendricks was voted Pac-12 Def POY in 2011.  This isn’t a player Kelly has to study at great length.  He knows Kendricks.

I think the Eagles scheme will be key in understanding Kendricks’ future.  If the Eagles go to a pure 3-4, that could hurt Kendricks.  You prefer 3-4 ILBs to have some size so they can take on blockers.  Kendricks is 240 pounds and has some thickness, but he’s not great at shedding blocks.  If the Eagles play the 4-3 Under, Kendricks would have a natural home at WILB.  This player is protected by the NT and DT.  They’ll keep him clean and let that LB run to the ball and make plays.  Karlos Dansby had this role in Arizona and thrived.

Kendricks had a solid rookie year.  He played both SAM and WLB.  He played in the base and Nickel defenses.  He showed the ability to cover in space.  He showed good speed and athleticism.  Kendricks needs to work on his open field tackling, but I think that will be helped by playing on a more stable defense.  Kendricks showed excellent potential, but it is still just that for now…potential.

I am sure Howie Roseman will want to keep Kendricks around.  My guess is that Kelly will be fine with him for now.  He saw Kendricks at his best in the Pac-12.  Kelly knows how good Kendricks can be.  Kendricks has to play well in 2013 to be safe for the future.  Depending on how well he plays, Kelly could learn to be comfortable with an ILB that size.  Kelly did have some short LBs at Oregon, but he didn’t always have the option of finding his ideal guys while there.

The Eagles have looked at ILBs closely while preparing for the draft.  I think they are focused on a successor for DeMeco Ryans.  The team doesn’t see Casey Matthews or Jamar Chaney as players who can be trusted to start.  There is a need for depth and competition.

* * * * *

Draft Talk

A few of you raised questions about some of the choices in the mock draft in the previous post.  Why take a WR there?  Why wait so late for a WR?  Why not take a DE earlier?  And so on.

These are all valid questions.  But…

One thing you must remember is that you don’t draft positions…you draft players.  That may sound silly or trite, but it is absolutely crucial to remember that as you think about team-building.  You must think in terms of specific players.

We do need a DE.  Right now we’d have Ced Thornton and Clifton Geathers fighting to start at the 5-tech DE.  Or maybe Vinny Curry would be in that mix.  Thornton is the only guy you’d be comfortable with as of now and he’s never started an NFL game.  We need a DE.

But what happens if the Eagles go with LB or QB at #4, then grab an OT in the 2nd round, then grab a TE in the 3rd, and go with CB in the 4th?  You haven’t added a DE.  You might have 4 players you love, though.  Those could be guys you think will be good starters.  What good does forcing a pick at DE do?

And this type of thinking is true with the other positions.  You can’t force a pick.  I’ve said that we only truly have 2 absolute needs:  DE, OT.  Other than that, everything else is a want.  We might want an upgrade.  We might want depth.  The DE pick can come late in the draft.  We don’t have to find a starter.  We do need someone to help with depth and to be able to challenge for a spot. We can always sign a FA after the draft or possibly make a trade.

It is critical that we find an OT who could play on the left side if Peters got hurt again.  We cannot count on this guy coming as a FA or in a trade.  We cannot count on this being a late pick.  I think we must take an OT in the first 5 rounds.  I’d prefer to take one with one of the first 3 picks.

The FA signings mean that we don’t have to get a CB or S.  I want both, but “want” is the key word there.  Would I pass on a stud WR or TE for a solid CB?  That kind of thinking hurts a team in the long run.

The x-factor in all of this is Chip Kelly and how he sees positions.  Maybe he thinks we don’t need a great 5-tech DE.  If that is a spot where Kelly wants mostly a big body to stuff the run, we can find that guy late in the draft or as a veteran FA.  If Kelly prefers an athletic pass rusher, then those guys are harder to find and that’s more of a premium pick.

Think about WRs.  Kelly is looking for slot guys (smaller and quick/fast) and big guys.  Those are opposites, but Kelly wants both.  He will use them differently depending on who we pick, if we do go for a WR.

Think about TEs.  We’ve been looking at 6-5, 255 guys and 6-3, 240 guys.  Different types.  Kelly is open to both.  The smaller guy is an H-back.  The bigger guy more of a true in-line TE.  Kelly uses both in his offense.

What about DBs?  Does Kelly value CB or S more?  We’ve added a pair of big, physical CBs.  Those guys are not hard to find.  We can get a CB like that in the 4th round.  Does Kelly see S as more of a premium position?  Or would he prefer to focus on CBs to make life easier on his Safeties?  I really don’t know what to think here.

I’ll keep doing mock drafts.  I’ll keep trying to figure out how Kelly thinks and what we might do.  For now, that is going to be a lot of guessing.  We need to really see a couple of drafts before we start to get a feel for how Kelly operates.

Keep in mind as we talk about the upcoming draft that you can’t think in terms of right and wrong.  We’re looking at options and scenarios.  For instance, would you rather have the stud pass rusher or the stud pass protector?  We’ve seen coaches and teams have success with different systems over the years.  I think the key is to have clearly defined plans on what you want and to go build the team accordingly.  Put simply…do what you do and do it well.

* * * * *

Some Jon Dorenbos talk from earlier today.

_


  • deg0ey

    I wrote a little about what I’d like to see from Kelly’s defense over at BGN http://www.bleedinggreennation.com/2013/3/29/4161232/on-chip-kelly-the-patriots-and-hybrid-defenses

    I quite like the way that NE uses 1-gap and 2-gap principles on the same plays and I kinda get the feeling that Chip is thinking the same thing. He’s brought in guys like Sopoaga and Geathers who are probably best suited to playing a 2-gap role and eating up blockers, but we already have Cox and Thornton who are probably both better suited to 1-gapping.

    This kind of system would also work well to keep Kendricks clean. You can use 3-4 principles without leaving a guard with a clear lane to block your WILL out of the play. Ryans would have a little more risk of encoutering o-linemen, but at his size you’d hope he can handle it.

    • TommyLawlor

      Nice write-up.

      I do not want the NE hybrid. Bill Belichick is a freak. People who copy him almost always fail. They don’t have his ability to teach the schemes or to adjust when things go wrong.

      • GGeagle21

        Agreed…and I certainly don’t want a crazy complicated hybrid of one and two gap system in Kelly’s first year…maybe we eventually evolve to that, but doubt it would happen next year…great write up tho Deg…
        Kelly isn’t our DC, that would be Billy Davis. billy Davis is a Hybrid guy, it’s what he does best…so I would prefer us playing a system that he feels most comfortable with, and can coach us the best in…not to mention, a hybrid fits most of our pieces so well. it’s a Dream defense for Cox, Kendrick’s, Our Preedators(although we have too many)…Demeco, ideally would be bigger to play thumper, but I think he is physical enough to do it…If Dion is drafted(fingers crossed), It would be a shame not to play the 4-3Under…than again, I’m partial to that defense….We are however starting to add some 2 gap players, but they aren’t good enough players to be dictating what defense we run…our 2gappers might not even make the team

  • austinfan

    Oregon’s ILBs:

    Kiko Alonso 6-2 1/2 238 lbs, 32″ arms, SS 4.18, cone 6.93
    MIchael Clay, 5-11 1/4 230 lbs, SS 4.17, cone 6.73

    Note both had DB times in the short shuttle and cone drill, I’ve found that an excellent cone drill correlates to success in strong safeties – I think the reason is in the box, the ability to change direction quickly and retain your balance is key to tackling in traffic and to cover in a short area.

    Kendricks 5-11 1/4 240 lbs, 4.19 SS, 6.70 cone

    So maybe at ILB, height and size are less important than agility, instincts and tackling.

    • TommyLawlor

      We’ll see.

      Chip didn’t have the ability at Oregon to load up on big LBs. In the NFL you can build your team how you want. I hope Chip is fine with Kendricks, but all the talk of wanting bigger defenders can’t be dismissed.

      My hope is that Kendricks will be a guy he’s fine with. In the future, we can focus more on bigger guys.

      • deg0ey

        What about converting Kendricks to a different position? Hybrid OLB/DE players are already pretty common, but I kinda feel like we’re going to see a rise of hybrid ILB/SS guys in coming years. I think that as time goes on, the SS is going to be one of the biggest playmakers on defense (especially against option teams where he’ll have to come down into the box to take the numbers advantage away from the offense, whilst also being able to get back in coverage if it turns out to be a pass/play action) and it seems like Kendricks could be that.

        If you compare Mychal to the combine numbers from the top safety prospects this year, he comes out pretty damn well. Only Elam bettered Kendricks’s 40 time (by .01 second) and he’s 30lbs lighter than Mychal. Only Vaccaro beat Mychal’s short shuttle and none of them came within a tenth of a second of his 3-cone.

        Maybe the reason Chip’s looking at ILB ‘depth’ isn’t because he wants to add more guys to the rotation but because he doesn’t anticipate Kendricks staying there in the long term.

        We know Chip likes bigger defenders and moving Mychal to SS would probably make him the biggest DB in the league and enable slotting another big guy in at ILB.

        Just a thought…

        Here’s the combine numbers for these guys:
        http://i53.photobucket.com/albums/g60/deg0ey/ScreenShot2013-03-30at171738.png

        • kevinlied

          Very good post. Intriguing idea, at the very least.

        • eagles2zc

          Like an Adrian Wilson type? Sign me up!

    • EaglesHero87

      I really hope Chip reevaluates Kendricks and doesn’t put as much emphasis on height/size than the other critical areas as you pointed out (e.g., agility, awareness, and tackling). This guy could be the difference-maker on the defensive.

  • Mark823

    l think they could stand to add another safety, it isn’t a priority because they’ve already invested significantly there, but Phillips health is a question mark and it couldn’t hurt to give Chung extra competition. Speaking of competition, I like that the Eagles are looking at long snappers. It really shows how Kelly is serious about having competition at every spot.

    • GGeagle21

      ITs impressive how Kelly is leaving no stone unturned in his search for improving our team…He is looking everywhere for players, and that’s how it should be…

  • Iskar36

    Tommy, I was hoping you could clarify something for me. Early on, shortly after we signed Davis as DC, I believe it was you who mentioned that Davis prefers to keep players on a certain side of the ball (apologizes if it was someone else who mentioned this). That doesn’t seem to me to mesh well with the labels Predator, WILB, SILB, and SAM (indicating weak side vs. strong side) at least in terms of designations for different player’s positions. Seems to me, if Davis wants to keep players on a certain side of the ball, the designations would be ROLB, RILB, LILB, and LOLB, and when a TE lined up on the right side of the offense (left side of the defense), the LOLB would have SAM responsibilities, LILB would have SILB responsibilities, RILB would have WILB responsibilities, and the ROLB would be the predator. If the TE flips sides, the responsibilities would change, but the players would not. Did players like Dansby flip sides based on the TE or was he staying on one side for most games?

    Obviously I don’t think I expect the Eagles to try to have a carbon copy of the Arizona defense, and we still are not sure how things will change since Davis/Kelly have not given us those details, but maybe you have a better sense of what they plan to do, both long term and short term. If Kelly is really going to try to design the scheme around the personnel, I would think players would in fact be switching sides often considering that Cole and Graham don’t seem to have the athleticism in space to take on the SAM responsibilities, but at the same time, it seems an offense would simply have to put the TE in motion and now he is on the predator’s side of the ball rather than the SAM’s side.

    • TommyLawlor

      We really need to save this question for the mini-camps. We need to see what kind of scheme we’re going to run. And I need to do more research to give good answers. I’m focused on the draft right now. Once that has passed, I’ll get back more into the scheme stuff.

      I don’t know if Davis does flip sides or not.

    • chloroformdreams

      Doubtful that we have the personnel to keep people on the same side of the ball. Only Connor Barwin projects as a competent OLB on both sides.

  • http://twitter.com/theguyotc the guy

    Whoops, just listened to the podcast and you had already talked about Curry being DE in nickel/dime. In my defense, you didn’t mention the new one here. So it’s entirely your fault.

    One thing I don’t think has been addressed: could this Curry at DE thing be misdirection aimed at the draft? Might be value in making teams believe you don’t *need* a DE.

    • TommyLawlor

      Possible smokescreen. The Eagles have me pretty confused so I would imagine the other 31 teams are confused as well.

      • http://twitter.com/PhiIs_Goodman Phils Goodman

        I don’t think it’s that confusing. They don’t think he can cover well enough to be a LB, so he’s gotta carve out a spot at DE.

  • ACViking

    Re: New Eagles WR – Ifeanyi Momah (1st year free agent, Boston College)

    Talk about liking “versatile” players, the 6’7″ 229 lb Momah played WR and DE on pass-rushing downs for Boston College (before his eligibility expired after the 2011 season).

    Think about Geathers and Momah on the FG-defense team.

    Seriously, the Eagles under Reid were just too slow to add — and, more importantly, use — a big WR.

    I’d complain to T-Law, who said (as Tom Brady proves every year) that smallish receivers are fine if you have an accurate QB.

    Anyway, the kid Momah may not survive this week’s mini-camp.

    But at least Kelly’s thinking big.

    • jshort

      Someone help me out here. Since it took me about a year to learn to remember the correct spelling and pronunciation of Nnandi Asomugha, I could use a little help on the phonetic spelling of our new wide receiver Ifenyi Momah, as I have difficulty with Nomadic and Norse pronunciation, among others. Since I enjoy rooting for these longshots, I’d at least like to know how to pronounce their names.

      • A_T_G

        I believe it is pronounced “offen’ ye momma.”

        FYI, I believe his middle name is Sluttywhore.

        (To be clear, I completely made this up, but I am interested in the real answer as well.)

        • GGeagle21

          A think of combining If with the name Kenny..IF-ENNY

  • Flyin

    Question: I have heard the position H-Back mentioned more this year regarding the Eagles than any other year. What is the role of the H-Back in a Chip scheme? Or in general?

    • TommyLawlor

      H-back is a FB/TE. He can line up in the backfield and act as a lead blocker or on the edge as an in-line blocker. In recent years teams have embraced H-backs that can catch passes. Chris Coley in WAS is an example.

      I need to study lots of Oregon tape before I can start trying to explain specifically what Chip wants.

      In a very general sense…versatility. Chip wants the ability to switch formations in the no-huddle without having to change personnel. A good H-back is crucial in this way. Think of how the Pats use Aaron Hernandez.

      http://bloggingthebeast.com/2013/03/13/film-breakdown-a-look-at-aaron-hernandez-and-how-the-eagles-might-deploy-james-casey/

      • Flyin

        Thanks. I think my mind has finally grasped the H-back… I was stuck on the H being like X, Y, Z where you usually line up on the field.

      • Flyin

        I just found this article from 2011 that looks at Chip Kelly’s “Dual H-back” formation.

        http://fishduck.com/2011/07/the-fish-report-oregons-new-dual-h-back-formation-plays/

        • A_T_G

          Nice find.

      • EaglesHero87

        This is one of the main reasons why I’m excited to see what the Eagles’ offense will look like this season. During Reid’s tenure, in roughly the first half of his coaching career, we’ve grown to know how much of an X-factor Westbook was. Then in the second half, we’ve relied on speed and a relatively small lineup. Now, we’re going to see a whole different look with a good balance of speed AND size. I want to see some good redzone plays, particularly the fade throws to the 6’7″ Momah.

  • http://twitter.com/PhiIs_Goodman Phils Goodman

    I’d be surprised if Kelly’s preference for long athletes is such that he would take an inferior player simply because he had more height. And I don’t see where the Eagles are going to acquire an ILB that is both better and taller.

    • TommyLawlor

      Diff roles. Wilk would be 5-tech DE. Atkins 3-tech DT.

      Never said Kelly would want inferior player. Point is that he might want to “upgrade” on Kendricks if MK’s size bothers Kelly that much. I don’t know if it will. I’m merely bringing up the possibility since we don’t know what’s going on and a few people have asked.

      Until we see Chip’s moves for a year, we’re going to be making lots of guesses. Some will be wrong, some will be right.

      • austinfan

        I’m not sure he has to have “long” everywhere, seems the DEs and OLBs is where he wants long players, NTs can be shorter (for leverage), and I suspect ILBs as well because they have to work through traffic.

        Reason to have long guys on the edges is two fold, they’re matched against the taller defensive players (OTs and TEs) and height/reach on the outside allows them to take away sideline passes. Over the middle, anticipation and quickness may be more important in pass defense.

      • http://twitter.com/PhiIs_Goodman Phils Goodman

        And I never said you said Kelly would take an inferior player :)

        But taking the issue to it’s logical end, the only way I see the Eagles getting a superior, taller prospect to Kendricks is by using a top pick on a inside LBer. It’s hard to see that happening. Perhaps it’s conceivable if Alec Ogletree slips because of his bad character.

        Ok, if the Wilkerson example isn’t suitable to you, what about Richard Seymour, Tommy Kelly or Kevin Williams?

  • Skeptic_Eagle

    Ugh, that would be really disappointing. Kendricks is far from a sure thing, but in terms of recent drafts, the fact that he was able to look competent at times makes him better than most. Now, with the potentially awkward fit of Curry at 5T, and Kendricks not at all, we’d basically be wiping out the second round of the “fantastic” 2012 draft. Would not like to see that. I was really hoping the new scheme would free Kendricks up to flow to the ball to make plays; I think he can do that in the NFL. Whether it’s for the Eagles or not, remains to be seen.

  • http://www.insidetheiggles.com/ CalSFro

    What about Antonio Dixon as a 5 tech? The Seahawks seem to do pretty good with a heavy d-line (Bryant, Mebane and now McDaniel) in their 4-3 under.

    • TommyLawlor

      No way. Not athletic enough. Bryant carries his weight well and shows athleticism for his size.

      • austinfan

        Seattle runs a different system than Davis has ever had as a DC, it’s ostensibly one gap but with three true two gap DL and a predator. Bryant and Branch were basically useless as pass rushers, and Mebane was more a penetrating run stopper than a pass rusher.

        I think Chip and Davis want a DL that can bring some pressure on run downs, since teams now pass close to 50% on “run downs.”

    • Anders

      Dixon is best as a 2 gapping NT.

  • GGeagle21

    Not sure how CB isn’t a need when you have a guy with a history of knee problems on both legs, and we have never seen what any of our backups can do on the outside. safety, ATleast we have guys behind our two new signings that have extended playing experience. We know nothing about our backup corners because no matter how bad NNamdi and DRC played, we refused to yank them…
    Notsaying we need to takenanCB with our first 3 picks..A guy like Brandon McGee from Miami in theb4th would do just fine…but I would say that an outside corner is more than a want.

    • TommyLawlor

      We’re splitting hairs with need/want. Right now we have healthy CBs for the top 3 spots. Behind them we have Curtis Marsh, Brandon Hughes, Trevard Lindley. That group could play if needed.

      OT is much more uncertain. DE is wide open. Those are definite needs.

      CB is a spot where we’re not satisfied, but could be okay. Obviously I agree that we should spend a good resource to add a rookie CB. I just think it isn’t the same as DE/OT.

      • austinfan

        Marsh fits what they seem to want at CB, Hughes and Lindley are dead men walking. Look for them to draft at least one big CB, and probably sign a couple more as UDFAs. It’s pretty obvious that they want 5’11-6’0 or taller, 190+ lbs.

  • Anders

    Tommy I dont think Kendricks height is any problem. Consider the best CB Kelly had was Cliff Harris at 5’11”, his best safeties have been Chung at 5’11” and Jarius Byrd at 5’10”. I know CB/S is alittle different, but it also shows that Kelly aint afraid to play you if you got talent

  • Flyin

    “you really get pigeon holed when you have 1-dimensional players” – Chip Kelly

  • Nathan Johnson

    Who is the 5-tech DE the Eagles can sign as a FA after the draft?

    • Anders

      There is no FA left who are make great 5 tech DEs.

  • http://www.hazepiffbudweedcheeba/blazeituppleasepeacetocheeba.com micksick

    good article, but Karlos Dansby is 6’4 so maybe not the best guy to compare to kenricks

  • http://www.hazepiffbudweedcheeba/blazeituppleasepeacetocheeba.com micksick

    oh and you think Momah can play TE??

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