We’ve talked a lot about the draft and free agency. The Eagles added a bunch of new players already and we’re excited to see what happens in 3 weeks. The cupboard wasn’t bare to start with, but the new staff will have lots of extra pieces to work with.
I am curious about the holdovers. Back in 1999, Andy Reid and his staff inherited a talented, but flawed team. The coaches brought in new systems and ideas and it really helped some players. Brian Dawkins went from solid young FS to Hall of Fame material. Jermane Mayberry went from underachiever to very good RG. Brandon Whiting found a home at LDE. Ike Reese developed into a STs stud. Duce Staley played his best football. And so on.
It will be interesting to see how the current Eagles respond to Kelly. I really think the Eagles have some good talent in place. Look at WR, for instance. DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin have big time potential. To this point, they have not lived up to their potential. Some of that is on them. Jackson let his contract get in the way in 2011. He and Mac have both had some injuries that affected them. Mac has struggled to adjust to the physical nature of the NFL. I expect Kelly to be hard on them. Good enough won’t be good enough.
We’ve seen both DJax and Mac have games where they looked great. The ability is there. They must play up to that level more consistently. I think Kelly’s offense can help. Andy Reid fell in love with the deep ball in 2004 and that was somewhat of a curse. When it worked, the offense was explosive. When it didn’t, the offense was stagnant and awkward. Kelly’s philosophy is less rigid. He just want yards and points. If the defense has taken away the deep ball, throw short. If they’re up tight in coverage, go deep. Take what they’re giving you.
Kelly is going to make his receivers block if they want to stay on the field. DJax will give you the effort. He’s just small. Mac? That’s a huge question. Kelly will prod him. That could bring out the best in Mac. Maybe the light will go on and he’ll start playing aggressively instead of being Self-Tacklin’ Jeremy Maclin. Or…Mac might hate Kelly and the staff pushing him. He might sulk and become a negative presence. We really don’t know. DJax is excited about the change and it sounds like he’s ready to have a breakout year. Just because he’s saying the right things doesn’t make them true. For whatever reason, I do believe him. DeSean has a competitive streak. I think Kelly can tap into that and bring out the best in him.
Kelly could have an impact on any number of players. I’d love him to bring out the best in Nate Allen. I’d love to see Curtis Marsh pan out. We’re all curious to see how Danny Watkins responds. Is there any hope for Casey Matthews?
Not all players will like the new staff, but I think enough will that it will be a net positive effect. Kelly is a smart coach and he’s assembled what looks like a good staff. Heck, sometimes there is value in simply making a change. The team and Andy Reid may have been in a rut. That stuff happens. Bill Walsh believed a coach should move on after 10 years. Andy’s 10th season was 2008, when the Eagles went to the NFC title game.
Having a new boss and set of assistants to run the show will make everybody a bit uncomfortable at first. We’ll quickly find out which players can handle the change. Some will love it.
Are there players you think will thrive?
Who are the players you think may struggle to adjust?
* * * * *
I thought you guys might like to know that I got an email from Howie Roseman offering his condolences for the passing of my dad. That was nice of Howie to do. Much appreciated.
I’m assuming the dozens of Eagles cheerleaders that read this blog and cyberstalk me encouraged him to do it. Great work, ladies. You truly are angels.