The Eagles held their first practice on Tuesday. The players were in helmets, but no pads. Things moved at a brisk pace. There was loud music blaring. And Chip Kelly was the circus master. We are officially in Chip Kelly’s world.
Nobody got to watch practice and honestly there probably isn’t too much to take away from it. The coaches are looking to see how the guys handle instructions and keep up with the pace, but this isn’t like real football with contact where you can see who can play and who can’t. The coaches do get the benefit of seeing the players on the move. Game tape and 40 times are one thing, but the eye test up close and personal is a whole other. Kelly loves fast, athletic players. He’ll start to see who has a legit shot to make it in his systems and who might be the square peg in the round hole.
We do know that Danny Watkins was at RG and Todd Herremans at RT. Jason Peters practiced and boy is that good to hear. Players rotated quite a bit so there is no true depth chart to make much of. Nick Foles and Mike Vick split reps.
Kelly said in his PC that the team lined up in 3-4 and 4-3 looks. Kelly did make one really interesting comment in regard to the 3-4. He said that if you want to run that, you need big guys that can play 2-gap. This is a telling comment. The 4-3 Under is a 1-gap defense. Are we in fact going to play more of a pure 3-4? Sounds like that is a possibility. The defense will remain a mystery until Training Camp when we finally get to see them line up and play.
Kelly’s PC was interesting. He was relaxed and joked with the media. He was at ease. Andy Reid always seemed like he was being interrogated. Kelly had some fun. Jeff McLane of the Inquirer was trying to get info on who the team might draft when Kelly turned the tables on him and asked who McLane would pick. McLane hesitated for a minute and then said “Eric Fisher”. There was a lot of laughter at the strange sequence. Kelly wasn’t being snide to McLane, but rather interacting with him and trying to prove a point.
There were a lot of questions about who the Eagles should/would take. Kelly pointed out that there are no “can’t miss” guys. He talked about how last year you had Andrew Luck. This year there are no can’t miss QBs or players in general. That led to the exchange with McLane. Another reporter later on was asking about scenarios. Kelly replied that he didn’t like to give answers for scenarios. This led to an exchange about Player Y or Player Z. Kelly quipped “I’ll take Player Z” and that brought a lot of laughs.
Kelly did say that there is value in the practices and that they would impact the upcoming draft. Don’t necessarily take this to mean something he sees will affect pick #4. My guess is that he’s talking more about backup players and that would affect late round picks. Does Dallas Reynolds do a good job with shotgun snaps and make Kelly comfortable with him as the backup C? Does Nate Menkin look good on the move and make Kelly comfortable with him as a backup G? Maybe Curtis Marsh looks good and that makes the coaches more comfortable with the backup CB situation. Maybe Antonio Dixon is in good shape and looks good enough that he can be the backup NT. And so on.
A lot of questions were asked about the depth chart and Kelly made it clear that things are wide open. I go back to what he said at the owners meetings. Kelly said the depth chart will set itself, meaning that it is up to the players to win/lose jobs. He truly does want competition and will give every player a chance to win a job.
One of the things I liked the most is that Kelly talked about wanting to get some tape of the guys in action so that he and the coaches could study it and then use the tape to teach the players. Handing a playbook to players is a good way for them to get a general idea of concepts, but show them tape of themselves in action and they are much more likely to understand what the coaches want. And Kelly stressed that mistakes are expected. These are new coaches, new systems, and new roles. The key is for players to learn from the mistakes and not to repeat them.
71 of 74 players practiced fully. Jason Kelce, Chris McCoy, and Evan Moore were the 3 players who had limited participation.
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Jimmy Bama and I recorded a new show last night. The first 5 or so minutes are on Kelly and his PC. Then we go on for 80 minutes to discuss the draft.
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Don’t forget to stay up to date at EaglesBlog.net. I’m posting every draft nugget I stumble across.