Talent vs Coaching

Posted: May 29th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 85 Comments »

In the comments section yesterday, AC Viking made the point that it isn’t systems that win, but rather talent. He gave the example of Barry Switzer and George Siefert both winning Super Bowls despite being only solid head coaches. Each guy had multiple playoff teams and won a title due to the fact they inherited great talent.

You could add onto this comment by talking about Jimmy Johnson and Bill Belichick. Johnson built a dynasty in Dallas because he had the right talent. His ideas weren’t nearly as successful in Miami. The talent was nowhere close to what he had in Dallas. Belichick is the opposite. His ideas worked okay in Cleveland, but really took off in New England when he got hold of Tom Brady, Richard Seymour, Willie McGinest, and the rest of the gang.

Chip can be a brilliant guy with all the right ideas and leadership skills, but he must have the right players to deliver great results. The Eagles do not have great talent right now so you can’t expect great results. It will take Chip 2, maybe 3 years to really get the roster where he wants it.

All that said, the right coach can have a tremendous impact in today’s NFL. The above examples, aside from Belichick, came at a time when the NFL had less parity. The Eagles went 4-12 last year. They started 3-1 and could have started 5-1 if 2 plays were different. More than ever, there is a fine line between good and bad, winning and losing.

Jim Harbaugh took over a 49ers team that last had a winning season in 2002. In his first year, 2011, he led them to a 13-3 record and the NFC title game. Prior to Harbaugh’s arrival, the Niners lost at least 8 games for 9 straight years. Harbaugh has only lost 7 regular season games so far. He has truly turned the SF organization around.

From 1966-2007, the Falcons never had back-to-back winning seasons. Think about that for a second. Then they hired Mike Smith. He has run the team since 2008 and they haven’t had a losing season in his tenure. He brought stability and professionalism to an organization that was best known for overachieving and underachieving, but never playing solid, consistent football.

The right coach can make a huge difference.

Kelly will only deliver great results if the Eagles find the right players. If that doesn’t happen, we’ll have to settle for less. What exactly that would be, I don’t know.

Let’s also not kid ourselves. Some luck is needed. The Immaculate Reception. The tuck rule. Does Dallas have a dynasty if SF doesn’t deal them Charles Haley? What happens if Mo Lewis doesn’t hit Drew Bledsoe back in 2001?

We need Kelly to live up to the hype. We need Howie Roseman and Tom Gamble to make the right moves. And we need a bit of lady luck.

* * * * *

There was an interesting discussion in the comments section in regard to Kelly and going for it on 4th downs. The point being made is that we can’t judge his decisions based on whether they work or not. A coach can make the right call and have the play fail.

I completely agree with this point.

Coaches (and GMs) must take chances.  Some will work, some will fail. You can’t judge them based on that. You need to study the logic behind that particular decision.

Something tells me Chip will give us plenty of decisions to analyze and second guess.

For those interested, the first 10 in the regular season will be: right, right, wrong, right, wrong, right right, wrong, right, WTF?

* * * * *

When I asked about Chip erring the other day, there were 2 responses in regard to mistakes he’s already made:  hiring Bill Davis and keeping Michael Vick.

I completely understand the doubts in regard to Davis. His track record is less sexy than a swimsuit competition among Eagles beat writers. I do think the hiring needs to be looked at in context. There weren’t great choices for DC. Davis wasn’t at the top of my list, but there was no candidate that any of us were dying for. Kelly found a coach who ran the kind of system he wanted and who he liked on a personal level. Davis also is a veteran NFL guy, which Kelly needed since he was going to bring in some college guys as assistants. There are a lot worse reasons to make a hire.

As for Vick…it is just like Kelly said. He looked at the QB landscape and there weren’t great options. The Eagles kept the guy they already had on the roster. His contract is fair to both sides. If Vick is good, he stays. If the Eagles want to cut him, they wasted $3.5M. Risk for both sides.

The jury is out on both moves, but there is logic to each decision.


85 Comments on “Talent vs Coaching”

  1. 1 EaglesJRL said at 12:58 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    All I could think of while reading that first part was…THE INCHES WE NEED ARE EVERYWHERE AROUND US!!

  2. 2 poetx99 said at 1:02 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    parity is the key. all things being equal, that elevates the front office and coaching as differentiators between franchises. for front offices, that entails working closely with a coach to get guys who are system fits, character fits, and constantly replenishing the cupboard.

    from a coaching perspective, it is a combination of preparation, motivation, scheme, and in-game management needed to get your guys to consistently outperform another group of guys of similar talent.

    my book on andy has always been that he ran up much of his wins during a decidedly down cycle in the NFC east. the NFC was down in both talent AND coaching. washington? post-dynastic dallas? and nyg were all fair-to-middling or downright below average for a good chunk of that time. when andy came up against superior coaches, he typically lost. just think of that litany of NFCCG losses.

    talent (and talent is scheme/organization specific) gets you into the game. coaching wins it.

  3. 3 James said at 1:10 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    So true, so true.

  4. 4 GEagle said at 2:01 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    good stuff. Its really staggering if you look at Andy’s coaching against the other top coaches…No bueno! For example, even when we were at our best under Andy, we always took an absolute BEATING from the AFC..Colts abused us, Pats abused us, Steelers abused us…
    Totally agree that you have to have the prerequisite talent to even be in the discussion, but coaching is what takes you to that next level

  5. 5 poetx99 said at 2:18 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    and i recall, pretty bitterly, those matchups w/ the NFC South teams that ran Cover 2 / Tampa 2. they took away all the underneath stuff and completely shut down andy’s passing game and he never adjusted over 2 or 3 years. the low point was vs. the panthers where a rookie CB punked the hell out of our WRs (thrash and pinkston) and had them running behind the DB on quick slants (folks probably thinking those INTs were on mcnabb, too).

    bad memories.

  6. 6 GEagle said at 4:01 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    I remember when we were at our best, and my fellow Roman Alumni Marvin Harrison was rolling into town in December with the colts (I wont even tell you the things Marvin could still do on a basketball court at the age of 28 lol)..we were at the top of our game as a team, and we were playing at home, yet I distinctly remember the feeling I had that week going into the game thinking WE DONT STAND A FRIGGIN SHOT against the Colts..of course we went on to get spanked!..and I didnt feel that way because the Colts had this supperior roster, I felt this way because of the “Limitations” that I always talk about in Reid and McNabb..Being rational you should expect that if you play your best against Manning and the Colts that it will still be a close game and that you will have to be clutch coming down the stretch..In a game of Inches, playing against a clutch QB, and a good coach how the hell in your right mind can you expect a QB/Coach BOTH completely inept at clock management to win a close game against Peyton Manning? You would have to have a serious advantage in Talent to win a close game, when you are not very clutch(QB/Coach), not very good in the hurry up running a 2 minute drill, and when you are lucky to even have 1 timeout left..
    As good as Reid was, and as much as I respected him(I was never a reid hater) I always knew that he was limited, and those limitations would be tough to overcome in the close battles against similar talent/well coached teams…Chip has not yet had a chance to mess up, but after 14 years of rooting for someone you hate to admit is Limited(especially on game day), Its so damn refreshing to root for a leader you dont see these limitations in..Of course these limitations havent yet even had a chance to emerge, but I will be appreciative and refreshed after 14 years, just to not see any limitations and feel like we have a chance moving forward from January 2013-september 2013 lol…after 14 years, and the grueling past few seasons and countless decisions we all knew were horrifically bad decisions..im thankful that Chip talks a damn good game because it will have given me atleast 8 months of joy and genuine hope in our future…lol Hopefully he isnt a false Messiah lol

  7. 7 alcatraz_0109 said at 1:39 PM on May 30th, 2013:

    Andy Reid overall record: 130-93-1 (.583)

    Andy Reid record vs. AFC: 31-24-1 (.563)

    Wrong, per usual.

    source: http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/eagles/One-Final-Reid0102.html

  8. 8 jshort said at 11:13 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    Giants won two SB’s during that time.

  9. 9 James said at 1:08 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    Very rational points. When you look at Atlanta and SF they seemed to have a good base of talent before Smith and Harbaugh took over. The hiring of Chip makes more sense everyday we talk about the Eagles. He is setup to succeed with the current offensive talent, I think we can all agree that our worry is on the defensive side of the ball. The reason for no worry on offense is a complete switch in offensive philosophy. A 60-40 pass to run to a 60-40 run to pass. This plays well in the turnover aspect and maximizing Vick as a whole.

    Now we can just hope everything flows on the defensive side of the ball. Maybe Cox is our rising star, along with Kendricks, Graham and Wolff. Davis is a solid hire and brings much needed experience on that side, 21 years of it. This Era just feels on the right track. The hope is to field a solid defense and a strong offense this year, then plug in another defense and offensive piece next year and then we can seriously compete by year 2. It feels like 2-3 years is not out of the question.

  10. 10 GEagle said at 2:05 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    In terms of roster Talent, I think we have a decent amount of potential on our team..How much of their potential will our young players realize in the next two years is the real Question…and then there is the QB unkown..If y some miracle, Foles and Or Barkley are franchise QBs that can lead our team the next 8 years, then thats more assets we can dump into making the rest of the team better..If we already have our QB of the future on the roster, we could only need 1 more offseason of reloading, and then about 2 years of developing and gelling……….but if the QB of our future isnt on our roster yet, it gets uglier!

  11. 11 TommyLawlor said at 2:11 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    Let’s be careful about referring to Earl Wolff as a rising star. He is a 5th round pick we have high hopes for.

  12. 12 James said at 2:13 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    Yea my bad on that name drop, wasnt thinking lol

  13. 13 Iskar36 said at 10:20 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    Am I the only one that hears 40-60 pass to run ratio and cringe at that idea? AR absolutely was way to heavy with the pass/run ratio, but I think it would be an absolute mistake to go that far in the other direction. This is a passing league and I just don’t think you can win with that much of a run heavy offense.

    Of course, I am not saying that Chip Kelly will be that run heavy. I’m just arguing the concept of a 40-60 pass to run ratio seeming like it would not work very well in the NFL.

  14. 14 Neil said at 12:21 AM on May 30th, 2013:

    The only way the eagles run more than half the time is if like seattle last year they have the lead for massive stretches of the season. You’re absolutely correct.

  15. 15 James said at 9:26 AM on May 30th, 2013:

    I can see 50-50 ratio, but to suggest Chip will become a passing oriented coach is just not going to happen especially with what talent there is at QB. The run will setup the pass, not the other way around with what we saw with AR. It is going to be different.

  16. 16 Iskar36 said at 11:05 AM on May 30th, 2013:

    I’m not saying Kelly will become a “passing oriented coach” in the least. Still, 40-60 pass/run ratio seems like an absolute recipe for failure. I’d be very happy with a 50-50 ratio. I think 55-45 is probably where I would want things, but regardless, flipping ARs system of overly pass heavy to a system that is overly run heavy just doesn’t seem like a good strategy, and I hope CK recognizes that (I think he will).

  17. 17 Jarred Mercado said at 1:34 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    Some of the beat reporters are already developing animosity towards Chipper. I can appreciate their frustration with him limiting the practices they can view and providing minimal injury info. However, it seems childish how quickly you can see them develop an agenda and how it comes through in their writing.

  18. 18 GEagle said at 2:08 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    I seriously despise our beat reporters. Like it really frustrates me. I can only stomach a handful. Sheil and Tim are probably the best in terms of REAL Journalism..as in, NO childish agenda, minimal speculation, providing facts to readers who can then form an oppinion on their own….I cant even call what other beat reporters do in this town, journalism

  19. 19 shah8 said at 2:47 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    Don’t knock ’em. Check out the beat peeps like Tom Pelisario for the Vikings…They’re just doing their jobs.

  20. 20 GEagle said at 3:41 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    No, their job is to report facts. Not turn our intelligent fanbase into a legion of fools that thought promising young QBs were going to be traded away before chip ever even got to look at them during practice just because they didnt run the 40 fast enough…Its cool when OPPINIONS are written on Blogs or talk radio, because those are oppinion based platforms and everyone is entitled to an oppinion..but Journalists should provide facts, report the news and let the readers speculate and form an oppinion for themselves..
    For example, a guy like Mike Misanelli, told everyone that would listen, every day from when chip was hired til Barkley was drafted that there was No way Nick Foles could ever play for Chip Kelly and that he would quickly be traded…I always knew that wasnt the case and that the kid would get his shot here, but I dont blame Misanelli for his oppinion, because his polatform is designed to just tell us what he thinks, and interpret the situation the way we all do…When I make the decision to listen to his show I do so understanding that Im not hearing all facts…But when I make the choice to read the NEWS, and follow a beat reporter, Im doing so expecting to get the FACTS….so while I have No problem with a guy like Misanelli giving me a wrong oppinion for 3 months in a row, I have serious beef when I open a newspaper, and read that same exact oppinion from a “reporter”…My beef is that there is too few reporting, and too many oppinion pieces…

    There are certain guys oppinions that I seek out whether they are right or wrong, for example I WANT TO HEAR how Caplan, Cossel and Didinger interpret things…but when I make the choice to read an Eagles article from a Les or Domo type, Im doing so because they have access to people that I dont have access to, so im expecting them to provide Factual news..I dont give two F’s about their oppinions. If I wanted their oppinion, I would read their oppinion pieces or seek them out on talk radio..but when I make it a point to avoid reading their oppinion pieces, and prediction columns because I dont value it, and still am stuck hearing it in a “news” based article, its frustrating…

    Sheil and Tim do such a good job of real Journalism, ONLY providing news..that I remember come draft time, I actually had to ask them, if they could give us their oppinions on the picks..because they are such professional journalists that after reading there work for months, I had no clue what they really thought personally, and thats damn good JOURNALISM! Much respect

  21. 21 Baloophi said at 1:37 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    I think the “coaching vs. talent” argument underscores what we hope is Chip Kelly’s greatest strength: adaptability.

    A coach will always be held hostage to the talent on his team if he refuses to change his philosophy to fit the roster… for example, a coach who insists on passing 65% of the time despite featuring James Thrash as his number one receiver and an offensive line built to run.

    In a certain sense, if you’re wholly dependent on importing your “type of guys” to run your specific system, you’re stacking the odds against yourself as a coach… especially in an age of impatient owners and increased parity.

    To that point, I think we should place a premium on a coach who can find the right way to connect with whatever players he has on his roster, be it schematically or emotionally.

    I think what’s intriguing about Chip in this regard is that his “system” is entirely adaptable. So what he looks for in his “type of guy” is someone who loves to play football and is versatile (i.e., can and will play multiple positions). That specific talent then informs Kelly’s coaching style, allowing him to make adjustments to the game-plan not only week to week, but play to play.

    If he’s successful, then we can say it is both coaching AND talent.

  22. 22 TommyLawlor said at 1:42 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    Well said.

    I’m assuming you think Trash Can can be one of Chip’s guys.

  23. 23 Baloophi said at 2:15 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    Trash Can is one of Chip’s most versatile guys. Even if he winds up just holding clipboards on the sideline, you want him on that roster.

    You can throw any new concept at Trash Can and he just rolls with it. Heck, you can even throw a truck at him…


  24. 24 goeagles55 said at 2:16 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    Over the last few years I wish Reid would have thrown a few more concepts at trash can.

  25. 25 Baloophi said at 2:37 PM on May 29th, 2013:


  26. 26 TommyLawlor said at 3:00 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    I hope the strength coach doesn’t try to do that with Jason Avant. Jason is tough, but not that tough.

  27. 27 SteveH said at 3:08 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    Think Trash Can can play DE? With flexibility like that I bet he has great ankle bend.

  28. 28 jshort said at 7:04 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    What about the three 6’4″ paddle guys, especially the one who knocked down a Vick Pass!!!

  29. 29 theycallmerob said at 5:28 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    Not until his conditioning improves. Plus, the dieticians are going to have a hard time keeping all of that garbage out of his system.

  30. 30 goeagles55 said at 2:11 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    Expanding on Chip’s “type of guy:”

    “Versatility” glosses over what Chip is really looking for in a player. Chip doesn’t want a guy who can play two positions just to have depth somewhere else. He wants a guy who can create mismatches, no matter what the D sends out.

    In the NFL, I think Chip has made it clear (through his actions and New England) that he sees one spot where the greatest mismatches can be created. That is at Tight End. If we had a player who was versatile enough to be serviceable at both blocking OLB/DEs and getting open against DBs, the defense could be at a disadvantage on every play.

    When we have our versatile TE in, if the Defense sends out a nickel CB to cover him, we run the ball. Our TE who can block can easily block a corner. If the Defense sends out a LB, we throw the ball. Our TE can easily get open on a LB.

    This is what is meant when it’s said that Chip doesn’t need to surprise the Defense. If they send in the bigger guy, the D can expect the pass and we’ll still beat him. If they send in the cover guy, he’ll know to expect a run. The mismatches give us the advantage.

    Eventually after taking advantage of the defense all day, the Defense will put in their nickel corner to cover the TE, but sell out to stop the run. That’s when Chip surprises them with a deceptive pass play. Maybe he simply runs play-action, and the safety is taking his first step in because he “knows” a run is coming. It’s been killing them all day because of the mismatches. Now, with a safety out of position, Desean has a chance at 40 yard bomb.

    Combine this with an up-tempo offense and you make if much harder for the opposing coaches to adjust.

  31. 31 OregonDucker said at 4:29 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    Zachary Adam Ertz killed us, Oregon, in the Stanford game. We had no answer for him. He is a very frustrating opponent.

  32. 32 GEagle said at 4:46 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    OregonDUcker…You have provided some nice intel these past few days, out of curiosity have you always also been an Eagles fan, or are you one of the new imports that came with the chipster?…

    I think Chip has his eye on Current Ducks TE Colt Lyeria!! If Brent Celek doesnt produce this year, I could see Chip take another TE early next year, and really restocking on young weapons for this new era of football…Chip has already Coahced Lyeria, he knows what the kid can do, and what he can grow into…I hate to say this, especially to a ducks fan, but Im kind of hoping and rooting for Lyeria to have a terrible seasons lol..sorry, but the kid has tremendous NFL talent and I think he is capable of having a monster year and faulting into the end of round 1-round 2..Its tough because there is always the combine and bowls for him to shine in, but Im kind of hoping he underwhelms everyone this year so he can fall to rounds 3-4, and Chip, already knowing who he is, gets a steal….I really really like Colt and Washington TE Austin Seferian Jenkins, and Celek can drive me crazy at times, and is the slow man in our offense

  33. 33 OregonDucker said at 6:35 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    GEagle: Thanks for the comment on Oregon intel. I try to give a little insight to the Oregon game that has not been mentioned.

    Regarding Lyeria, he is without-a-doubt a BEAST that looks vaguely like a man. He loves contact and hurting people – a perfect Eagles fit!! Almost impossible to cover, he loves to stiff arm and swat DBs, Cs, and LBs. Nobody intimidates him. I doubt the Eagles can get him in the draft as I expect Chip’s success in 2013 will make the TE position a coveted one.

    Regarding the other players, I can only recommend Ifo Ekpre Olomu. The Black Mamba, DT, may be too small for the NFL and may tend to get hurt but ya never know. Olomu was lightly regarded by DCs in the Pac12 and they paid dearly for picking on him. If he gets beat on a route, he will use every illegal trick in the NFL book to keep the receiver from beating him – hand checks, holding, bumps, hands to face, anything to win the battle – not blatant fouls mind you but ways to beat someone without getting caught. He also has great hips and can swivel on a dime – makes a lot of interceptions because QBs think he is beat.

  34. 34 GEagle said at 7:17 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    Great stuff man..thanks again, and welcome on board The Hunt for a Green Febuary lol…
    Great way to describe Colt!! And loved the intel on Olomu

  35. 35 A_T_G said at 9:54 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    Your post struck me as a very Art of War interpretation of Chip. First you win by putting yourself in a position where you can’t possibly lose, then you fight. Nice post.

  36. 36 Ark87 said at 8:51 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    “I think the “coaching vs. talent” argument underscores what we hope is Chip Kelly’s greatest strength: adaptability.”

    I don’t see him as being adaptable, at least I haven’t seen much evidence of it yet.

    We had a 4-3 defense whose greatest assets outside of Fletcher Cox were a bunch of guys under 6’3″ with short arms. So naturally we say “Let’s switch to a 3-4!”. So we made this decision, and go on the hunt for a 3-4 coach, the best guy we could find to work this miracle is: http://bloggingthebeast.com/2013/02/07/eagles-new-defensive-coordinator-billy-davis-statistical-resume-proceed-reading-with-caution/.

    Right about then an adaptable person, whose main concern is using the resources he has *now* to best win *now*, might have said “well, I really like the 3-4 defense, with long athletic types, just flying around the field beating up little guys (big guys beat up little guys) with a crafty proven vet coaching them or maybe a young up and coming innovator to coach, buuuuut we don’t have any of that at our disposal so maybe lets build towards that for the future. For now just do something that features the strengths of the roster.” Whoever said that was ignored, fired, or not present at any of the meetings where big decisions were made.

    For the most part we are strictly adhering to a new set of football schemes, philosophies, and methods with a roster that was built for something radically different. Chip Kelly will not cater to the roster of a 4-12 team, adapt to the new way or get cut, and in the long run I hope that’s for the best.

  37. 37 the guy said at 10:59 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    I still say they should have hired Wade Phillips.

  38. 38 GEagle said at 1:56 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    Im interested in two things..and would appreciate ikf anyone could speak on either.
    1)Barwin keeps talking about how they went from worst to 2nd in the NFL in defense when they switched schemes during a lockout offseason in Houston..Its like the 3rd time Barwin has pointed it out..So, How Many significant players did the defense add to the rotation during that lockout offseason? How much of the turn around was a new scheme and coaching that took already exsisting players to the next level?
    2)The niners started turning things around immediately in Harbaughs first year..How many new “key” pieces did they add that offseason, and how much of it was coaching up the players they already had?

  39. 39 TommyLawlor said at 2:09 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    1 – Houston added Wade Phillips, a brilliant DC. They added JJ Watt, a playmaker up front. They added Nick Reed, a good pass rushing OLB. And they added Jonathan Joseph, a shutdown CB.

    2- Niners D was built over years. Aldon Smith and Navorro Bowman were huge pieces for that group going over the top.

  40. 40 SteveH said at 2:18 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    How about that linebacking core eh? Bowman, Willis and Aldon Smith. Sweet bejesus.

  41. 41 GEagle said at 2:46 PM on May 29th, 2013:


  42. 42 GEagle said at 2:48 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    So basically, neither defense was completely made over in terms of roster(although they each added about 3 impact players to the rotation), and scheme change, and good coaching played a major part in the turn around for those two defenses…is that safe to say?

  43. 43 T_S_O_P said at 2:07 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    His track record is less sexy than a swimsuit competition among Eagles beat writers.

    This is neither plausible or possible. It is also quite disturbing… Eeeeew!

  44. 44 Baloophi said at 2:22 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    Before you jump to conclusions T_S_O_P, just imagine Les Bowen frolicking in the sand in one of these numbers…

  45. 45 T_S_O_P said at 2:44 PM on May 29th, 2013:


  46. 46 theycallmerob said at 5:31 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    That has Kempski written all over it.

  47. 47 austinfan said at 2:09 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    There’s really two kinds of NFL talent, uber talent, players so good they would succeed in any system, Reggie White is the ultimate example, he could play any spot on a 4-3 DL, and any spot on a 3-4 except maybe two gap NT.

    However, most NFL players depend on coaching and scheme to excel. Peters is a good example of coaching, he was a freakin’ UDFA, big TE who didn’t fit the position in the NFL, someone was smart enough to see him as an OT and the rest is history. Mathis is an example of scheme, in a man blocking scheme he was mediocre, as a zone blocker (and a little motivation to get into better shape) he became an elite lineman.

    You coach up talent through teaching and motivation, you can take a raw player and improve his technique, you can take a player who hasn’t been in a good training program and get them into better shape.

    You “discover” talent by knowing your schemes and the best fits for what you want players to do, you don’t ask DRC to play in the slot, for example, or Mike Patterson to be a NT.

    That’s why the most talented (athletically) teams aren’t the best teams, it’s not about trick plays, everyone sees the same film, it’s about building a program from the bottom up, finding players who fit your schemes then coaching them into the best players they can be, and that means focusing on character in the sense of work ethic, because a player who won’t work hard in the off season and study film won’t improve as much as a guy who will do those things.

    The Steelers traditionally were that team, guys like Harrison, Foote, etc. Same with the Ravens, Kelly Gregg, Bart Scott, etc. If talent was the deciding factor, bad teams would soon rise up after a few drafts because they in effect get an extra pick (and a high one to boot) relative to playoff teams (1, 33, 65, 97 versus say drafting 25, 57, 89). In three years that should mean three extra blue chip players. What makes a top team a top team is discovering and developing talent later in the draft, among street free agents, UDFAs and then getting that talent to work together so the sum is greater than the parts.

    Where people get confused is they see a team play well, and the players on that team excel, and assume those players are more talented, well, they’re just better players on a better team. Not the same thing.

  48. 48 ACViking said at 3:39 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    A team with the best coaching and best talent won’t go far with a Jeff Kemp at QB.

    Coaching matters. Execution matters more. Talent — especially at QB and then, next, at WR in the almost flag-football NFL we see every Sunday — ultimately matters most. IMHO.

  49. 49 GEagle said at 4:26 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    Dont care what rules they change, or how sexy the QB position is..the game is won and lost in the trenches. I watched the Giants blatantly Win the superbowl over the mega patriots simply because the giants won more battles in the trenches on both sides of the ball…I have seen some pretty average QBs and RBs look like GODS when their hogs were dominating the line of scrimage. Conversly I have seen GODS like Peyton, Brady look really really bad when their line got dominated and they started to get touched…Heck, Just look at SHady in 2011 compared to 2012…

    I really dont believe in devaluing positions, because ANY position can be used as a serious weapon if you have a supreme talent playing it..which is why I despised the, NEVER draft a LB in round 1 rule that we saw for 14 years. It wasnt a written rule, but it seemed pretty obvious…I dont care what scheme you draw up, there is no way you can tell me that Patrik Willis wouldnt be a tremendous addition to any defense…The only position I have seen our coach de-value is the QB position, and thats a DAMN good thing because no one really devalues it, its just a way of hammering home other positions sorrounding the QB, and not putting it all on him

  50. 50 Anders said at 8:35 AM on May 30th, 2013:

    I would say Peters is in the uber talent class. He has proven that he is been very very good in 3 different schemes and now entering a 4th different scheme.
    As you said Mathis is a very good example of a guy who didnt fit a man blocking scheme (Ravens apparently thought he would tho)

  51. 51 austinfan said at 10:07 AM on May 30th, 2013:

    Hindsight is 20/20.

    Peters went undrafted, because he was a big, slow blocking TE with some character issues. He had to be taught to play OL.

    Jay Ratliff was a 7th round pick, athletic former basketball player who didn’t show much in college, he had to be coached up.

    Geathers is very athletic, but in three years he hasn’t done much, if the Eagles coach him up, is he then “talented” or is he an athlete turned into talent by coaching.

    To me “talent” means a proven commodity who will succeed in spite of coaching, not a player who is athletic but needs coaching and maybe the proper scheme to succeed. The most talented players usually go high in the draft because they’re the easiest to scout and project.

  52. 52 Anders said at 10:41 AM on May 30th, 2013:

    Peters changed position from DE to TE in college and then to OT in the NFL. Same kind of change a lot of OTs are taking now (from oversized TE to OT). It was already clear in college that Peters had absurb athletic ability, he just didnt make the change before the NFL despite his talents.
    My point is, talent is talent, sometimes a player just need a position change, but does it really matter if it happens in the NFL or in college?

    Also all players need coaching. Do you think Reggie White would be the same if he didnt knew how to do the club move? and the only way he could have learned that is by coaching.

  53. 53 Dominik said at 2:55 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    “I completely understand the doubts in regard to Davis. His track record
    is less sexy than a swimsuit competition among Eagles beat writers.”


    “There weren’t great choices for DC. Davis wasn’t at the top of my list,
    but there was no candidate that any of us were dying for.”

    I don’t know if he would have been a fit for the Chip Kelly system nor if he would have been interested in the Eagles DC job, but Ray Horton really build up a solid reputation in Arizona.

    This is nothing against Davis, but Horton had success with his D. Ironically with the Cardinals, who had Davis as their DC, but invested a lot of Draftpicks after he was gone. Still, Horton ran a good D with a terrible circus-offense, who didn’t help them out a little bit.

  54. 54 TommyLawlor said at 3:03 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    I think Horton is a bit overrated. Also, he is looking to be a HC. His goal is to have a good defense and then go get a HC job ASAP. I think we need some stability.

  55. 55 holeplug said at 3:55 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    they need scheme stability not necessarily coordinator stability. If Davis doesn’t look up for the job no reason to keep him on but keep the 4-3 under in place. Its almost impossible to change both coordinator and scheme on the fly (as Andy found out the hard way) unless you luckbox into an all time great coach like Houston did with Wade Phillips. I don’t see Davis going anywhere ,unless he just completely bombs, until they acquire more talent for him to work with tho.

  56. 56 theycallmerob said at 5:34 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    Also, I would not be surprised if Azzinarro is being groomed for that position one day. Davis brings the NFL experience to the table, as well as having a strong background in running flexible schemes akin to Kelly’s (inferred) desires.

  57. 57 GEagle said at 7:53 AM on May 30th, 2013:

    I think this will be the staff for the next 5 years. I believe this staff thinks they are a part of something special, and will take a real shot at collectively building an NFL winner. Especially since both Davis and Chip will give their assistants alot of freedom and extra responsibility to keep them challenged….I expect this staff to try and do something special before assistants start leaving to be promoted…
    I Genuinly never was this excited about an Andy Ried staff. Even at its best(and I believe the deterioration of his staff had a TON to do with his downfall), I dont remember ever being this excited about a staff as a whole…then again, Im one of the few that are actually excited about Billy Davis…The general feeling that I get is that fans/media are excited about Kelly and the assistants, but arent happy with the Coordinators Shurmur and Davis….Shurmur or Davis wouldnt excite me in every situation…but with these pieces sorrounding them, Im very pleased with them

  58. 58 Iskar36 said at 7:24 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    I’m not going to argue the overrated aspect, but the stability aspect I think is certainly arguable. To me, the stability argument is certainly nice to talk about, but in practice, I’m not sure it works out the way you would like it to. Generally speaking, the best DCs are guys who will be looked at for HC jobs. Guys like Jim Johnson, coaches who are excellent DCs but are not pursuing a HC job, are relatively rare. I think most of us would rather have a great DC than an OK DC, so the reality is, the vast majority of the time, that means you may lose your DC to a HC vacancy.

    I also think that it is a bit misleading to say that Davis provides stability. The only reason we can assume he isn’t looking for HC jobs at the moment is that he hasn’t had success in the past that would warrant him being in the discussion of HC jobs. If he does prove to be a successful DC here with the Eagles, what is to say he won’t leave for a HC position himself? Thus, unless I missed it and he has flat out stated he wouldn’t want a head coaching position in the future, I don’t really buy the stability argument. I’d rather have a guy who has shown the ability to be successful regardless of whether or not he will leave than the guy whose defenses got worse from year 1 to year 2 in the past (not saying Horton or anyone out there was necessarily that guy, but hypothetically speaking).

  59. 59 Dominik said at 7:50 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    I think that’s a great point. Guys like JJ or Dick Lebeau (Defensive masterminds with no interest to be a HC) are very, very rare and a great thing to have as a franchise. But if you don’t have one, you best have a great DC who will get a HC position eventually in the future. That means he has done great work for the franchise.

  60. 60 Anders said at 10:54 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    Davis will most likely be here 3 years even if he has success (seems 3 years is the time an unproven coordinator has to have success to get offered HC jobs), where Horton might already leave next year.

    3 years would be an eternity in NFL and actually give us time to let one of the guys lover down groom for the DC job. Where if Horton already leaves next year, you stand in a terrible position.

  61. 61 austinfan said at 5:46 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    Davis got the defense going in 2009, lot’s of changes and new players in 2010 and it regressed, Horton came in 2011 and with the rookies (Williams, Washington) in their second season got them back where Davis had them in 2009, and some incremental improvement in 2012. So if Davis stays, they probably are about in the same place as Horton.

    Difference is Horton came out of a highly regarded program, so he gets credit for the improvement, not the personnel (Peterson) he was given.

  62. 62 GEagle said at 3:17 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    I talk all the time about how this is just a time for learning, and Im really trying my hardest not to pay attention to the depth chart, and have done a great job thus far into not putting any stock into what we have learned…but I gotta keep it real, seeing Allen “Barbie” lol ahead of Watkins worried the hell out of me…and whenever Watkins is brought up to the coaches, you dont get that true vote of confidence that you hear about some of our other promising young players..For example. When Chip was asked about him, you could tell that he is genuinly excited about him, calling him one of the most athletic LBers in the entire NFL, who is also physical enough for 1st and 2nd down..Minter called him a “rising star”, and “future superstar”..yes its only a “seating chart”, but how many times have Kendricks and Cox been seated with the 2 stringers so far? lol….Chip has been asked about Danny and I didnt get the impression of the ringing endorsement that kendricks got. Stoutland has been talking his guys up, but he didnt exactly ooze with glowing confidence when talking about Danny…he said “Danny has really put in alot of work and effort into this on his own, outside of the team”…what does that mean? does that mean, we will be surprised at how much better he looks because of all the work he has put in? or is it a case of the kid is working so hard, thats all you can really ask of him, but he just isnt very good? I dont know how to interpret the watkins mess..

    I have no idea what our coaches think of Watkins, but if he doesnt turn things around really soon, he should get the AXE and be the first sacrificial lamb, that puts the players on notice that Chip aint playing around. Nothing sends that message clearer then axing a first round pick of just 3 seasons ago…I dont need Danny to be ready to be an above average starter in september, but if he is going to make this roster, and not be used to send a message to these players moving forward, then he should be drastically improving, and showing enough promise to where you can expect him to fill in and play extended time if someone goes down Mid season without being a dunlap/bell type of total liability…Danny had first round talent according to many smart football insiders, so of course Im rooting for the kid and would love to see it click for him…but the dude is approaching the age of 30 lol, and isnt a rookie anymore…If he cant be trusted to not be a liability THIS SEASON if the injury bug bites us again, then he has to go!…

    4 players who IMO should all be completely done skating by on potential..PRODUCE NOW, or get the AXE are: Watkins, Riley Cooper, Clay Harbor, and Curtis Marsh…I believe in the human element, natural progressions of young players and the patience required for them to grow into their potential…but I dont ever want to hear the potential word again with those 4 players. If those guys are going to occupy roster spots in 2013, then they will have to take that next step in 2013

  63. 63 James said at 4:17 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    I agree, you can add Nate Allen to that mix too.

  64. 64 GEagle said at 4:32 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    I wanted to Include Nate and Jamar Chaney to the list..but because of the talent or lack there of at their positions…I feel like they will make the team but have to really produce to get re-signed, especially Nate. I would be shocked if Nate doesnt make the team..Because its a contract year for him, I think he will be given this year to prove if he has a future in Philly or not..ESPECIALLY since you cant count on Kenny Phillips Knee’s…but if Kenny Phillips can play 16 games to 80% of his ability, then I dont think Nate even see’s the field…But because that is a crazy longshot, you almost have to keep Nate for 1 more year, until we bring in some more talent…”Not So Nasty lol” Nate makes the roster, but his Eagles future seriously hangs in the balance of his 2013 season..
    The guys I listed above, I think are on the roster bubble..I think Nate is safe for 2013, but in serious jeopardy past this season because his contract expires

  65. 65 A_T_G said at 8:29 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    So can we all refer to him as Bum (knee) Phillips?

  66. 66 GEagle said at 8:07 AM on May 30th, 2013:

    then again, Shady was running with the Tues on tuesday, so how much stock can I really put into it?

  67. 67 OregonDucker said at 6:54 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    Sorry to say, I think Watkins is out the door. Chip is subtle in these media sessions – you need to learn to read him. Barkley is in, Watkins is out – simple as that for the reasons Chip mentions, mainly if you are a previous first or second rounder it means NOTHING to this team. What matters is how you, the player, perform EVERY day = “Win the Day”, baby!

  68. 68 GEagle said at 7:20 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    Don’t appologize to me..lol every new coach should have his sacrificial first round Lamb to set and example lol…a 30yr old, Canadian who fancies himself a fireman seems like as good as any lol..I feel like Danny Watkins is a make believe Charecter from “I now pronounce you chuck and Larry part two” movie that doesn’t, but should exist

  69. 69 Lukekelly65 said at 10:30 AM on May 30th, 2013:

    i dont really understand your point on the sacrificial lamb… i dont think chip is a guy who needs to make a big move to show hes in control of this team i think from day 1 he has made that beyond clear.. i understand that sometimes a coach comes in and has to set a tone by cutting a older player who was in place from the last staff but i think chip has already put the entire team on notice .. i think DanJ3645 said it best.. why cut Watkins now just to make a point let him get the pads on if he preforms worse then another player at his position then by all means let him go i want the best 53 players at the end of the day but i dont think cutting Watkins now just to make a point is a smart move

  70. 70 Telmert said at 9:08 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    I agree (time to produce for those guys), but I have some optimism for all of them. It’s related to Tommy’s post – all might be cases where the coaching and the talent didn’t fit. Watkins and Mudd. Harbor was an H-back type coming out of college, but was essentially made into a standard TE here. Cooper is a pretty good blocking WR on a team that didn’t like to run, and was a tall WR on a team that was clueless in the red zone. Marsh was always supposed to be a project, had a revolving door of coaches, and was behind two guys that, for some reason, the coaches couldn’t bring themselves to bench even when they opted out of tackling (until the very end).

    Nate Allen (and to a lesser extent, Coleman) looked like a player until Castillo and the craziness started on D.

    I’m hoping that one of the things Chip can do is find some gems that are already on the roster but were being misused, or didn’t fit the old system, or were poorly coached. If he can, that would really shorten the time it will take to get to contention.

  71. 71 DanJ3645 said at 4:48 AM on May 30th, 2013:

    1) why does Chip need a sacrificial lamb?

    2) He has been making a big point of getting the team to buy in to his ideas. He has made sure his players understand why thing are done.
    Why would Watkins be cut? What has he done wrong? It sounds like he has been working hard, is in shape and buying in to the new way of doing things.
    The only reason to cut him is If / when he is taking up a roster spot that someone more valuable should have.
    This might happen, but I can’t see it happening until the pads are on.

    If he cuts him the others players need to understand why. If he is doing everything asked of him then it must be performance based. I can’t see that being obvious until we are hitting.

  72. 72 GEagle said at 6:06 AM on May 30th, 2013:

    Did you expect all of andy reids guys to make this team?

  73. 73 jshort said at 7:13 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    Soooooo, what’s he saying here, right right wrong right wrong right right wrong right WTF….6-4 or 7-3 ?

  74. 74 Flyin said at 8:41 PM on May 29th, 2013:


  75. 75 Flyin said at 11:02 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    Tommy. speaking of coaching… what are your thoughts about HC vs. the Coaching Staff?

    A couple years ago the PR blab was we got better by hiring Mudd, Avril and Washburn. Great talented coaches by the numbers, but did not mesh with the team.

    Chip on the other hand is trying to mesh all into a systematic approach for success. And the coaches he hired, believe in the common goal to build a successful team.

    Look at Azz, he is not Washburn on his own island… He is the Assistant Head Coach.

    I believe what we are seeing so far is cohesiveness and true confidence within the coaches, something we have not seen since JJ passed away.

    As Howie Roseman stated, Chip Kelly builds programs. He is not a guy that got his success feeding off of a being Bill Belichik assistant.

  76. 76 quest4fire said at 11:23 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    Good article Tommy but you need to change the word “Talent” to “Superstars.” All NFL teams have talent–they are all professionals– but not all teams have enough superstars. The Cowboys and 49ers you mentioned were comprised of numerous Hall of Famers those years.

  77. 77 Flyin said at 11:34 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    I think those years are gone… or at least the way you can hold the gang together that long.

  78. 78 Flyin said at 11:30 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    Does jimmyK read this blog… I don’t think so, his amazing drawings must have court reporters at his doorstep to draw up court scenes. He’s the best!

    Yet his football intellect compounds me… At least he figured out out how to speak into the microphone while drawing the most awesomeness drawings man has ever created.

  79. 79 Flyin said at 11:57 PM on May 29th, 2013:

    It is rip on jimmyK week, right? Which runs 52 weeks a year?

  80. 80 Flyin said at 12:18 AM on May 30th, 2013:

    Tommy, I expect this to be one of the last replies…

    Thread Killer?

  81. 81 Flyin said at 12:42 AM on May 30th, 2013:

    If you give a negative rating… please have the class to explain your differences.

  82. 82 GEagle said at 7:37 AM on May 30th, 2013:

    Fight the good fight Dion! lol You can afford to, because you will always have a home here! lol…Why would Dion sign a shittier deal then all his peers? and who the F do the dolphins think that they are to ask this, especially after they already just gtot the rookie wage scale…I actually do not think rookies or anyone for that matter hsould be able to double dip from two teams, but when every oher franchise doesnt make a stink about it, and you just traded a ton to move up and draft the kid…show a little confidence in your draft evaluation…Realistically it would never come down to it, but no one can tell me that it wouldnt be so awesome for this kid to “stick it to the man” sit out a year and re-enter the draft, making the dolphins waste a ton of resources…Heck sit out and go play in the CFL for a year lol….The dolphins got the Dion pick in with like 2 seconds left on the clock…they better stop friggin playing with Fire…Like are they trying to lose this pic? ahahahaha then again we are talking about the franchise that gave Mike Wallace 60Million

  83. 83 livingonapear said at 10:58 AM on May 30th, 2013:

    I think the Switzer example is a little shaky since the team he inherited not only had the nucleus of players that Jimmy Johnson assembled, but also the chemistry of them all having worked together for so long. They had their team leaders in place, they still had the trio, and they still had the habits that johnson had instilled in them, so they could basically coach themselves.

    That’s a very rare case, because it not only requires your players to be exceptional, but also that the previous coach be excellent. It’s very rare for a coach of Johnson’s caliber to leave at the height of his success, and for a coach to inherit such a perfectly formed team, so I would called this the exception that proves the rule.

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