We hear lots of things in the offseason about how players are changing. Last year we heard that Antonio Dixon was in good shape. I remember watching him on PE.com and thinking something must be wrong with me. He didn’t look good at all, but everything that was said about him, even by the coaches, was positive. He sucked last summer and got cut, partially because he was too fat and ineffective.
Just because you hear it doesn’t mean you have to believe it.
That said, I cannot write every article with an extra paragraph hedging that this issue may or may not be true for the following reasons. When I tell you that Michael Vick has worked on the fumbling issue, he has. That doesn’t mean the issue is fixed. We’ll find in August or September. It is easy for a player to adjust his habits in a controlled setting. When the hitting is live and full speed, players can revert back to old habits. Until we see something against live competition, we really don’t know for sure. Rather than type something like that out every day, I trust that most of you are smart enough to understand this.
What do we really know about the Eagles right now? Not much. We’ve never seen these players play in these systems for these coaches. That means we have to project, guess and make some reasonable assumptions based in solid logic. But nothing is concrete.
Think about the info we get. Chip Kelly opens up occasionally, but isn’t going to bare his soul. The assistant coaches only talk from time to time. And players…ugh.
Players are a terrible source of info. Some are either delusional or just pathological liars. Some have a microphone in their face and just say something, hoping no one will do the research to check out their comments. This isn’t so much a malicious thing as wanting the microphones to go away. Other guys might lie to protect teammates or coaches. If the information comes from a player, be skeptical, very skeptical.
The thing to ask yourself with players is if the comment passes the smell test. DRC’s didn’t and that’s why I got so ticked off at that. Vick and carrying the ball didn’t hit me the same way. I can see coaches yelling at him to tuck the ball away, but not taking the time to walk over to the star QB and teach him basic football. Think about the man who we know did do that, Kelly. He’s here from college where he had to teach that every year. Kelly doesn’t assume anything.
I don’t know for a fact what Vick was or wasn’t taught. I do know that running QBs are tough on coaches. Most OCs and QB coaches are guys that know the passing game. They can preach footwork and mechanics all day long. Trying to explain what to do on broken plays isn’t their area of expertise. If Vick were a RB who had fumbling issues and he said no one tried to fix it, I’d call BS. As a running QB, I think it is at least plausible. Since I think most coaches are control freaks I would expect one of them to teach him, but there was enough wiggle room in that comment that I didn’t go crazy on it.
At this point, I really don’t care about the past and Vick. I do like the fact he understands and acknowledges that he has been coached on how to carry the ball. The first step in solving a problem is having someone admit that the problem exists. We’re now past that point. The next step is finding out if the solution worked or not.
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There is an interesting dynamic with the Eagles, in terms of students and teachers.
I think the previous staff at times fell under the spell of talented players. The Eagles had some talented freaks with bad habits. Mac, DJax, Shady, Vick, Bryce Brown, DRC, Nnamdi, Babin and Cullen Jenkins were all incredibly talented individuals. They had some bad habits. Those issues got addressed at times, but the problems were never truly solved.
The new staff comes in here, mostly with college experience. These coaches are used to working with mediocre talent. They understand the need to teach skills over and over to get things fixed. It is my guess…and only a guess…that the new coaches are going to be more persistent when teaching players.
I think that will come in part from working for Kelly, who is a demanding coach. I think the other part of it is that these coaches have done that style of coaching for the past 10 to 20 years. Old habits die hard, for players and coaches.
I really can’t wait to see if this group of teachers is able to get through and solve some problems with the flawed players on the roster.
I fully acknowledge that some NFL players are going to be resistant to the coaching they do get. “I’m so and so and I went to the Pro Bowl doing this. Why should I listen to you?” That’s where Kelly is crucial. He must convince all 90 guys that this is his team. You do things his way or you hit the bricks.
Not everything will be puppy dogs, sunshine and honey mustard this summer. That’s okay, though. We need to find out who is coachable and who isn’t. We need to find out who can help us get where we want to go and who is more interested in doing things his own way. You don’t win in the NFL with the best 53 guys, but rather the right 53 guys.