Be Skeptical

Posted: July 9th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 27 Comments »

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.

* * * * *

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.

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  • shah8

    2011 showed us everything we needed to know, really. People were just not playing tight and handling their end of the business right. So freaky stuff after freaky stuff after freaky stuff kept happening until when we finally got going, it was too late. Brad Childress may be a pain in the arse, especially to free spirits like Favre, but he cares about getting these details *right*. Hopefully, we will see a tighter, more mistake free team, on offense and defense, and no Ronnie Brown attempted pass after play blown sky-high…

  • GEagle

    I can’t stress enough how excited I am about this group of assistant coaches. It’s been a longtime since I been happy with our assistant staff. IMO one of the major aspects that led to Reid’s down fall was the deteriorartion of the quality of his assistants. Andy had some great assistants early on. Success crept in and his assistance were all poached away. Clearly Andy had gotten out of touch with the bright young assistants, so he wasn’t able to replicate the same quality of a staff that he had early on in his career.
    ..
    We finally have a real Defensive coordinator. that’s exciting after years of fraudulent DC’s. We have some very good teachers with a world of experience on this staff. tTo have a guy with Minters experience, focusing it all on two players, the ILB’s..man that exciting and I’m sure he will put a big emphasis on attention to detail which should really benefit Kendrick’s and Meco.

    I am confident that we have the right teachers in place. Now we need to find the 53 “right” students..Evaluation is a major part of the 2013 season. BY the end of the season, hopefully we will know exactly which players should be a part of an eagles future, and which talented players will need to be replaced

    • Tumtum

      Two words: Rory Segrest

      • RIP Worms

        You say that like it should mean something to us, but I’m sure no one with that name was ever associated in any way with the Eagles. [searching unblocked memories…searching unblocked memories] Nope. No one. Ever.

  • Scott J610

    I think Vick said Kelly fixed his fumbling problems just to get people to stop dwelling on it.

  • barneygoogle

    It’s interesting that–since the mini camps–Kelly has told the media next to nothing about what he’s thinking. Must have the players a little bit edgy.
    I wonder if Chip and Howie are running thru all kinds of roster, trade and free-agent scenarios, and I bet he will not hesitate to make moves in August.

    • GEagle

      You don’t have to wonder. I think we can count on chip n Howie trying to improve the roster at all times

      • barneygoogle

        I mean trading starters (Trent Cole or Brandon Graham?) cutting favorites (Jason Avant or Riley Cooper?) or high picks (Danny Watkins?), going back on the free agent market…I think some surprises are in store.

    • TheRogerPodacter

      i dont think its fair to assume that because Kelly hasn’t told the media anything that he hasn’t been speaking with his players.

      • barneygoogle

        Where do I say that? I’m sure he speaks to his players, and I’m sure he’s quietly evaluating things day to day.

        • TheRogerPodacter

          sorry, i must have misread your post. when you said “kelly has told the media next to nothing about what he’s thinking. must have the players a little bit edgy.”, i assumed you were saying that the players are edgy because he has not spoken anything of his plans for the players with the media
          and following that, the only reason this would make the players edgy would be if they didn’t know anything of chips plans already (from what he has spoken to them directly).
          my bad.

  • CampDracula

    That’s an interesting take on college coaches taking the time to teach, Tommy. I hadn’t thought of that. The flip side of that might be that college coaches may not know what or how to teach people at the next level. As a teacher, sometimes it’s easier to work with someone who knows little because you’ll have much more in your arsenal that will be new.

    • TommyLawlor

      There is no doubt that the coaches have had to adjust to the NFL. Players are smarter and infinitely more talented. Not all will be great with that adjustment.

      • GvilleEagleFan

        I do think there’s an aspect of the “college coaches coming to teach NFL players” dynamic that you’ve addressed before that belongs in this conversation: the Pete Carroll effect. You’ve mentioned before that it took Carroll two years of high roster turnover to get his team where he wanted it, basically doing so by being willing to cut anybody and everybody that didn’t conform to the system. While I think it’s BS that nobody has tried to get Vick to hold the ball like a RB when he runs, I also think the threat of “do it this way or you’ll be gone, not just benched but cut” has never had more credibility in Vick’s entire career. His HC finally has more stability and credibility with the organization than Vick does, which is what makes me think that he does have a chance of finally listening this time.

        • aub32

          I may be naive in saying this, but I do think there may be some validity in Vick’s claim about holding onto the ball. I think Kelly probably stressed it much more so than previous coaches. In ATL Vick was too fast to be caught. So it really didn’t matter how he carried the ball. Here in Philly we see how loose McCoy is when running. Not to mention BB. It would come as no shock that Reid let ball security take a back seat to play making ability.

  • bdbd20

    I really like the last part of the column. We may see some surprise cuts this summer. I’d hate to see guys like Cole, Celek, etc.. get released, but it may very well happen.

    • Tumtum

      Release Celek?! That would be like releasing Mike Patterson! Oh…wait.

      Seriously though would be strange since he is all around above average.

      • bdbd20

        I was trying to think of “core Eagles”. Avant should probably be included in this group also.

        • aub32

          I think Avant is in more danger than Celeck or Cole. Cole more so for contract reasons is almost a lock in my opinion.

  • RIP Worms

    “Not everything will be puppy dogs, sunshine and honey mustard this summer.” That’s fine, so long as the rest is PBR, funyuns, and chocolate pudding.

    • TommyLawlor

      Words of wisdom.

  • Mac

    There’s a sentence in the third paragraph that may represent a miscalculation. ;)

    • Baloophi

      Ha! Wait, what’s a paragraph?

  • Michael Winter Cho

    I would toss out another “Be Skeptical” idea: Remember that Reid was an extremely accomplished coach who delivered winning seasons like clockwork, and he was replaced by a total rookie NFL head coach. Unfortunately, there is a more that even chance that Kelly will not turn out to be anything special at all in the NFL, and that his tenure will be mediocre or even disastrous. We all want to believe that Kelly is the new Belichek and the Eagles are going to steamroll the league for the next decade, but the greater chance is that he’s a Butch Davis or Steve Spurrier. I guess what I’m saying is, don’t expect too much! We’re starting from, maybe not square one, but not much further than first base… enjoy every moment but don’t expect the Superbowl. At least not until next year.

  • eagleyankfan

    I read and replied about Vick in the last column prior to reading this one. I’ll take your word that he has worked on it since you’ve actually seen it. Are you saying that in years passed, you’ve NEVER seen him work on that issue? I think that’s what you’re saying but want to be sure.

  • A_T_G

    I understand what you are saying about Vick’s coaching, but I’m not convinced. I hope you are right. Maybe past coaches were afraid that addressing the way he held the ball would interfere with his instincts, maybe they just felt they didn’t have enough commitment from him to focus on non-passing stuff, maybe he just wasn’t listening. Regardless, I hope it improves, but I can’t quite get past the thought that if he had been traded and been saying this as part of another team, the chorus of BS from Eagle fans would be pretty unanimous.

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