Day 2 and Some Science Talk

Posted: July 24th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 43 Comments »

Nothing too groundbreaking today since there are so few players in camp and there is no hitting.

One thing we have seen is that Chip Kelly is a creative coach. Eagles WRs have not been noted for their great hands in recent years. Jason Avant has very good hands. The other guys made some impressive grabs, but also dropped some passes as well. The receivers practiced catching the ball every day in camp, but I don’t recall them doing anything unusual.

Kelly is doing several things. He has one drill where the receivers are thrown short passes with Nerf balls. For anyone who doesn’t know, Nerf footballs are smaller, spongy footballs. Why work with them? They’re harder to catch. A football can stick in your hands. A Nerf ball is more likely to bounce. The receiver must really absorb the ball and secure it. Also, the ball is smaller. Practice catching a Nerf ball and then a regular football will look huge when you move to those drills.

The WRs also practice catching the ball behind plastic poles. This forces the receiver to reach out and grab the ball without having a clean line of sight. It makes the receiver catch the ball using only his hands. There are no body catches. It also gets the receiver accustomed to making obstructed catches.

There was video today showing a receiver catching a short pass and just as the ball arrives, a player standing behind him, hits the receiver with a pad. There is another drill that allows for clean catches, but forces the receiver to then focus on keeping control of the ball. We’ll turn to Jimmy Bama for a description of this:

• The Eagles have a few new WR drills this year. Here’s video of a drill in which the football is attached to one end of a rope, with a thing that looks like a “Shake Weight” attached to the other. An assistant coach tries to yank the ball away after the receiver makes the catch.

The point of all this is that a lot of catches in games are made under less than ideal circumstances. Why not replicate that in practice? Teach guys to make tough catches. Develop specific skills that are needed in a game. Catching the ball from a QB or Jugs machine is good, but learning to hold onto the ball when someone is trying to pry it loose might is just as practical. On most pass plays, as soon as a receiver gets into traffic I’m screaming at the TV, “Hold the ball! Hold the ball!”

* * * * *

Here is PE.com’s practice video for the day.

* * * * *

The Eagles cut WR Nick Miller so they could add RB William Powell. Why? This certainly has to be a reaction to RB Matthew Tucker failing his conditioning test. Tucker will re-take the test on Thursday. There are no guarantees that he’ll pass. The Eagles will need plenty of RBs to eat up practice reps so they added Powell, a player they liked going back to last summer.

Powell was recently waived by the Cardinals and the Eagles claimed him. One of the benefits of going 4-12 last year is that the Eagles have a very good chance at getting players that are waived.

From PE.com:

Powell, 25, originally joined the Cardinals as an undrafted free agent in 2011 and spent most of that season on the team’s practice squad. The 5-foot-9, 207-pounder then spent the 2012 season on the Cardinals active roster, rushing for 217 yards on 60 carries (3.6 yards per carry) in 13 games. He added 19 catches for 132 yards (6.9 yards per catch). He also has experience as a kickoff returner, where he had an average of 24.1 yards per kickoff return on 21 returns, good for 15th in the NFL.

“In the preseason last year we studied him; quick, tough, good hands, got a lot of work,” Roseman said. “So he was a guy that we thought could upgrade the competition at the running back position.

“Good vision, quick, runs really hard, he can also return kickoffs … he’s a little undersized in terms of height but he’s fun to watch because he’s getting yards after contact.”

Powell only ran for 250 yards in his Senior season at Kansas State, but he did average 11 yards per carry and he scored 4 TDs. I’m interested to see what he can do.

No update yet from Brian Baldinger on how Powell compares to Bo Jackson.

* * * * *

Peter King’s new MMQB site has a great article on the Eagle and their Sports Science Coordinator, Shaun Huls. There isn’t one quote to share with you. Go read the whole thing. You’ll come away interested in what they’re doing, and also in Huls. Jenny Vrentas did a great job with the piece.

Kelly is bringing a lot of new ideas to the Eagles. I’m excited to see which ones work and which don’t.

Even if some stuff only brings you a small advantage, that can be worth it. NFL games are decided by one possession more than ever. As bad as the 2012 Eagles were, think about how many games there were where one play meant winning or losing. If “science” can lead to an Eagle having a minute advantage on that one play that turns out to be important, that could be the difference in having that play come out favorably for the Eagles.

There is no salary cap for the organization and what it spends. Why not get creative and see if you can come up with an advantage?

_


  • Pennguino

    Good stuff Tommy. Another note on the difference of the football. I remember some coach or a WR that said they tried to look at the laces as it came in. That finite detail of the ball helped with the concentration.

  • Flyin

    Tommy, I get the feeling you will be at training camp,

  • TheRogerPodacter

    in the mmqb article, the picture of Huls…. it looks like his eyes are the same color as the shirt. eagles green. wonder if thats some kind of psychological effect. i’m just going to assume that this is the job he was born for.

    • TheRogerPodacter

      that article was quite good, actually. i dont really expect that out of mmqb. i hope everyone follows tommy’s suggestion and gives it a read. great stuff.

    • Neil

      His eyes look blue to me..but technically midnight green is a blue. I can definitely see what you’re talking about. Honestly, I’m tripping out looking at his shirt as if it was blue. It’s almost like it becomes a different colour if you think of it as blue.

      • TheRogerPodacter

        stare at him too long and he will look back into your soul

        • GEagle

          I hear that he glamoured (true blood style) all our players into working hard!!!..

          “The eyes chico….they Never lie”

  • zbone95

    Wow everyone seriously needs to read that article. The eagles aren’t guinea pigs for this sports science stuff. It was tested in other situations and Chip kelly is implementing this up and rising technology that can help reduce stress, overwork, dehydration, malnutrition, and tissue injuries. I don’t know whether this will all work or not, but is sure as hell very very very promising. And isn’t it a match made in heaven for Chip to acquire athletic o-line, fast receivers and good players for his system? This is very intriguing. I’m excited to be part of it.

    • GvilleEagleFan

      Definitely a reason why he CHOSE the Eagles over other teams. Also have to think that some of the hours spent in those marathon meetings had to be Chip explaining exactly how beneficial it would be for Lurie to invest the extra cash in all this tech, as well as Chip getting assurances that his owner wasn’t going to suddenly be a cheapskate when it came time to hire his huge staff and upgrade all the equipment. Maybe that’s where Mr. Nickels lost Chip in his sales pitch…

      • GEagle

        Good stuff Gville…
        The NFL is behind in terms of technology. heck just look at the Scouting Combine…when you look at all the technology that ESPNs sport science has for measuring player performance, it makes the NFL combine look like the stone age….

        The NFL and its coaches aren’t necessarily up to date in terms of technology…If Chips methods work, it could be a huge advantage for the first couple of seasons until the rest of the league catches up….

        Barwin talked about Huls and all the beneficial things he brings to the table….Interesting that Kelly said, the veteran players are the ones who bought in the most because they are seeing how beneficial His new methods are to their body’s in terms of performance, injury maintenance and recovery…Hopefully this team comes together during TC, and players take to chip and are ready to run through brick walls at his command…
        ….
        Everything won’t really come together until they have that “Holy Crap” moment in a game. Right now, players probably do buy in…but once they are in a game situation, and they find out of beneficial it is to them to have chip in their corner, that’s when it will probably really all come together…

        Basically I’m talking about something similar to what happened with the Niners…they had a new coach, that the players believed in, but it really didn’t all click until they overcame adversity in a game and found out that they ally could trust their new leader..by now we all know that the moment for the niners was Philly…down at halftime, they came back to fight, won the game and that catapulted the niners into the juggernaut we see today….

        We need that, In Battle, overcoming adversity moment for us to really Gel…Hopefully it comes sooner then later

    • Dominik

      I’m with you on this one. Great read, Ms Vrentas!

  • Ark87

    Well that explains how/why the team had a meeting with a navy seal about optimal performance or whatever today.
    Military appreciation day will have a whole new meaning this year.

  • Weapon Y

    Very good as always, Tommy. There’s been a lot of generic words used to describe Chip Kelly’s approach like creative and detail-oriented. Many coaches are creative and detail-oriented. Our old pal, Andy, had the famous binder with a plan for everything from training camp to regular season practices. Other teams are using the loud music and technology-driven conditioning program. The article about Huls, however, shows that there’s something about Chip that separates him from the rest of these coaches. His innovation and attention to detail appear to be far greater than almost every college coach and most NFL coaches. He picks up on things that would be so easy to ignore.

    • TommyLawlor

      Chip has a binder. But it is locked in a secret filing cabinet…and only he’s knows where that is located.

    • GvilleEagleFan

      I think the thing that has impressed me the most about Chip is that he seems to question everything without coming off as disrespectful to the history of the sport. He’s not so much a devotee of new ideas as he is finding out what made the old ones work. I think this is especially impressive to pull of from an interpersonal perspective with his staff and players considering how much of a dictatorial or at least authoritarian environment a football team usually is.

      At the same time, I have no idea why this is such a shock to the world. My dad always took the time, regardless of how many times I asked “Why?”, to explain to me the reasoning behind the instructions or discipline he was giving me. Contrast that to my mom, who was an old school “because I said so” parent, and who never got nearly as much obedience out of my brother and I. Odd example to understand a football coach, but I can’t imagine a grown man making a ton of money would ever prefer to be told to just shut up and do what the coach says. This is why I think the players will rally around Chip when they’re having tough breaks while the media is running wild and telling Chip he doesn’t belong in the NFL.

  • shah8

    Eagles receivers have been terrible at fighting for the ball. Last good one I remember was Cooper’s bailout of Kolb against Tennesee…Any newer nice combat catches?

    • Media Mike

      That is why the Momeh signing is so interesting. A big and tall WR would be of great help!

    • GEagle

      Yeah, I like the emphasis they are placing on actually catching the ball in traffice with recievers:
      ..
      1) They are using the shake weight cord tied to the ball. WR catches the ball, coach yanks the cord forcing the wideout to secure it..simulating holding onto the ball when a defender is trying to strip it..
      ….
      2) Catching passes with that Pole stationed in front of the RECIEVER..This simulates jump balls, when a WR has to make a catch when the defender has good position on him…

      3) They set up the JUG machine so that the balls arrive slightly behind a wideout. This simulates catching the ball in crossing routes when the ball is delivered behind the WR…reach behind you, make the catch, secure the ball, turn, and get some YAC…

      I’m loving the attention to detail all the different positions are getting from this thoughtful coaching staff

    • Ark87

      Nick Foles was underthrowing the deep ball a lot (every time). The WR’s saved him from a few int’s if I remember right, but no classic jump ball and just going up and taking it.

  • Media Mike

    I’d like to add that DeSean Jackson had zero dropped passes last year.

    http://www.bleedinggreennation.com/2012/11/2/3588866/pff-desean-jackson-hasnt-dropped-a-pass-all-year

    HUGE year coming up for #10 with Kelly getting him the ball in space and in a creative manner.

    • GEagle

      man, if our Boy Saint Nick can develope into a nice game manager, get the ball out in stride to a weapon…this could be a really fun offense..

      Other than the running backs, anyone see any fantasy value in an Eagles? I fear that the ball will get spread around too much for anyone to really have a monster fantasy year for the birds..

      • Andy124

        None are safe bets, but DeSean is still a decent option as a #2 WR. Same goes for Maclin. In FF, when you’re looking at #2 WR’s for your team, there’s generally going to be risk involved regardless.

        • GEagle

          True but last year I won the league by devaluing the RB position. Drafted Megatrn in rd 1, Stafford in rd 2, AJ green in round 3…then drafted Frank Gore, Stephan Jackson(who was horrible), Tony Gonzales and Toory Smith…

          What really won me the league was, in the first preseason game against the redskins, I saw Alfred Morris run a simple 6 yard counter and immediately claimed him As a FA, he went Undrafted….I play in a league where I’m the only person from Philly, most of the other guys are Giants fans or Patriots fans from Newyork to Conneticutt, so NO one in my league knew about Bryce Brown…when Shady got hurt, it was like the playoffs in fantasy, so while everyone was fighting putting in waiver claims to pick up Ronnie Hillman, I had no competition for Bryce Brown..No one really knew him, plus the Eagles Oline was a joke…started Bryce for those two Monsters games and it made me look like a genius…
          ..
          it was the first time I had ever won the league without a draft emphasis on running backs…anyone have any similar fantasy theories, or is everyone still riding the run game to Victory?

          • Andy124

            I’m in a dynasty league and I’m still riding the Reid/Banner theory to top-3 finishes every year (along with the run game). Better to get rid of a player a year too early than a year too late.
            It also helps that I was able to grab Brees off of waivers several years ago when he started off with 2td and 10int.

          • GEagle

            jealous…I have been dying to find a dynasty league, but none of my boys do them

  • Mike Flick

    If you are going to have a mock draft competition for 2014, sign me up right now for whoever is the washout RB at K-State. He will be our 7th round pick. Book it!

  • GEagle


    How about Andy Reid not calling a Single run play the first two days of Cheifs training camp? Hahahah have fun Jamaal Charles!!!

  • GEagle

    Funny that the Del Valley isn’t crucifying Bill Obrien for staying mum on the PSU QB

  • memphoeagle

    tommy you are certainly right about trying to get every advantage because games are decided by the most minute differences and details. I’ll even take that one step further. in 2011 we finished 8-8 one game behind the giants who went on to win the superbowl. how many games were decided by one or two plays that season? one example (as i’m sure you’ll remember) was the cardinal game where we’re leading late and they have a third down and long. we stop them and are apparently off the field, but nnamdi lined up offsides. you remember the rest. they throw the touchdown to fitz a few plays later and we lose. had we won that game, we finish 9-7, tie the giants and win the division
    (better divisions record, tie head to head), go to the playoffs, win the superbowl, and PBR, funyuns, and pudding for everyone. seriously though, the eagles were playing good football by the end of 2011, had they gotten into the playoffs, who knows what would have happened. all of this to say, “LET THEM DRINK SMOOTHIES!!!!!!!!!!”

  • Cliff

    Interesting stuff about the Nerf balls. My daughter’s U10 soccer team practices with “mini-balls” (the really small size 1 balls). Playing with a smaller ball really forces the girls to concentrate on their footwork and how they receive the ball.

    So, in other words, Kelly is now stealing ideas from youth girls soccer. This guy’s not gonna cut it in the NFL.

    • A Roy

      Whomever’s been running Eagtles training camp using ‘tried and true’ methods has failed for the last 53 years. Trying different ideas is the sign of an inquisitive mind. Whether that leads to sucess or not is still to be determined, but to already say “this guy’s not going to cut it.” tells me the writer is not receptive to any change and shoud return to EMB to interact with the TATErs from whence he came.

      • Cliff

        Hey bud, I was just kidding about the “not gonna cut it in the NFL” part. I was mocking all the sports writers who keep saying his “COLLEGE ideas” won’t work in the NFL, so I could only imagine what they’ll say when they find out he’s using youth soccer ideas on “professionals.”

        • A Roy

          My bad. I’m already tired of Sal Pal wannabes that have written this guy off before seeing any results.

        • GEagle

          well said, drives me crazy as well. our boys are working hard in the heat for us, trying to build something the right way, and dope reporters are already crappng all over it….His College Ideas sure appealed to the legendary Bellicek. Ask Dick Vermiel about Chip Kelly, and watch his eyes light up….Yes Chip doesn’t have NFL experience, but do these media blow hards actually think that he was on vacation when he was visiting all those NFL training camps? You think he wasn’t taking mental notes of the differences between his “college” approach, and the legendary Belliceks NFL approach?…and the Patriots is not the only team he visited….Chip didn’t just make the jump to the NFL because the sanctions finally arrived, he has been preparing to make this leap for years!! it’s been years that we have been hearing about Chip Kelly visiting this NFL training camp, and that Nfl training camp, years of picking the brains of legendary past and present NFL coaches…
          ..
          Not to mention he meshed his coaching staff Brilliantly…Chips offensive mind, has the well versed, “been around the block” NFL pedigree of Shurmer..College Azzinaro(allegedly brilliant in terms of game planning) meshed with the wide array of NFL defensive experience of Bily Davis..and the worldly football experience of Coach Minter..Both the offense and Defense have former NFL players as coaches..Todd Lyght, Duce Staley…
          ..
          Chip is Diabolical, detailed and methodical in terms of being prepared. how about a minimal, wait and see approach by the media before they crap all over our new coach?…You don’t always have to judge. Sometimes it’s ok to say, I don’t have enough intel to judge at this point

          • OregonDucker

            TRUTH once again GEagle!

  • eagleyankfan

    I hope they do the same wr drills when Mac and MeSean show up. The rookies aren’t the only ones who need to hone their skills.

  • tdilla

    It seems like Chip is drawing heavily from the military for some of his training regimen

    • Ark87

      Makes sense to me. Since WW2 the defense department has spent billions to ensure their special forces are the best in the worst of conditions when the stakes are highest. Might as well piggyback off some of that and see if some of it can translate to football.

    • OregonDucker

      Football play is a metaphor for warfare. It’s “clean” warfare which is more palatable. Chip really is a blue collar guy who understands this.

      But they better be prepared for a fight.

  • P_P_K

    Off subject, did you guys see the interview with McNabb? Great read.

    http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/eagles/20130725_Questions_and_Answers_with_McNabb.html

    • GEagle

      Did you hear Roobs thoughts on the McNabb interview? props to Roob!!

    • TommyLawlor

      I’ll address that in a post.

  • Bradley Abraham

    Loved that sports science article. Very interesting and exciting.