True Believers

Posted: January 10th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 78 Comments »

Of all the traits Chip Kelly wants in players, character may be the one that is most surprising. I don’t mean choir boys, but rather football character. Kelly wants players that are smart, coachable, focused, driven, hard working and ultra-competitive. Kelly likes guys to be solid citizens as well, but he’s focused on football.

We first got a hint of Kelly’s beliefs when he revealed that the two most impressive players the Eagles met with at the Combine were Bennie Logan and Matt Barkley. The Eagles had both players rated in the Top 50. They drafted Logan in the 3rd round and then traded up to get Barkley in the early 4th. The team actually tried to get him at the end of the 3rd round, but couldn’t find anyone who wanted to trade back.

I think one of the reasons that Kelly values character so much is that he needs guys to fully buy into his system. You need to sleep, eat and train the way he wants. You need to prepare, practice and play the way he wants. Kelly isn’t a standard motivator. He’s not going to be yelling at his guys. He isn’t out there giving wild speeches. He finds the right players and then motivates them in a more generic fashion. He sells them on the idea of trying to be great. And he makes football fun. Hard work, but still fun.

Kelly brought in plenty of former Ducks this year. You know that part of the reason behind having these guys on the team is that they would help teach the Oregon Way, the Chip Kelly Way. They had football value as well. Dennis Dixon, Jeff Maehl, Patrick Chung, and Brandon Bair were all stars in college. Will Murphy and Isaac Remington were not standouts in college, but just finished playing for Kelly and they knew exactly what he wanted.

Many of us wondered about the wisdom of having these Oregon players on the roster. Pete Carroll didn’t load up on USC guys when he took over the Seahawks. Was Kelly being a homer? Was this the way to run an NFL team? As it turns out, the moves worked. Kelly didn’t over-use the players. Their biggest impact was in practice and off the field. They helped Kelly make the transition to the NFL. And they helped the other players learn the Kelly Way. Just as Kelly had a staff of his guys, college guys and NFL guys, the roster was the same way.

I heard members of the staff discussing the transition at last year’s Senior Bowl. They knew they would have to adjust to pro football and would also need help in getting players and coaches to adapt to their ideas.

Kelly said he knew this was going to be a special team back on April 1st, when he first met with them. He could sense how hungry they were to win. They did things his way and there wasn’t much resistance. I’m sure a few players were slow to buy in, but the vast majority didn’t hesitate.

Sheil Kapadia has a good piece that is full of quotes from the players on why they believe in Chip Kelly. He was a leader. He was a motivator. He was a good coach. You really get the sense that the players flat out liked him. Kelly coaches within his personality. That’s critical. You can’t try to be someone else. Remember when Marty Mornhinweg got mad at the Lions one day in practice and then drove off on his motorcycle. That was so staged, fake and dumb that it completely ruined his credibility. Coaches must be genuine for players to trust and believe in them.

Here’s what a couple of key players had to say.

DeMeco Ryans: “Coach Kelly, first and foremost, he knows what he wants, he knows how he wants it, and he’s a great motivator. Gets the guys going, gets the guys believing in what he wants them to do. And I feel like he’s a really, really great leader. That’s one thing I learned from Coach Kelly this year. He’s a great leader. And he’s a great football coach.”

Brandon Boykin: “I just think his approach to the game, his approach to the players. Just making it as comfortable of an environment as he possibly could for us. Listening to whatever we had to say. Anything that we felt like would be better he was always open to it. Just being a players’ coach. Everybody really responded to that positively. On gameday he made sure we were healthy. He made sure we were fresh. And we wanted to play for him.”

Kelly had a specific plan. He was able to communicate that to the players. He created a good environment and coached them up so that they could succeed.

I’m sure Kelly will still focus on character moving forward. I don’t know that there will be as many Oregon guys around this year. The Eagles now know the Kelly Way. In fact, they love it. And that’s one of the reasons the future is so bright in Philadelphia.


78 Comments on “True Believers”

  1. 1 SteveH said at 11:31 PM on January 10th, 2014:

    Take it for what its worth, but over at BGN they ran an approval ratings poll for Chip Kelly and the current vote is 99% approve (with 2368 votes), 0% disapprove (with 12 votes) and 1% unsure (with 24 votes).

    It seems like the fans have bought into the Kelly way as well.

    Edit: I should add there is one up for Billy Davis as well, who is predictably doing well but nowhere near as well as Chip. He is currently at 78% approve, 5% disapprove, 17% unsure.

  2. 2 Iskar36 said at 12:00 AM on January 11th, 2014:

    In Philly, I’m pretty sure I have not seen that positive of an approval rating for anything. 99% approval on the Eagles coach is an unbelievable number.

    As for Billy Davis, I was absolutely a major doubter of his when we signed him. I did not like his history what so ever. Having said that, he made me eat crow this season with his impressive year with limited talent on defense. I definitely hope he continues to impress and improve this defense.

  3. 3 SteveH said at 12:13 AM on January 11th, 2014:

    I’m not sure Billy Davis was any of our first choices for the job ;).

  4. 4 GEAGLE said at 9:00 AM on January 11th, 2014:

    My first choice…I didn’t want Mochino or Dontell
    I’m sure you remember quotes like “Philly will fall in love with Billy Davis”…lol I on,y wrote it 600 times

  5. 5 SteveH said at 1:57 PM on January 11th, 2014:

    Normally I’d be annoyed with “I told you so” but in this case I’ll fully support it. You get props for being the crazy loon of the herd who called it right ;).

  6. 6 Jack Waggoner said at 5:51 AM on January 11th, 2014:

    Yes… let’s face it, this is not even close to a good defense, yet they managed to keep us in some games.

  7. 7 A Roy said at 7:24 AM on January 11th, 2014:

    Cheesesteaks wouldn’t get 99%.

  8. 8 greenblood0118 said at 2:46 PM on January 13th, 2014:

    I was impressed for the most part but I am still shaking my head at that stupid Cover 0 call where Chung got burned for the TD…

  9. 9 Mac said at 1:47 AM on January 11th, 2014:

    “We ain’t had nothin but maggoty bread for 2 stinkin’ years”

  10. 10 Jack Waggoner said at 5:40 AM on January 11th, 2014:

    Looks like meat’s back on the menu boys!

  11. 11 Mac said at 11:29 AM on January 13th, 2014:

    Busy weekend delayed this +1

  12. 12 Michael Jorden said at 2:28 AM on January 11th, 2014:

    I had read Riley saying he wants to come back. Most players say that, but given the concert incident and his chemistry with Foles I tend to believe him.

    From the Eagles perspective, this guy has been a RZ solution for Kelly and Foles. Cooper’s numbers extrapolated over a full 16 with Foles in Kelly’s system as starters is nothing to sneeze at. If he hits those numbers, he’s worth every penny imo.

    But then I saw the list of available FA WR’s for 2014 and thought, that really might complicate things. Cooper really is near the top of that short list.

    He’s big, he’s not fast but fast enough, and he’s good in the RZ. He’s young enough.

    There are going to be teams like the Patriots that Tommy mentioned who could make it work with Cooper and could use him, and there are other less functional teams who will be the ones that make that mistake of trying to squeeze him into a different system.

    I think he’s going to get some interest. Hopefully the Eagles won’t be put in a position to have to overpay. Because they probably won’t do it. Then we’d need to replace that production – maybe with Maclin, but he’s been pretty fragile, or a draft pick.

  13. 13 Jack Waggoner said at 5:46 AM on January 11th, 2014:

    If Cooper wants to go to the highest bidder it won’t be to either the Eagles or Pats.

    Never expected to say this but one of the teams with a lot of cap space coming into this year is the Skins. I fully expect them to go back to their old ways of spending money like drunk sailors on leave.

  14. 14 Media Mike said at 8:05 AM on January 11th, 2014:

    If they’re going to break the bank for another WR, expect that money to get spend on Decker. And also expect the Skins to be the team that gives Byrd the $10 mil /year contract.

  15. 15 GEAGLE said at 8:59 AM on January 11th, 2014:

    Raiders will pay thru the roof for Byrd or Ward

  16. 16 ICDogg said at 11:51 AM on January 11th, 2014:

    They have the cap space to do it if they wish to

  17. 17 bentheimmigrant said at 5:49 AM on January 11th, 2014:

    I can’t see the pats being willing to pay that much for him though.

  18. 18 Jack Waggoner said at 5:52 AM on January 11th, 2014:

    They have Brady taking up 18M of their cap to begin with. And then they have 7.5M of their cap taken up by someone rotting in prison.

  19. 19 GEAGLE said at 9:08 AM on January 11th, 2014:

    We need to take advantage and try to win a SB NOW!!! We have a major advantage right now over teams that have 20milliom tied up into QBs…like the Niners and Seattle, we pay our QBs chump change,,,so use that money, stack the roster with high Charecter guys, and let go try to make a run at it before we have to tie big money up into a QB

  20. 20 Anders said at 12:24 PM on January 11th, 2014:

    So you want us to pull a 2011?

  21. 21 anon said at 4:28 PM on January 11th, 2014:

    Dont know if i want high character guys on defense. Think about a lot of the D superstars — they aren’t choir boys.

  22. 22 D3FB said at 11:12 PM on January 11th, 2014:

    Richard Sherman? Luke Keuchly? Bowmann? Willis? Earl Thomas? JJ Watt? Robert Mathis? The whole badass thug persona isn’t necessary and is vastly overvalued.

  23. 23 Anders said at 10:51 AM on January 11th, 2014:

    Hernandez is off their cap

  24. 24 ICDogg said at 11:37 AM on January 11th, 2014:

    You sure about that? I thought they June 1’d him last year.

  25. 25 Anders said at 12:23 PM on January 11th, 2014:

    ahh I see I counts as 7.5 dead.

    Normally when a guy is suspended he is not counting on the cap, but it seems the Pats just flat out cut him.

  26. 26 ICDogg said at 11:49 AM on January 11th, 2014:

  27. 27 theycallmerob said at 11:49 AM on January 11th, 2014:

    Wilfork and Mankins both count 10+mil against the cap, Mayo 7.2, Gronk 5.

    According to that site, Hernandez is still on there (8.5mil dead total)

    They’re not signing many big names/contracts

  28. 28 Jack Waggoner said at 6:20 AM on January 11th, 2014:

    Pats’ biggest offseason priority might be finding a permanent replacement for Wilfork.

  29. 29 GEAGLE said at 9:06 AM on January 11th, 2014:

    I’d rather have a compensatory for Maclin…wouldn’t it be like a 3rd rounder?

  30. 30 sonofdman said at 10:10 AM on January 11th, 2014:

    We wouldn’t get the compensatory pick until 2015 and it could be offset by free agents we signed.

  31. 31 D3FB said at 11:09 PM on January 11th, 2014:

    3rd rounders are reserved for the guys who get top $$$. We would also have to only sign guys to league minimum.

  32. 32 anon said at 4:27 PM on January 11th, 2014:

    Who cares? There’s plenty of decent dudes on that list and there’s 100 wrs in the draft. Since the draft is before FA it’s going to be hard for those FAs to get money.

  33. 33 Michael Jorden said at 8:13 PM on January 13th, 2014:

    Well, you’re assuming Cooper is a JAG. I don’t think you can plug any WR in there and get the same RZ production or match/ exceed that 17.8 Avg. Sure, you get Decker you’ve improved – but I don’t see too many more on that list I’d take over Cooper given he’s already bought into the system and has a rapoort with Foles. Maybe I’m wrong, and it’s just the system.

  34. 34 Jack Waggoner said at 5:37 AM on January 11th, 2014:

    In honor of Chip, I will be driving on Kelly Drive this morning.

  35. 35 A_T_G said at 10:08 AM on January 11th, 2014:

    And in honor of Patrick Chung, I will be sitting on a bench to watch the games this afternoon.

  36. 36 D3Center said at 11:03 AM on January 11th, 2014:

    I think the true way to honor Chung is to be running around missing tackles

  37. 37 ICDogg said at 11:52 AM on January 11th, 2014:

    or preventing your own teammates from making plays

  38. 38 D3FB said at 11:08 PM on January 11th, 2014:

    I’m a bigger fan of the Jaquiwan Jarret. Run around knocking your teammates off tackles. I’m coming for u 63.

  39. 39 D3Center said at 12:34 AM on January 12th, 2014:

    I thought your personal favorite would be the Nnamdi, do nothing and point at me when it goes wrong

  40. 40 D3FB said at 11:16 PM on January 12th, 2014:

    Yours is obviously Damaris Johnson. Be short and sit on the bench.

  41. 41 Jack Waggoner said at 7:21 AM on January 11th, 2014:

    Speaking of blocking ability

  42. 42 sonofdman said at 10:11 AM on January 11th, 2014:

    Our LT of the future!

  43. 43 Media Mike said at 7:33 AM on January 11th, 2014:

    I’d like to point one of the Oregon guys was overused and did not work; Chung.

  44. 44 Media Mike said at 7:35 AM on January 11th, 2014:

    I love the concept behind this article. Gary Cobb went on a rant a few years ago on the radio about Antone Davis being a failure of a human being because every time the guys wanted to talk football in the locker room; Davis wanted to talk Jazz music or some other BS. To be truly excellent at highly specialized employment, like football, you really have to live it. Think if it like Daniel Day Lewis walking around for 4 or 5 straight months in character as Lincoln, no matter if the cameras are rolling or not.

    I really like how Kelly wants a team of football heads!

  45. 45 GEAGLE said at 9:29 AM on January 11th, 2014:

    It really does make a difference…The Teams that win are usually close knit families who really buy into their coaching..

  46. 46 Media Mike said at 7:49 AM on January 11th, 2014:

    Who y’all got as your 5 HOF people?
    I’d go with Walter Jones, Derrick Brooks, Tim Brown, Will Shields, and Aeneas Williams.
    I’d vote Guy in from the senior list, but not Claude Humphrey. Humphrey only made 6 pro bowls, but Eric Allen can’t even get votes and he made 6……….so 6 isn’t enough.

  47. 47 BreakinAnklez said at 9:22 AM on January 12th, 2014:


  48. 48 Media Mike said at 9:25 AM on January 12th, 2014:

    In spite of playing at a PSAC school (Kutztown) that is vastly inferior to West Chester, I’d put Reed in next year or the year after. He goes in after Tim Brown and Marvin Harrison in my book. He’s totally a HOFer, but order of guys is important to me.

  49. 49 GEAGLE said at 9:05 AM on January 11th, 2014:

    Trying to get some more feedback on something.

    Yesterday I talked about how I’m starting to think Anthony Barr is in for a fall! If that kid isn’t drafted in the top Ten, he will fall into the 15-20 range…
    Teams picking 11-15 have no use for 3-4OLBs Titans,Rams,Giants,Cowboys…yet today I’m already starting to see mocks (BGN) that have Barr falling to the cardinals at #20….If that kid makes it to the #16 range, I will go crazy if we don’t trade up for him…
    Sorry to burst bubbles but the Kid from Gtec Attachuo is NOT lasting til round 3…..he will be drafted between 20-40

  50. 50 Anders said at 10:50 AM on January 11th, 2014:

    If Barr falls beyond 15 the eagles should really think hard about trading up. Also attaochu will be a mid 2nd round pick

  51. 51 theycallmerob said at 11:34 AM on January 11th, 2014:

    I’m almost leaning more towards trading back. There is a ton of 2nd/3rd rd talent. Still allows us to grab a guy at the end of 1 like a Joyner, Pryor, or WR, and give us more options in the 2nd or early 3rd for OLB/ILB, DB, OL, etc.

  52. 52 anon said at 4:24 PM on January 11th, 2014:

    What do you think people give to trade up to the 22nd spot?

  53. 53 theycallmerob said at 4:29 PM on January 11th, 2014:

    For any of the bottom 5 teams in the 1st rd (28-32), it’s worth at least their 1st and 3rd. For a team that drafted before us, maybe their 2nd and 4th or a future pick. I’m not real good with those scenarios.

  54. 54 GEAGLE said at 9:31 AM on January 11th, 2014:

    Wanna know how special Ertz can be? Next time one of you guys to watch a game at the Linc, get there early, and just watch Zack run around in warm ups…big Kid, long strides, really really impressive runner…

    if the bengals called and offered Eiffert straight up, I think I would laugh at them

  55. 55 Insomniac said at 10:19 AM on January 11th, 2014:

    There’s a reason why one was drafted high in the first round and one in the second. Eifert is better than Ertz and I’d take that deal in a heartbeat.

  56. 56 theycallmerob said at 11:35 AM on January 11th, 2014:

    draft position is your argument? what did Eifert show this year that makes him significantly better than Ertz?

  57. 57 Mitchell said at 1:41 PM on January 11th, 2014:

    They weren’t really that far apart either.

  58. 58 Insomniac said at 4:06 PM on January 11th, 2014:

    Ertz has a much lower ceiling than Eifert. Not to mention he’s in an offense that makes him the #3 receiver and I’m being generous about that. There is nothing Ertz does MUCH better than Eifert. You can’t teach athleticism either so what’s your point besides blah blah draft position.

  59. 59 Breezy said at 8:34 PM on January 11th, 2014:

    Correct me if I’m wrong but going into the draft eifert was rated above ertz because he had better hands. The knock on ertz was that he had too many drops. That was apparent early in the year. Kid couldnt catch a cold, staying after practice to take reps on the jug machine. He took a big step to fix the dropsies and if he can be counted on to be a better blocker the sky is the limit. Maybe his ceiling is lower than eifert. Much lower? I’m not so sure.

  60. 60 Insomniac said at 10:02 PM on January 11th, 2014:

    Ertz is the better route runner. They both have great hands when they were coming out. Both TEs are viewed as work in progresses in terms of blocking. Eifert projects to be the better NFL TE though.

  61. 61 ICDogg said at 12:00 PM on January 11th, 2014:

    If I really were the Eagles GM and the Bengals GM called me up and offered that deal, I’d have to assume that the only reason he would make such an offer is that he was trying to unload damaged goods… therefore I would turn it down.

  62. 62 A_T_G said at 7:45 PM on January 11th, 2014:

    Yeah, as a GM, I wouldn’t be interested in anyone who is available. I would be brilliant.

  63. 63 ICDogg said at 11:24 PM on January 11th, 2014:

    I guess it’s just the tight-end-for-tight-end trade that I’d be most suspicious of. Who does that?

  64. 64 A_T_G said at 12:03 AM on January 12th, 2014:

    Yeah, I know. It would never happen. I was just having a little fun with the “I don’t want to belong to any club that would have me as a member” idea.

  65. 65 GEAGLE said at 9:34 AM on January 11th, 2014:

    Something cool that the eagles do, which I’m sure teams are going to start to copy is when a TV timeout is called, Chip doesn’t leave the guys out their e to stand around on the field….when a TV timeout is called, he has them all leave the field and come to thee sideline, that what teams don’t have an entire timeout to know what personel you will have out there and don’t have as much time to pay for it…..such a subtle change by Chip but no one can say it doesn’t make sense..just another chip ism that will get copied

  66. 66 Isaac said at 5:32 PM on January 11th, 2014:

    Frank Beamer at VaTech’s been doing that for a few years now.

  67. 67 theycallmerob said at 12:14 PM on January 11th, 2014:

    We’ve been discussing this list on 24/7 all morning, but for your reading pleasure as well- Rotoworld’s ranked list of FA at all positions.

    I’m mainly confused as to why they have Joe Webb listed under the WR heading. Haven’t they seen his arm?

  68. 68 Neil said at 12:20 PM on January 11th, 2014:

    Webb is really talented as a quarterback. Thing is anybody who would consider him there has to call up Leslie Frazier and whoever was his QB coach when he practiced as one etc. and ask, “What happened?”

  69. 69 BlindChow said at 3:24 PM on January 11th, 2014:

    They probably saw that playoff game.

  70. 70 ICDogg said at 12:21 PM on January 11th, 2014:

    Wouldn’t mind bringing Webb in.

  71. 71 theycallmerob said at 12:23 PM on January 11th, 2014:

    If we’re looking for an athlete kind-of-guy, I’d rather McCluster.

    Also, I’m too focused on the kicker position group to care about the others

  72. 72 anon said at 4:22 PM on January 11th, 2014:

    Josh Cribbs is legit and he’ll be legitly cheap. Probably the best KR/PR in the group and can play QB, Brad Smith watch out.

  73. 73 theycallmerob said at 4:33 PM on January 11th, 2014:

    You don’t mean the Josh Cribbs who will be 31 at the start of the season? Who played in 6 games last year, catching 2 passes for 6 yards (and only 7 the whole year before)?
    He’s also no longer a KR/PR weapon. Only saw 8 PR attempts, and 20 KR attempts for 490 yards (24 yd avg). And he’s completed 6 of 15 passes in his entire career.

    Also, considering Brad Smith is already under contract (and cheap), I don’t think he’ll have too much trouble sleeping at night.

    If any weapon of that sort were to be brought in, make it McCluster. Or better yet, draft DAT

  74. 74 Breezy said at 8:26 PM on January 11th, 2014:

    Of course they did, thats the problem. His arm is way too strong. Teams dont want to have to put their wrs on ir every week

  75. 75 A_T_G said at 12:43 AM on January 12th, 2014:

    If they could add Verneer and Clemons and keep at least one of Mac and Coop, I’d be a happy man.

  76. 76 anon said at 4:32 PM on January 11th, 2014:

    You gotta wonder if we dind’t half ass getting a secondary this year and had some KR competition with henery if we’d still be playing.

  77. 77 Sean Stott said at 8:43 PM on January 11th, 2014:

    Anyone else think ILB (Ryans) is more needy than OLB?

  78. 78 A_T_G said at 12:44 AM on January 12th, 2014:

    Are there any good slot corners destine for FA? They might come a little cheaper and it would open the door to giving Boykin a shot at the outside.