Reps Matter

Posted: June 5th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 30 Comments »

We hear all the time about how fast the Eagles practice. Most of the focus is on how this helps them to play fast in games. There is other value in the way Chip Kelly has his teams practice.

Brent Celek said in his interview with Dave Spadaro that getting all the reps helped the offensive players to work against different looks. Celek might run a pass pattern against Connor Barwin on one play. The next time he might run the same pattern against a Safety. Maybe the next rep involves a zone blitz with a CB rushing and the DE dropping into a zone. This helps Celek and his teammates to be better prepared for the regular season, when teams will throw all kinds of looks at them.

Malcolm Jenkins added some more thoughts on his perspective as an outsider.

Jenkins says Eagles coach Chip Kelly’s style is a bit of a culture shock to some of the older players, but something they’ve bought into.

“We’re creatures of habit. It’s hard for us to accept change, it’s hard for us to say ‘We’re going to get 50 plays in an OTA practice’ as opposed to normally people are getting 20. There has to be a reason for it, and [Kelly] does a great job of explaining why and then taking care of us, as far as our recovery and our bodies,” said Jenkins. “Everything he does from a scheduling standpoint and a practice standpoint has a reason and that reason is explained to us. So it’s a lot easier for us to grasp it, understand it, take hold of it and buy in because he has a vision, he has a plan and then he articulates that plan to us. And I think last year was the first year, guys were kind of tip-toeing in and I think this year, everybody has bought in.”

Interesting to see him refer to 50 plays vs 20. Obviously those aren’t exact numbers, but it does give you some idea of just how drastic the difference is.

Nolan Carroll offered his thoughts.

“It’s been really fast-paced,” Carroll said. “It’s something that I haven’t been used to in a really long time, but as the days have gone on, I’ve gotten used to it and used to the tempo of everything and just going out and playing fast.

“You just kind of react and I think Coach (Chip) Kelly does that for a reason. He speeds the game up so fast, that when it comes time to play the actual game, everything has slowed down. The first day was just so fast that you couldn’t process the receiver lining up. He was just snapping the ball and there it is, and you just kind of had to play the guy. As the days have gone on, stuff has been able to slow down for me, and I’m able to process it much more quickly.”

This struck me as kind of odd. I thought the Dolphins (Carroll’s previous team) ran some of the faster practices in the league. I know Joe Philbin did some unconventional things at practice, but obviously it didn’t come close to what Kelly does.

Do not mistake all this talk of fast practices to mean the focus is on the speed. Getting a bunch of sloppy or bad reps wouldn’t do anyone any good. Kelly has coaches that can teach and smart players that learn well. Not just any team could line up and run the same pace the Eagles do. It is a style of practice that Kelly has worked on for years and years. He knows how to make it work. The real key is having the right kind of coaches and players.

* * * * *

I wrote about Brent Celek earlier today and mentioned that he could play for several more years. A reader made the point that money could become an issue at some point. As Zach Ertz emerges, Celek’s role will decrease. When will the team ask him to take a pay cut? And would Celek be willing to do that?

I won’t pretend that I know how Celek will respond to the Eagles talking about a pay cut. He is a proud athlete, but is also a smart guy. Even the veteran minimum is more than some people would make in a decade. At the same time, Celek might tire of the pounding that football takes on his body. How valuable is your health?

We’ll see what hapens. I could see this thing going either way. Nothing will happen this year, but this is a situation that bears watching in the future.

Some of you did ask about Celek making the transition to being the Eagles long snapper. Won’t happen. Snapping is a skill that it takes years to practice and perfect. Celek is an emergency LS, but I don’t see him ever doing that full time.
_


  • ICDogg

    It’s really a brilliant way of making use of limited time allotted. And it keeps everyone on their toes.

    • A_T_G

      …except opponents. They will be on their heels.

  • Ben

    IMO Coach Kelly has literally changed “the way it’s done”, and I truly believe that the entire NFL is in catch up mode.
    A few teams have used high tempo but Chip takes it to another level.
    Hyper-Tempo if you will.
    Then you add in the fact that his ” Sports Science” gives our players an extra edge that some teams aren’t doing and it seems to benefit the players in a huge way.
    His practice regimen is also unique to anything that I have ever seen.
    I went to two of his training camp sessions that were open to the public and I was in awe.
    I don’t know how he came up with having ALL his QB’s throwing in practice simultaneously to 4-5 receivers, all running different routes.
    His plan of getting lots of reps on tape allows him to make fair assessments of any given player AND it creates a whole new level of Stamina that also benefits our players in a huge way.
    Now on top of all the other intangibles he brings to the table, he never
    thinks he’s arrived, just like he talks about his players.

    • Media Mike

      Seeing all of that at training camps sounds awesome. I’m hopeful they end this nonsense of restricting fan access at Novacare and open training camp back up every day once again.

      • GEAGLE

        Rather all media and fans permenantly banned from practice/camp

        • Ben

          As a fan of the Eagles I am a little torn between wanting to see my team practice and not having access, especially since Chips come to town.
          At the same time, I would hate for another team getting any information as to how Chip runs his practices.
          I don’t want any of Chips secrets to get out and would gladly stop going, if given no choice.
          It is a spectacle to be seen, that’s for sure.

    • GEAGLE

      Think it will be a while before teams catch up…. Chip has made an orgazational commitment to this way of training…
      ,,.
      Take a guy like Bil Lazor going to Miami….he can copy a few of chips methods. But he is the offensive coordinator. He doesn’t have the backing of the entire organization to change all the traditional methods and implement these new methods at every level of the organization…
      ….
      You can implement a tempo package, but are your guys really doing weight lifting reps as fast as they can, running from one weight machine to the next…
      ….
      For someone in the NFL to catch up with us, it will take an owner to hire someone familiar with chips methods, and then the owner has to give them the keys to change how the entire organization operates…takes a serious organizational commitment to do what we are doing, shunning all the old NFL traditions… This is why Lurie and Howie deserve so much respect…. They had the balls to buck tradition to step outside the “old boys club”… And I know Chip will reward them with a lombardi

  • JakFTW

    I remember when I was finishing high-school, I did a speed-reading course. The brain can process text faster than you can read it. The idea was to use a single glance to take in more than one word, so you would process a line of text in two or three ‘chunks’. They used a metronome and for each beat you would glance at a ‘chunk’ of the line.

    They began by speeding us up to over 1000 words per minute, and I remember thinking as I looked back and forth at the text in front of me ‘Damn… I am not actually processing any of this’. I couldn’t have told you what I read. But then they slowed things down a bit and it all started making sense – at more than double my initial reading speed! It was so much faster than what I started at but by then it seemed slow.

    I think Chip’s practises work pretty much the same way – I bet for the players, Sundays are actually slower than practice. If you look at Chip miked-up for Sound FX on NFL.com, game-day is definitely too slow for him. I also have a theory that this should mean that Eagles will get better early production from their rookies in games – ie the game will ‘slow down’ for them more quickly.

    • GEAGLE

      Good stuff. Certainly agree…

      Similar theory to how cage fighters train… Say a cage fighter is booked to fight three 5minute rounds….in practice he will spar for like 6-7 five minute rounds, with a new fresh training partner coming in every new round..so by the 4th round. You have already fought for 20 minutes, but a fresh guy is coming after you… Cage fighting training is brutal. The goal is to get your ass kicked every day, and that your training should be much harder then the actual fight….
      ..
      Think it’s always a good idea to make your training harder then the actual competition…the trick is, to make practice harder then the games, without destroying your body during practice. Coaches need to make practice conditions harder without beating your body down with injuries that hinder you on game day… Seems like Chip has mastered a balance of making practice harder, while also making sure our bodies are In peak condition for Sunday

    • TommyLawlor

      Good story, Jak. Interesting comparison.

    • Andy124

      I assume that was all in preparation for reading Geagle’s posts?

      • JakFTW

        Haha no way man. I enjoy reading igglesblitz comments too much – have to read every word ;)

    • Nicodemus_09

      That is really excellent stuff. Fascinating and also a really great comparison. As much as I absolutely LOVE reading, but have an extremely limited amount of time to do so, I’d give anything to learn that.

  • Sconces

    IMO Celek plays the game without a care for his body. He puts it on the line more than a lot of other players, even at his position, are willing to.

    Whatever the future has in store for him, I don’t think it will be due to him waning to preserve his health. Just doesn’t seem like that type of guy.

    Good read though.

    • Nicodemus_09

      I have so much fun watching Celek play. How could any Eagles fan just NOT love Celek? I mean the guy practically goes out of his MIND with excitement after a routine 3rd down conversion. His passion reminds me a lot of Dawk. I know it’s not very realistic, but he’s one guy I’ve always hoped would retire an Eagle.

  • GEAGLE

    I’d bet Celek gives us a team friendly deal so he can stay here. The,guy has really made philly his home, he is all about winning, and he seems like he thinks Chip is his best chance to win a ring….
    ..
    Brent also has a pretty successful restaurant in philly and a lunch truck..
    ..
    Brent seems to be one of the biggest believers in our sports science. he will take care of his body and his role will diminish. So I Think he has another 2-3 years in him

    • CrackSammich

      I feel like you keep saying this “team friendly deal” thing about every player. Are you really this optimistic, or are you just doing this so that when one player finally does it, you can point out that you were right all along?

      • D3FB

        It’s similar to his draft analysis. Pick 5 new different players we are going to take two or three times a day. Over the course of two or three months he’s listed 80% of draftable prospects, proceeds to claim to be omnipotent.

  • bill

    Brent is a guy who has repeatedly said how much he loves playing the game, so I could see him taking pay cuts to keep playing.
    On the other hand, he also seems to be a smart enough guy to realize that there will be a long life after football, and he should save his body so that he’s not crippled by degenerative diseases at age 40.
    Those are the two ways I see any discussion of a pay cut playing out.

  • Mike Roman

    Two things really stand out in the article.

    1. They practice so fast that things are slowed down come game time.
    2. They practice so fast that they don’t “have time to think”.

    Both are brilliant. The second one is especially interesting because you don’t want players over thinking on the field. You want them reacting. Quick decision making. And if the player makes the wrong decision in practice, line up an do it again. And again. And again. Quickly. With all of the fast repetition, you’re learning to process and make the right decision in an instant.

    And I love JAK’s speed reading comparison.

    *******************************

    Side note. I don’t have kids, will never have kids. But if I had a son who played football I would try to nudge the kid into learning to long snap. It is so specialized that there aren’t a lot of guys who can do it. That’s why good long snappers last a long time in the league. Nice way to make a living. We’ve been lucky enough to have two very good ones in Bartrum and Dorenbos.

    • ICDogg

      The other part is simply that doing more reps in a shorter time is a much more efficient use of time. Chip originally developed a lot of this in order to better operate within restrictions on practice time imposed by NCAA rules.

      • austinfan

        It also applies to the rules under the NFL rules.
        Most coaches can’t do it because it not only requires great organization skills, it also requires a coach with the patience NOT to step in and correct things on the field, but to review film, and then teach and have players show they’ve learned.
        Too many coaches want to coach, and interrupt the flow of practice.

        The fast pace provides numerous benefits:
        1) Eagles run twice as many reps and with more players, so even backups get lots of reps, and starters get so many reps they don’t have to think in games, just react.
        2) Players get comfortable playing at a fast pace, and playing lots of snaps, so the fact the Eagles have more snaps than almost any other team won’t phase them during the season.
        3) It weeds out players who can’t think on their feet or who are either out of condition or genetically can’t keep up the pace. That’s one reason for the emphasis on intelligence, a player who can’t keep up slows everyone down.

    • CrackSammich

      I used to joke about the punter on a winning team being the easiest job in the world, but you’re right–long snapper is definitely the best.

  • RobNE

    This is kind of interesting: http://mmqb.si.com/2014/06/05/andrew-luck-russell-wilson-colin-kaepernick-robert-griffin-cam-newtown-running-quarterbacks-analysis/

    Includes this assertion: Kaepernick does not read the defense before the snap. You can tell because he shows no understanding of this basic quarterbacking concept: When one receiver is covered, it often means another receiver is not.
    There’s no awareness of route combinations

    • Andy124

      Media Mike hacked MMQB!

    • bill

      Been saying it for a while now – pattern recognition is supremely underrated by many amateur “scouts.” It’s difficult to make quick decisions when there are so many moving parts in front of you, and you still have to be concerned about all of your details, too. That’s why it’s so important to get reps in the pocket before coming into the NFL. If you don’t have a really good foundation before you are a starter in the NFL, it’s extremely unlikely that you’re going to develop it before your confidence gets shot/you get injured/team gets impatient. Kaep, to me, has always been clearly deficient in that area – if he played for any other team but the most talented roster in the NFL, he’d have been benched long ago. He’s a great passer and runner, but not a very good QB. And his stats back that up.

  • MFlick

    I remember reading about Bill Walsh drawing up plays in the bus on the way to the game. I also remember Bum Phillips saying that you could have all of his game plan on the back of cereal box.

    It seems like Chip is all about execution. You do it in practice before you do it in a game. You develop a unique game plan for each week and practice what you will do in that game.

    I also liked how Sproles said that they had a unique work out plan for each player. And they knew before where he would be sore for that day.

    Meanwhile, Dallas added a ballet bar into their gym to help deal with all the soft tissue injuries. I was like yeah we got that in our little company gym too. Sure seems like they are about 30 years behind in the sport science world.

  • 76mustang

    Spot on Tommy – love the 50 / 20 ratio reference by Malcom, and that’s likely only speaking to 7 on 7 and 11 on 11 drills. Think about it, in 5 days of practice the Eagles are doing 250 reps vs. 100 reps – all of it being captured on film so the coaches can teach to what the film is showing – not just technique evaluation, but as Tommy said, plays will get run against different defensive looks allowing the players to respond and the coaches to in essence game plan. That’s why it’s so hard to surprise Chip come game day – the Eagles have already likely practiced against that look and it’s likely variations. Throw in the tempo element with no player substitutions and you eliminate 75% of the variations – one of the reasons players can get so wide open on some plays, and Foles is the distributor to get the ball to the right person.

  • rls255

    Never thought of it before but that last bit makes me wish Celek has been secretly practicing longsnapping and becomes a bartrum type. The roster flexibility would be nice…..

  • http://iKillRats.com/ Charlie Kelly

    Good article!