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.
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.
“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.
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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.