Competition Talk

Posted: August 13th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 47 Comments »

The Eagles have a QB competition. And a backup RB competition. And all kinds of DB competition. Heck, when you’re coming off a 4-12 season and you have new coaches and schemes, not many people are safe.

Let’s talk about these competitions. We update when one player seems to have taken the lead. I think some people mis-read the updates and think that a player has won, or that the job is his to lose. That is not the case after one preseason game. You have to think of this as a marathon. Leading at the one-mile marker or the 10-mile marker or even the 20-mile marker doesn’t mean you’ve won. It simply means that player has performed better to that specific point.

The coaches will settle on a depth chart either before or after the third preseason game. They’ll definitely tweak the chart after the game. That will be the template they head into the season with. Even then, the depth chart is never really settled. Top shelf players like LeSean McCoy and Jason Peters are set in stone. A bad week means nothing to them. It would take several bad weeks for the coaches to really pay attention.

Established starters can get away with a bad game here or there, but have a couple in a row and suddenly that player will be challenged in practice, with some backup starting to eat into his reps. That is a hint to improve or else. If a young player is just lights out in practice, the starter may lose some reps even if he’s done nothing wrong.

Coaches want the best players on the field. They believe that competition will keep players on edge, as they battle for playing time. Starters can’t relax, for fear of losing their job. Backups don’t get discouraged, since they know they can win the job back if they practice well enough and find ways to shine during games (generally on STs).

I think the practice angle is one that a lot of fans underestimate. Coaches love practice. They love players who show up every day and practice hard and do a good job. Not all players are wired like that. Coaches crave consistency. Players who show up on Sunday, but don’t practice well drive coaches crazy. Their sloppy practice performances hurt the players around them. One way for players to improve is to be pushed hard in practice by the guys they go up against.

Greatness is a combination of talent, consistency and competitiveness. Great players want to win every snap, every practice rep or whatever setting their in. Far too often, players settle for good enough. That’s part of human nature.

I went to high school with a kid named John. He was a very talented RB, but not focused in the least. He was busy having a good time being a high school kid. In the week leading up to his final game, he and I were in the locker room talking. John told me he needed to score 4 TDs to set the school record. We were 1-8 at that point and the offense sucked. The starting QB got hurt prior to the season and we struggled to move the ball. Sure enough, John went out and scored 4 TDs in his final game. He got the school record.

That’s kind of a cool story, but also a sad one. John had the potential to play college football, but didn’t come close to that. He had the talent, but not the focus or drive that it takes to be a good football player. I’m sure the coaches hated John because he was such a tease.

There was another kid named Sean Mitchell. He didn’t have anything special in terms of talent, but Sean was a special guy. He started on the OL and DL. He was about 6-0, 220. He worked his ass off every single day. He battled guys that were as much as 75 pounds heavier, but Sean won a lot of battles. He got the most out of his talent. Sean was also a leader and a great student. I had tremendous respect for him. I’m sure the coaches loved Sean. He was good on the field, at practice, in the locker room and in the classroom.

Back in the early 90’s I did some broadcasting for a high school basketball team. One day the coach comes up to me and talks about a kid who is coming back to the team from some kind of suspension. The kid was a shooting guard. He was 5-11, 185 or something like that. Looked like an average player. The coach told me to watch him carefully during practice. My jaw hit the floor as I saw him drain 25-foot jumpers and then go dunk with ease. The coach explained that the kid was supremely gifted, but a major knucklehead and couldn’t be counted on. Another guy who was a huge tease and drove the coaches crazy.

Think about Bryce Brown. He left Tennessee after a year. He washed out at Kansas State. He flashed great talent last year, but has been highly inconsistent this spring and summer. I think the coaches got real worried about how he handled the success of 2012. Brown was good last year, but that showing didn’t earn him job security. His track record screams “Don’t trust me.”

Chris Polk came into the offseason as a man on a mission. He was in top shape. He went all-out every day and has had a great Training Camp. Polk was rewarded with the starting job last week with Shady out. There is no question that Brown is more gifted. The coaches sent a message to Brown that big potential isn’t enough. You must perform well in practice and games. Last year is irrelevant. This is 2013. Show us how good you can be.

Brown got the message and played well in the game. The challenge for him now is to practice well. If he does that, Brown will be the backup tailback and could have a big season. He is a perfect fit for Chip Kelly’s offense. He just needs to show up 7 days a week, not just on gameday.

Competition has brought out the best in the QBs so far. It has worked well for the RBs. We need to see more of the DBs, but signs there aren’t nearly as encouraging.

I think Chip Kelly has done a good job with competition so far. It does become tricky at some point because players will need to settle into roles. Kelly has made comments acknowledging this so I think he’ll dial things down in the next 10 days. College coaches can preach competition to an extreme level since players are only there for 4 years and there are no veteran stars or salary cap issues to deal with. It seems that Kelly understands this, but if he does push players too much that can be awkward. Chip has veteran NFL coordinators and I’m sure he’ll lean on them for advice when it comes to handling players and playing time.

There is an old joke that if you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes and it will change. That will apply to the depth chart this year. I think Les Bowen was the first person to make the point that maybe more important than who’s the QB on opening day is who will be the QB in the season finale. More than a few players will find out that getting a job and keeping a job are two very different things.

There will be competition.

There will be change.


47 Comments on “Competition Talk”

  1. 1 laeagle said at 1:37 AM on August 13th, 2013:

    “And I firmly believe that here in Blaine, with hard work, we can get that down to 2 or 3 minutes.”

  2. 2 BobSmith77 said at 2:08 AM on August 13th, 2013:

    “Not the game, but we’re talking about practice, man. I mean, how silly is that?”

  3. 3 TommyLawlor said at 2:39 AM on August 13th, 2013:

    Who said that, Thomas Jefferson or Ben Franklin?

  4. 4 ICDogg said at 8:07 AM on August 13th, 2013:

  5. 5 Anders said at 10:15 AM on August 13th, 2013:

    For such deep words it must have been Lincoln

  6. 6 shah8 said at 3:25 AM on August 13th, 2013:

    I think that it will be interesting how people react to the concept that competition must end when the season starts, for the most part. I think there are a lot of people who have the idea that Kelly would switch starters on a hairtrigger when the season starts. Players don’t play well if they’re worried about being benched all the time. That causes an inability to forget bad plays, anger at teammates for letting them down, etc, etc. You can keep bubble players going like that, but either the bubble firms up or it pops. Either way, you have to let them do their jobs.

  7. 7 ICDogg said at 6:29 AM on August 13th, 2013:

    Exactly, and they can’t really continue to improve without some stability.

  8. 8 TommyLawlor said at 8:59 AM on August 13th, 2013:

    No. Competition does not end. Not at all.

    It changes.

    Kelly will give the starters a chance to show what they can do, but they don’t get a free pass for 6 or 8 games. They need to practice and play well to keep their job. One bad game won’t cause them to lose a job, but it will get the coaches attention and they’ll watch that player closely. 2 bad games might cost him his job. 3…for sure.

    Kelly is a smart coach who got along with his players at Oregon. He knew how to use competition the right way there and I think he’ll understand how to adapt those principles to the NFL.

  9. 9 ICDogg said at 6:37 AM on August 13th, 2013:

    Just saw a clip where Logan is standing next to Square and from the back it reads “Logan Square”. Not as good as Dixon/Cox or Wang/Chung, but still.

  10. 10 BlindChow said at 10:04 AM on August 13th, 2013:

    I’d settle for Wing/Wang.

  11. 11 James said at 10:30 AM on August 13th, 2013:

    I dig the center city reference! haha

  12. 12 ACViking said at 10:42 AM on August 13th, 2013:

    maybe better. It’s family friendly, rather than salacious R-rated Meatballs material.

  13. 13 Daniel Norman Richwine said at 6:57 AM on August 13th, 2013:

    Some guys are so talented they can get away with blowing off practice Bo Jackson was famous for it. the problem is when an extremely talented guy blows off practice, it creates a weird dynamic where other talented players start to think they can’t be that good.if they need to practice, so practicing less.actually good they are.
    That’s why having a guy like Peyton Manning is so special. He is an example of a guy who is extremely talented and also extremely driven and hard working. That helps set the tone for.other talented players that they aren’t too good to work hard.

  14. 14 Dominik said at 6:04 PM on August 13th, 2013:

    It also helps to have a guy like Brady, who just eats you alive if you dare to show up unmotivated.

  15. 15 Always Hopeful said at 11:48 PM on August 13th, 2013:

    Manning is an interesting example. As I see it, Peyton is a supreme over achiever who is borderline obsessive compulsive about his craft. He is extremely driven and hard working, I don’t know how much “natural” talent he has. He’s a straight up grinder. Yet, when you have leadership like that people fall in line or fall off.

  16. 16 phillychuck said at 7:12 AM on August 13th, 2013:

    Could Chip-ball and all the competition lead to a decent season? From Grantland (in a KC Chief’s article):

    “Since 2002, when the league moved to its current divisional setup, 36 percent of teams that finished with a 4-12 record or worse in a given season followed that performance with a .500 or better campaign. The average 4-12 or worse team over that time frame has improved by an average of 3.6 wins the following season. Bad teams often get better fast.”

  17. 17 TommyLawlor said at 9:01 AM on August 13th, 2013:

    It will not shock me if the Eagles go 10-6. Anything beyond that would be a surprise.

    The Eagles have talent.

    Just as important, they’ll be playing a last place schedule. That helps.

  18. 18 Tom33 said at 9:18 AM on August 13th, 2013:

    It doesn’t hurt that the other teams in the NFC East have a bunch of holes/questions as well.

  19. 19 GEagle said at 9:35 AM on August 13th, 2013:

    I will Be dissapointed if we don’t ATleast split each series with our NFC east opponent…wouldn’t mind beating the cow girls twice…

    I Better not see Victor Cruz beat us!!! There has to be away to take him out the game…I can accept defeat against the Giants, but I can’t stomach watching that little $h*t salsa all over us..

    I expect the redskins to take a step back from last year
    The most important thing for me is NOt allowing KC to come in here and beat us…That would be very tough for me to deal with…

    eagles will beat the Packers this year!

  20. 20 aub32 said at 10:37 AM on August 13th, 2013:

    Talk about the mother of all shoot out with the Eagles vs the Packers. That may wind up being one of the highest scoring games ever.

  21. 21 GEagle said at 10:57 AM on August 13th, 2013:

    bet the under! Lol

    I’m expecting that defense to be pathetic again, although I think they struck gold with Datone Jones

  22. 22 aub32 said at 11:16 AM on August 13th, 2013:

    One player does not a defense make. If that were the case we would be good with just Cox. All jokes aside I want to see where the defense is after the 3rd preseason game. I think anyone who thought they were going to stop Tom Brady given all the changes was being unrealistic. However if they can’t stop Blaine Gabbert after a month of camp, we are in for a looooonng season.

  23. 23 GEagle said at 2:59 PM on August 13th, 2013:

    man, even in theb3rd preseason Mae we won’t learn what we need to learn…you will always see important Veterans like Demeco Ryan just go through the motions tryiing to preserve their body..

    Demeco thinks we are a bunch of Maniacs. he practically can’t help himself for laughing at the media everytime they talk to him about the preseason..He did it again today lol
    Also what does a series or two really tell you? As a game goes on players don’t always play exactly how they did at the start of the game…some get more comfortable and play better as a game goes along, others play worse when they have an adrenaline dump, and it varies from player to player, and from one game to the next…Billy Davis won’t give them their best plays, their exotic blitzes, their most sophisticated disguise to run in the preseason…..and you never know how close to a regular season game the opposition is trying to simulate…

    Whether its great, or horrible in the preseason….it can be dramatically different once the regular season arrives

  24. 24 OregonDucker said at 12:50 PM on August 13th, 2013:

    The ONLY way you beat Cruz is with the Byrdman. We’ve got to have Byrd to be playoff eligible.

  25. 25 GEagle said at 3:10 PM on August 13th, 2013:

    Ugh…sad but sooo true…Last time I looked around the NFL and saw a player that there was a chance we might be able to actually get, who could have such a huge impact on the rest of his Unit…it was T.O!!!

    You add Byrd to the mix, and the entire defense changes..
    Come on Buffalo. everyone knows you are just a minor league feeder team to the big market…You are installing a brand new defense, and you haven’t made a priority to have Byrd come to camp. He basically flat out said that he wasn’t going to finish his career in Buffalo…Give him up to the Eagles before you lose him to another AFC team next summer
    The only thing that’s starting to scare me about my ever dying love for Jarius Byrd is Earl Wolff and Chunger…How much do our coaches like them? We look at them now and naturally we see that we need help, but for all we know our coaches could be confident that they can develope them into the starting tandem for the next 5 years…If that’s the case, they aren’t giving up picks and break the Bank open for Byrd…I really want to see that kid in Philly

    question: Can Trent Cole be cut next offseason without eating tons of dead money like this year? What about Celek. And Dead money involved with cutting him next offseason?

  26. 26 JoeD said at 11:47 AM on August 13th, 2013:

    are you serious? 10-6????????!!!!!!!!! Homerism? It would shock me if any team went 10-6 in the NFC E and the rest have franchise QBs!!!!!!!!!

  27. 27 aub32 said at 1:48 PM on August 13th, 2013:

    Funny, because if I am not mistaken this time last year we all thought we had a franchise QB. He had a bad year last year but if this new system can keep him looking like he did on Friday, I believe we can definitely compete given our schedule.

  28. 28 JoeD said at 9:59 PM on August 13th, 2013:

    OK, what about all the other years? Vick was never an elite passer or a legit QB.. Stop living in 2010, it was a 7 game miracle.

    He had one series where he looked good. Just one!!!! Don’t have such a short memory!

  29. 29 aub32 said at 9:53 AM on August 14th, 2013:

    It’s funny that you can accuse me of having a short memory but forget what really happened in 2011. He destroyed our divisional opponents. He averaged over 25 ppg. No he was not elite, but he did enough to win games. The much maligned defense, in which the DC was eventually fired and the entire secondary was replaced, was a much bigger factor to the games lost in 2011. Vick can’t do it on his own, but you seem to ignore the other problems on the team.

  30. 30 JoeD said at 2:47 PM on August 14th, 2013:

    All the games total he averaged 17ppg… We couldve lost every game we won in the first 3 games…and we SHOULD’VE lost the game where he threw 4 picks, dqwell jackson dropped the game sealing INT that was right to him. He was awful the past two years. im well aware the rest of the team wasn’t good either, which is my point. how does a shit team with litttle talent on defense go 10-6?

  31. 31 Neil said at 4:46 PM on August 13th, 2013:

    Eh, it would almost shock me if not one got there; though more than one would definitely be shocking. All it takes is a little luck in a division like this.

  32. 32 GEagle said at 8:27 AM on August 13th, 2013:

    What’s everyone think of all the new love CSN and mOsher are showing Wolff? Some are saying t is now his job to lose and Nate is done…seems a lot of overreacting for 1 preseason game.

    Chip said he would give the defense 1 free pass, and they just used it on Friday…TOugh to get much info out of two series…don’t like the way the starters are playing? Send them a message, keep them in the game til you are satisfied with their effort

    Anyone know the expectations for thursday game? I do t care about the QBs, but how long are the rest of the starters going to play?

  33. 33 GEagle said at 8:29 AM on August 13th, 2013:

    If Damian Squares makes this team, who’s spot does he take?
    Dying to see squares, Logan and curry play together on thursday…really hoping Wolff and Logan see some snaps with the 1’s so we can see how they play against nfl starters

  34. 34 GEagle said at 8:36 AM on August 13th, 2013:

    Yesterday the Defense had(allegedly) one of its best practice…Wonder what Role Cary’s comments played in the defense being fired up for yesterday’s practice?..
    Curry tweeted. great practice for the D, we got better today!

  35. 35 GEagle said at 10:58 AM on August 13th, 2013:

    We are down voting the Eagles having a good defensive day at practice now? Hahahahaha Hi Hater! Keep flattering me

  36. 36 eagleyankfan said at 9:18 AM on August 13th, 2013:

    What no practice notes? I got my coffee … and no notes :(. Who do I have to buy a bpr for to get notes :).

  37. 37 GEagle said at 9:28 AM on August 13th, 2013:

    graham had his best day in coverage breaking up a pass intended for Ertz, and was credited with a sack f Foles..
    defense dominated yesterday’s practice..Wolff and Logan ran with the 1s..

    BARWIN lined up out wide on Riley Cooper and they called a CB blitz for Barwin..

    Foles ran the offense much faster than Vick yesterday, he was the OLY QB to get us in the ENDZONE on 11-11 redzone drills
    Vick hit a fly Swatter or two again, and fumbled ATleast 1 snap…had a communication breakdown with Kelce
    Cary played well, didn’t get beat and held his own against Desean

  38. 38 GEagle said at 9:38 AM on August 13th, 2013:

    LOL, I love RG3:
    “I don’t think McNabb is an idiot, but it’s best we don’t talk”


  39. 39 GEagle said at 9:49 AM on August 13th, 2013:

    Roob Frank: We probably just saw Nate Allen leave for the last time

    Mosher Nate Allen had his chance, didn’t work out, now Wolff is the future

    have they heard something that I haven’t heard? Sounds a little over reacting…Billy D said yesterday that Wolff would play with the 1s on Monday, but not on Tuesday because that’s how the rotation worked out…Is Nate Allen really on his way out of Philly?

  40. 40 JoeD said at 10:09 AM on August 13th, 2013:

    Good post!

  41. 41 ACViking said at 10:44 AM on August 13th, 2013:

    Important to remember that Nate Allen’s future is still in front of him.

  42. 42 Mac said at 10:55 AM on August 13th, 2013:

    When considering the likelihood of the sun coming up tomorrow, I would say we can also infer that his future will be bright.

  43. 43 TommyLawlor said at 11:27 AM on August 13th, 2013:

    You guys think you’re funny.

    So do I.

  44. 44 Michael Winter Cho said at 1:06 PM on August 13th, 2013:

    Hey, Tommy, nice writing my man ! 🙂

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