Let ’em Coach

Posted: June 25th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 33 Comments »

An NFL head coach is part football coach, part personnel executive, part administrator, part motivator, part public relations, part salesman and sometimes a father figure. The only way one man can do all that at the NFL level is to have a good coaching staff. And he must trust them.

Sheil Kapadia wrote a good piece on Chip Kelly and how he uses his assistants.

Before becoming the head coach at Oregon in 2009, Chip Kelly was an assistant for four different college teams.

And all along the way, he appreciated that his bosses allowed him to do his job without micromanaging.

“No different than in your job,” Kelly said. “If your editor takes an article that you turn in and hacks the heck out of it, I’m sure you… you know what I mean. It’s the same thing. I think you can give pointers and tips and all those things, but I think any editor will say the same thing: ‘God, this guy, I have to keep rewriting his story all the time.’ Well, that guy is probably not going to have that job for very long.

“It’s the same thing with an assistant coach. And I’m fortunate we don’t have anybody like that. I think we have a bunch of really, really good teachers that we are all on the same page with, and that’s a positive.”

Kelly lets his guys do their job. He trusts them.

“That’s why we hired them,” Kelly said. “They need to be the experts in their field in terms of, you know, whether it’s the defensive backs or the offensive line or the quarterbacks or whatever. I don’t think this organization is going to work if you have to micromanage individual position coaches.

“They are here for a reason, and that’s what we felt in the hiring process. That’s what I wanted. I didn’t want someone where I always had to constantly look over and say: ‘What drill is he doing now? Why is he doing that?’ So we have a bunch of guys who are great teachers and really add to the overall team. I think that’s the important thing in your assistant coaches in that you don’t have to worry about what to teach them when they get on the field because we have already hashed that out when we get in the meeting room.”

Assistant coaches love freedom and responsibility. They hate to be micro-managed.

Kelly did a terrific job of putting together his staff. If the Eagles continue to win as I expect them to do, the challenge could be to replace the coaches well. That’s where Andy Reid struggled.

Reid hired a great initial staff. Unfortunately they were young coaches who moved on to better roles (some as head coach, others as coordinator). Reid tried to hire a variety of replacements, but never came close to the original staff he had.

One difference is that Kelly didn’t hire as many young guys. I don’t know that Jeff Stoutland, Bob Bicknell, Jerry Azzinaro, Rick Minter, Bill McGovern or John Lovett expect to move on to bigger and better things. The Eagles did lose Bill Lazor to the Dolphins this offseason. Luckily they have Kelly and Pat Shurmur to run the offense and help with the QBs. Bill Musgrave is the new QB coach. He is a veteran coach and has strong people around him to help him adjust to how the Eagles do things.

I wondered if Kelly’s unusual style of football would bother any of his assistants, especially on the defensive side. Can you imagine Buddy Ryan dealing with Kelly’s no-huddle, hurry-up attack? Forget about a sideline punch. Buddy would put a bounty on Kelly.

Kelly was able to find coaches that could handle his style of football. To use the most over-used of phrases…everyone seems to be on the same page. Kelly got the assistants to trust his style and ideas. In return, he trusts them to coach well.

It is critical for the staff to do a good job. There are 53 players on an NFL roster. The greatest head coach in the world must have the right people around him or he’s going to have trouble delivering great results. Jimmy Johnson built a great staff and a great team in Dallas. He went to Miami after that and produced so-so results. He didn’t have the same talent, but maybe more importantly, he didn’t nearly as good a staff.

Gary Stevens – OC
George Hill – DC
Mike Westhoff – STs
Larry Beightol – OL
Kippy Brown – RB
Randy Shannon
Bill Lewis
Pat Jones

That’s nowhere close to Norv Turner, Dave Wannstedt, Butch Davis, Joe Avezzano  and Hudson Houck, the key assistants in Dallas. Interestingly, Johnson tried to hire Bill Belichick to come to Miami, but he instead went to New England. That move could have really changed the face of the NFL. Would Bill have ever gotten a chance to run the Pats if it wasn’t for his time there? Would he and Jimmy have done something impressive together with the Dolphins?

Back to the Eagles. Kelly had the right guys to turn the team around in 2013. The next order of business in pushing through that and becoming an elite team. We’ll see if Kelly has the right guys for that. One thing we do know, Kelly will give his assistants a chance to show what they can do.


33 Comments on “Let ’em Coach”

  1. 1 GermanEagle said at 6:59 AM on June 26th, 2014:

    Lol, isn’t it ironic that of all things DeSean Jackson is still an Eagle according to Jimmy Bama:

    That is no longer the case. Yesterday, Foles unleashed a 60 yard TD that was on the money to DeSean Jackson.


  2. 2 eagleyankfan said at 7:28 AM on June 26th, 2014:

    Some folks are still in denial…..

  3. 3 TommyLawlor said at 7:34 AM on June 26th, 2014:

    Jimmy was referring to 2013 practice notes.

    “But Foles’ progression from his rookie year to his second year is what stood out. Here’s what I wrote then.”

  4. 4 GermanEagle said at 7:43 AM on June 26th, 2014:

    You’re right of course, my bad.

    Still funny though to see him quoting DeSeanzzzz. 😉

  5. 5 A_T_G said at 8:44 AM on June 26th, 2014:

    I enjoyed how he quoted himself from last year quoting himself from the year before. Many of the comments did not, but I thought it was fun, a flashback within a flashback.

  6. 6 Ark87 said at 9:21 AM on June 26th, 2014:

    I was hoping he would do the triple level flashback then get lost in flashback limbo and have to verify reality with some sort of Eagle’s totem. I’d Choose Marlon Favorite’s dive/take-off as my totem.

  7. 7 GermanEagle said at 7:44 AM on June 26th, 2014:


    What’s your score for USA vs Germany today?

    Let’s hope for a friendly draw. :-)))

  8. 8 Ark87 said at 7:51 AM on June 26th, 2014:

    as long as it’s not a 0-0 draw, we can’t stand those! (Realistically America’s probably going to get crushed…mmmm 3-1?)

  9. 9 Dominik said at 9:13 AM on June 26th, 2014:

    Ghana cut two of their best players out of their roster. I really hope it’s 3:0 germany with the US advancing to the next round through the better goal differential with Ghana or Portugal.

  10. 10 GEAGLE said at 8:44 AM on June 26th, 2014:

    I adore this coaching staff…. So much coordinator and HC experience on this staff…IMO it was a Homerun.. Some fantastic teachers on this staff and I love the commitment to fundamentals and how our players embraced it, for example: our DL probably hits the sled nore the any other DL in the NFL. Hitting the Sled everyday probably sucks, but our players really embraced it and you hear Dlinemen now talk about it like it’s “their thing” knowing that no DL is working harder then them and Is more Commited to the fundamentals..
    This team will play with strong fundamentals, discipline and hunger and passion for the game, and that should translate to wins…
    We all praise the environment created at Novacare, and how we have a bunch of I high character guys who all bought it…but as great as it is to see everyone buy in and a wonderful atmosphere at Novacare, IMO the biggest test was the 1-3 start last year. It’s easy for the moral to be high and everyone buy in during the offseason, but it’s crucial to see how we would react to adversity when your faith gets tested. This unit didn’t even show a hint of unraveling during the rough start…THE TEAM stayed together, fought thru it and after the Denver game it clicked and they went on to finish the year as the hottest team in the league…
    That is a HUGE sign that shouldn’t be taken for granted…the bad start brought us closer and tested our character…not every locker room can go tnru that type of adversity and come out smelling like Roses… Just watch what happens when adversity hits the “native American skins locker”, they will implode, throwing each other the bus and eating each other alive….

    There is no doubt in my mind that Chip brought the winning for formula to Philly. Going to be an amazing ride.

  11. 11 A_T_G said at 8:47 AM on June 26th, 2014:

    Based on the evidence above, we should be looking for assistant coaches with a double z in their name. Has there ever been a double z coach to fail? Foolproof!

  12. 12 GEAGLE said at 8:48 AM on June 26th, 2014:

    Send Villanueva on super secret spy recon missions…
    Thank god Bellicek didn’t get Villanueva. Could u imagine how he would use hi,m?

    Edit: sorry didn’t mean to post this under yours

  13. 13 A_T_G said at 8:56 AM on June 26th, 2014:


    Maybe he did get him and this is his top secret, disavow all knowledge if you are caught, integrate yourself into their camp mission from Bellichek.

    Just to be safe, when we practice against the Pats, we should give Villanueva orders to take out Brady’s knees. If he does it, we know he is one of us.

  14. 14 GEAGLE said at 9:19 AM on June 26th, 2014:

    Hahah I swear a similar theory popped in my brain while typing it

  15. 15 theycallmerob said at 11:06 PM on June 26th, 2014:

    sh!t, he WAS a patriot once, who’s to say he’s still not…

  16. 16 GEAGLE said at 9:35 AM on June 26th, 2014:

    Any of my fellow draft nerds start looking at next year yet?

    Something that really stuck out for me is unlike this past year, OLB/DE could be a real strength of next years draft….problem is there are so many quality edge rush prospects next year it’s hard at this point to rank them..

    So far under Chip, we have only spent first round picks on one of the 3 most valued positions.. QB,LT and OLB… Wonder if this will be a normal occurrence under Chip..interesting that Oregon has a top OLB prospect that will enter the draft Tony Washington…it’s too early to know, but I suspect the kid from Nebraska will be the top edge rusher(Gregory)
    Interesting that there will be a handful of OLB we can connect the dots with the eagles:
    1) Oregons Tny Washington
    2) Florida’s Dante Fowler (Howie)

    3) Louisville’s(Marcus running mate) mauldin
    QUESTION to fellow draft nerds: Everyone likes to mention that those Super NTs that can really move don’t come along every year. Next years unquestioned top NT will be 330lb monster from UCLA Ellis McCarthy…. How Special of a NT prospect is he? Is he as talented of a prospect as a Dontari Poe? His 40 time is allegedly in the low 4.9’s
    I also wondered the other day if missing out on Dion,Kiko and Kyle Long in chips draft bothered him, and led the eagles to make sure to secure Oregon players in this draft so maybe we drafted Huff and hart a little earlier than we needed to. Oregon has some serious prospects in this draft, so I look forward to see if we draft Oregon players like last year, or miss on them like chips first year..

    Obviously Marriotta will be the first Oregon player off the board. But how do people rank the other top Oregon prospects?
    1) Ifo EKpre OLOMU CB
    2) Tony Washington OLB
    3) Hroniss Grasu C/G
    We have drafted a Stanford player In each draft since Chip has arrived…. Next year, Stanford is STACKED with top draft prospects,curious to see if this trend will continue..

    It’s also another nice draft class for WRs, so I wonder if our “configuring of the WR position” continues….guess this will depend on if Maclin!Brad and Rejus play well enough to keep them here

  17. 17 GEAGLE said at 9:43 AM on June 26th, 2014:

    I think we learned a lot about this regime in this years draft that should make talking about future eagles drafts a little easier since we aren’t as in the dark as we used to be… Some things to keep in mind leading up to next years draft:
    1) We knew high character mattered, but now we know that it REALLY MATTERS and isn’t negotiable..not only does high character matter, but intelligence is a big part of chosing prospects. Not just football intelligence, but also school intelligence. Gotta keep an eye on the good football players who did well in school, graduated..
    2) it seems really important to this eagles regime to try to eliminate some of the guess work and do as little “projecting” as possible. We like guys who were used in college, in a similar way as how we will use them..so we already know that for example, Louisville OLB prospect Lorenzo mauldin! can be seen on film! playing a similar role in a familiar defense to what we will ask of him..

  18. 18 eagleyankfan said at 10:54 AM on June 26th, 2014:

    Are you replying to your own threads? :). Thanks for the info. I don’t follow a lot of college play. Seeing some of the names you’re throwing out there, I’ll probably tune in just to see how they are doing once their season starts.

  19. 19 GEAGLE said at 12:24 PM on June 26th, 2014:

    Only when it doesn’t let me edit and add to my comment..
    Getting antsy for both college and NFL footy footy football

  20. 20 Anders said at 10:45 AM on June 26th, 2014:

    Tony Oregon (Ducks call him Oregon because of Washington rivalry) and Mauldin are two guys I noticed this year. Dan Klausner of BGN, actually already did a mock draft where he gave us Mauldin.

    This means next year our LB core could be Smith, Barwin, Kendricks, Mauldin.

    Yes im moving Barwin inside and put Smith at Barwins spot. I 100% think Barwin would make a great ILB because his pass rush skills is not the best, but he is a great tackler, good at shedding blocks and even tho he might be the biggest ILB in the NFL, he still has better cover skills than most of them

  21. 21 GEAGLE said at 12:20 PM on June 26th, 2014:

    I don’t disagree,…mauldin is someone I really on watching closely. With Marcus gone, I’m wondering if we will see him drop in coverage some this year…. I’d probably rank Mauldin over Tony the Duck..,

    That’s the thing with Barwin..traditionally you think, no way that big ass monster can play ILB, but dude can really move.. I wouldn’t be surprised if we was faster than Meco at this point…Barwin isn’t supposed to be able to play ILB, but when you break down what the position, don’t see what you can ask of an ILB that Barwin can’t handle…it would be absolutely awesome if Barwin can eventually transition to replace Meco…

  22. 22 Anders said at 12:23 PM on June 26th, 2014:

    It also fits in that Davis would want 4 LBs who can play all 4 positions.

  23. 23 GEAGLE said at 12:55 PM on June 26th, 2014:

    That would be pretty bad ass..and opposing QBs would struggle trying to figure out which of our LBs we are sending after them

  24. 24 Anders said at 10:45 AM on June 26th, 2014:

    Also Hroniss Grasu would be a perfect pick for us. He can take over one of the guard spots right away and at the same time back up Kelce.

  25. 25 GEAGLE said at 12:02 PM on June 26th, 2014:

    Yeah, a big part about why I didn’t want to draft an OL this year, because I wanted to spend an early pick on Grasu next year. Great size, athleticism, eliminate the guess work with Chip recruiting him…and the G/C is like the one position where you can get the best prospect at that position if you really want him… same with RB position..
    I know that kid can be awesome, and I can count on Chip knowing him better than everyone, so I’m selfishly hoping he doesn’t have the best year…the further he falls the better for us..

  26. 26 D3FB said at 11:29 AM on June 26th, 2014:

    My initial draft thoughts
    1. ILB is going to be ridiculously loaded. 10 plus guys who could start opening day 2015.
    2. WR is going to have alot of physically large human beings again.
    3. Ifo lists at 5’10, which means he may not even be that tall. I’m not sure he fits us from a measurable perspective. My top CB is Marcus Peters.
    4. My favorite OLB prospect at the moment (besides Gregory) is Alvin Dupree.
    5. I like Grasu from an athletic standpoint. He needs to work on strength at the point of attack. I much prefer Josue Matias. He’s huge and can flat out move.

  27. 27 GEAGLE said at 12:05 PM on June 26th, 2014:

    1) ILB is certainly stacked (think we had the ILB discussion before)

    2) amazing the quality of WR available when you consider how many were drafted this year. Wonder if we might see philadelphia’s own (west catholic) Jalen Strong, 6’4 215lb WR out of Arizona sTate.

  28. 28 D3FB said at 2:52 PM on June 26th, 2014:

    I like Strong but I don’t know if he’s a target. He’s a 4.55+ guy on tape.

  29. 29 GEAGLE said at 12:11 PM on June 26th, 2014:

    Good point on OLOMU size.. I started to question is future in philly when we added Jaylen Watkins…Jaylen isn’t a small CB, but I struggle seeing Chip Kelly with starting CBs of Boykin(itiny ), Watkins 5’11 and OLOMU 5’10( if he is even THAT tall)
    If Jaylen Watkins was 6’1 or 6’2 it would be easier for me to envision Ifo starting on the outside for us…

    Either way. I’m really curious to see what kind of year he has, he balled out last year..will he continue to build on it and take his game to another level…. Or will he worry about getting hurt, or get cocky and end up going the Bradley Roby route and taking a few steps back?

  30. 30 eagleyankfan said at 10:56 AM on June 26th, 2014:

    Off topic — the previous thread mentioned a lot about DJ in the backfield with Shady. Who takes over that role(assuming Chip will do similar plays)? Is that what Sproles/Huff are for this year?

  31. 31 Ark87 said at 11:21 AM on June 26th, 2014:

    I’m not sure it’s a permanent role that needs to be filled every year so much as a necessary adjustment. Got a little dynamic guy that you don’t want to get beat up by big people? Do a lot of motioning and move them all over the field. he did the same thing with DAT. I’d assume Sproles will be motioned around, but he will typically start in the backfield.

  32. 32 Anders said at 12:09 PM on June 26th, 2014:

    I think it will be Sproles, Huff and Polk (Polk was a WR in high school and has very good hands for a RB)

  33. 33 eagleyankfan said at 7:15 AM on June 27th, 2014:

    That’s what I was curious about — Sproles/Huff. Sproles has the obvious veteran play ability that Huff has to learn. Huff though, might be quicker/more elusive. Sounds like we have more than 1 weapon for that spot. Teams might have a hard time matching up with this role.