For the past few years, the spread-offense has been slowly taking over the college football world, sparking the debate of whether or not that style would ever succeed in the NFL. Well this year in Philadelphia we may get an answer.
Chip Kelly ran one of the most dangerous, up-tempo offenses ever seen during his time in Oregon, and he will look to bring that same style to the Eagles this season. Chip has already displayed it during the Eagles' three-day minicamp last week.
One of the first things that you can notice about the new Kelly practices', is the loud music being played over the speakers. During Andy Reid’s term it was a much more slow paced and structured system, with teaching and coaching between plays, but with Kelly, the music is being played loudly and the practices never seem to stop. You can hear Kelly yelling out instructions to players, which is also different from the quiet approach of Reid, but the players are responding well to it so far.
Each aspect of practice and the offseason in general has been carefully planned out by Kelly and his staff to ensure that everything they do serves a particular purpose. Kelly has always been a big believer in sports science, and he is bringing his beliefs to the team. By having a reason for every decision and by explaining these reasons to the players, everyone on the team has bought into the system right away.
One of the other implementations Kelly has made into minicamp, is the use of large fly-swatter-like apparatuses attached to the shoulder pads of players and having those players form a wall in front of the quarterbacks. This is similar to what the Patriots have used in recent years and Kelly hopes it will teach the quarterbacks how to avoid the swatting arms of defenders.
Another difference is the tempo of practice. The players have called it a track meet. You don’t see any huddles and you don’t see a break between workouts. It is a constant almost frantic blur of players performing drill after drill.
The players are excited for how fast they should be playing during the season and if Kelly is able to replicate his success from his days in the Pac 12, then the Eagles could quickly become the most exciting team to watch this season.
The biggest concern for the team will be the quarterback play. Michael Vick seems like the best man for the job on paper, as the speedster will be able to keep the team up-tempo, he thrives in the shotgun, and he has the athletic ability to make plays when the pocket falls apart. However, the big question mark around Vick will be his turnover rate, which has been very bad in the past.
Nick Foles has been splitting first team reps with Vick, but it has yet to be seen if Foles has the athletic ability to run Kelly’s system. Rookie, Matt Barkley may even be an option by the midway point of the season, but it looks like he will be taking time to develop and learn the system, which is best for everyone.
Kelly has not announced who will be starting week one and it is unlikely he will make any definite decisions until he sees how everyone performs during preseason. Regardless, it should be an entertaining season in Philadelphia, no matter how they actually perform.
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