Philadelphia Eagles Continue to Adapt to Chip Kelly

By Matt Lombardo
Howard Smith – USA Today Sports

First came the custom blended protein and nutrient rich smoothies for every player after every practice, then it was loud music during practices, and on Tuesday the Philadelphia Eagles had another element to adjust to during life in the Chip Kelly era.


Routinely under head coach Andy Reid, the team would move its practices to the indoor facility at the Novacare Complex during rainy or adverse conditions. However, on Tuesday, Kelly elected hold practice outside despite a steady rainfall.

“Last I checked football’s played outside,” Kelly quipped after practice. “Lincoln Financial Field doesn’t have a dome and football is played outside. We have a lot to accomplish in our practices and we can’t do some of those things, like practice special teams inside so we’ll be outside.”

While Tuesday’s practice wasn’t quite as sharp, especially from the quarterback position, it did appear to take place at an even more frenetic pace than the previous two sessions that were open to the media.

If Tuesday is any indication, the indoor practice field likely won’t be getting much use this season.

“It’s like any other game situation,” Jason Avant said. “The teams that are best prepared for the elements are going to be the better football teams and I think that’s what coach [Kelly] is trying to instill in us. This isn’t baseball, it isn’t golf, football isn’t a sport where your game is suspended because of the rain, we play through that whether it’s rain or snow and as long as there isn’t any lightning, we aren’t in any real danger out here.”

Receivers struggled with their footing and there wasn’t much accuracy on display from any of the quarterbacks, although Michael Vick stood out on Tuesday during his work with the second team.

Overall, Nick Foles finished with 36 total reps and Vick wound up with 32, marking the second open session in a row that saw Foles get more action.

Much has been made of the Eagles open competition for the starting quarterback job, and it doesn’t appear that there is any end in sight.

“We haven’t gotten any indication about the quarterback spot,” Kelly pointed out. “It’s all about getting reps on tape and we will continue with that through training camp. Why would we name a starting quarterback in May? That’s a monumental decision that we haven’t even started talking about yet.”

Another wrinkle added to Tuesday’s workout was assistant coaches wearing shoulder pads with what could best be described as giant ‘human fly swatters’ attached during seven on seven drills, designed to obscure passing lanes for the quarterback.

“We designed those in Oregon,” Kelly explained. “They are the exact height of a defensive 6’4″ defensive player and designed to make it more difficult for the quarterback in 7 on 7 where you don’t have a pass rush and have to throw through the tighter lanes in a game situation.”

Tuesday’s practice gave glimpses of an offense that appeared much more similar to what had been seen from Kelly’s days at Oregon than the previous two sessions had and perhaps a clearer view of what to expect from the Birds this season.

“Today was a huge insertion day for us,” Kelly said after practice. “We installed a pretty vast amount of our offense today.”

One thing is crystal clear around the Novacare Complex; regardless of the way things used to be done around here, players are taking the changes to heart and it is a much different business as usual than had become the norm over the past 14 seasons.

“You have to buy into what [Chip Kelly] is doing,” Avant explained. “Coach Reid isn’t coming back, and coach Kelly is a great coach, we’re under his leadership and are going to do what he says.”

Matt Lombardo is also an on-air personality on 97.5 FM The Fanatic in Philadelphia. Join the conversation and follow Matt on Twitter

*All Quotes obtained first hand.

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