Chip Kelly‘s reputation preceded him in the Philadelphia Eagles locker room, long before his music infused uptempo practices became the norm in South Philadelphia.
A 46-7 record with two Bowl wins will have that sort of effect.
Even a 12-year veteran quarterback has rediscovered his love of the game that earned him two $100 million contracts in his career.
“I’m having fun playing football and I fell in love with the game again and I am thankful for that,” Michael Vick said after finishing 9-of-10 for 105 yards and an interception against the Carolina Panthers on Thursday. “You’ve got to play this game with intense passion and purpose and I thank Coach Kelly for what he has done for me and that’s just giving me that confidence that I felt like I was losing at some point in my career.”
Kelly has brought sleep monitors, custom blended protein smoothies and a Ferrari speed no huddle offense to the NFL. And after just two preseason games, veterans on this team are already seeing the dividends of their coach’s ways.
LeSean McCoy likened Kelly’s offense to “a freaking track meet” during OTAs. If the regular season is a marathon, these two preseason games could easily be considered relays en route to the finish.
“It was crazy because I saw how tired the defense was,” McCoy pointed out in the locker room after Thursday’s game. “I’m like, ‘Wow. Imagine if this were four quarters of this type of tempo.’ So it just shows you how effective the offense will be.
“I think when you run the ball enough, they don’t know what’s coming. And we’re so spread out where we can run, it can be a run play that turns into a pass. Every question teams want to ask us, we have the answers for. I’m just happy to be a part of it.”
One of the most critical tasks Kelly has faced since taking this job in January is getting his players to buy in. So far, that hasn’t been a problem.
“I haven’t been this excited about football in a long time,” said center Jason Kelce. “The whole way the offense is structured and the scheming and all the stuff we are doing, it’s really exciting to see where we are going to go.”
Despite the praise though, Kelly remains grounded and knows that there is a much bigger picture waiting to be painted.
“Obviously,” Kelly said. “Our ones and twos still need a lot of work. We, by no means, have arrived.”
Maybe not, but you’d hardly know that talking to his players and that in itself is a monumental first hurdle cleared by Kelly.
Matt Lombardo is also a sports radio host on 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia. Join the conversation and follow him on Twitter.