Walking around the Novacare Complex in April and May, you got the sense that players were buying into Chip Kelly‘s new business as usual.
Gone were fast food Friday’s and Taco Tuesday’s, replaced with custom blended protein smoothies after practice and sleep monitors worn to bed at night. However, until Monday night when the Philadelphia Eagles offense was slingshot in the first quarter of a season-opening 33-27 win over the Washington Redskins, it was really anybody’s guess as to just how invested these players would be in these new and unorthodox methods.
It’s safe to say that there likely aren’t any cynics remaining in Kelly’s locker room.
“The fact that they brought in a guy who is so forward-thinking, so innovative, so different than any other coach in the NFL, it’s been drastic,” center Jason Kelce said. “The culture has shifted from kind of a stagnant one to now sort of an energetic, youthful, innovative one … It’s been great for us.”
Just as Buddy Ryan fathered the 46 defense which catapulted the 1985 Chicago Bears into the history books, Kelly’s high-octane offense is already laying the groundwork for taking the uptempo scheme to the next level. The first-year NFL head coach is the talk of the nation and it’s easy to wonder if there is a defense in the league that is built, simply from a cardiovascular conditioning standpoint, to slow down the Eagles’ onslaught.
The litmus test for Kelly’s troops is already here.
In the form of three days in 11 days, the endurance of this team will be tested. But, because of the intense offseason conditioning that this group has been put through since the beginning of April, there isn’t a team in the league better suited to stand up to that kind of endurance test.
It is that sort of conditioning that made it seem acceptable for LeSean McCoy to carry the ball 31 times in an NFL game, and ran the Redskins defense ragged even in the first quarter Monday. Today may be Friday, but there won’t be any fast food on the menu of the Novacare auditorium for the foreseeable future.
You get the sense that Kelly’s troops are more than okay with that.
Matt Lombardo is also an on-air personality on 97.5 FM The Fanatic in Philadelphia. Join the conversation and follow Matt on Twitter.