Philadelphia Eagles: Chip Kelly

Chip Kelly: No link among slow starts

September, 26, 2014
Sep 26
11:00
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Overcoming double-digit deficits in the first three games to ultimately post three victories is rather amazing. But it's a trend which must stop.

The Philadelphia Eagles understand this. Heading to the West Coast to face the hungry San Francisco 49ers (1-2) on Sunday will be another stiff test. The Eagles can't afford to keep digging themselves into big holes.

Following wins over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Indianapolis Colts and the Washington Redskins, the Eagles scrapped and clawed their way out of double-digit holes.

Has there been a common theme for the slow starts?

"No, we look for it, but I don't see a common thread," Eagles coach Chip Kelly told reporters. "Indianapolis did a really good job of running the ball against us, the Washington Redskins did a good job of throwing the ball and controlling the clock against us and [they were] two entirely different approaches. You come out of the Indianapolis game, I thought we did a good job of defending Andrew Luck, but they ran the ball on us. From a defensive perspective, you come out of the Redskins game and say, 'We did a really good job against Alfred Morris and the run game, but we didn't do a very good job in the passing game.'

"There is a difference right there. In Jacksonville, we put them on a short field in terms of turning the ball over offensively. So they didn't have to go very far to get up and get in the lead. We really weren't successful offensively in the Jacksonville game early. (In the second half), we were better. I thought we moved the ball."

Kelly continued: "In the Colts game we stalled in the red zone offensively. In the Redskins game we just didn't have the ball very much. They scored, and then we returned a kickoff for a touchdown, so we're still sitting on the sidelines. I think we had the ball for only seven minutes in the first half, but you're up 21 20. So every game is kind of different. Every game takes on a life of its own."
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PHILADELPHIA -- The tree trimmer is in luck. He is working on this block of South Broad Street just as the Philadelphia Eagles are beginning one of Chip Kelly's hyperspeed practices. His spot in the cherry picker gives him a perfect vantage point on this sunny, early autumn afternoon.

The blaring speakers across the way drown out the tree trimmer's saw while the Eagles begin their session with what looks like a dance class. Players line up across one of the three practice fields. They march forward, knees high, for 20 yards. Then, they return, walking backward this time, without turning.

[+] EnlargeNick Foles, G.J. Kine, Matt Barkley
Jim Davis/The Boston Globe/Getty ImagesIt's important for the Eagles to get loose before practice because they'll be going full tilt once the first practice period starts.
There are two flat screens, roughly the size and shape of play clocks on game day, one on each side of the NovaCare Complex's fields. They have two pieces of information. In small, orange numerals at the top, the screen shows which period it is. In large, red numerals, a clock counts down the amount of time remaining in the current period.

Period 1

On one field, three groups gather at intervals of 20 yards. Each group is comprised of a quarterback, a center, a running back and some receivers. Each unit lines up in unison. Three balls are snapped, three quarterbacks drop back. Almost simultaneously, three balls are thrown to receivers, all open because, well, no one is covering them.

On the next field over, practice squad quarterback G.J. Kinne throws passes down the middle of the field. Cornerbacks and safeties take turns running under them, turning and leaping to catch them.

Nearby, the big guys are starting to line up across from one another. Offensive linemen square off with each other, some using large, foam pads to brace themselves, while others fire out as if the ball has just been snapped. Defensive linemen run similar drills with each other.

Period 4

In the early going, this is pretty much how it looks. Position groups are working together, focusing on specific skills. Only the quarterbacks get small complements of teammates, and their focus is on timing.

At one end of a field, the running backs gather. They are paired off, with each member of a pair stepping into the open end of what looks like a long rubber band. As one player stands his ground, the other clutches a football, lowers his shoulder and runs forward until the rubber band has reached its limits and starts pulling him back. The backs take turns, serving as anchor and then fighting the resistance.

Meanwhile, around the field, a large, rubber ball is being rolled at the outside linebackers. Each one reaches down, pushes the ball away and then sprints toward a blocking sled. After pounding the sled, the player rolls off and heads back to repeat the exercise.

[+] EnlargeChip Kelly
AP Photo/Matt RourkeThe frenetic chaos of practice, and the preparation for similar chaos on Sundays, is what Eagles coach Chip Kelly lives for.
Offensive and defensive linemen are grappling with each other. Wide receivers run routes while defensive backs shadow them. All the components of a football play are there, but none of them have been put together yet.

Meanwhile, the tree trimmer's ears are assaulted by what sounds like the iPod of a 15-year-old girl. There are pop hits, dance-club favorites and the occasional old-school rock song mixed in. It is all played very loudly to simulate the noise of a crowded stadium on game day.

"It's controlled chaos," linebacker Emmanuel Acho said. "We have the music blaring. Sometimes, you can hardly hear your teammates. But that means everything on Sunday is a lot slower. When you come out here and you can hardly hear the call, then on Sunday, when you're playing at home and it's quiet when you're out there, then it's very simple. I think we do a good job of stressing ourselves in practice so the game is easier."

That is precisely Kelly's intention, and it is precisely what set cornerback Cary Williams off after a Week 3 win over the Washington Redskins. Williams said it was difficult to play a game on Sunday after playing "three games" in practice sessions in the preceding week. The veteran, who previously played for John Harbaugh and the Baltimore Ravens, said he thought the toll levied by the practice pace was being paid by a lack of energy in the beginning of games.

Kelly met with Williams, who stood by his comments. But it's also true that many players credited the practice schedule with helping them stay fresher last season than they had in previous seasons.

Period 12

Now the practices begin to resemble real football. There is not live hitting, although the Eagles do practice in pads once a week. But the offense and defense line up against each other and run plays.

One of Kelly's principles is that everything is done at the hurry-up pace he wants to operate his offense at in games.

"It's fast-paced," safety Malcolm Jenkins said. "We're getting a bunch of reps in a short amount of time. And then we're getting a lot of different periods. We'll go full speed, then a walk-through period. It simulates how we play the game. We run a 10-play drive, full speed the entire time, and then we sit on the sideline while the offense is up. And we keep doing that rotation the whole practice, so you're getting gamelike repetitions during the week."

[+] EnlargeDarren Sproles, Henry Josey
Stew Milne/USA TODAY SportsDarren Sproles (43) & Co. get a water break and some teaching time before going back at it.
There is a consequence of that. To have the first-team offense run a drive against the first-team defense -- and then have both squads take to the sideline -- you have to give the second teams a lot of practice time. In the past, the Eagles' backup quarterbacks would get exactly zero practice reps while the starter was preparing for a game. Under Kelly, all the backup players get nearly equal practice time.

When a starter gets injured, that pays off. It's not a guy who is cold and unfamiliar with his teammates stepping into the vacancy; it is a guy who has practiced with and against them all week.

"We get tons of reps here, which is great," said backup center David Molk, who was pressed into action because of injuries in two of three games so far and will start Sunday in San Francisco. "I'm extremely comfortable with how [the other linemen] move and react and shift. It's easy for me."

Period 16: 'Teach'

The sudden silence is jarring. With the music silenced, a voice is audible over the speakers.

"Teach," it says. And for the period that follows, players gather in position groups, around their position coaches, and instructions are given. It's also time for a water break.

But the "Teach" periods underscore that very little communication goes on in the regular practice periods. This is very different from the typical NFL practice.

Reporters who have covered the Eagles for a long time all do a version of Rich Kotite's distinctive nasal honk cutting through a practice session: "Back in the huddle," Kotite would yell, and the players would abandon their misguided formation and trudge back into a circle to be corrected by the coach. Then, they would spread out again, line up correctly and run the play.

Kelly has no use for this. His team doesn't huddle, for one thing. For another, there has never been an occasion in a game in which the coach was allowed onto the middle of the field to make sure the players were lined up correctly. If it doesn’t happen in a game, it doesn't happen in a Kelly practice session. What's the point?

But the "Teach" periods allow everyone to catch his breath and focus on the coaches' instructions. There aren't many of them.

Period 22

[+] EnlargePhiladelphia Eagles
AP Photo/Elise AmendolaThere's no rest for the weary, as the all-important red zone drills are about to start.
By this point in a practice, everyone has been on the field for almost two hours and is getting tired. But this is the point at which Kelly conducts his red zone drills, the most intensely competitive aspect of any NFL practice.

The importance of these drills was brought into sharp relief by the Eagles' come-from-behind, Monday night victory over the Indianapolis Colts. During that comeback for the Eagles, Period 22 became a rallying cry.

"No one rises to the occasion," Kelly said after the game. "You always sink to your level of training. That's how we trained them. You heard our guys talk about it after the game. This is no different than Period 22 on a Wednesday or Thursday for us."

You heard versions of that in the locker room afterward.

"Some people were saying, 'This is just like Period 22 for us,'" Jenkins said that night. "We practice at such a pace that, when we get into the fourth quarter, guys are fresh. Guys are still at full speed. This is what we train for. It’s Period 22."

Period 26

The players are on the grass, forming a large circle. They are on their backs, legs up, stretching one last time. Each player has a long rubber band that allows him to stretch his tired leg muscles. They are already beginning the recovery period that will allow them to be strong the next day.

[+] EnlargeCary Williams
AP Photo/Matt RourkeCary Williams wasn't kidding when he spoke about the intensity of an Eagles practice: They aren't a joke.
Aides scurry around, collecting the tiny GPS devices players wear. These monitor movement and help the training staff keep track of how much each player is exerting. This information is used to help create the famous post-practice smoothies players consume and to tell coaches which players need a little time off.

"Not many teams have done that, as far as catering to the individual athlete," said Acho, who spent time with the Giants last year. "Whether it’s their own meal plan or their own workout regimen, their own recovery regimen, everybody has something individualized for them. It's very unique to this organization."

Bill Davis knows. Unlike Kelly, who arrived in the NFL last year after many years coaching at the college level, Davis is an NFL lifer. His father, also named Bill, was an assistant coach and executive with the Eagles and other NFL teams. Davis himself has been an NFL assistant for more than 20 years. This is his third time as a defensive coordinator. He has fully embraced Kelly's new world order.

"We train in a great way," Davis said. "The sports science we have, the way we handle it, there's no concern. I actually think we are the strongest team in the fourth quarter, and it shows. We keep finishing the games. Where others don't have it in the tank, we have it in the tank, and it shows. This is an elite program. I've been with 10 different organizations, and it's not even close."

Ron Jaworski breaks down Eagles' offense

September, 10, 2014
Sep 10
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Ron Jaworski arguably watches as much film as any analyst.

And the former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback provided some deep insight into what transpired on offense in the season-opening 34-17 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"I felt that one of the great traits last year of Chip Kelly was getting No. 1 open," Jaworski told 97.5 The Fanatic. "In other words, when you call a play, you design to get the ball to Zach Ertz and he pops open. If you're designing a play to get the ball to Jeremy Maclin, he pops open. And he was really, really good at that. I thought for the most part (on Sunday), especially in the first half, Jacksonville kind of knew what they were doing. They were taking away where Nick (Foles) wanted to go with the football. And he wasn't getting the ball out of his hand quick enough when No. 1 wasn't open. That was the big difference in Week 1 to me."

Foles threw only two interceptions all of last season. He tossed a crucial pick in the back of the end zone in the first half against the Jaguars.

"The interception was a bad decision, not a bad throw," Jaworski told 97.5 The Fanatic. "It's a smash concept that the Eagles run all the time. The Jaguars are ready for it, the corner baited Nick into throwing that ball into the back corner and he was just waiting for the throw. These are things now that teams are starting to see more of this Chip Kelly on offense what they saw on the offseason study, so now there is some predictability to it."

Jaworski also noticed how often Foles was picking himself up off the ground.

"You get hit in the head, slapped in the face a few times, it takes a little bit of that confidence away," Jaworski said. "He took some shots and a couple were blindside shots and a few were self-inflicted because he was holding onto the football. As time goes on, he's going to have to develop a better clock in his head. In other words, feel that pressure."
PHILADELPHIA -- Chip Kelly expanded a bit on comments he made to Sports Illustrated's Peter King over the weekend. The Philadelphia Eagles' coach raised some eyebrows by saying the "hype" surrounding the NFL draft "is insane. Totally insane."

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"(King) just asked me if there was one thing about the NFL that surprised me," Kelly said Monday, "and I just told him the hype, in general, with the draft. I think the draft is integral, obviously, in terms of putting together your team. But literally from the day the Super Bowl ends until the draft ... that's all everybody talks about.

"I felt the same way in college. You devote everything to the signing day. Well, how many guys from the signing day are actually going to contribute? You may have one or two rookies who have an impact on your team. The rest of them, it's just having them develop. The fact that people would watch the combine -- there's times at the combine where I fall asleep. They're running 40-yard dashes."

Kelly is more concerned with how all of this affects the players coming into the league.

"You guys are in the newspaper business," Kelly said. "If someone is a rookie coming into the newspaper thing, I don't think you're all applauding and saying, 'Oh, my God, the savior is here! Our paper is saved because we just signed a kid out of Northwestern that has really good prose.' In football, it seems to be the biggest thing in the world. And if a guy isn't an all-pro in his first year, but he was drafted in the first five picks, then he's a bust. And I don't think that's the case."

That perspective is interesting when you watch how Kelly approaches his rookies. Last year, first-round pick Lane Johnson was a starter from the very beginning. But defensive tackle Bennie Logan was eased into the starting lineup, eventually replacing veteran Isaac Sopoaga. Tight end Zach Ertz and safety Earl Wolff were brought along slowly.

This year? Same thing. First-round pick Marcus Smith opened camp as the third-team left outside linebacker. Smith runs with the second team at times, but there is clearly no pressure from Kelly's staff on the rookie. Second-round pick Jordan Matthews, who made two flashy catches Monday, is still behind veteran slot receiver Brad Smith on the depth chart.

It doesn't matter to Kelly what the expectations from the outside are. And once players are here, they are judged on merit, not on where they were drafted.
PHILADELPHIA -- Chip Kelly might have earned a laurel, winning the NFC East title in his rookie season as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. That doesn't mean Kelly will be resting on it.

[+] EnlargeNick Foles and Chip Kelly
Drew Hallowell/Philadelphia Eagles/Getty ImagesChip Kelly's first NFL season took off with Nick Foles under center, but nevertheless the Eagles head coach is seeking ways to improve.
"We can impove," Kelly said. "We were 10-7. We were just OK."

Kelly's Philadelphia Eagles started off the 2013 season 1-4. They went through turmoil as the quarterback situation sorted itself out. Once Nick Foles was established as the starter, though, the Eagles went 7-1 in the second half. Their seventh loss was in the playoff game against New Orleans.

That's a pretty good first season for a head coach, but Kelly wasn't grading himself on a curve.

"I was 10-7, too," Kelly said. "I wasn't 12-6, or 12-4. I don't have a better record than the team, so we're all kind of judged on the same thing, but I think everybody can work on their individual aspect and how they contribute to the success or failure of what we're doing."

That seems to be the theme as the Eagles open camp this weekend. Players report Friday to the NovaCare Complex. The first practice is Saturday. The feeling you got from talking with coaches and players throughout June was that last season ended in disappointment, so it was disappointing.

"I think if you're content with 10 wins and winning the division, you're probably shortchanging yourself and the team," Kelly said. "We did that. What's the next step? How can we improve upon that? We're trying to get a bunch of guys that are never complacent in terms of, 'All right, we've arrived.' We haven't arrived. We're looking to work and strive to get better and better and better. That's part of the deal, so I think that's the thing we're always trying to emphasize with these guys."

The message seems to have gotten through. During minicamps, defensive players talked about being last in the NFL in passing yards allowed, not about how they held opponents to 22 or fewer points nine times in their last 10 regular-season games. Quarterback Nick Foles talked all spring about forgetting his breakout 2013 performance and focusing instead on the little things he must do to improve.

"How do you get to that next level?" Kelly said. "Some guys are content -- you've got to make sure that they're not content -- being where they are. Just like some guys' goal's just to play in the NFL. All right, you're playing. Now what? That's a legitimate question. 'My goal is just to be a starter in the NFL.' So you're starting. Now what? I think that's the one thing you're always trying to strive -- you look at it as an individual, how do you continue to improve?"

Kelce discusses Johnson suspension, Kelly

July, 23, 2014
Jul 23
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Center Jason Kelce is one of the most personable players on the Philadelphia Eagles.

He’s also one of the most accessible.

Kelce is always willing to express his opinion with the media, and he had some very interesting things to offer in a wide-ranging interview on 94-WIP radio.

Here are a couple of highlights from the interview:

On offensive lineman Lane Johnson's reported four-game suspension to open the season for performance-enhancing drugs: “Obviously it’s not something we’re happy about. Lane is a guy that really developed well last year. He was looking great in the offseason, so I was really excited to see what he could do. He'll still be out there this season but through the first four games I was excited to see how much better he was this year than last year. He made a terrible… he made a mistake. He made a poor decision. This is something that I don't think is that big of a deal in terms of what he was doing. But obviously you're cheating your season four games.”

On coach Chip Kelly: “[Kelly] is one of the smartest guys I have ever been around. He communicates with his players so at all times you know what's being asked of you. One of the things that a lot of coaches and a lot of organizations struggle with is that everything is not crystal clear. The direction of what you're trying to do, not just as a player, but as a team in general over the course of the season -- a lot of the times coaches aren't very clear on what that demand is. With Chip, every single day there's a mission set in place, there's a culture set in place he wants us to abide by. You understand what's set in place, the precedent that's set in place, and everybody's being asked the same thing. And that's why you do it because the guys next to you are willing to do the exact same thing for you.”

List ranks Kelly No. 18 among coaches

July, 16, 2014
Jul 16
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Elliott Harrison of NFL.com unveiled his list of the best head coaches in the NFL, from No. 1-32.

Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly came in at No. 18 despite winning 10 games and an NFC East title as a rookie.

"Kelly is a man who could shoot up this board awfully quickly," Harrison wrote. "His first year in Philadelphia was a smashing success, as the Eagles won 10 games and took the NFC East title in the process. Kelly's explosive offense lived up to the billing, ranking second in the NFL and causing other teams to look at tempo more closely on both sides of the ball."

Here's the list of coaches ranked ahead of Kelly:
  1. Bill Belichick -- New England Patriots
  2. Sean Payton -- New Orleans Saints
  3. Jim Harbaugh -- San Francisco 49ers
  4. John Harbaugh -- Baltimore Ravens
  5. Tom Coughlin -- New York Giants
  6. Mike McCarthy -- Green Bay Packers
  7. Pete Carroll -- Seattle Seahawks
  8. John Fox -- Denver Broncos
  9. Mike Tomlin -- Pittsburgh Steelers
  10. Andy Reid -- Kansas City Chiefs
  11. Mike Smith -- Atlanta Falcons
  12. Jeff Fisher -- St. Louis Rams
  13. Bruce Arians -- Arizona Cardinals
  14. Lovie Smith -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  15. Marvin Lewis -- Cincinnati Bengals
  16. Rex Ryan -- New York Jets
  17. Chuck Pagano -- Indianapolis Colts
Click here for the remainder of the rankings.

Jaworski on Chip Kelly: 'He won me over'

July, 11, 2014
Jul 11
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Ron Jaworski is never afraid to express his opinion.

In a wide-ranging interview with 97.5 The Fanatic, Jaworski, an ESPN analyst and former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback, discussed a variety of topics surrounding his former team.

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On how coach Chip Kelly surprised him: "I wasn't sure how this was going to work. I wasn't a big believer in guys coming from the college ranks, leaving that rah-rah college style and bringing a new style to the NFL. Kelly made it happen. He won me over."

On Kelly's offensive scheme: "Chip Kelly did a great job of getting people wide open. I went through all these quarterback throws (across the league), I don't think anybody did a better job at getting receivers open than Chip Kelly. When you look at 400-500 throws of each quarterback and I see guys that are making these stick throws into double coverage and all these things, and I plug in Eagles tape and I'm seeing guys running open."

On adjusting to defenses in Year 2: "I will guarantee you this: every pass that he threw last year was studied and watched by 30 personnel guys with the three teams in this division. They studied Nick Foles to every possible nuance: Where is his foot when he is coming out from under center? Does his heel come up a split second before the snap? Does he flick his hand to get into position before the ball is snapped? They will study every nuance of his game on coaches tape, on television to hear his voice inflection, to see where he turns. Is the ball snapped when his head is looking downfield rather than left to right? All these things, they will have broken his game down. Nick has to make that adjustment. Now that teams have adjusted to him, does he adjust to what they do? It's the same thing with the system: the familiarity with the system for the Eagles is great but now all the teams are studying that system. What does Chip do? Does he take this offense to the next level?"

On losing three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver DeSean Jackson: "I think it's a big loss. I'm not buying into the, 'Oh, don't worry about it.' I saw this offense. I studied this offense. I know what DeSean Jackson did for everybody else -- what he did to clear zones and open up Riley Cooper, Jason Avant and that plethora of tight ends that they have."

RTC: How the new pieces fit together

June, 29, 2014
Jun 29
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Reading the coverage of the Philadelphia Eagles as the calendar is about ready to flip to July:

Kelly credits assistants for his success

June, 26, 2014
Jun 26
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Chip Kelly has been a successful head coach at every stop.

From the University of Oregon to his rookie season with the Philadelphia Eagles, Kelly has won a lot of games.

Much of that success has to be attributed to a strong group of assistant coaches.

The Eagles finished 10-6 and captured the NFC East title last season under the guidance of Kelly and his staff.

"No different than in your job," Kelly told Phillymag.com's Sheil Kapadia. "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."

From offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur to defensive coordinator Billy Davis and extending across the board at every position, this group is valued at a very high level by Kelly.

"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," Kelly added. "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."

RTC: Kelly keeps tabs on Villanueva

June, 22, 2014
Jun 22
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Reading the coverage of the Philadelphia Eagles with training camp now slightly less than five weeks away:

While Alejandro Villanueva remains a longshot to earn a roster spot, he's a player coach Chip Kelly is watching closely, according to Philadelphiaeagles.com's Bo Wulf. Villanueva is a former U.S. Army Ranger who had been deployed several times to Afghanistan. The 6-foot-9 defensive end was impressive through OTAs and could push players at his position in training camp.

CSNPhilly.com's Matt Allibone takes a look at fourth-string quarterback G.J. Kinne, who spent all of last season on the practice squad. Kinne is used to being low on the depth chart but has much bigger aspirations.

Philly.com's Jimmy Kempski gives his list of five Eagles who performed at a high level during OTAs.

The Wilmington (Del.) News Journal's Martin Frank profiles linebacker Connor Barwin and analyzes how Barwin's reach goes way beyond what he accomplishes on the football field.

Rookie Matthews takes workouts in stride

June, 21, 2014
Jun 21
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The Philadelphia Eagles traded up 12 spots to select wide receiver Jordan Matthews from Vanderbilt in the NFL draft.

They moved up from No. 54 to No. 42 and grabbed the ultra-talented Matthews early in the second round.

Since being drafted by the Eagles, he has gone through OTAs and a recently held mandatory minicamp.

It has been a whirlwind.

"I think I did all right," Matthews told CSNPhilly.com. "The main two things that I always want to control are my attitude and my effort, so I feel like I was able to come out and give 100 percent. I just have to continue to get better at the little things, too. It's been great, informative, definitely a great learning environment. I can't ask to be part of a better team, a better organization.

"Coach [Chip] Kelly, Coach Bick [Bob Bicknell], Coach Pat [Shurmur] -- they've all made it a great atmosphere for me to come here and get better, and I appreciate that. Now I just have to go out there and make plays for them."

Matthews completed his career with the Commodores with 242 receptions and 3,759 yards, both SEC records.

Since the Eagles released three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver DeSean Jackson, Matthews is likely to earn plenty of snaps as a rookie.

Training camp hasn't even started, and Matthews is well aware of what type of work needs to be done.

"There's no 'teams,'" Matthews said. "Everybody's trying out; everybody's trying to get better. We'll find out what teams are once we get to [opening day] Sept. 7. When I'm in there with Nick [Foles], when I'm in there with Mark [Sanchez], when I'm in there with Matt [Barkley] or with G.J. [Kinne] it's all the same thing, I'm just trying to go out there and get better."

Sproles sparks possibilities for offense

June, 19, 2014
Jun 19
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It's easy to point to what the Philadelphia Eagles lost in the offseason -- three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver DeSean Jackson.

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It's also easy to forget what the Eagles gained on offense -- running back Darren Sproles.

Along with LeSean McCoy, this duo could wind up being one of the most dominant in the NFL this season.

"You know, first thing that sticks out is just how well he [Sproles] trains," Eagles coach Chip Kelly told reporters Wednesday during the three-day mandatory minicamp. "He's one of the guys that you point out to the younger guys on film as that is what it's supposed to look like. That's the effort and that's what we're looking for on a daily basis from him, very, very intelligent football player. He's got a great knowledge of the game and I think he's really shared that with Duce [Staley] and myself kind of how he sees things and has helped out some of the younger running backs at that position. Besides Darren, we are pretty young. LeSean is the next oldest guy at 25 and the rest of them are younger than he is. Been a great mentor to the younger guys and has really showed how they want them to perform out on the field."

Sproles led the league with 2,696 all-purpose yards in 2011, but his rushing, receiving and return total numbers have decreased in the following two seasons. He joined a team which doesn't need him to put up those kinds of numbers.

Quarterback Nick Foles had one more yard rushing (221) than Sproles did (220) last season. But Sproles can contribute in many ways, though, between rushing, catching passes and special teams.

Training camp is still more than a month away, but it's natural to wonder exactly how Sproles will fit into the high-powered offense.

"I've said that since Day 1: We are just trying to get reps and get plays and we are not game-planning anybody," Kelly said. "That's the fortunate thing for us is let's see how much work we can get done, get everybody on film and then when we start to get into the season we'll start to see how we can deploy our personnel in appropriate manners to win games."

Chip Kelly talks Eagles minicamp

June, 18, 2014
Jun 18
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A three-day mandatory minicamp in mid-June is quite different from training camp, but Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly can still evaluate players.

He's always evaluating players.

Kelly addressed reporters on Monday, the first day of the three-day minicamp.

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Here's a sampling of his thoughts:

On quarterback Nick Foles: "Just a better command and an understanding of what's going on. You know, lining guys up. Coaches were lining everybody up last year. But now Nick has really got a great command of what we are doing offensively and you can just see it. There's a lot more confidence in how he's playing and now it's just a matter of refining the little things for him, footwork, handoffs, carrying off fakes. Not the minor details; they are really major details, but he's not worried with where he's going with the ball. It's just how is he going to do that; how can he manipulate the safety, but he's still going to throw the ball to his left."

On free agent rookie defensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva: "He's doing a real nice job. I think you forget what he's transitioning from. Not only did he spend his stint with the Army, but his last year at West Point, he was a wide receiver, and now he's playing defensive line in the National Football League. So not only is it a transition because he has not played football in a couple years; it's he's playing really a new position. He played some defensive end I think his sophomore, junior year at Army, but then he was moved to offensive line. Then he went from offensive line to wide receiver, so he's had a real varied background. But it's impressive to see a guy that's had that much of a background, have that much of a layoff, to see how he's acclimated and fit in. When we got a chance to see him work out, when we brought him in to work him out, you could tell how athletic he is for a guy that's 6 9. Now he's up, I think he was 277; he's gained some weight now, because he was running four or five miles a day just to keep in training for the army, so it's a little bit different running that's going on here. So he's a guy that I think you can really keep an eye on just because he's got such an upside and I really don't know how the whole thing will pan out, but in terms of a work ethic and things like that, his is kind of second to none."

On rookie wide receiver Josh Huff, a third-round pick from the University of Oregon: "The same thing, I know him extremely well just because I had an opportunity to coach him for three years. Great work ethic, an explosive player that really can change direction very, very quickly. He's big, he's physical. He's just transitioning because our terminology is different than what he had in college. I can explain because I know what his terminology in college was like, so we called it this (at Oregon and we call it this now). Real student of the game. I think he and Jordan (Matthews) have hit it off and really play off each other right now so it's two good young guys to go together."

On veteran wide receiver Jeremy Maclin: "I think he's been cleared to do everything and has not missed anything, so he's been running around doing everything for us. He could probably give you a better indication percentage wise where he feels he is at this point in time. But he's doing everything and you'll see him out here doing everything."

Morning links: Eagles already ahead

May, 31, 2014
May 31
8:00
AM ET
Reading the coverage of the Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday, just one day before the calendar is ready to flip to June:

Philadelphiaeagles.com offers a detailed piece on Brad Smith, who's looking for a bounce-back season after working through injuries. A wide receiver and special teams catalyst, Smith is looking for bigger and better things in 2014.

The Philadelphia Inquirer's Zach Berman analyzes how the Eagles are way ahead of where they were in coach Chip Kelly's rookie season.

CSNPhilly.com's Geoff Mosher writes that Mark Sanchez has taken a step forward in terms of being Nick Foles' backup.

Phillymag.com's Tim McManus notes how free-agent safety Malcolm Jenkins has become a mentor to second-year pro Earl Wolff.

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