Ask Chip Kelly a question about one of his unorthodox methods and he’ll generally give you a valid answer. You may not necessarily agree with the premise, but there is a reason behind every decision the new Eagles coach makes.
The veteran players, who have been asked to turn their routines upside down since Andy Reid left and Kelly replaced him, have said as much since offseason workouts began on April 1.
When Kelly asked for them to sleep more at night and they asked why and he said because a professional athlete needs an excessive amount of rest to replenish his body, many said it made sense. When he said that he was eliminating some of the greasier foods from the cafeteria and they asked why and he said because it would improve their nutrition, many said they nodded their heads and went along with the program.
That doesn’t mean the players aren’t sleeping as little as they did before Kelly arrived, or that they aren’t eating fast food away from the NovaCare Complex. But Kelly’s focus is improving the performance of his players, and if sleeping more and eating better can give them any edge than why not institute the changes?
Kelly sat down for an hour-long interview with Eagles beat reporters last month and was a little more expansive when asked about some of his more unconventional ideas. Here’s a snippet from the Q&A:
-- Kelly isn’t the only coach that plays music during practice. Reid, who hated for there to be any distractions at his Eagles practices, actually cribbed from the idea and has started to play music at Chiefs practices. But Kelly appears to have set the mold with his detailed and eclectic playlists.
His reasoning for the music is simple – he wants the noise at practice because it simulates the distractions a player will encounter during a game. But why doesn’t Kelly just use simulated crowd noise like most other NFL teams?
“They just have to learn to block it out. It’s just like crowd noise. I don’t like crowd noise,” Kelly said. “So it kind of grates to you a little bit, so you learn how to perform when you’re not paying attention to anything else but your time on task, is what you’re trying to get accomplished.”
-- Most of Kelly’s practices during the spring began at 12:30 p.m. They will start at the same time for all of training camp. Most NFL teams schedule their full practices for either early in the morning or later in the afternoon. Some even practice in the evening. There is an obvious reason for their timing – to avoid the heat. Kelly’s players will be working out under the sun during the hottest part of the day. He said there is a method to this madness.
“That’s when we play,” he said. “So 12 or 14 of our 16 games are played at 1 o’clock.”
Thirteen games will be played at 1 p.m., one at 2:25 p.m. CT and two at night. Kelly said he would not practice at night the week before the Eagles’ prime time games because it wasn’t a large enough number of games.
-- Kelly’s practices are different from the norm in many other ways. The tempo of the practice is as fast as any. What makes the pace so quick is the lack of stopping and starting in between plays. Typically, a play will take place and if there is a mistake or something that could be taught, there will be time in between plays for instruction. Kelly, though, just moves on to the next play.
“If you stop one guy in a drill then there’s 21 other guys standing around, so how much time can you spend on the field? Our educational philosophy is: I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, and I do and I understand,” Kelly said. “And so we want them doing it. You can only talk so much and show them so much and tell them so much; they have to actually do it.
“When you go to some practices and they only get 15 reps at something and they only ran one play one way just to the left, the right tackle never got a rep at it. And then you expect him to execute it in a game, you know. Who’s to blame? Us, because we didn’t probably put him in that situation.”
Michael Vick admitted it took some adjusting on his part.
“We’re so used to getting in the huddle and going back and talking to your coach and getting coaching,” Vick said. “There’s no time for that. We got to go. That was my biggest thing. I was looking at Coach [Pat] Shurmur for a tip or looking back at Chip to see if I did it the right way.”
Kelly prefers for most of the instruction to occur lates in the meetings as they playback the video of the practice.
“We’re trying to get as many reps as we can and then be efficient with cutting our practice tape up, so that when we go into our meetings usually what they did well you don’t have to repeat that because they have it,” Kelly said. “So we’re going to take Play 1, Play 7, Play 10, Play 15 and then go into a meeting and be real efficient with the time.”
-- Much has been made of the Eagles “buying in” to Kelly’s program. The truth is most players will buy in because they’re professionals and the ones that don’t won’t be here for very long. Right now, Kelly has plenty of rope and can afford to get rid of those that aren’t buying in, even if they’re starters, etc.
In his eyes, though, it has been the veterans that have jumped in both feet first since his arrival.
“I think our older players have been the best to be honest with you,” Kelly said. “And it makes sense from the standpoint of – how many years do they have left, and they want every advantage they can possible can to keep them.
“I think when you’re 21, 22 years old you think you’re invincible, so you don’t totally have to buy into everything and you don’t have to sleep as much, and you can get away with maybe not going to bed like someone else goes to bed. But when you start to get up to 28, 30, 31, 32, you better look at every advantage you can get from that standpoint.”