Inside the Eagles: Preseason shaping up to be meaningful for Eagles
Annoying Brother-in-law, Uncle Cheap, and Inconsequential Client will have to wait a year before they can score free tickets to a preseason game.
For the first time in a long time, Eagles preseason games will be consequential.
Chip Kelly has upped the ante and made it clear that jobs will ultimately be won and lost in the preseason, especially during the first two games, which will be played at Lincoln Financial Field.
"I believe the component of them being in a live situation is a huge part of it," Kelly said Monday. "Is it the sole deciding part of it? No. Our decision won't be just made on how they perform in the first two preseason games, it will be everything leading up to that.
Should the Eagles be shopping for a receiver?
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"It's almost like in college - you take your tests, then you have a final. Your entire grade isn't on the final, it's over the course of the semester, so to speak."
But it will be weighted significantly toward the final.
So if Player A isn't a very good practice player, but he brings it when the guy opposite him is wearing a different uniform, then he has a distinct advantage over Player B, who is a different player when there is contact.
Adding to Player A's advantage is Kelly's decision to not have tackling at training camp. The Eagles will have "thud" periods - in which players can wrap each other up - but they can't take their teammates to the ground.
"We have four preseason games for that," Kelly said. "They're hitting pretty good when they get an opportunity. The big thing with tackling, you want to be on your feet anyway. We don't want people diving."
Kelly wants to avoid unnecessary injuries, particularly those that happen when trailing players get caught in the maelstrom and there are pileups.
Two Eagles - wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and linebacker Jason Phillips - have already suffered season-ending torn anterior cruciate ligaments during what were essentially noncontact drills.
Many teams in the NFL don't tackle during camp. The new collective bargaining agreement has restricted coaches recently, but there have always been different approaches to contact in practices.
Andy Reid conducted some of the most physical camps in the league when he helmed the Eagles. His Chiefs are one of the few teams this summer that are still tackling.
"Coach Reid is definitely different as far as hitting, hitting, hitting," running back LeSean McCoy said. "They're two different cultures, two different styles. The way we're doing camp here, I think it's a lot easier as far as taking the players, their bodies, and giving them enough time to rest."
It remains to be seen if Kelly's personalized shakes and eating charts will improve his players' performance, but Reid's grueling camps often paid off in the second half of the season, especially during the grind months of December and January.
Then again, Reid had his players tackling in his last two camps at Lehigh and the Eagles were among the worst tackling teams in the league.
There are many ways to go about winning football games, and Reid and Kelly have taken two seemingly different approaches. But it's not just a lack of tackling and change of scene from Lehigh that are unfamiliar this year.
Under Kelly, plays move at a frenetic, and at times disorganized pace. And every day it seems there's a new drill, a new method. On Monday, he introduced a scoring system in which the offense and defense get points for converting or stopping on various downs.
It's just one way to increase the competition. And another example of his unconventional ideas that has you thinking one moment he could have the Eagles back in the playoffs in no time and then another convinced he'll fall on his face in spectacular fashion.
If anything, it has been fascinating entertainment.
But beyond the unorthodoxy, sports science, and Chipisms - "Big people beat up little people" - Kelly is after all just a coach, and it is just football.
And having all his players, including the quarterbacks, fight for jobs through the preseason is how he best sees the cream rising to the top. Not that he wouldn't mind having some decisions made prior to the final preseason game.
"You know, I really do," Kelly said. "We'd like to get this done as soon as everybody else wants to get it done."
Contact Jeff McLane at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @Jeff_McLane.