One of the newest wrinkles to Eagles practices introduced by Chip Kelly has come during the 7 on 7 drills.
As anyone who has gone to a training camp can attest, this is basically a skill player on skill player practice where there is no offensive or defensive line. It's really a passing drill that lets the offense work against different defensive coverages without needing to deal with a pass rush.
Chip Kelly runs this drill with a little change. He has assistants with paddles on their shoulders standing on the line of scrimmage
"It simulates a pass rush," Kelly explained. "So when you're in seven on seven, obviously, you've got to throw through the lane. We made those at Oregon, and it gives us an opportunity. It's the exact height of a 6'4" defensive lineman with his hands up. You can't throw over everybody, so you have to throw through throwing lanes. It's the best way we can simulate that."
The idea is that even if a QB isn't dealing with a real pass rush, he still has to pay attention to his throwing lanes. Completing a bunch of passes in a drill that would have been knocked down in a game doesn't develop the best habits.
"I think quarterbacks get very comfortable dumping the ball," said Kelly. "But if you've got a 6'7", 6'8" offensive lineman in front of you, you're not going to be able to do that. You have Dennis Kelly [6-8] playing over there at left tackle. Whether that defensive lineman has his hands up or not, you're not going to be able to throw it through two lanes. That is something everybody understands. And seven on seven, you can get into habits of dumb noting the ball down low and not realizing there is an offensive or defensive line there, so we came up with that at Oregon, to make sure our guys know there are rush lanes and we have to throw the ball through the lane."
It's a subtle, but sensible wrinkle added to an often used football drill. When you're practicing all summer, working on muscle memory and drilling how to recognize coverages into these QBs, it only makes sense to always have the element of proper passing lanes as part of that.
That's especially true for a shorter guy like Michael Vick who is prone to having passes knocked down.