Hey everyone… I’m the blogger formerly known as Jerome’s Friend and this is my first piece for BGN's front page. BIG thanks to Dan, Mike, Brandon, and Jimmy for bringing me on board. I’m completely blown away that I’m able to do this. I might write some math stuff, or I might not. At any rate, please read me! Also, follow me on Twitter @JeromesFriend. I look forward to your comments!
The refreshments keep coming. There is lemonade over here and iced tea being served over there, the kind with lemon slices. And water, frigid glasses of water, with big cubes of ice breaching the top of the glass. The hot air has an immediate effect: condensation, little droplets quickly form and make their way down to the table. It’s a late summer refreshment stand complete with Philadelphia Eagles football. And of course, there are kegs of Kool-Aid. And I’m the one at the party doing keg stands.
Yes, I know, it was just the first preseason game. Yes, I know, there were blown gap assignments and missed tackles. And yes, I know, there were misthrows, miscues, and missed catches. But you know what? It doesn’t matter. Because it was the New England Patriots! And because Chip Kelly’s Eagles looked about as good in their first preseason game as Andy Reid’s Eagles looked in Week four last year.
There are some great player and position analyses out there. And they serve as a solid baseline for following up on daily training camp notes. But I’d like to focus for a moment on head coach Chip Kelly. It was surreal for me at first to see Kelly on the sideline instead of Andy Reid. I’ve been through a few Eagles’ coaches: Marion Campbell, Buddy Ryan, Rich Kotite, and Ray Rhodes. But none with the longevity of Reid. When the TV flashed Kelly on the screen (which happened often) I was happily reminded that the Reid era is over. Then Kelly showed me why.
Kelly’s no huddle spread offense is intriguing, but I like what it does to build and maintain momentum. Did you notice that the no huddle was not a constant? A five yard run… no huddle, get to the line, snap. Pass completion… no huddle, get to the line, snap. Another pass completion… no huddle, get to the line, snap. Incomplete pass… huddle, regroup, get to the line, snap. Yes, Kelly has a play-fast philosophy and strategy, but it looked to me that he plans to use the no huddle as an offensive tool to keep defenses on their toes. He’ll use it the majority of the time, but not all the time. Seemingly as a show of mercy the team will huddle, but then… snap! No huddle again. And I swear, I SWEAR, in the fourth quarter I counted five-Mississippis from the time the whistle blew to the time the ball was snapped again... Not all no huddles are created equal.
Complementing the no huddle were minimal substitutions during drives. The offensive line is a unit that needs to establish a groupthink mentality. They need to be one. What better way to do that and build a drive’s momentum than to stop rotating players? What better way to build cohesion than to have players actually play together? I love this, and I think the dividends are, and will be, immediate. Did you see many penalties (momentum killers!)? I didn’t. Aside from Nick Foles’ fumble, the protection seemed to be stout, at least more so than last year. And Lane Johnson seems to be worth his top five selection.
If we define momentum as a truck barreling down a highway, then Chip Kelly is the driver. I loved his demeanor on the sideline, complete with visor (it’s soooo Chip Kelly). Amidst any speculation that Kelly is not in it for the long haul (albeit purely headline-grabbing), he was fully invested. He was alert and passionate. He looks like a pacer, a flincher and a wincer. Gone is Reid’s stoicism; injected is an excitable sensibility. It fed the offense rightly. If you can, re-watch him signaling for the two-point conversion in the fourth quarter against the Patriots. He wanted those two points.
Which brings us to the defense. As much momentum as the offense built, the defense maddeningly destroyed. But this, I believe, will be corrected with time. Culture does not change quickly. It can move with evolutionary, plate tectonic speed. But the defense will eventually move; Kelly’s momentum will make it so. And when it does, when the unit builds up speed and heats up, it will need to drink the Kool-Aid to cool off.
Follow me on Twitter, @JeromesFriend.