If there's any truth to the cliché that "hard work pays off," then the Philadelphia Eagles are in pretty good shape. According to Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, who the team acquired in free agency earlier this offseason, Philadelphia's football team has been working harder than any other club in the entire NFL.
"I think we’ve worked harder than any team in the NFL," said Jenkins. "I think we’ve gotten more reps and more exposure than any team in the NFL, so right now at this point we’re winning. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean we’re going to win anything. All we can win is today and each day, we go out as a team and try to do that. I feel like if we continue on that path and get better and better as we go, I definitely see this team having a chance."
Jenkins, who declared himself a "natural born leader" shortly after arriving in Philadelphia, isn't quite the typical athlete who repeats rehearsed answers question after question. Jenkins is more forthcoming and honest in his interviews, and his answers reflect this notion.
For example, Jenkins noted that some players have taken time adjusting to the way the Eagles practice. Ultimately, though, there's a distinct reason why everyone buys in. Head coach Chip Kelly lets his players know why they're doing what they're doing. Nothing is random.
"We’re creatures of habit. It’s hard for us to accept change, it’s hard for us to say ‘We’re going to get 50 plays in an OTA practice’ as opposed to normally people are getting 20. There has to be a reason for it, and [Kelly] does a great job of explaining why and then taking care of us, as far as our recovery and our bodies," said Jenkins. "Everything he does from a scheduling standpoint and a practice standpoint has a reason and that reason is explained to us. So it’s a lot easier for us to grasp it, understand it, take hold of it and buy in because he has a vision, he has a plan and then he articulates that plan to us. And I think last year was the first year, guys were kind of tip-toeing in and I think this year, everybody has bought in."
There's proof that the players have "bought in", too. Kelly acknowledged a few weeks back that he thinks the Eagles are operating faster than ever. He even went as far to say that the team is "light years" ahead of where they were in Kelly's rookie season.
"It's light years [ahead]. I think for all of our guys they understand what we're doing. Every year, every day last year was a new insertion and it was a new play and it was the first time in the red zone, first time coming out, first time in two minute. [...] We're going faster. We're getting more reps off, more plays off because the guys have a better understanding of the mechanics of it. [...] I think we're getting more snaps off in teams on seven on sevens just because our guys are more comfortable with how we want to operate."
Kelly's methodology is far from the status quo, but as long as there's a logical reason behind everything, it's hard to see why the players would doubt him. For now, Kelly has his team working harder than ever. As Jenkins said earlier, it won't mean anything unless the results on the field reflect their offseason efforts.