Two absolute must-read articles on the subject of Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly were released on Thursday morning and you should immediately stop reading to go read them. They are:
The NFL has gone from doubting Chip Kelly to trying to mimic his innovations. Can the question-everything coach and his Eagles stay ahead?
The eight truths LeSean McCoy had to learn about Chip Kelly before he became a believer -- and the NFL's most dangerous weapon.
Below are some of the quotes that stood out to me the most, followed by my thoughts on each piece.
Chip Kelly's influence
Now that Kelly’s Eagles have found success — they led the NFL in rushing and yards per carry and finished second in total offense in 2013 — the conversation has shifted away from whether his offense would work in the NFL to whether that success is sustainable, and particularly whether defenses will have figured out the attack over the offseason. This line of questioning misses the mark, however: Kelly’s offense isn’t unique because of specific schemes; it’s unique because of how he organizes and implements them.
With Kelly, it’s usually about more than what we see. What makes him so interesting is his ability to seamlessly mesh old-school tactics and NFL-style attention to detail with an approach that attacks the very structure of defenses. College football has produced a lot of innovation over the last 10 years or so, but many of the great college innovators lack the attention to detail to succeed in the NFL. At the same time, many NFL coaches are too ingrained in the old ways to adapt to an evolving game. Kelly has always been at home blending the old and the new. That’s where the NFL is going, but Kelly is already there.
Shortly after Kelly took the Eagles job, one Oregon staff member gave me his read on Kelly: "What people think Bill Belichick is like — thinks about football nonstop, all day, every day — is how Chip actually is. He’s a bachelor and has no kids. Football is what he’s about." Focusing on football so completely, and questioning everything about the game, can’t be the most peaceful way to live. But that’s how Kelly’s wired. He once told a room full of high school coaches — who were eager to hear his wisdom on how to coach the spread offense and draw up cool plays — that it "bothers" him when he visits a high school practice and sees "the coaches are standing around talking to one another or throwing the ball around" while the team is stretching. Kelly’s sense of humor is well documented, but when it comes to football, he’s all business.
I've always thought the idea of Chip Kelly being "figured out" was silly. The idea that other teams will have a full offseason to study Kelly's Year 1 success isn't totally untrue. It's just funny not to note that Kelly will have the equal amount of time to make changes and study opposing defenses.
Kelly is often quick to note how he's not doing anything revolutionary. There's nothing gimmicky about him. Kelly perfectly understands that scheme only goes so far and actual execution of basic football concepts (blocking, tackling, etc.) is what really matters. That's why it's so important to Kelly for these players to be in top notch shape; it prepares them to execute at their highest level possible.
In a broad sense, it's really cool to see the impact Kelly is having on the rest of the league and how that holds up over the years moving forward.
Chip Kelly's relationship with LeSean McCoy
One day, Kelly and McCoy chat, two men trying to understand each other. The coach knows his running back's story. McCoy was one of the top players in the country entering his senior year at Bishop McDevitt High in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Then he broke his ankle during a game, bone piercing skin. He ended up spending a year at a prep school, where he was "depressed" and gained so much weight that he fell down the depth chart. Only Penn State and the University of Pittsburgh kept recruiting him. When Dave Wannstedt, Pitt's coach at the time, said, "I'll give you a chance to get your name back," McCoy started to cry. That scar is why he later was named a second-team All-American. Why he's obsessed with eclipsing Peterson. Why he tells Kelly on this day, "I want to be the best."
"I want to be the best coach ever," Kelly replies. McCoy considers it not a proclamation but a rationale for the coach's challenging so many assumptions. "All I want to do is help you," Kelly says.
Then why, McCoy asks, does Kelly badger him every day about sleep? Kelly pulls up video of practice after McCoy had registered a substandard night. "You look slow, less explosive."
It all clicks. McCoy becomes "crazy about sleeping." He notices how much quicker he feels at 208 pounds than he did at the 218 he was in 2012, thanks to Kelly's nutrition program of personalized protein shakes. He feels fresher when hydrated. He even likes getting to know guys on the rides to the stadium. "When he tells me to do something, I just do it," McCoy says now.
Shady might be the star of Kelly's offense, but it's clear he doesn't take it easy on him. That seems to be for the best. Kelly isn't content to let McCoy be simply great; he wants him to strive to reach that next level.
Again, two really good columns that are worth your time. Check them out.