In Chip Kelly’s first NFL season, he has already implemented a number of changes to the Eagles. He hands out smoothies to his players when they come off the practice field, he has sped up some things on the practice field and he has changed the attitude in Philadelphia. This season, he will encounter a number of firsts. He will coach his first game, he will have his first big decision on fourth down, he will have to decide whether to kick an extra point versus go for a two point conversion and the list goes on and on. He just finished his first NFL draft as the head coach of the Eagles and he did great. A number of the players he picked had success against Oregon (IE: 2nd round pick Zach Ertz who caught 11 passes against the Ducks last year), but it was about adding long-term starters to an already solid roster. That’s what Philly did. So far, so good for Kelly in the NFL.
Chip Kelly joined WIP in Philadelphia with Angelo Cataldi to talk about what the experience was like for him during his first draft, whether the Eagles entertained trade offers for the fourth pick, if it was an advantage to coach against many of these players in college, on the QB competition in Philadelphia, why he wanted to bring Michael Vick back and whether he thinks the Eagles can win as soon as this season.
What the experience was like for him during his first draft:
“To be honest, it was awful because you make a pick and then it seems like six hours later you get to make another pick. So it doesn’t happen like the game, it’s a lot slower in terms of, you make a pick, you get excited about the guy you get and then you’re not up for another three hours. The in between part kills you, being on the clock and waiting towards the do you get an opportunity to get this guy? He’s still on the board. When it gets closer to your pick it gets exciting, but the down time, I think, took a little bit to get used to.”
Whether the Eagles entertained trade offers:
“I think when you look at you can say ‘well they should have traded.’ But there has to be a partner to trade with. If no one is calling you then no one wants to move into your spot. You can look at it from the outside and say ‘hey if I was in that situation I would have traded back and done this, this and this.’ But you have to have somebody to trade back with. We entertained some calls but obviously the value wasn’t there. It’s like ‘trade your pick and we will give you a football.’ When you look at it that way you’re just like that is not very valuable to the franchise so we’re going to stick with it. For us, in every round, after the first we had guys on the board that were rated the round above. We always felt like we were getting value.”
Was it an advantage for you because you saw many of these players in college up close and personal?
“I think so, and not only did you game plan against them, but you know them a little bit better than some other people because you’ve interacted with them. I’ve been on media days and spent time with Matt Barkley. We tried to recruit Zach Ertz. Jordan Poyer is a local kid from Oregon, so not only do you know how fast they are, and what they jump, and how much they can lift, but you get a little bit better feel for what their personality is like and how that is going to fit and what we are trying to create here in the locker room.”
If he thinks the idea that he needs a prototype player to run his offense is overblown:
“In everything I think there is always a gap between perception and reality, no matter where it is. Whether it’s in your profession or our profession. We want people that are going to help us win games. Obviously if you can get a quarterback that has great size, is really smart, can run and do all those things then yeah let’s go get him. But you don’t always get the ideal guy. You don’t get in every category he is a 10. But you have to value some categories more than other categories. There have been some unbelievable athletes that have played quarterback both at the collegiate level and in the NFL that can throw the ball 80 yards, run 4.5 and all those other things. Really for a quarterback, you have to be a great decision maker first and foremost. If he can run I think of that as a bonus, not as a prerequisite.”
On the QB competition:
“Well right now it is because we are still in April heading into May. So we’ll continue to just get everyone reps and as they get reps, they get more familiar and comfortable with the system and then obviously as we get moving into August, you start to kind of pair it down. It becomes a two-horse race and those guys are getting more snaps than the others guys and you kind of pair it down. At this point in time, we’re just trying to get everybody up to speed in terms of how we’re doing things. The guys that are here, Michael [Vick] and Nick [Foles], and Dennis [Dixon] and G.J. [Kinne] have been here every day and they’re working extremely hard. We’ve been with them for about a month grasping how we call things, grasping the concepts we are trying to insert, how do we identify defensive players and those kind of things. They’re working really well at it. I’ve said it’s a competition and it is, but at some point in time we start to pair it down and it goes from five guys, to four, to three, to two, and eventually one. If you have anyone that’s worth anything at that position, they want competition. They relish competition and they are excited about it. If you have somebody whose ego is so fragile that well I wasn’t named the starter in April, well then how the heck are they going to play in front of our fans? I mean if they can’t handle not being named the guy in April, then what are they going to do when things go wrong in September and you throw an interception and the crowd is booing at you? Are they going to go fold and not be the guy that everybody looks to when things aren’t going well? So the competition part of it, we’re excited about it. We’re excited in the fact that we believe we have a couple of guys that I think can play for us and the best guy is going to win.”
What did you see that made you want to bring Michael Vick back?
“The one thing I think with a quarterback is they get too much blame when things don’t go well and they get too much praise when things do go well. But which Michael Vick do you have? The guy in 2010 who is the comeback player of the year and is running all over the field making great decisions? A lot of that because he’s clean in protection, he’s not getting hit immediately after he’s getting the snap. The one thing, when I watched the film and I saw Michael last year, you just kind of almost felt bad for him, is you lost four lineman to season ending injuries. There is a comfort level when you are playing quarterback when Jason Peters is your left tackle. There is not as much of a comfort level if I’m playing left tackle. So when you’re worried about a guy coming off the edge before you can get to the top of your drop and make a throw, then that’s a tough thing to do. The one thing I’ll give Michael, when you watch Michael Vick on film and no one, there’s absolutely no one that can question his toughness. As he stands in there with people bearing down at him and still is trying to throw the ball and deliver the ball. He can throw the ball, it comes off his hands, he can make people miss, but no one, there’s no quarterback in the NFL, there’s no quarterback in any level of football that can function when you are missing four of your offensive lineman. So a lot of things that happened when you watch the film last year, it isn’t all of Michael’s fault. When I look around at other quarterbacks out there and who is available and all those other things, to me it was a no-brainer to bring him back.”
How long he thinks it will take the Eagles to win:
“If I can gauge it based upon our attitudes of our players right, I’m really excited for next season. We’ve got a bunch of guys that have been here since April that are working extremely hard and have bought into what we’re doing here. And that was also the question for everybody, myself included, is will they do what we’re going to ask them to do? What I found with the guys that are here right now, and to be honest with you a lot of hype has gone into the draft, but we drafted eight guys. Even if all eight of those guys make our team, 45 of those guys are already here right now. So the biggest thing is getting everybody on the same page from the coaching staff to the players and then understand that it’s us against the 31 other teams out there, not us against us. So, so far, so good. Really excited about their attitudes, really excited about their efforts, really excited about their preparation and I believe that’s what wins. That will pay off. As we continue to add people that have a skill-set that can make us better as a team and we’re always going to be constantly looking for that and trying to to do that, but we’re also still conscious of not upsetting the chemistry and attitude of this team So far the chemistry and attitude has been great. Is that a prediction on how quick it can turn around? No. I don’t think anyone can say that because you don’t control injuries, you don’t control when a person, who we put all our eggs in one basket and that person gets hurt, then what do we do? Do you lose four offensive linemen again? That is a really difficult thing to overcome. No one I think can do that. Based on what I’ve seen so far, I think that the team that we put on the field next September and October, I think people are going to be proud to say that they are Philadelphia Eagles.”