Of all the great storylines in the NFL that will play out over the next couple of months before Week 1, the Philadelphia Eagles' experiment has to be the most interesting.
It bears repeating that Chip Kelly's resume is very unique among first-time NFL coaches. As of 2006, the biggest job Kelly ever held was offensive coordinator at New Hampshire. He ran a spread, read-option offense at Oregon, an offense that was derided in most NFL circles just a couple of years ago. He had no NFL experience. This wasn't the typical "hot coordinator off last year's good team" NFL hiring model. But he was the hot name this offseason, because of his offensive genius, and the Eagles landed him.
Kelly met with some Eagles' reporters to discuss a wide variety of topics, and it was very clear that he has a detailed plan for what he envisions his team to be. There will be significant changes in his first training camp. He has even scheduled the Eagles' main training camp practices at 12:30 p.m. Why then? Because he studied Philadelphia's schedule first.
“That’s when we play,” Kelly said, according to PhillyMag.com. “Twelve or 14 of our 16 games are played at 1 o’clock.”
According to PhillyMag.com, when someone joked if they would practice in the evenings before night games, Kelly seriously answered that he had thought of it but it might throw his team off to do that for one game at a time. He isn't exactly Steve Spurrier joking about how he looked forward to playing golf.
This is going to be a different training camp, if it goes along offseason practice routines. In an interview with "The Audible" podcast on FootballGuys.com, PhillyMag.com beat writer Sheil Kapadia said he remembered the Eagles huddling up one time in all their offseason practices. He said it came at the end of a minicamp, when the Eagles were practicing their 4-minute offense to protect a lead, and someone went out of bounds. Uptempo might not be strong enough to describe Kelly's offense.
There is loud music and a breakneck pace in practice, something Kelly did at Oregon to maximize the limited practice time college teams get under NCAA rules. The Eagles will also move training camp from their longtime home in Lehigh to the Eagles' normal facilities, because Kelly said things like video rooms, Internet servers and the weight room are already set up as the team wants it at the facilities.
Every detail has been considered, it appears.
Kelly is doing things differently than players are probably used to – there was some push back when he refused to name a starting quarterback before training camp, saying it would play out in preseason games – and it makes for an interesting case study. If the Eagles lose early, will the veterans have as much patience with his new ways of doing things? If the offense struggles to have as much success in the NFL right away, how will the team respond? And, conversely, if he does very well this season will that bring about a different way of thinking by NFL teams?
Every NFL team is interesting this time of year. But the experiment in Philadelphia is uniquely fascinating.
“It’s to get them to understand if we’re going to do something, there’s an importance to it,” Kelly said in a wide-ranging story by The Journal Times in Delaware. “If there’s an importance to it, then we should be able to explain that to you. Not just do it because we said so.
“We don’t do things just for the sake of doing things. This isn’t change for the sake of change. This is change that we believe is necessary, because we believe in what we’re doing and we’ve got evidence to prove that it’s going to work.”