New Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly has always been a little unorthodox. His no-huddle, fast paced offense at the University of Oregon has perplexed college defenses since he became offensive coordinator in 2007 and he continued to give opposing d-coordinators fits when he was the head coach. His unique style of coaching has been copied in the NFL, as the New England Patriots have adopted a lot of his playbook, which has lead to great success as all football fans know. However, his latest decision as an NFL coach has me and other football fans scratching our heads, as his theory on training camp intensity goes against virtually everything I believe football is about.
NFL fans love football because of the violence. Sure, we enjoy great passes, athletic catches and a cutback by a running back into the open field. However, real football fans enjoy the gruesome hits and tackles that we get to watch every Sunday. Football is a contact sport and the tenacity of the game (plus gambling) is the reason it has become the most popular athletic league in the world. Chip Kelly doesn’t care about what we want, as his new policy at Eagles training camp is one of no tackling.
Kelly feels his players will be better prepared to enter an NFL season by avoiding the physical collisions that often lead to injury. Some might say that this is a wise decision, especially considering the fact that the Eagles have already lost star WR Jeremy Maclin for the year due to a torn ACL on the first day of training camp. The people who point to Maclin’s injury are flat out wrong! Maclin’s injury was unfortunate for the Eagles, but it had nothing to do with tackling, as it was a non-contact injury in which the player blew his knee out by cutting on it the wrong way. It was unavoidable and had nothing to do with the violence on the practice field. Kelly’s policy is a panic move and I believe it is really setting up his team for failure.
There have been many NFL coaches in the past who have lead many NFL training camps, and none have ever implemented this strategy. Why do you think that it? Is Chip Kelly smarter than all the NFL coaches prior to him? Absolutely not! The Philadelphia Eagles will be a soft football team this year. They are in a division that includes RG3, Alfred Morris, Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Dez Bryant. These are some of the most physical, fast and skilled players in the world. How in the world does Kelly expect his team to bring these guys down in the open field when his players will have no practice in doing so.
Kelly feels that his players will have enough full-contact practice in the preseason. I guess nobody told him that the starters barely play preseason football. Therefore his main players will not be able to really hit anybody until Week 1 when the games actually count. On top of that, many injuries occur in preseason games as players are often playing for their jobs in these spots and are extra physical. Kelly is going to to run tissue paper soft practices and then throw his players into full contact competition against players who have been hitting the hell out of each other for weeks? I might be crazy, but this does not sound like a recipe for keeping your players healthy entering the grueling football season.
If I was a fan of the Giants, Cowboys or Redskins, I would be licking my chops to play these pansies during the season. I can’t believe a town like Philadelphia would embrace this culture, as Philly has in the past been a tough-nosed city and usually has sports teams to reflect their tenacity. When the Eagles hired Kelly, many NFL insiders were excited to see if he could bring his college success into the NFL and were waiting to see what his game plans and coaching decisions would look like. Little did they know that Kelly’s first move would be to soften his team to the point that local Philadelphia high school teams will participate in more grueling workouts then his Eagles. Not to worry though Chip, if this NFL thing doesn’t work out I’m sure you could easily get a job coaching a gymnastics or figure skating team, as those appear to be more your speed. It’s only a matter of time before the Eagles Cheerleaders start talking amongst themselves and asking each other why they need to root for this bunch of women.