It's not just about Chip Kelly, it's also about DL coach Jerry Azzinaro, DB coach John Lovett, OL coach Jeff Stoutland, QB coach Bill Lazor, DC Bill Davis and ST coach Dave Fipp.
I give the group as a whole a B+ grade going into the final trimester of a seriously entertaining Eagles season. The main reason for a high grade is these coaches have collectively transformed a bad team into an average team—and that's tremendous progress.
We are seeing players who we once thought were awful (like Nate Allen) and players who we thought were underachieving (like DeSean Jackson) transformed before our eyes. I should also include Nick Foles in that equation.
Chippah and his freshman-year coaching staff deserve a round of applause because they have put "player development" at the top of their priority list. I guess the thought process there is if you keep developing the technique levels of the players you have inherited, and then continue to scout and draft for the new talent you want, then eventually the W's should stack up…
Tommy Lawlor says it much better than I… what a nice piece he put out today at Fan-Demonium:
That's a great read…
Meanwhile, if you haven't yet seen it, the NFL has released its "Sound FX" video clip of Kelly and the Eagles from the recent Redskins' game…
It's about 4:25 minutes long and quite enjoyable—mostly because we know the results of the game.
Searching for the best link to the video clip, I tried many resources, and ultimately found the quickest-loading and smoothest-playing version at NJ.com. The only drawback is you have to sit through a 25-second ad from Verizon… but in terms of overall play quality, I think it's worth it:
Once you have viewed that clip, the video window reloads and invites you to take a Sound FX journey to the rest of Week 11's mic'ed up NFL games. But beware— you'll have to sit through a 30-second Verizon ad in order to cross that bridge…
Speaking of the assistant coaches, it's somewhat fun to go back to some of the things they were saying back in training camp:
Jeff Stoutland: Want to know what makes a good offensive lineman? According to Jeff Stoutland, it's one who can "see it all". He said if he were to ask an OL "What did the safety do on play 2?", they should know the answer. They need to see and understand everything happening on the field in front of them, not just their individual assignments.
- Stoutland also praised Jason Kelce for attending rookies and selected vets days even though he wasn't required to. "Kelce is here early because he loves football. He's like that kid in high school who never leaves the gym. He's a gym rat." He later praised Kelce for being a great communicator. It's clear Stoutland holds his projected starting Center in high regard.
- Interesting nugget: Stoutland used film of Eagles LT Jason Peters to coach kids in college. When he accepted the Eagles job, his colleagues teased him: "What are you going to do, show film of Jason Peters to Jason Peters?"
Another fun Stoutland quote: "Players learn best from pictures and video." He said that a coach can draw circles on a board all he wants, but "a player doesn't look like a circle, does he?"
- On the subject of offensive line communication, he said Todd Herremans is the "the best communicator I've been around".
- Bill Davis: Davis touched on the Eagles former use of the "over defense 9 technique" 4-3 defense. He said the problem with it was "you're asking safeties to come down and be primary run defenders", and that can leave the secondary vulnerable to give up big pass plays.
- When asked about the 3-4 defense, Davis said "the beauty of the 3-4 alignment is there are different ways you can bring that 4th rusher". He later talked about how this is used to cause possible turnovers by generating confusion and putting the opposing QB on edge.
- Davis stressed that the key to a good defense is not just having a strong blitz package… but being able to create an illusion of the blitz. The combination of those two things is what's important. He discussed how Jim Johnson was a master at this, and how that's what made him so great.
- One of the concerns from switching from a pure 4-3 to a 3-4 is that you're asking your defensive ends to do more in coverage than they used to. Davis talked about how a DE can match up with a WR in coverage. He said it's not about asking them to cover a receiver vertically down the field, but doing things that maximize the defensive player's skill set. Such things would include DEs re-routing receivers and operating in short area coverage zones.
Chip Kelly may still need to improve on his in-game tactics such as when to call a challenge on a play and when not to…or when to go into a "four corners" slowdown of his offense or when not to… but overall you have got to give him credit for assembling a real nice staff of teachers in his inaugural flight in the NFL. Guys who were floundering in the final years of Andy Reid's system are now blossoming before our eyes under the tutelage of their new coordinators.