This report is courtesy of Elliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com, who was there—
The music was on, but for the first time since Chip Kelly took over as head coach of the Eagles, it wasn't the loudest noise coming from practice.
As his players lined up against trash cans designated with defensive numbers, offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland could be heard yelling directions at his fresh crop of rookie players.
"What do you mean you guess?" he barked at Michael Bamiro when the newly-signed player was unsure of the answer to Stoutland's question.
No, Stoutland is not the second coming of Jim Washburn, the former defensive line coach who was known for hurling expletives at his players during drills. Watching Stoutland interact with the offensive line during the first official practice of training camp, however, it's clear his teaching method is going to be much different than last year's line coach, Howard Mudd.
"The difference between Howard's second year and his first year, he was much more hands-on his first year," center Jason Kelce said on the difference in coaching styles. "Anytime you are a first year coach and you are trying to install your technique and your calls, you have to be hands-on."
"He's an intense dude," joked Kelce.
Still, there is a difference between taking the foot off the gas in the second year and stepping back to the degree that Mudd did. While he is one of the most respected offensive line coaches in the history of the game, Mudd spent most of last training camp coaching from a golf cart due to his aging knees. After seeing Mudd try to install offensive line schemes from pretty much the sidelines last season, you have to think the energy Stoutland is bringing to the offensive line will go a long way in improving a unit that was a disaster most of last year.
After rookie Nic Purcell took what Stoutland perceived to be a poor jump off the line, the coach grabbed Purcell's jersey to show him how a defensive player will try to hold him from getting to the second level. As he swung his arm over Purcell's shoulder, Stoutland yelled that Purcell had to be more aggressive.
"He explains things really well," said Purcell, a former rugby player, afterwards. "For someone like me, who hasn't been playing the game a whole lot, it's really helpful. He likes to get in there and give us as close to 'real game experience' as we can get. It helps a lot."
Another teaching moment for Stoutland came during a drill where the offensive tackles were practicing getting a good jump on the defensive ends- or as was the case on Tuesday, trash cans. After Bamiro went to the side of the trash can to go for the block, Stoutland called the rookie back. After knocking the trashcan to it's side, Stoutland asked Bamiro how he would move a broken down Chevy.
"Would you push it from the side," Stoutland asked as he demonstrated. "Or push it from behind?"
On the next play, Bamiro took the angle he was supposed to originally, much to the delight of his coach.
"There you go!" Stoutland yelled as he gave his pupil a high-five.
While his teaching methods appear to be a hit early on amongst his players, Stoutland's success will not be measured by the number of intense teaching moments he has during camp. For as animated as Washburn was, he was shown the door after his unit took a drastic step back last season. With his line completely healthy going into camp, and a first round talent to mold, Stoutland's unit is expected to be the backbone of this team. It won't matter who the quarterback is if he doesn't have a line that can keep him up-straight.
Related early camp stuff:
BleedingGreen'93: "Foles is my guy— I think he is going to win the starting job hands down….Foles has great accuracy,good pocket mobility,sneaky fast (reminds me of Big Ben)… And from what I have heard has shown vast improvement on his deep balls— no more wobbly deep passes."
Dr. Funt: "Foles' arm is good, he relies on footwork and can push it out there… Vick has natural power… If I had to pick a QB to win the battle, it's Foles,.. Vick is so talented you can't throw him under the bus yet… He has to throw himself under it, with his talent and experience it's his job to lose… easily, if he can't change."
BleedingGreen'93: "Besides QB, what does everyone think are the other more interesting battles going into Camp????
CB– "Who will be the 2 outside guys? Looks to be 3 guys fighting for 2 outside spots with Williams, Fletcher and Boykin —but Marsh or Poyer could sneak in maybe…"
OLB– "The Big 3— Cole,Graham and Barwin— only 2 can be starters…"
LDE– "Vinny Curry, Cedric Thorton, Bennie Logan etc.—- a lot of guys going to be fighting to start on the DL with Cox and Sopo."
Safety- "5 guys fighting for 2 spots… Earl Wolff is a sleeper who could steal a starting job at what looks to be one of our weakest spots on the team."
WR's– "Djax, Maclin, Avant, Benn, Cooper, Momah,Shepard, etc…. a lot of WRs on roster and I'm only expecting to see 6 at the most make the team."
Dr. Funt: "Kenny Phillips is actually good when he's healthy…..Chung is mediocre at best…Allen has the best ceiling, he just hasn't lived up to expectations… It does take some players 3-4 seasons to play to their true skill set… Allen is on the bubble, either he hits the roof this season or falls off it for good."
Dr. Funt: "At corner, Boykin is the guy I really want to see get a chance… He got a lot praise for his rookie season from some despite not looking that great against top talent he had to face on a few plays… He progressed throughout the season and got better, his athleticism is by far the best of everyone in the secondary."
Dr. Funt: "Regarding WR, Avant is probably top 5 hands-guys in the league…. Cooper has proven he can play… I don't think Kelly is going to play favorites… I like bringing in Benn… but bottom line… he needs to get open… he struggles getting separation, good guy to bring in on a low risk, possible high reward. He was a prospect I was high on before the draft, but has not shown the speed or quickness scouts raved about. He can find the soft spot in zone, which may be what Kelly wants him to do… may be better off in the slot running up the seam."
"I view Cooper as an outside #3-4 WR, there could be room for both Benn and Cooper… If they practice and play well."
DDD: "Chip not happy with (Brad) Wing and (Matt) Tucker. [Both failed conditioning tests]…"If your goal in life is to play in the NFL, you have to pass a conditioning test to play in it, so the ball's in their court," he said. "We're talking about passing a minimum standard here, we're not talking about qualifying for the U.S. Olympic team."
I don't see AR calling out anybody like that. Chip won't put up with lack of effort. " '
First contact practice is coming up on Sunday. This thing is just getting started… I'm already stocked up on microwave popcorn.
Oh, and this just in— there was a "Zoomer" sighting at PE.com's OTI today— Yes, the very same "@@@@@….ZOOOOOOOOOOOM" guy who once threatened to track down Brizer and beat him to a pulp— But Brizer defused the situation, and got to the core of Zoomer's anger, which turned out to be a serious problem Zoomer was having with his health. And Brizer helped him get treatment.
I consider that a good omen. Last time Zoomer surfaced either here or at OTI, we darn near beat the Cardinals to win an NFC Championship back in 2008-2009.
On a similar eerie note, the formerly innocent boy-wonder Shackleford is going through a change which is making him strange.