If nothing else, Chip Kelly will keep us guessing. Even though reporters are finally allowed to watch his off-season practices, even though they’re finally allowed to talk to players and even interview Kelly himself, nobody really knows what the Eagles’ new coach is doing and what it will mean for the 2013 NFL season.
The Eagles are knee-deep in their off-season program right now and most of the attention has been focused on the way Kelly runs his practices – full speed ahead, with lots of loud music pushing the tempo as players race from station to station and drill to drill.
The Eagles’ first mini-camp last week was closed to the media and only bits and pieces of what happened leaked out. Now the media, and the fans they represent, want to know more. In fact, they want to know everything, which is their job. However, seeing isn’t always believing. As Kelly has pointed out more than once the last couple of days, it’s still May and a lot can change before training camp opens in July, not to mention the regular season in September.
The questions came fast and furiously at Kelly on Monday, the first time he addressed the media since the OTAs – off-season training activities, in case you haven’t been paying attention – began. Is this the kind of tempo he’ll run during the season? Will he continue to signal in plays from the sideline instead of having them relayed them to the quarterback via helmet radio? Is Michael Vick the No. 1 quarterback going into training camp? Does rookie Matt Barkley have a chance to be the starter? Will he run a 3-4 defense or a 4-3 defense?
To all of those questions and more, Kelly merely smiled, shrugged and summed it all up when he said, “There’s a rhyme or reason to what we’re doing.’’
We’ll just have to take his word for that now. But even though that lack of information can be frustrating to a reporter, it’s also what makes this Eagles coach and this Eagles team so interesting. We were never really sure whether Andy Reid’s teams were going to be good or not, but we always knew what to expect as far as practice routine and the X’s and O’s on game day. Reid did things pretty much by the book that NFL coaches have followed for years, and he certainly never had Black Sabbath blasting through loudspeakers during his practices. And even though Reid’s practice were conducted with an upbeat tempo, the players didn’t sprint from one drill to the next.
Of course, it remains to be seen if different is better. You can have all the gimmicks you want in practice, but there’s a big difference between practice and games. For one thing, they really hit in games and no matter how innovative you are, football is still an elemental sport – the biggest and toughest kid on the block usually wins.
So, that’s the key phrase right now … remains to be seen. And that’s what makes Kelly and his new team so intriguing. Even though he want to know what he’s going to do and how he’s going to do it – and, of course, with whom he’s going to do it — it’s actually more fun not knowing. We’ll find out eventually, but that process will happen gradually as we get to see more of his practices and then his training camp and then his preseason games and then, finally, the games that count.
And that’s when the fun will really begin. Opening day will be a lot like Christmas morning — we know we’re going to get a lot of new presents and some of them might even be special and now we finally get to unwrap them. Until then, we’ll have to be content with trying to sneak a peek at the gifts hidden in the closet and figuring out what they are.
Contact Kevin Noonan at firstname.lastname@example.org.