Innovator Chip Kelly set for pro debut with Eagles
Soon after arriving for the team's first training camp in late July under new coach Chip Kelly, Kelce found himself in a room listening to former Navy SEAL officer Coleman Ruiz talk about his experiences leading 85 combat missions during six deployments to the Middle East.
Reid drew constant criticism for his clock management and stubborn reliance on a pass-happy, West Coast offense. He was unbelievably boring at news conferences, starting them with the infamous phrase "time is yours" and seldom offering any pertinent information.
Departure from Reid
Veteran Eagles players were used to doing things a certain way under Reid.
Training camp was held at Lehigh University, in Bethlehem, Pa. Players were given Mondays and Tuesdays off during the regular season. The locker room at the NovaCare Complex was arranged according to position, with quarterbacks, running backs, linebackers, etc., dressing together.
Training camp was moved to the team's NovaCare Complex in Philadelphia, just down the road from Lincoln Financial Field. Players will only have Mondays off. Linebacker DeMeco Ryans is no longer dressing next to his fellow linebackers. He's now between tackle Jason Peters and wide receiver DeSean Jackson.
"That part, I think, was the biggest unknown going into this," Kelly said. "If you're a guy from the outside and haven't been part (of the NFL), you hear about how it's tough to coach professional athletes because they've got their own mind set and want to do things their own way.
The Eagles definitely needed to shake things up.
They had enjoyed tremendous success earlier in Reid's tenure. Between 2000 and 2008, the Eagles made seven playoff appearances, won five division titles, earned five berths in the NFC championship game and reached the Super Bowl in the 2004 season.
It was one-game-and-done in the playoffs in 2009 and 2010. There was no postseason in 2011 and 2012. Last season's 4-12 record — its worst since going 3-13 in 1998 under former coach Ray Rhodes — seemed to confirm the suspicion that Reid's messages and methods had grown stale.
One of his first moves was hiring sports science coordinator Shaun Huls, who previously served as head strength and conditioning coach and combatives coordinator for Navy Special Warfare. In April, Kelly had the players participate in a sleep study to determine the proper amount of rest they needed between workouts. They wore GPS tracking systems on their shoulder pads during minicamps to measure speed and agility.
"All the stuff he does is designed to make us physically and mentally ready for game days," Kelce said. "Players go through peaks and valleys during the day, and he wants to make sure we're able to rest and recuperate during the valleys so that our peaks will be higher than ever."
Players look forward to the after-practice offerings that include smoothies. The dining hall staff prepares one for each player depending on his tastes. Tight end Brent Celek has pineapple and coconut in his drink. Linebacker Trent Cole likes chocolate and banana.
Kelly's creativity is making waves in the NFL. The Eagles, who open at Washington tonight, are viewed as one of the most intriguing teams in the NFL this season.
"It's definitely different," Celek said. "We were so used to coach Reid for so long. But things change, and I love what coach Kelly has brought here so far. It's awesome. Between the smoothies, the food and everything else, he's giving us everything we need to be successful."
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