It’s been five months since the Philadelphia Eagles hired Chip Kelly as their new head coach; and in that time we have already seen sweeping changes inside and outside of the NovaCare Complex training facility. Former top free agents and veterans such as Cullen Jenkins, Nnamdi Asomugha, and Mike Patterson have been shown the door and new, young talent has been given the opportunity to wear the midnight green.
The biggest surprise since Chip Kelly became head coach came in the NFL Draft when the Eagles selected USC quarterback Matt Barkley in the 4th round. Last year, Barkley was seen as a first round quarterback by many draft experts. A disappointing 8-5 season coupled with a nagging shoulder injury send his stock plummeting months before the draft. Still, getting a quarterback with the potential of Barkley’s in the fourth round is nothing short of a steal.
This week, the Eagles wrapped up their “voluntary” spring OTAs. These OTAs were different than in years past, mostly because of the blaring music and rapid speed of the practices. Michael Vick and Nick Foles shared reps with the first team each day of practice. Eagles fans expecting Kelly to name a starting quarterback soon better not get their hopes up. Reports are that Kelly will not name a starter until the week before the regular season begins. That was the approach Kelly took at Oregon and I don’t expect that to change here. If I had to guess, I would say that Michael Vick will be the starter come week one. However, Vick has never made it a full season without getting injured. Don’t be surprised if the week one starter is no longer the starter come week 17.
Not everything has been smooth for Chip Kelly since becoming the Eagles head coach. Many members of the media have criticized Kelly for how he handles giving out information on injuries and his supposed lack of transparency during interviews. For example, standout offensive tackle Jason Peters, who missed all of last season with a ruptured Achilles Tendon, was a no show at OTAs. When asked what was going on with Peters, Kelly gave the quick response “I know where he is” and would elaborate any further on that topic. That has irked many longtime radio show hosts in Philadelphia over the past few weeks. Also, Chip Kelly made the decision that training camp will no longer be held at Lehigh University. Instead, the Eagles will report directly to the NovaCare Complex in late July. This has many fans upset because training camp used to be a family friendly and open event under Andy Reid. Now, the fans will be given very limited access to their beloved Eagles in the preseason. With that said, all the criticism will stop if the Eagles win this season. Heck, if Chip Kelly leads the Eagles to a successful 2013 season he could probably skip the press conferences all together and the fans/media members in Philadelphia would still love him. With the Phillies and Flyers being average teams, and the 76ers being a downright disaster, this city is dying for a winner. All that lies on the shoulders of Chip Kelly now.
With OTAs now completed, the Eagles will be off until late July when they report to training camp. Chip Kelly warned the players that they better stay in shape until then; because if they don’t, he will know. Training Camp starts in about six weeks, but until then the fans of Philadelphia will have little to zero football news and an average baseball team to deal with. Hang tight Philadelphia, football season is almost here.