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Old 05-09-2015, 07:21 AM   #1
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Default Chip sounds a lot like "The Patriot Way"

Culture Club
Posted: May 8th, 2015 | Author: Tommy Lawlor

If Chip Kelly were a mom, there is no question what peanut butter he would buy for his family. Choosy moms choose Jif, after all. And you can use a lot of words to describe Kelly – maverick, genius, risk-taker – but choosy better be one of them.

Players need to have a certain size.

Players need to have a certain skill set.

Players sure as heck better fit into Kelly’s idea of a good football culture.

Paul Domowitch wrote a good piece this morning about the importance of players “buying in”.

Kelly wants players who are willing to “buy in” to his system and are smart enough and driven enough to take what he teaches them and use it to make themselves better players.

“For Chip, it’s about getting the right guys in place,” said ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay. “Every time I talk to Chip, the phrase he always uses is ‘guys that buy in.’ He brings it up every single time I’ve talked to him. He wants to make sure he has a roster full of guys that are buying in.

“Whether it’s the sleeping regimen or the nutrition or the mental aspect of it, he feels like now, more than ever as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, he has players in place that buy into what they want to do there and that, moving forward, are on the same page.”

One of the most important books on Kelly’s bookshelf isn’t Bill Walsh’s “Finding the Winning Edge” or Vince Lombardi’s “What It Takes To Be No. 1″ or Tony Dungy’s “Quiet Strength.”

It’s Carol Dweck’s “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.” Dweck never coached football. She’s a 68-year-old Stanford psychology professor who teaches courses on personality and social development.

Her book, published in 2008, deals with growth mindset vs. fixed mindset, which you probably don’t care about, but is at the heart of what Kelly is looking for in the players he is bringing into the Eagles organization and many of the ones he is weeding out.

A fixed mindset, according to Dweck, is believing that all of your qualities, including intelligence and ability, are carved in stone and can’t change in any meaningful way, which she says results in “trying to convince yourself and others that you have a royal flush when you’re secretly worried it’s a pair of 10s.”

A growth mindset, she wrote, is believing that “the hand you’re dealt is just the starting point for development. Growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts.

“Do people with this mindset believe that anyone can be anything, that anyone with proper motivation or education can become Einstein or Beethoven? No, but they believe that a person’s true potential is unknown [and unknowable]; that it’s impossible to foresee what can be accomplished with years of passion, toil and training.”

Kelly referenced growth mindset vs. fixed mindset last week when he was talking about his first-round pick, Agholor, who is the son of Nigerian immigrants.

“He’s just dialed in as a football player,” Kelly said. “He’s in the Jordan Matthews category in terms of his approach to the game. Always striving to get better. I think the great thing about Nelson is he has a growth mindset and not a fixed mindset.

“He’s one of those guys that’s really a student of the game. I think you get excited when you’re around guys like that. He’s just trying to soak up everything that you can spit out in terms of being able to give him coaching points. He’s always trying to get better, whether it’s from a physical standpoint, improving himself physically, or a route-running standpoint, or just a mind standpoint in terms of how to run routes, how to do things and how he fits into the [offensive] scheme.

“He’s exactly what we’re looking for in a football player.”

Think about how important visits have been for draft picks. Kelly drafted Bennie Logan and Matt Barkley in 2013 in part because he loved the meetings they had with those guys at the Combine. In 2014 all of the Eagles draft picks were guys who made visits to the NovaCare except one…Josh Huff, who Kelly recruited and coached at Oregon.

Every player drafted this year came to the NovaCare for a pre-draft visit.

It is crucial for Kelly to get to know the players he is drafting. This isn’t to say he’s got to love them personally or they have to be choirboys, but the players have to be the right type. They must fit in. They must buy in.

There is a lot to be said for this kind of thinking. Football is the ultimate team game. Players must function well together. They need to be on the same page. This is true whether talking about stars or players that are on the fringe of the roster. If you have the right type of character guys, this happens more easily than if you have individualistic players.

We talk about how teams that “win the offseason” don’t always do well in the actual season. This is often due to the fact that the players have strong individual talent, but they lack the chemistry and cohesion to play well as a group. This isn’t baseball where you can just plug ‘n play guys. It is much harder for new players to fit in on a football team.

While all of this does sound good and make a lot of sense, that doesn’t mean it will work. Chip Kelly’s ideas might not pan out the way he wants them. No one questions whether he can win in the NFL. But can he win big? Can he build a legitimate title contender?

I don’t think we’ll get the answer this year. I think Kelly needs one more year of roster building before we’ll have a good idea of whether he can win or win big. Obviously the health of the team and the play of the QBs will be crucial, but even flawed teams can have the right vibe. The 2002 Eagles had Koy Detmer and AJ Feeley start the final 6 games of the season. The team went 5-1 and won 3 of those games by 13 or more points. That team had the right feel, but not the right QBs.

We’ll start to get a feel for Kelly’s ideas and how they are working on this team. Longtime Eagles Trent Cole and Todd Herremans are gone. That leaves a leadership void. There is a new QB. Jeremy Maclin and Nate Allen weren’t vocal leaders, but were highly experienced starters. One of them could be replaced by a rookie. The other, well that’s still a mystery. More and more, this is becoming Kelly’s team.

Here is the projected lineup for now:

WR Nelson Agholor
WR Riley Cooper
WR Jordan Matthews
RB DeMarco Murray
QB Sam Bradford
TE Brent Celek
LT Jason Peters
LG Evan Mathis
OC Jason Kelce
RG Allen Barbre
RT Lane Johnson

DE Fletcher Cox
NT Bennie Logan
DE Cedric Thornton
LB Brandon Graham
IB Mychal Kendricks
IB DeMeco Ryans
LB Connor Barwin
S Malcolm Jenkins
S Jaylen Watkins or Earl Wolff
CB Byron Maxwell
CB Walter Thurmond or Eric Rowe

12 of those guys are Kelly players. You can argue that Thornton and Cooper are Kelly guys because they didn’t become full-time starters until he took over. Kendricks and Cox only played one year for Andy Reid and are now entering Year 3 for Kelly. Ryans only played a year for Reid, and either he or Kendricks could be replaced by Kiko Alonso.

Kelly wasn’t trying to run off Reid guys. Trent Cole would still be here if younger. Same for Herremans. Maclin just got offered too much money. Obviously Kelly has strong feelings for some of the high quality guys that Reid left in place. He flat out loves Celek, Kelce and Ryans.

Building a high character team is nothing new. Kelly goes beyond that and is very specific with the fit he is looking for. I’m really curious to see if this works as he expects or if Kelly is too limiting and passing on talented players is going to come back to haunt him.

There is no magic formula for building a winner in the NFL. You just need to find the right guys to make your ideas work. Kelly wants players to buy in to his ideas. Fans just want guys that will help the Eagles win games.

2015 is going to give us an idea of whether or not Kelly is headed in the right direction.
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Old 05-09-2015, 09:41 AM   #2
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