PHILADELPHIA — Ready, set, go.
The Philadelphia Eagles might as well be running a track meet under new coach Chip Kelly.
Everything they do is faster from the way they practice to their up-tempo offense. Kelly even speaks fast when talking to reporters, answering questions quickly and moving to the next one.
His ratio of words per minute certainly leaves Andy Reid in the dust. But the most important question in Philadelphia is whether Kelly can top Reid’s success and win that elusive Super Bowl.
Kelly took over a 4-12 team after Reid was fired following 14 seasons. He’s brought a unique approach that worked well at the University of Oregon. The players have been on board since the start. Now, we’ll see if their enthusiasm translates into wins.
“They’ve embraced everything, and that’s a real credit to them,” Kelly said. “Since Day 1, there was not a whole lot of salesmanship in terms of why we have to do all these things because their thought process is that if you can help me become a better football player, then I’m in, and everyone has been that way. That part, I think, was an unknown going in. You didn’t know about that. And if you’re a guy from the outside and haven’t been a part of it, you hear it’s tough to coach professional athletes, they’ve got their own mindset, they want to do things their own way. I’ve never encountered that with one player on this team, and that part as a coach has been refreshing.
“It makes you excited to come to work every day.”
Five things to know about the Eagles:
EXPECT SOME GROWING PAINS: This isn’t the Pac-10. The Eagles aren’t going to dominate the way the Ducks did for four seasons under Kelly. His task is a tough one. The Eagles were bad in 2011 and downright awful last year. It’s going to take some time for Kelly to turn them into a winner again. Kelly has some talented players, particularly on offense, and that should make the Eagles an exciting team to watch. But there are enough holes on this team that even a losing season — if they went 7-9 — would have to be considered a success and major step forward.
MICHAEL VICK HAS TO PROTECT THE BALL: Vick was outstanding in the first two preseason games, winning the starting job over Nick Foles and showing a solid grasp of Kelly’s system. But the old Vick showed up in the third preseason game. He made some dazzling plays, including several with his legs that proved he’s still a weapon running the ball at age 33. But he also made questionable decisions similar to the ones that plagued him the last two years. Vick was indecisive at times in the pocket, forced one throw that resulted in an interception and nearly had another pick when he foolishly tossed the ball straight up in the air while going down on a sack. If Vick plays more like the Pro Bowl starter he was in 2010 rather than the turnover machine he was in 2011-12, he could shine in Kelly’s offense. Otherwise, Foles looked sharp and he’ll get his turn.
OFFENSE IS THE TEAM’S STRENGTH: Whether it’s Vick or Foles under center, the Eagles have potential to be a dynamic offense. Playmakers LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson seem poised to thrive in Kelly’s high-octane system. Jason Avant appears ready to make up for the loss of Jeremy Maclin and tight ends Brent Celek and Zach Ertz could post big numbers. Bryce Brown complements McCoy nicely, giving the Eagles two strong running backs. Brown, however, needs to solve his fumbling issues. The offensive line is healthy and boosted by the addition of first-round pick Lane Johnson. Overall, the Eagles should score plenty of points and they’re going to need it with a suspect defense.
OPPONENTS WILL TRY TO PASS OFTEN: A secondary that was one of the worst in NFL history last year underwent a major overhaul. Gone are cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, two former Pro Bowl guys who were part of a unit that allowed 33 touchdown passes and had only eight interceptions. Free-agent acquisitions Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher are the starters and there’s not much depth behind them. There hasn’t been a playmaker at safety since Brian Dawkins left. Quarterbacks had a 99.6 passer rating against the Eagles last year, and it doesn’t appear there’s a reason for them to stop throwing against this secondary.
DEFENSE IS WORK IN PROGRESS: Billy Davis is the team’s fourth defensive coordinator in five years. Davis brings a new 3-4 alignment that requires several holdovers to make adjustments, including defensive ends Trent Cole and Brandon Graham moving to linebacker. There’s depth on the line and strong potential among the front seven. End Fletcher Cox, a 2012 first-round pick, could be a breakout player.
PHILADELPHIA — Ready, set, go.
AA state wrestling: 3 Southern Tigers march into finals
The Lane family had all the makings of a family reunion to be held today in the Giant Center in Hershey.
Girls basketball: Mount Carmel prevails behind big fourth quarter
To hear her mother explain it, Ali Varano hates to lose more than she wants to win. That’s just how the Mount Carmel senior is wired.
Wrestling: Shikellamy's Pepper still has shot at 3rd place
Dwayne Pepper grudgingly admitted that he has a reason to smile.
Girls basketball: Warrior Run falls to Dunmore in first round of states
At a time when her teammates were struggling offensively, Steph Shamburg took one last shot at extending the Warrior Run season and the most productive scoring career in program history.
LIVE updates from PIAA wrestling
The Daily Item will post updates throughout the day from the PIAA Wrestling Championships on Friday
Women's basketball: Bucknell loses in Patriot League quarterfinals to Holy Cross
In winning two games over Holy Cross during the regular season, Bucknell saw very little of the Crusaders’ zone defense. Unfortunately for the Bison, they saw a lot of it in Thursday’s Patriot League quarterfinal at Sojka Pavilion.
Men's basketball: Penn State smothers Northwestern
Penn State coach Pat Chambers struggled to explain why his Nittany Lions have experienced success on the road during Big Ten play.
H.S. wrestling: Shikellamy's Pepper wins opener in Class AAA tourney at Hershey
Dwayne Pepper thought that if he had an advantage in the preliminary round Thursday night in the PIAA Class AAA wrestling championships, it was his aggressive style.
H.S. wrestling: Two area wrestlers stay alive with consolation wins in Class AA tourney
Warrior Run’s Zack LeBarron won’t forget what last year’s early exit from the PIAA Class AA tournament taught him.
Wrestling: Six Valley grapplers advance to quarterfinals in Class AA
Getting to wrestle with the best in the state was a dream-come-true for Lewisburg’s Max Reed.
Bob Garrett's Talking Points column: Time to clean Penn's Creek
It's an excellent opportunity for Scouting groups and other conservationists to help clean areas that normally get little-to-no attention.
Power lifting: Pfleegor repeats as state champion
In two short years, the Milton High junior has won nine titles and three state power-lifting championships.
H.S. girls basketball: Mifflinburg arrives at district pinnacle early
Sara Stauffer couldn't wait a few years. She and Mifflinburg's other seniors needed Kayla Kline and Julia McArdle-Coe to be transcendent players this season.
Men's basketball: Army ends Bucknell's season in PL quarters
Army had the lead for a only few moments in the second half of Wednesday's Patriot League quarterfinal with Bucknell. But as it turned out, that was enough.
Women's basketball: Bloomsburg wins 17th straight game
The Bloomsburg University women’s basketball team is making another trip to the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Final Four.
Former PSU assistant McQueary admits to ESPN he was sexually abused as a child
Mike McQueary told Penn State players in November 2011 that he was sexually abused when he was a child, ESPN The Magazine reported Tuesday.
- More Sports Headlines
- AA state wrestling: 3 Southern Tigers march into finals