Another commonplace NFL practice tradition is being shown the door by new Eagles coach Chip Kelly.
The former Oregon Ducks coach said Thursday that the Eagles will have their off day on Monday (for a Sunday game) and then practice Tuesday through Saturday. Teams usually get two days off before they hit the practice field.
“It’s different,” veteran linebacker DeMeco Ryans said, “but things are different. Whatever Chip has for us, just roll with it and see how it goes.”
Kelly’s blueprint dismisses the league’s time-honored “Victory Monday” tradition. After a big win, former Eagles coach Andy Reid would often tell his players not to come back to the NovaCare Complex until Wednesday, the day most teams start preparation for their next game.
Mondays around the league are typically reserved for injured players who need treatment or, after a loss, for extra film review. Few teams actually practice Monday even if players are brought in for meetings or workouts.
“Doesn’t make a difference to me,” said linebacker Connor Barwin, whose career started with the Texans. “You get one day off.”
Cary Williams, another newcomer who played for Tennessee and Baltimore before coming to the Eagles, said he’s always had two days off between Sunday’s game and practice, but didn’t seem fazed by Kelly’s system.
“Some teams have Victory Mondays and we had a Tuesday off, but whatever,” he said. “Chip Kelly is the head coach and I’m employee [No. 26]. So whatever he has planned for us is going to be the best for us and we just have to work through that and continue to put our best foot forward every time we step on the field.”
Barwin assumed that Kelly’s schedule plan was based on scientific research, which is the rationale behind several of the coach’s quirky and unconventional coaching methods.
Most of the Eagles who were asked about Kelly’s practice schedule hadn’t yet been informed of it by the coaching staff.
“There has to be some reason of recovery that he’s doing it,” Barwin added. “Obviously, we all trust in him and think things will work out.”
Another difference is the walkthrough schedule. Teams usually have their walkthrough practice Saturday in preparation for a Sunday game. Kelly’s walkthrough will take place Friday. Saturday will be a very light practice, but faster than walkthrough speed.
“We’ll kind of jog through a little bit,” Barwin said. “I don’t think guys realize they’ve actually done that on their own. I know we’ve had Saturday walkthroughs, you come back in before you get on the plane and you’ll jump rope or do a quick lift. That’s how you get yourself going a little bit because you can’t be stagnant for 36 hours before you play on Sunday. So that makes sense.”
Another Kelly-inspired change at the NovaCare is the home locker room. No longer is the room divided into player position groups. It’s now a scattered mix with no obvious pairings or groupings.
“I think it’s more of a team-bonding type thing,” Ryans said. “Just because we’re not grouped with our position players, we’re in meetings together, we’re in workouts together, so we’re together all the time. So I think it’s kind of good to mix things up.”
Ryans’ locker, once among the linebackers in the back corner of the room, is still in the back corner but now sandwiched by DeSean Jackson’s and Jason Peters’ lockers.
“It’s cool for me to be around offensive players on both sides,” he said. “I could talk about stuff going on on defense, but now I got the inside on what’s going on on the offensive side. We can relax and talk about life. It’s more relaxed. When you’re around your position [players] a lot, you talk about a lot of football. It’s good being around these guys.”