Don Banks of SI.com was on-hand for an Eagles practice this week and gave an outsiders take on zany Chip Kelly. Banks touched on all the usual Chip things – smoothies, music, speed, sleep monitors – but also:
But while sports science and increased technology are in evidence at Eagles camp — the music soundtrack and computerized announcement of the practice periods (“Period 9, teach”) are just two examples — my favorite Kelly practice touch was what I dubbed the “Flyswatter Guys.” They’re the three young men whose job it is to don shoulder pads with what looks to be a giant flyswatter attached in the back, extending over their heads like a makeshift satellite antenna.
They’re tasked with standing almost shoulder to shoulder facing the Eagles quarterbacks during passing drills, getting in their line of vision and making the passers throw the ball over and around them, as they would have to with on-rushing defensive linemen who are trying to get their arms up and block the ball (think J.J. Watt, the human flyswatter).
I’ve seen other teams practice something similar, and I think the Patriots have guys who stand in front of the quarterbacks and hold up sticks with hands or arms attached to the end of them if I’m not mistaken. But the flyswatter apparatus is something novel looking, and I can’t help but wonder if the three Eagles staffers told their mothers everything about what their new job in the big-time of the NFL entailed? “You’re doing what for the football coach, honey?”
I’ve seen those guys before!
Banks also touched on just how much Eagles players are buying in at this early stage– they are happily trumpeting Kelly’s teachings the way a cult member might say, “I’m going to try the punch first… to make sure we put enough sugar in the batch”:
For starters, rather than tiptoeing past Reid’s office as they did in the past, several players told me Kelly’s open-door policy is quite refreshing. The new coach wants to hear their questions and concerns about his new methods, because he knows information is his ally in this case. If the players get the why behind his ways, they’re more likely to get onboard. At least until the regular season begins and the games start providing a weekly referendum on the Kelly regime. If a coach wins in the NFL, he could be a mass murderer and the players would follow him anywhere.
“There’s a reason why Chip has gotten some automatic credibility with us,” receiver Jason Avant said. “The guys in our locker room, and in our NFL culture, we understand that you can’t go out there and try to do a bunch of new things if you’re not engaged mentally. You’ll do it, but you won’t understand why. Once everyone understands why we’re doing something and how we do it, it’s much for the better.
“One thing I like about Chip is you can go in and ask him why am I doing this, why am I running this route instead of this route, and he’ll tell you, boom, boom, boom. That makes you respect him more and it gives you a place where you can voice your opinion. Not to be disagreeable, but just to let him know you’re trying to learn. He doesn’t take it as a threat. It’s like that with the sports science stuff, too. They’re working us smarter than most people do. There’s nothing in terms of wasted effort. Everything has a purpose. If it’s not proven, we won’t do it.”
Yes, Jason, I’m sure that sleep monitor app description underwent peer review.