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Key For Kelly: How He Adapts

Posted Jan 21, 2013

MOBILE, Ala. -- Chip Kelly doesn't want to be painted with a broad brush, something that he enforces each time he answers questions about his football philosophy ...

For nearly 20 minutes after the North practice on Monday at Ladd-Peeples Stadium in Mobile, a media throng -- many from Philadelphia, a large handful from the national press and a few in between -- surrounded Chip Kelly to hear his pearls of wisdom.

It was a fascinating time for many reasons. One, seeing how comfortable and quick Kelly is with the press is interesting. We're learning something new about him every day, and one of those things is that he is excellent with the media -- whom he provided with the gem "shutoutability" when asked what he is looking for in a defensive coordinator candidate.

Kelly has a gift of being extremely likeable, and he also has the great trait of understanding where a reporter is going with a question. The guy has been outstanding so far in his time with the media.

Most important, though, is that Kelly understands that he hasn't won so many games in his coaching career by thinking in a box. He changes as needed -- in his philosophy, in his practice habits and in his game-day thinking.

We tend to think ahead when discussing the 2013 Eagles, and that's not fair to Kelly or to the team. Kelly isn't even close to finishing his personnel evaluations of the current Eagles roster. Once he understands that part of it, he'll put together his X's and O's.

Kelly's coaching staff is not even complete, and he doesn't sound like he's in a hurry to finish it off, either.

"I don't have a timetable on it," said Kelly. "My biggest thing is, as I've talked to everybody about, it's kind of like when we were recruiting (at Oregon). I'm not worried about who we don't get. I'm worried about who we do get. I want to make sure that that person is the right fit, because I don't want to be like, 'I wish I had spent a little more time and investigated this.' I've been pretty thorough, unless it's somebody that I've either coached with or had a real good working knowledge of.

"It's been fun. It's talking football. It's talking philosophy, talking strategy, the stuff I love to do. To me that's not work."

Kelly wants diversity in his coaching staff, in the people around him and in the way his team plays on Sundays. Would the Eagles play a 3-4 defense this season? Yeah, maybe. And they could be a 4-3 team, too.

Offensively, it's the same thing. What the Oregon offense did under Kelly isn't necessarily what the Eagles are going to do. Personnel will dictate what Kelly wants.

Look, I know that you want answers from Kelly. He's been on the job for nearly a week, dadgum, so why doesn't he know who is going to play quarterback and what the first play of the opening game is going to be in September?

Patience, please. Kelly has some time to pull all the pieces together even if the fans are in a rush to erase the 2012 nightmare and get back into contention in 2013. 

"People I think, again, are trying to paint everybody with one brush. We're not tied to just one scheme and I think you need to have some people who have some versatility," said Kelly. "Your starting quarterback may be able to run your scheme and your backup quarterback may not. You don't just throw your hands up in the first quarter when he's (starting quarterback) is out and say, 'We're in trouble now.' You've got to be able to adapt. That's what I think the fun part of coaching is: Being able to identify what your personnel can do and then play to their strengths."

Kelly has borrowed schemes, of course. "If you weren't in the room with Amos Alonzo Stagg and Knute Rockne, then you stole it from somebody," said Kelly. "We didn't invent this, you know ... it's just trying to figure out what your team does well. And that was a strength of us at Oregon. Is it going to be a strength of us in Philadelphia? I don't know my personnel well enough to say that.

"But we don't play until September, so I've got enough prep time to figure it out."

Kelly also uses the word "fun" quite a bit and, geez, how can you not be caught up in his energy storm? He has a great deal confidence and humility, if you understand how the two are combined. There is no doubt that Kelly respects the game and the history of the game and all of the great minds that have come before him and who make the NFL what it is.

Kelly is going to do it his way, and that's what we're trying to figure out. What is his way? Time will tell, and the curiosity factor is so intense that dozens of reporters surround him in the middle of the field after a Senior Bowl practice just to learn.

From a practical standpoint, the Eagles have a lot of work to do. They've got to get the coaching staff completed, and that's first. Kelly and Howie Roseman are on the same page so far with the football operations, but they are also in the early stages and very much learning about each other.

Heck, the Eagles haven't even had a practice yet and we all want to know if he's going to do like he did at Oregon, with the up-tempo drills, the loud music and the collegiate mood.

It's a wild ride so far, and it's just started.

"You have to adjust to the numbers. We obviously have more numbers in college," said Kelly. "The Philadelphia Eagles are a football team, not a cross-country team. If we go at the pace that we had at Oregon, we'd have a real good cross-country team. We're not playing at Valley Forge Park; we're playing at the Linc. It's got to be an adjustment.

"We're aware of it and we've studied it and we're really trying to formulate that whole idea of how we're going to do it."

At the end of the day, what matters is winning. Kelly knows it. He gets it. He understands the entire picture, and what he hasn't experienced before he will learn as he goes along.

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