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On Road To ... The Senior Bowl

Posted Jan 21, 2013

We have seen head coach Chip Kelly in a press conference, in various media moments, shaking hands with alumni and in a casual moment or two. That's about to change ...

I'm not sure how telling it will be to observe Chip Kelly this week during the practices leading up to Saturday's Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. I know that he'll have his coaching staff in place, as much of it as is complete -- reports say that Pat Shurmur will run the offense and that Duce Staley will coach the running backs and that Ted Williams will shift from running backs to tight ends -- and that Kelly will have constant conversation with general manager Howie Roseman on the personnel end of things.

What does Kelly want? Can he take the speed game from Oregon and translate that to the NFL? It is going to be a combination of size, strength and speed that he's looking for? What are the schemes he has in mind for the NFL? The Oregon offense, of course, was a breathtaking showpiece that gashed defenses with a great running attack and a big-play passing game, but those huge windows won't be open in the NFL.

And what about the defense? Are the Eagles planning to employ a 4-3 scheme, as they have since the 1980's, or will they re-jigger things and move to the 3-4?

Questions, questions. We all have 'em. This week provides an answer or two as the Chip Kelly Era shifts into an on-the-field gear.

As for the Senior Bowl practices itself, there may not be a lot that's telling as far as the Eagles' thoughts with the four overall selection in April's first round, but there is going to be some talent in Mobile. Much of Kelly's time will be spent observing the practices and then reviewing player evaluations with Roseman and his staff.

Kelly has spoken to most of his current Eagles roster and he's started to formulate some opinions about what he has and what he wants to add. There appear to be more pieces with which to work on the offensive side of the ball then the defense, but that's from watching the Eagles stagger to a 4-12 season in 2012. Maybe Kelly has an entirely different opinion.

The point is, we don't know what he thinks about anything regarding this roster. In the next couple of days, the media in Mobile will try to get a sense of his early evaluation. From that, we'll march forward as the Eagles close in on a strategy for free agency and then the draft as they look to climb back into the thick of things in the NFC.

More coming later today as I reach Mobile and attend the afternoon practice and get a lay of the land. Much of the coaching staff is likely to be announced -- perhaps today -- and then we've got something to talk about ...

NEWS, NOTES AND A LITTLE BIT OF THIS AND THAT

  • If nothing else, Championship Weekend reminded us that defense wins games in the playoffs. From this perspective, the Eagles need to heavily address that side of the ball, particularly in the back four. It's a large fix, so how much can the Eagles accomplish in a single offseason?
  • Chad Hall is in the Super Bowl, having been promoted from the 49ers practice squad the day before San Francisco's win over Atlanta. Good for Hall, a try-hard player who has maximized his career.
  • I am happy that Andy Reid remains a head coach, in Kansas City, and that Marty Mornhinweg is still an offensive coordinator, with the Jets, and that Todd Bowles is the defensive coordinator in Arizona and that Bobby April latched on in Oakland as a special teams coordinator. But I also admit that I'm really surprised that it all worked out that way after the way the Eagles bottomed out at 4-12 last season. Good luck to all of those coaches in their new jobs.
  • Nick Foles or Michael Vick? I'm not sure how Kelly feels about either, or if he wants to wipe the position clean and bring aboard his selection. Talking to Ron Jaworski, the ESPN analyst truly thinks that Vick's' skill set can help him gain the edge with Kelly. "Michael can do some things with his mobility that Nick just can't do," said Jaworski. "That said, I don't know yet how Chip is going to design the offense. He has a tremendously creative mind, so anything is possible."
  • Watching Asante Samuel talk to David Akers after Akers missed a 38-yard field goal in Sunday's NFC Championship Game ... let's just say I'm glad that San Francisco won that game. Akers is going to have some competition, I imagine, between now and the Super Bowl. He just didn't miss 38-yard field goals when he played for the Eagles.
  • If the Eagles move to a 3-4 defense, they're going to be challenged to find a nose tackle. Antonio Dixon would appear to be the leading candidate right now, but maybe Mike Patterson could add a few pounds and man the position. The nose tackle needs to be a dominating player and the Eagles don't have one suited to be that player right now.

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