Alumni Alley runs each Monday throughout the offseason on PhiladelphiaEagles.com and features a former Eagle who writes about his time in Philadelphia and his perspective after his NFL career ended. This week: Former fullback Dan Klecko, who played for the Eagles in 2008 after winning three Super Bowls in five seasons with New England and Indianapolis. Klecko also played for Atlanta in 2010.
The formula for winning a Super Bowl, as I learned, is something that I think the Eagles have: The key ingredient is believing in each other and understanding and trusting that what Chip Kelly is doing is aimed toward winning a Super Bowl. I saw it with the Eagles in 2013, and it happened very quickly for a team with a first-year head coach.
When I played for Bill Belichick in New England, it was very simple. He wanted everybody to do his job, to focus on what his responsibilities were. That sounds too easy, right? But it's not. It's not easy to have an entire locker room, and that's what it takes, to think the same way. But Coach Belichick insisted on that mentality or that player would not be part of the New England Patriots.
That's the sense I have from Chip Kelly and the way he approaches the game. He seems to understand that from the very start. There are similarities between what the two coaches do and how they think about the game. They are always looking for any kind of edge to give their team an advantage to win a game. That's what it's about for this coaching staff with the Eagles. It's not about ego or individual accomplishment. Chip doesn't stand up there and take any credit. He always talks about the league being a "player-driven league," and he's right.
Don't forget, it was Coach Belichick who approached Chip Kelly a couple of years ago asking for some advice on spacing, and on improving the tempo on offense. He wanted to run 80 plays a game in the NFL, and he went to Kelly for advice and the Patriots ran 80 plays per game in 2012.
Chip Kelly is as respected as any coach in his first year in the NFL. He came in with a plan and he has a single purpose and that is to win the Super Bowl and to do it the way he believes works.
When I was drafted by New England in the fourth round of the 2003 NFL Draft, I had been a three-technique defensive end at Temple University. All of a sudden, Coach Belichick says to me, "Hey Dan, we're going to use you a little bit as a goal line fullback;" "Hey Dan, we're going to use you a little bit at outside linebacker;" "We're going to use you as a MIKE linebacker in goal line situations." I was like, "I played three-technique at Temple." What you start to see is that the coaches use you situationally, and that there is a plan for everything.
I'm sure players this season for the Eagles looked at some of the methods and approaches from the coaching staff and wondered why in the world they were practicing certain ways or rehearsing certain situations. In the end, you realize there is a reason for everything.
People talk about "buying in," and the truth is, if you don't buy in, you don't make the team and you aren't part of the program. It's your job and it's what you are supposed to do.
I watched New England all year and the players on that offense bought into the fact that they didn't have as many weapons in the passing game, so they ran the football a lot and they accomplished a lot this season.
For the players who are resting now and who soon will be working out again in preparation for the 2014 season, the advice is to remember how it felt to walk off that field after losing to the New Orleans Saints. There is no greater motivation. The Eagles had a fine season, and 10 wins is more than many thought possible. But they also lost their last game, on their home field, and that feeling stings. That is the feeling every player should remember every day in this offseason and get ready and be a better player next year.