In the conformist world of pro football, Chip Kelly of the Philadelphia Eagles stands out as the most iconoclastic of 32 NFL head coaches. His unconventional ways, cultivated during decades of college coaching, have put him at odds with traditional thinking in the league and ruffled more than a few feathers. Author Mart Salveit has already written one book focused on Kelly’s coaching philosophy, which made his University of Oregon teams an offensive circus, in a book titled “The Tao of Chip Kelly.” With this followup, he takes a look at what he calls the “collision” of Kelly’s “remarkable vision with the reality of NFL competition." In his first two seasons in Philadelphia, the Eagles have gone 10-6 each time, but missed the playoffs last year, so the jury is still out on the Kelly experiment.
Here’s an excerpt from Controlled Chaos:
“Kelly is always experimenting with new ways to help train players. In Kelly’s first training camp, he introduced giant orange foam ‘football players’ that the Eagles used to practice tackling.
“Even more striking were the bug men, who date back to Kelly’s Oregon days. In early practices, when rushers aren’t allowed in seven-on-seven drills, QBs can develop the bad habit of throwing too low, since no linemen is there to knock the ball down.
“So Kelly invented (and has refined) backpacks for assistants to wear, with a single giant fly’s wing extending above their heads to the approximate height of rushers’ raised arms. During seven-on-sevens, the bug men advance slowly toward the quarterback, like unusually muscular and clean-shaven zombies. In 2013, Michael Vick hit the bug wings several times, which foreshadowed difficulties he later had in throwing over linemen.
“The bug men look funny, but they work. According to Pro Football Focus, the combined Eagles quarterbacks had the fewest batted passes (two) of any NFL team in 2014.”