Many criticized Chip Kelly’s offense as the main reason for the Eagles’ defensive struggles in 2014 when they missed the playoffs despite a 10-6 record.
Afterall, the break-neck pace of play when the Birds have the ball, running a no-huddle, speed offense often left the defense winded and on the field much longer than conventional NFL defenses do.
But in training camp, it may be more of a blessing than many people think.
“In the Chip Kelly system, because it’s a no huddle offensive system, the volumeof reps you get are much higher,” Eagles defensive coordinator BillyDavis said.”I’ve calculated twoto threetimes more per practice. Because you get all of those reps, which is way more than anywhere else,our backups and younger guys get more and more. There’s nothing like a rep to train somebody.You have to keep doing it and doing it.”
With the increase in chances to compete, often times against the No. 1 or No. 2 offense, the Eagles defense is able to make leaps and bounds more progress than most other teams during camp.
“All those offseason reps let the new guys and the young guys get better prepared to compete in the season,” Davis said.
It’s a possible reason why the Eagles were so comfortable parting with Brandon Boykin, the team’s top nickelcornerback, at the 11th hour before training camp started Sunday.
With young players like JaCorey Shephard, Randall Evans and others poised to put their talent to the test with ample opportunities on the practice field, the Eagles may have little to no drop off in their secondary with a fifth round draft pick(or fourth if Boykinplays 60 percentof snaps) in 2016 as compensation from the Steelers.
“Boykin gave us quality starting reps,” Davis, who said he was in on the decision to pull the trigger in the trade,said,”but the guys behind him who would replace him are close enough — in theory –so there are options there. There’s enough options to make it a good move for us as an organization.”