There’s a new vibe around the Philadelphia Eagles as they prepare for Sunday’s home opener. Sports talk radio lines are lighting up with positive callers following last Monday’s thrilling 33-27 victory.
The players keep using the word “fun” to describe — cover your ears, Allen Iverson — practice. And new coach Chip Kelly has been minted as a genius. While the level-headed Kelly says he ignores all the hype, he’s got to be expecting a king-like coronation when he leads the Eagles into battle against the San Diego Chargers.
“From what I anticipate, from the Philadelphia fans, I know it’s going to be — just the one thing that was amazing to me was to hear the Philadelphia fans chanting ‘defense’ when we were at Washington in that fourth quarter,” Kelly said Thursday. “That part’s going to be exciting. There’s something about being out in a hostile environment that you can kind of wrap your arms around but if I had my choice, I would rather play every game at home.”
Kelly has been the talk of the NFL this past week. Every analyst has an opinion. Every player has an opinion. Every armchair quarterback has an opinion. Inside the Eagles’ locker room, everyone just wants to get back out on the field.
“He’s a great coach,” running back LeSean McCoy said. “[Sunday] is the first time a lot of guys in the locker room had fun. We couldn’t wait to get back out there and have fun.”
That attitude of having fun stems from the offense’s fast pace. Kelly’s teams are literally trying to run opposing teams out of the building with a blitzkrieg of short passing plays and runs. It’s the same thing he perfected at Oregon. The question now is, can that tempo be sustained over the course of a 16-game NFL schedule.
“I think our teams [at Oregon] were always the freshest teams when we played by and large,” Kelly said. “When we prepared, we had a weekly schedule that we followed almost religiously in terms of when to work and when to recover and whatnot. So we have a plan in place that we put in place in April that’s built for the long haul.”
The plan seemed to work last week in Washington.
“They were tired,” left tackle Jason Peters said, about the Redskins. “We were in better shape than they were.”