PHILADELPHIA — As he waited for the seats to be filled for his day-after news conference, Chip Kelly thumbed his smart phone repeatedly, and repeatedly broke into that already familiar grin. “I have friends,” he would say later, friends who are cooks, high school teachers and old classmates, and the phone was presumably full of wows and attaboys and knew-you-could-do-its.
He was not alone. Player after player has spoken this week about their phones being flooded during and after Monday night‚Äôs 33-27 victory over the Washington Redskins. “Not just from family and friends,” center Jason Kelce said. “Guys who were around me going up. Guys who are familiar with the game. Coaches I’ve had in the past. It was definitely an eye-opening experience, especially in the first half for people outside of this building.”
Here’s one that I got, from a New Hampshire friend:
“It was great fun. I wonder when or if it will be stopped ...”
There are three ways it can and probably will, and it all traces back to 33-year-old Michael Vick and his struggles to retrain his own mind. Vick’s inability to to slide feet first at the end of scrambles — the same trait that someday may enable an eclipse of Randall Cunningham as the all-time rushing leader among quarterbacks — is the trait that inhibits his chances of playing an entire season under this offense, or even finishing one.
And it’s not just the feet-first stuff. Vick clearly at times seeks the contact. “I pretty much control can everything that happen out there on the field,” he said when someone asked him whether he took too many hits in the game. “I didn’t put myself in a position to protect myself at times, but that’s what I train for. You know, that’s why I weigh 220 pounds now.”
Nice try, but those extra 15 pounds of muscle are no match for a linebacker coming at him hard, or even a few defensive backs running him out along the sideline. It would help if he would take sharp lefts or rights out of bounds as soon as he gained a first down, but as we again saw Monday night, he too often runs into the contact rather than detours from it, as if he is, in fact, a running back.
Hell, on a few of those read options Monday night, he finished the play as one of the lead blockers.
“Those are not by design,” Eagles coach Chip Kelly said on Tuesday. “Not at all ... But we’re going to constantly coach it, emphasize it with him. There’s a lot of things I saw out of Mike that we’ve emphasized since I got here that we’re happy with, other things we’re still working on, other things he needs to work on.”
There seems to be at least one thing they cannot work on though: the aggregate of hits he will likely take under Kelly’s read option. Anyone watching Monday night can probably cite at least six times when Vick was hit a good two or three seconds after he either handed off the ball in the read option, or faked it and quickly chucked it to a receiver on the sideline.
The NFL has given defenses liberty to do that. And it was clear the Redskins had that in mind, as the Chargers likely will on Sunday.
So what do you do?
Grab your rabbit’s foot I guess.
And tell Nick Foles to keep running those sprints.