The Philadelphia Eagles are increasingly becoming an NFL reflection of the Oregon Ducks. The NFL draft earlier this month saw two Ducks go to the Eagles, wide receiver Josh Huff (3rd round) and defensive lineman Taylor Hart (5th round). The Eagles also signed un-drafted UO defensive lineman Wade Kelikipiki, the three joining five other former Ducks already on the Eagles roster, in Brandon Bair, Josh Kaddu, Jeff Maehl, Casey Matthews and Will Murphy.
Chip Kelly has made no effort to hide his affinity for the Ducks. Echoes of Kelly’s Oregon-style regimen abound in the City of Brotherly Love, most obviously in the Eagles’ intense practice schedule. Taylor Hart was interviewed following his being drafted with the Eagles and reportedly said that Kelly told him, “We’re putting the family back together.” When asked about his tendency to draft Oregon players, Kelly retorted, ”We’re taking the best players in our opinion. There’s still a lot of Oregon players out there. But they’ve won a lot of games the past couple years. There’s some top programs out there that will continue to produce talented players.”
Kelly is clearly making a statement through the way he coaches in the NFL — just as he did in the college ranks in Eugene. Bringing the Ducks’ no-huddle, spread attack to the Eagles, Kelly has engineered the NFL’s fastest offense, at just over 23 seconds between plays. The Eagles’ recent acquisition of Josh Huff will help them keep up the pace in the upcoming season. Huff’s 40 yard dash time, a respectable 4.51 seconds, along with his ability to make moves in the open field will add to the versatility and speed of the Philly juggernaut, assuming he gets on the field.
The Eagles made a big splash last year after Kelly took the team from a 4-12 record to a playoff birth, at 10-6. The team was a late field goal away from defeating the Saints and advancing in the playoffs. Some attribute this remarkable turnaround to Kelly’s intense practice schedule and strict attention to detail. Although Chip definitely has some odd tendencies, (i.e. using a remote control car to coach from the sidelines), his body of work speaks for itself. His often-unusual take on play calling and practice has created nothing but success.
When former Oregon wideout and current Eagle Jeff Maehl was asked last year if the Eagles’ practices are different from the ones he experienced as a Duck, he replied, “Not necessarily. The new terminology. New signals.” Although it’s tough to know exactly what goes on at Oregon practices due to the team’s closed door policy, we do know that loud music, fast-paced drills, and countless repetitions make up part of a standard Oregon workout. These techniques have also been used on the Eagles.
As Philadelphia thrives under Chip Kelly, I can only hope our beloved former Ducks can help out the team (as a Raider fan my entire life, I haven’t had much to cheer for of late on the NFL front — thank God for college football and the Ducks). Does Chip Kelly tend to lean too strongly toward former Ducks? Who cares?! He does things his way — that’s why I loved him at the U of O, and why I still love him in Philly.
I think we all like to believe that the Oregon Ducks provide “the best players” in college football, and our recent success would support that notion. The Oregon squad has been one of the top programs in the country over the past five years, going to four BCS bowls and winning two of them. Although the Alamo Bowl finish last year was underwhelming for many (notwithstanding the thumping delivered on a sagging Texas team), with the return of Heisman hopeful Marcus Mariota, the Ducks still sit at No.5 in the preseason rankings, according to ESPN.
While many were sad to see Kelly leave Eugene in 2013, we are all hopeful that Mark Helfrich can take the Ducks back to top dog status in the Pac-12, and hopefully the nation. If Oregon can keep producing top-tier talent (no problem, right?), I can’t wait to watch football this season and many seasons to come.
If this keeps up I might just have to become an Eagles’ fan, too!
Top Photo Credit Ultimatesportstalk.com