Early Birds: Public practices, scouting changes, and Ryan Day on Chip Kelly
1) There are only two public practices after three last year and four in 2013. This is unfortunate for fans that look forward to watching practices, but it's the reality of practicing at the NovaCare Complex. The Eagles' agreement with the city limits the amount of people they can have watching practice at the team facility.
Holding public practices at Lincoln Financial Field is the team's best way to practice for fans, but it's difficult to do and not the most effective practices. With training camp rosters at 90, practices are much more difficult on one field compared to three fields and extra space at the NovaCare Complex.
"We've just got to tighten it up, but it's the same exact practice schedule," coach Chip Kelly said before a public practice in 2013. "Individuals; we'll do three‑on‑two, one‑on‑ones. We've just got to be conscious that we can't spread out. We've got to do some cooperation. I think some of our drills need to tighten up a little bit. Obviously, the DBs can't do 60‑yard range drills at the same time the receivers are throwing deep balls. We've got to cooperate a little bit more on individual, but the team structure will be the same."
Ideally, teams would like to have these open practices before the second preseason game, when training camp closes. In 2013, the Eagles had two open practices after the second preseason game. That maximized weekends, but it's also a different time of the season.
Last season, the Eagles had an open practice at Franklin Field. They can only hold a practice at Penn on a weekend because of traffic, but there is only one weekend of training camp practices this year (Aug. 8-9), and they are practicing at Lincoln Financial Field on the 9th.
This is just a reality of moving training camp back to Philadelphia. There's a clear upside for the team – they're in the same facility with their own locker room, weight room, dining and medical facilities. But the downside is for the fans that looked forward to practices.
There are two open this year; it will be interesting if that number continues to decrease.
2) The Eagles announced their scouting department on Wednesday. What stands out is that they did not hire a director of college scouting.
They changed positions so that Trey Brown, formerly the west coast area scout, is now the assistant director of college scouting. (Mike Bradway, who had that role last year, was moved to southwest area scout.) But who is Brown assisting? The answer is Ed Marynowitz.
Marynowitz, who is the vice president of player personnel, did not appoint a director of college scouting. He has Lewis Clark and Dwayne Joseph as top executives on the pro side.
Brown is the top assistant on the college assistant and Marty Barrett, who had been the Chicago Bears' director of college scouting from 2012-2014, will as a senior scout. But it appears Marynowitz will have his hands in the management of college scouting.
3) The assistant coaches met with reporters on Wednesday for the first time this offseason. Here are updates from Pat Shurmur on his background with Sam Bradford, new defensive backs Cory Undlin on reworking the secondary, and notes on running backs coach Duce Staley and quarterbacks coach Ryan Day. We'll have more from the assistant coaches in the coming days.
For now, it's worth passing along insight from Day on Kelly. Day is from the same hometown as Kelly, played for Kelly at New Hampshire, and worked with Kelly at New Hampshire. This is his first year seeing Kelly as a head coach, though.
"He's the same guy," Day said. "He gives you a job to do and he lets you do your job. And he knows what's important. When he says something to you, you better listen, because when he's saying it to you, there's thought behind it and it's calculated. A lot of head coaches talk and micromanage, but that's not [Kelly]. Everything he says has substance behind it and everything he does, it's been thought about for awhile. And he knows where to put his thumb, where it's supposed to be. That's one of his gifts."
Day also saw the evolution of some of Kelly's offensive philosophies at UNH, well before the system became popular at Oregon and Kelly oversaw one of the top offenses in the NFL.
"At that time, we were changing offenses every week," Day said. "We would go from run-and-shoot to Wing-T to the veer. One week, we threw it six times. The next week, we threw it 65 times. It was one of those things. Coach kind of had a laboratory there, and it was a lot of fun to be around."