THE TRICKIEST part of the transition from college coaching to the NFL isn't Xs and Os, Tampa Bay Bucs coach Greg Schiano told Philadelphia-area reporters in a conference call Wednesday.
"I think the biggest difference is that in college you have a group of people that are 18 to 22 years old and they're all doing the same thing, they're all in school to get an education, and some of them are playing football," said Schiano, whose 6-6 Bucs host the Eagles on Sunday. "In the National Football League, I have a 21-year-old rookie and I have a 37-year-old safety. There's a lot of guys at different stages in life, who are all doing the same thing, trying to help the organization win. You really need to get to know the players, know what their situation is so you can help them help themselves."
Schiano's experience transitioning from Rutgers, where he coached 11 seasons before taking the Tampa Bay job last offseason, might be pertinent to Eagles fans wondering about college coaches who could be candidates to replace Andy Reid - such as Oregon's Chip Kelly, Stanford's David Shaw or even Penn State's Bill O'Brien.
Like Shaw and O'Brien, and unlike Kelly, Schiano worked in the NFL before he became a college head coach - three seasons with the Bears, starting in 1996. In today's NFL, it seems college coaches without NFL roots tend not to prosper. Steve Spurrier, Nick Saban and Bobby Petrino quickly went back to the college game.
"It was fortunate that I had coached in the National Football League back in the late '90s, so I had a frame of reference of what kind of went on," Schiano said. "Being around the pro game, being around all the things [that are different] - training camp, seeing rookies come in, kids playing college football, all of a sudden they're getting paid money to play the game, all the adjustment things you go through, I think that stuff [helped]. The head coach training, 11 years at Rutgers as head coach, was ultimately the most important thing, managing and leading people, organizing large groups of guys to try to get 'em to do a common goal, that stuff, there's no replacement for being the head coach, but the experience of being in the National Football League was very important, as well."
Schiano said a coach making such a change should know that "this is a very results-based business . . . I think the NFL is probably the most results-based" level of football.
Nothing new for Foles
Quarterback Nick Foles said being named the starter for the rest of the season doesn't change anything for him.
"My mindset will stay the same and my work ethic will stay the same," Foles said.
He said his reaction to getting the news was "just 'back to work.' It's a great honor to be the quarterback here, but the same thing - back to work. I've got a lot of work to do. I was readying for Tampa Bay and preparing" when he was told of Andy Reid's decision.
Andy Reid spoke Monday of maybe making some changes in a secondary that has given up 16 touchdown passes and generated no interceptions in the six games Todd Bowles has been defensive coordinator, but when Reid met with reporters Wednesday, he said only one change was on the horizon: With safety Kurt Coleman missing practice because of a bruised sternum, Colt Anderson is taking Coleman's practice reps.
"Every week, I've felt more comfortable being out there," said Anderson, 27, a special-teams ace who has played only once at safety this season, in the Detroit game, Oct. 14. That day, Anderson gave up a pass interference penalty in the end zone, which led to the Lions' tying field goal. They won in overtime.
"That was a very frustrating game," he said Wednesday. "We were [10 points ahead with 5 minutes left], and we ended up losing the game. I told my teammates, 'I hope I get another chance.' I've got another chance. I'm looking forward to the challenge."
Getting a grip
When Michael Vick repeatedly fumbled the football early in the season, Vick carried a ball around the NovaCare Complex and invited teammates to try to knock it from his grasp.
Rookie running back Bryce Brown has fumbled three times in the last two games. Has he taken to carrying a ball with him everywhere?
"I'm not carrying no ball like that," Brown said.
He is, however, getting lots of practice holding on to the ball.
Players on the scout team at practice have been ordered to try to rip the ball away when Brown gets close to them. The team does not hit at practices, so even this strip drill is a step up from the norm.
So far, said Brown, so good:
"A couple of them almost got it."
The Eagles filled their practice-squad vacancy with CB Eddie Whitley, from Virginia Tech . . . In addition to Kurt Coleman, DT Fletcher Cox (tailbone) did not practice Wednesday . . . Of course, neither Michael Vick nor LeSean McCoy practiced. Andy Reid said they have not passed concussion testing, though Reid said he did not have Vick's imPACT test results from Wednesday morning.