Chipism (n): an expression or phrase used by Chip Kelly to express a characteristic position or stand or goal to be achieved
Chip Kelly invoked the mantra "Win the day" so much during his tenure as Oregon head coach that it became a slogan for the team and eventually a phrase trademarked by the state.
But when Kelly left the Northwest for the Northeast his slogan, which was actually birthed during his time at New Hampshire, stayed with the Ducks, and he needed a new message for a new challenge.
He wasn't coaching young men, most underage, anymore. He was dealing with professionals, taking over a team that had many players who did things a certain way under the previous regime. And he was about to turn their lives upside down.
Habits reflect the mission.
It's not as quaint or as quick as "Win the day," but of all the Chipisms, "Habits reflect the mission" has become the mantra Kelly has preached from Day 1 as Eagles coach.
He said it the first time he met individually with Michael Vick and all the returning Eagles veterans. He said it April 1, the opening day of offseason workouts. And he has repeated it so much that saying it has in itself become a habit.
"The things you do on a day-to-day basis, in here and out of here, if they're not reflecting a push toward our main goal, our main mission, you're not doing what you're supposed to," center Jason Kelce said. "And that's the one [Chipism] we hear the most frequently."
When Kelly was hired he laid out a blueprint for his players - eat right, sleep right, put in the extra work, do the little things. And he asked them to trust him, follow his lead, and then only when Dec. 30 arrived could they look back on what they had accomplished.
There's still work to be done, but 10 games into the season the Eagles are 5-5 and tied atop the NFC East.
"All he's saying is basically follow the blueprint and pick your head up at the end of the season and see where we are," defensive end Vinny Curry said. "And so far the habits we've been forming have been working for us."
But the habits formed extend beyond the walls of the NovaCare Complex, or at least they should. Kelly "harps on" and "drills" his mission statement into his players' heads so often, linebacker DeMeco Ryans said, that doing the right thing should become instinctive.
"You might catch yourself like, 'Man, I did go to bed early,' " Curry said. "And then your friends will call you and you're like, 'I was asleep.' "
Kelly doesn't require his players to spend as much time at the practice facility as Andy Reid did. But "Habits reflect the mission" is obviously meant to act as a conscience and stay with the players when they leave the protective shell of the NovaCare.
"It sits in the back of your mind, and you joke about it with the team," Kelce said. "Somebody will be about to order a beer or a shot, and it's like: 'Hey, those habits aren't reflecting the mission. Come on, let's put that away.' "
Casey Matthews saw "Win the day" sweep through Oregon and change the culture of a good program into an elite one. The former Ducks linebacker admits now that he was worried some players might not buy into Kelly, the revolution, and the Chipisms.
But he said he never doubted Kelly had the ability to win in the NFL.
"It's wasn't hard to imagine because of his stubbornness," Matthews said. "He envisions how he wants things done. He's almost a perfectionist. . . . Actually, he is a perfectionist."
Brandon Graham knows the prevailing view of many fans who look back at the 2010 draft as a missed opportunity:
Why did the Eagles draft Graham when they could have had Earl Thomas or Jason Pierre-Paul or any number of other picks that have been more productive in the last four years?
"I hear about Earl Thomas and all those guys all the time," Graham said of the Seahawks safety. "It's frustrating sometimes because I know I can be that type of player. But when I get that opportunity I'm definitely going to take advantage of it."
Chosen 13th overall, Graham has had a disappointing first four seasons in the NFL. But each season that he has failed to live up to expectations could be explained away by circumstances beyond his control.
His rookie season was cut short by a knee injury. The second season was almost entirely wiped out by the recovery. He delivered in the third season, but his position coach buried him on the depth chart for most of the year.
And in this, his fourth season, Graham has dealt with a switch to a 3-4 scheme that doesn't appear to play to his strengths and has him playing only 25 percent of snaps. But there is still production, and he's under contract for another season.
"My biggest thing is I really can't wait till I can prove myself and show everybody that I'm a Pro Bowl-type of player," Graham said. "But until that day comes I'll be ready."
With the ever-increasing use of the pass in the NFL, slot cornerbacks have become quasi-starters, often used as much as rotating defensive linemen. But they're paid as secondary players even though unique skills are required to play inside.
"I think that's changing, to be honest," cornerback Brandon Boykin said. "I think if you find a guy that you know is going to take away a certain position on the field and he does other things to contribute to the team, if you're talking about money, I don't think they wouldn't value him any less than any other guy."
Slot corners don't have the luxury of using the sideline for leverage like outside corners. And they can be matched up against any number of receivers, including slot receivers, who, more and more, are just as dangerous as outside ones.
Boykin, who leads the Eagles with three interceptions, wants to start outside. He did earlier in the season when Bradley Fletcher was injured, but not on Sunday against the Packers. Roc Carmichael took Fletcher's place. Defensive coordinator Bill Davis explained the decision by saying he wants Boykin to master what can be a tricky position.
If Boykin remains in the slot, he said, his goal is to be viewed as the best in the league. And with his additional responsibilities on special teams, that would make him a very valuable piece to the Eagles.
"I'll worry about that when I get there," Boykin said.
Roc and roll
When Roc Carmichael sat in his house waiting to be selected in the 2011 draft, he wore a green hoodie, green sneakers, and a green Eagles hat.
But it was the Texans who selected him. After two seasons of mostly watching from the sideline, though, Carmichael was plucked by the Eagles from Houston's practice squad, and now he's a contributing member for the team he was dressed up for on draft day.
"After I came here, my mom sent me that picture," Carmichael said. "She was like, 'You remember this day? Maybe it was meant for you to be there.' "
Carmichael says now that he wasn't in Eagles green for any particular reason, although he admits that in the back of his head he thought maybe the Eagles would draft him since they had sent a scout to Virginia Tech twice to work him out.
But the Eagles chose Curtis Marsh in the third round, a round before Carmichael went to the Texans. Carmichael was stuck behind a logjam of cornerbacks in Houston, and when he started this season on the practice squad, the Eagles claimed him for their 53-man roster.
He contributed on special teams almost immediately and moved up the depth chart to become the first outside cornerback off the bench. He started Sunday at the Packers in place of the injured Bradley Fletcher and more than held his own, allowing only five catches for 59 yards on eight targets.
Inside the game
The Eagles have increasingly used a two-tight-end set. There are several reasons, the most prominent being rookie Zach Ertz's improvement as a blocker and pass catcher. The numbers suggest another reason, as well. With Nick Foles at quarterback and Brent Celek and Ertz at tight end, the Eagles have averaged 8.2 yards per play. With the two tight ends playing alongside Michael Vick, the Eagles averaged 6.4 yards.
The early chatter around the league is that at least two teams - the Dolphins and Buccaneers - will have general manager vacancies. But even with a few more open jobs, the number will be significantly smaller than last season's nine.
Eagles vice president of player personnel Tom Gamble interviewed for the Jaguars and New York Jets openings in January. He ultimately returned to the 49ers, where he was director of player personnel before the Eagles hired him. He will likely be a candidate again this offseason, but may stay put even though he reports to GM Howie Roseman.
"He's in a great spot," one NFL executive said.
Inside the locker room
Safety Earl Wolff said Thursday that the best-case scenario is that he misses only the next two games with a knee sprain. The Eagles have a bye sandwiched between games against the Redskins and Cardinals. Wolff said that Sunday's game will be the first one he has missed since he first started playing football in third grade. Patrick Chung will start in his place.
The Eagles have not used their injured-reserve short-term designation even though they could have for one player who was expected to miss an extended period. Coach Chip Kelly said last week that in retrospect he should have used it when Chung suffered a shoulder injury. The move would have opened a roster spot.
Rather than have the players leave the NovaCare Complex for haircuts, the Eagles enlisted a barber who shows up from Thursday to Saturday to attend to their grooming needs. Brandon Boykin said the idea was that of running backs coach Duce Staley.
BY THE NUMBERS
Percentage of deep passes (over 20 yards) Nick Foles has thrown, tops among NFL quarterbacks. Foles has completed 56.5 percent of those attempts (third best) and connected on 11 (again, an NFL best) of 13 completions for touchdowns.
Tackles for loss by the Eagles defense through 10 games. Last season, DeMeco Ryans led the team with 16.
Average yards per play on first down by the Eagles offense, tops in the NFL.