Tuesdays with Chipper
For most part, Eagles players find extra day of practice pays off on game day.
MOST NFL PLAYERS spent yesterday on their couch or at the mall doing some Christmas shopping or maybe at a school or church or hospital fulfilling a community service obligation.
They were working.
Tuesday generally is a day of rest around the league. Many players might stop by their training facility at some point to get treatment for an injury or watch film or lift. But just four teams - the Eagles, Dolphins, 49ers and Lions - regularly practice and have meetings on Tuesdays. And the Niners and Lions' practices are just 20-minute walk-throughs.
While much has been made about how the Eagles' players have enthusiastically bought in to the Chip Kelly Way, the truth is the Tuesday practice thing did not go down easy for many of them.
For teams with a Tuesday off day, a Monday work day usually is nothing more than a couple of hours of film review. And most teams have "Victory Monday," where they don't even make their players come in after a win.
Andy Reid used to have "Victory Monday" his first few years with the Eagles. Then he expanded it to "Victory, Tie or Defeat Monday." During the last several years of the Big Red regime, the Eagles had every Monday and Tuesday off.
"I do miss going into the locker room after the game on Sunday and saying, 'See you Wednesday,' " wide receiver DeSean Jackson said. "I miss those 2 days [off]. But obviously, we've got all the time in the world in the offseason."
When Kelly informed his players before the season that Monday would be their regular day off and that they would be practicing on Tuesday, there was a fair amount of grumbling.
They essentially were losing a day off. But more significantly, they thought the idea of putting on a helmet and running around a football field just 2 days after a game was crazy. Their still-recovering bodies would rebel.
"I, like most people, especially the older guys, wasn't a fan of the Tuesday practices," said linebacker Connor Barwin. "But we all stuck with it. And it's really amazing how well our bodies feel on Tuesday now compared to years prior. And I think it does give us a head start in our preparation for the week ahead."
Said linebacker DeMeco Ryans: "Everybody was used to being off on Tuesday all the time. It took a little while for everybody to buy into the concept. But I think everybody sees that it's paying off.
"I feel like it's definitely helped us. We feel our Wednesdays are a lot better because we were able to go out on Tuesday and do some things. So, from that standpoint, we feel like we have a better week."
A few players still don't care for the Tuesday work day thing.
"Do you want me to politic that question?" cornerback Cary Williams said. "To be honest, I don't really want to give my honest opinion. I'm still not crazy about the idea. I know it's my job and I'm an [Eagles] employee. But that doesn't mean I have to like it."
Kelly is very bullish on the Tuesday work day. He and his team of sports scientists are convinced it hastens the postgame recovery process. And given how healthy his team is this late in the season and how unbelievably good the players feel, nobody's going to tell him he's wrong.
Kelly and his staff also feel that the extra day of preparation gives his team an advantage over their opponent.
"The mantra all the way through is [about] Tuesday," defensive coordinator Bill Davis said. "Can we outprepare and outwork and outmeet and outtrain and outrecover the Vikings on this Tuesday.
"And we do that one day at a time, focusing on our corrections from last Sunday's game and then moving on to the introduction of [this week's opponent] and just throwing everything into that one day and the things that we can control."
Kelly's practice schedule later in the week also is different. Like other teams, the Eagles' two biggest practice days are Wednesday and Thursday. But they follow that up with essentially a walk-through practice on Friday, then pick up the tempo once again on Saturday. Most teams practice harder than the Eagles on Friday, then have a brief walk-through on Saturday.
Center Jason Kelce didn't need to be convinced about the physical benefits of a Tuesday practice. He tore his ACL early last season. But as a rookie in 2011, he could regularly be found at NovaCare on Tuesdays working out and watching film.
"I wasn't skeptical," Kelce said. "One thing this staff has done a good job of since the moment they got here, they explain everything. They tell you why you do it.
"The biggest thing where guys go wrong is if they don't move on Tuesdays. Everyone who played under Andy for the most part, between Monday and Tuesday, they came in and got a lift. You can't just sit down for 2 days and not do anything. Your soreness is going to be pretty bad. It sets in and the lactic acid gets stuck and it's just not good for your legs.
"I don't know that it's been beneficial as far as getting the soreness out. But it definitely hasn't been detrimental in making us more tired, which is what a lot of people were talking about before the season."
Tuesday is spent doing two things: correcting the mistakes made in the previous game, and then beginning the preparation for the next opponent.
"We fix our problems that we have and then look forward to the next opponent," linebacker Mychal Kendricks said. "It gives us a day up on whomever we're playing. I think it's a huge advantage, because mentally, I'm more prepared than if we had just started [preparing] on Wednesday."
If the Eagles were 5-8 right now rather than 8-5, if the injured reserve list was more crowded than a South Street bar on a Friday night and the locker room didn't have so many players who feel so damn good this late in the season, there probably would be a lot less in-house enthusiasm for the Chip Kelly work week. But they are 8-5 and they are feeling great and life is good.
"There's a lot of things that have to do with why we're healthy and why we feel better during the week, and I think Tuesday is part of it," Barwin said.
"I didn't like it," Jackson said. "But you've got to buy in, you've got to do what you've got to do. That's one of the challenges [for] a professional athlete. You've got to adjust on the run.
"Here we are in December, and I think it's definitely helping us out. We're just fresh. We get our soreness out early in the week and we just feel good on Sundays."
On Twitter: @Pdomo