Chip Kelly: 'I want players who love football, not what football gets them'
The Philadelphia Eagles' roster is a lot different now than it was when Chip Kelly first took over the team in 2013. Kelly has replaced franchise stalwarts like LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson with a stable of players that some people have termed "Chip Kelly players".
So what exactly is a Chip Kelly player?
"Someone who works hard and is passionate about playing the game," Kelly said when asked for a definition, per the Philadelphia Inquirer.
In a day when money often comes first for players looking to provide for their families, Kelly's requirement may seem difficult to fulfill on the surface. However, a player who values money and his love for the game is not impossible to find. The two factors are not mutually exclusive, but Kelly has a strong opinion on which one he asks his players to put first.
Two springs ago, per the Philadelphia Inquirer, Kelly said he wants to find players who “love playing football, not what football gets them."
This is a feat that is much easier accomplished through the pre-draft evaluation process than through free agency. During the pre-draft process, Kelly is able to meet individually with players and vet them in his own way. It's no wonder that Kelly had aspirations to become the Eagles' general manager in addition to their head coach.
“I think you’ve got to sit down and meet with them,” Kelly said. “Obviously, in free agency, you don’t get that opportunity, but in the draft process, you do. I think in this year’s class, we’ve got guys like Eric Rowe and Nelson and JaCorey [Shepherd] and those guys, that love playing football, but that’s just through what the scouts do, in terms of the questions they get answered when they’re on the road, at the beginning aspect of this, when we get exposure to them, whether it be at the Senior Bowl or the Combine, or when we visit their campus, or they come to visit us here -- just trying to figure out what that individual’s all about.”
Analysts have been cautious and skeptical when approaching the Eagles' prospects for the 2015 season. Kelly has replaced several of his key contributors on both sides of the ball with a younger slew of players who he expects to seamlessly transition into the NFL. After all, they are projected to be "Chip Kelly players", and that designation is supported by hard work and a drive to be the best player they can be.
Kelly's idea to put players who love the game first is not any kind of revolutionary idea. Teams around the NFL, like the Giants, Steelers and Packers, have been doing this for years. However, those teams tend to look for a mix, and they aren't so quick to get rid of players who don't fit a code so perfectly. It will be interesting to see if Kelly's all-or-nothing style of assembling a team in his vision can sustain long-term success.
(h/t Philadelphia Inquirer)