By Kevin McGuire
Thursday night will be the opportunity for the Philadelphia Eagles and fans to bring a close to one chapter of the franchise’s history, while also trying to get the next chapter on track. After coming up short against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday, the Eagles will look to get back in the win column after a short week. But this is far from an ordinary short week, as longtime head coach Andy Reid will return to the sidelines with his new team, the Kansas City Chiefs. Former franchise quarterback Donovan McNabb will also have his number retired.
“I talked to Andy when I got the job, and he said to be yourself,” Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly said Tuesday. “I told him I had big shoes to fill, and he said you’ll do a good job, and that was it.”
Reid’s familiarity with the current Eagles roster could come into play, Kelly acknowledged, but the offense is running a completely new system of course, which should give Reid something to work on in the shortened week as well.
“I would think anybody that understands personnel – Andy was here for a long time with those guys,” Kelly said. “But he doesn’t know our scheme and how we deploy those guys. So he may have little ins and outs. There is a familiarity. He’s familiar with Trent [Cole]. He’s familiar with DeMeco [Ryans] and familiar with those guys. But the scheme defensively has changed. The scheme offensively has changed. The scheme on special teams has changed. So maybe from how fast a guy is to some of those things from a physical standpoint, I know he’s probably got an intimate knowledge from the guys on the team.”
Reid also has some new tricks in his bag as well, focusing more on the run with Jamaal Charles and adding a new formation to his playbook if the first two games are any indication.
“He’s added the pistol formation,” Kelly said, commenting on what he has seen on film. The Chiefs added former Nevada head coach Chris Ault to the staff in the offseason. Ault was the coach who helped make San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick a rising star under his offensive system. He retired from the college coaching game to pursue other opportunities.
“He brought Chris Ault from Nevada, he’s on staff. So they’re running some pistol plays,” said Kelly. I think that’s playing to Alex Smith’s strength. I think Alex is a mobile quarterback and really smart guy. So I think that fits with him. But I think that’s probably a little bit different. Some of the passing concepts are similar in terms of what he did here.”
Kelly will have to have the defense turn in a better performance after Sunday’s loss. The offense will score plenty of points this season but if the defense cannot come up with a stop, especially in the second half, it may not matter. Some younger players are starting to make a case for more playing time, and Earl Wolff is among the leading candidates to see more playing time over Nate Allen, who has come under fire for his performance at safety.
“Our defense is 11 guys,” Kelly said. “It’s everybody being where they’re supposed to be, when they’re supposed to be there. So it’s totally a team game. It’s never isolated on one individual player.”
The Eagles host the 2-0 Chiefs Thursday night at Lincoln Financial Field.
All quotes provided by PhiladelphiaEagles.com.
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Kevin McGuire is a Philadelphia area sports writer covering the Philadelphia Eagles and college football. McGuire is a member of the FWAA and National Football Foundation. Follow McGuire on Twitter @KevinOnCFB. His work can be found on Examiner.com.