NFL Training Camps will open in late July and so begins the 2014-2015 season. Camp provides teams with an opportunity to further evaluate the strengths and weaknesses their team possesses entering the season. Coaching staffs will look to build upon these strengths and develop solutions to the weaknesses.
Along with the evaluation of the team as a whole, comes the evaluation of individual players. July and August may be a dreaded time of the year for many proven veterans but it is the opportunity of the lifetime for many young players. Whether it be the top slot on the depth chart or just a spot on the 53-man roster, NFL training camps will be filled with individual competitions.
For Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles, this year’s training camp will be vital to the team’s success. Kelly set out to improve the quality and efficiency of Eagles camp last season. Moving camp from Lehigh University to the Eagles’ NovaCare complex and improving the nutritional and hydration practices proved to help players conditioning- the Eagles were able to maintain a healthy squad all season long. The increase in intensity and efficiency of last year’s camp appeared to play a huge role in the Eagles’ success as the season went on.
Training Camp is a key time of preparation for all NFL coaches but Chip Kelly has taken it to a new level. Kelly’s training practices have been shown to be where he gains an advantage and where the explosively fast offense fans saw on the field last season is developed.
Everything that has been revealed about Kelly’s practices just oozes with intensity. From players sprinting between weight training sets to blasting music during practice, Kelly’s designed a plan to prepare players for the chaos and physicality of NFL games.
Last season the Eagles’ offense exploded onto the national scene with an impressive Monday Night Football performance to open the season but the team struggled from there with a 3-5 record in the first half of the season. The second half of the season is where the benefits of Chip Kelly’s training was revealed. With a 7-1 record in the last eight games of the year, the Eagles looked to be a stronger, healthier and more developed team than many of their opponents late in the season.
Now in the second year under the Kelly regime, it will be interesting to see if they can use this camp to build and improve upon last year’s success and avoid another slow start to the regular season.
The Eagles face a particularly difficult schedule this season and it will be important for them to be in mid-season form right out of the gate. Another slow start could mean a disappointing finish following a strong first year under Kelly.
Aside from the team development as a whole, it will be intriguing to see how the team moves forward from the Desean Jackson saga. Jackson was a very productive part of their attack last season but with the return of Jeremy Maclin and the drafting of receivers Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff, the Eagles should have the weapons to replace them.
Fitting of a Chip Kelly team, some of the most intrigue coming out of this camp will be on the offensive side of the ball. It will be interesting to see how explosive Maclin is after suffering a torn ACL last summer. It will also be exciting to see where some of the new acquisitions will fit in to the offense. Jordan Matthews was an elite receiver at Vanderbilt and has the potential to be a huge weapon under the direction of Kelly. The Eagles also signed Darren Sproles this offseason. Sproles has incredible quickness and explosiveness out of the backfield and it will be very intriguing how he is used with Lesean McCoy.
Along with the offensive weapons, all eyes at the NovaCare complex will be on Nick Foles as he is coming off a breakout year in which he threw 27 touchdowns and just two interceptions. Fans, coaches and players will all be looking to see if Foles is prepared to take the Eagles to the level of a Super Bowl contender this season.
For Chip Kelly and the Eagles, this year’s camp will be looking to build on the success of last year. A 10-6 record and a division title is a strong start for the Kelly regime. However, with the youth and talent of this team, this year’s camp is a period that will be vital in determining whether this team is ready to go deeper into the postseason and become a legitimate contender in the NFL.