The Eagles have lost two players for the season in camp already, and they’re trying to fix a bad defense.
While the two problems aren’t necessarily related, new Eagles coach Chip Kelly is trying to solve both at once.
The Eagles aren’t tackling to the ground during practice, and Kelly said they won’t hit until they play an exhibition game.
“We have four preseason games for that,” Kelly said, via Geoff Mosher of CSNPhilly.com. “They’re hitting pretty good when they get an opportunity.”
Kelly believes that when players start leaving their feet, it’s easier to get caught in traffic and injured.
“When you get guys on the ground, it is not really the two guys that get tackled, it’s what’s chasing it,” he said. “Most of the time it’s not the tackle or the tackler, it’s the rest of the guys coming through.
“You have a lot of big bodies moving. There’s a fine line [in] what we have to get done from a work standpoint. We also know we have to get our guys to the game, too. It’s a dance everybody’s got to dance, but you want to make sure you get enough physicality in practice.”
Players are all for it, as you might imagine.
“It actually could be a better thing because you don’t have guys flying around, leaving their feet to make tackles and have guys rolling up on each other,” safety Nate Allen said. “You’re practicing the fundamentals of tackling — bringing your feet, wrapping up and staying up — instead of bringing guys down and having guys blow out knees and all that stuff.”
The need to beat the tar out of each other in practice is often overstated, and when camp bodies trying to get noticed get too aggressive, it can lead to problems for players the team actually wants to keep.
Kelly’s approach might not have kept wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and linebacker Jason Phillips well — you can’t out-think bad luck — but it could pay dividends for the Eagles in the long run.