Simple. Concise. Elegant.
This statement from Chip Kelly that came early in his tenure as the Philadelphia Eagles head coach is now accepted by many as his mantra regarding size and the role it will play from here on out in player acquisition. No more undersized “fastballs”, no more small school defensive ends turned linebackers. No, under Chip Kelly we’re going to see a size revolution.
In fact, you can see some of the impact of this already. Bradley Fletcher (6’0”, 200 lbs.) and Cary Williams (6’1”, 190 lbs.) are both larger than the league average cornerbacks. Connor Barwin is several inches taller than both Trent Cole and Brandon Graham. Clifton Geathers and Isaac Sopoaga are behemoth players the team brought in to help bulk up along the defensive line. Zach Ertz, a high second round draft pick, is a 6’5” tight end that runs and plays much like a wide receiver.
Some examples are subtler than others, but it all adds up to one thing; the Eagles are going to look to get bigger across the board, so that there are no longer situations in which they get pushed around by another team.
No more problems scoring in the red zone because a small wide receiver could not get open or the line could not block it up for a running back. No more being pushed around on returns or poorly blocked kicks. Hopefully, an increase in difficulty for the opposition to score once they have reached the red zone.
But what to do with the players who don’t fit this mantra, but who are already on the team and slated for starting roles? What about guys like Mychal Kendricks and Brandon Boykin, who by all accounts have been having a tremendous camp?
Billy Davisand Chip Kelly have both said at separate times that there is no starting with an entirely clean slate here. Building an NFL football
team requires the utilization of many players already in place, and trying to find a way to work around and through their — literal — shortcomings.
Kendricks and Boykin are perfect examples of holdovers from the previous regime who are talented players that are expected to be serious contributors going forward, but that do not fit the prototypical Chip Kelly mold.
Does this bode poorly for them? Are they destined to be traded next offseason?
I think the answer is just as clear and concise as Chip’s original mantra. It is a resounding, “no”. Just because they’re small doesn’t mean they won’t be able to produce, and produce at a high level.
In a perfect world I’m sure Kelly and Billy Davis would love it if Brandon Boykin were 6’ tall, and Kendricks were 6’2”. Or that Trent Cole and Brandon Graham were both 6’5”. But that is not the world we live in or the reality the coaching staff is forced to deal with.
So, yes, going forward look for the team to place a premium on size – in conjunction with – skill and ability, in player acquisition. But don’t worry about size becoming the end all be all. Because in the end, the right combination of heart and talent can still overcome size.