Injuries can kill the dreams of a football team. Look at how the New England Patriots secondary got shredded after their star defender Aqib Talib was injured in the AFC Championship game on Sunday. Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach Chip Kelly has introduced new routines designed to keep his team healthy, which I feel will go down as the most revolutionary and important aspect of his time with the Eagles.
Heading in to the last few games of the season, the Eagles only really had injury concerns over Earl Wolff. This is an incredible situation to be in, where virtually all of the 53-man roster were able to train at a high level in weeks 16 & 17 of the regular season. The draining nature of an NFL season can really take it out of a player. When the season reaches its peak, many players start to fade after taking knocks and hits. Just look at Tony Romo, the Dallas Cowboys quarterback, who was unable to play in a key week 17 matchup against the Eagles due to a back injury. The Eagles were able to rely on their starters being fit and healthy week in, week out.
Chip Kelly places a lot of faith in sports science. He carefully designs his practice schedule to give his players optimum recovery time after matches and the best chance to prepare. Kelly has stepped away from the usual NFL routine. He gives his players Monday off, practices at his usual high tempo on a Tuesday and even carries out practices on Saturdays, which is usually an off day for players.
After practice, the players will head to the NovaCare Complex’s canteens for a personalised smoothie and meal, designed to meet the needs of each individual. Many NFL teams and coaches laughed at this approach and treat sports science with scepticism. However, Chip Kelly seems to be the one laughing now as his players are able to take the field healthy and feeling great.
Kelly’s ideas about preparation and his variation on the practice schedule will surely be copied across the NFL, as many teams look enviously upon the Eagles healthy roster. Chip Kelly really has helped make this team Chip-Strong.