Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly is a man of few words. He's not one to open up to the media, he strategically withholds injury information until he's required to spill those beans and it's clear from his approach to coaching that he possesses at least a few tendencies of obsessive-compulsive disorder.
What occurred to me this week as the Eagles practiced with the Patriots is that Kelly is essentially a younger version of Belichick.
From Philly.com's Jimmy Kempski, this is an actual exchange Kelly once had with a reporter regarding the placards his coaches use on the sideline:
Reporter: Can you kind of talk about what's behind the big signs that you guys use and why you went that route in college and brought it to the NFL?
Chip: No. Next question.
Reporter: Can you elaborate on that?
Chip: No, we're not ‑‑ we could tell you what all our signals are, too, but that's not going to help us.
Reporter: Just why you went that route.
Chip: Honestly, no, we can go on to something else. I'm not going to explain why we go through that whole thing.
(There were about 5 minutes or so of football questions, when the reporter doubled back on the placard questions)
Reporter: Different players, did they kind of chip in and say, hey, let's do a cheesesteak, let's do a Ben Franklin thing and things like that? Did they give different ideas?
Chip: I have no idea what a Ben Franklin thing is, so you lost me on that.
Reporter: Well, either a Ben Franklin or a cheesesteak and all that stuff. Did they say, hey, let's do a picture of this?
Chip: You're still on the sign thing?
Meanwhile, Belichick has made a habit out of simply not answering questions.
Kelly can definitely be a little more candid, but both appear as though they're having teeth pulled while at that podium. And because they're almost always the smartest person in a given room, they can be quite intimidating.
Naturally, the two have a connection. Greg A. Bedard of The Boston Globe wrote last year about how Kelly, back in his Oregon days, made a trip to Foxborough and had his brain picked by Belichick and the rest of the New England coaching staff. His ideas greatly influenced what the Pats have done since, which says a lot about the level of respect the two coaches have for one another.
And to say that the two are meticulous would be an understatement. Sure, every coach is thorough, most are fussy. But Belichick has become famous for being fastidious, and Kelly is establishing a similar reputation.
His neoefficient practices have become the talk of the league, and it would be tough to argue that there's another coach in professional sports who spends more time on sports science and the fine details regarding his players. A summary from a recent ESPN feature by Seth Wickersham:
During practice, players wear mandated heart monitors and GPS devices. Trainers carry water bottles labeled with each player's name and after practice ask the players to pee into a cup, part of Kelly's plan to track hydration. A monitor on a wall in the facility ranks the most hydrated players. Drinking water is now a drinking game.
Kelly declined to be interviewed for Bedard's piece, as well as Wickersham's feature. How Belichick of him.
One thing I also noticed during Kelly's first season is that nobody on that roster rebelled. You could tell that those guys really believed in what their new head coach was putting together, and they scrapped for him. Sure, it's easy to stand by your head coach when you're winning, but the whole thing had a Belichick feel. While both coaches can rub folks the wrong way, the men who play for them are intensely loyal. They command respect, and they get it.
A lot of that has to do with the fact that they're geniuses, or at least football masterminds. Kelly's fast-paced offense is revolutionary and has created a ripple effect leaguewide, but Belichick was the original schemer of this era.
It took time for Belichick to earn that reputation at the NFL level before he finally broke out during that unforgettable 2001 season with a then-unknown quarterback in Tom Brady. At that point, he was 49 years old.
And while Kelly rose up through the college ranks instead, it's at least an interesting coincidence that he was also 49 when he and then-unknown quarterback Nick Foles broke through last season in Philadelphia.
It might only be a matter of time before that Philly duo gains a legacy similar to the one Belichick and Brady have built in New England.