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The Chip Kelly Treatment

September 12, 2013 1 comment

There is new blood flowing through the Eagles system. A breakthrough worthy of a transfusion that can perhaps revive this weakened web site. For the first time in a while, there is something worth talking about, something fun to talk about, within Philadelphia’s sports ecosystem.

It’s been an ecosystem that has been severely threatened lately by a collective underperformance. Our sports body, shared by fans and dependent on teams, has been sick. Our city has felt this pain for longer than it is used to. It has had sick teams before in recent memory, but typically when some squads are being hospitalized around here, others are getting discharged from mediocrity and into a new stage of recovery with postseason aspirations. Lately, there just haven’t been any silver linings (besides that so-so movie filmed here). The Philly sports hospital has been at max capacity. The doctors have been coming into the room, and they haven’t been mincing any words. There have been a slew of bad prognoses, and a bunch of bad test results. It has been killing us.

And then along came Chip Kelly with an unconventional approach to tackling a diseased team. He’s controversially induced a new Eagles fever, and all of sudden, the Philadelphia sports world, and all of those affected by its civic influence, have a pulse.Philadelphia Eagles v Washington Redskins

Dr. Kelly and his staff looked like a medical team ready for a major challenge. They showed up on the scene with some early answers, a detailed treatment plan, and some initial results. The lack of hesitation to go for it on 4th and 1, in the heart of field goal range, on his first drive as an NFL head coach, exemplified this new brand of leadership that has had the town talking for months. In that early, confident and successful moment he grabbed his team and his fans onto his side. After Washington’s fluke touchdown ruined that first possession, he could have succumbed to the disease of failure that has been wrecking this team. That is what almost every fan almost expected at that moment. But Dr. Kelly was unphased and did what he needed to keep everyone depending on him right there with him. He kept them through the whole game, and he may not let go of them for a long time. It was the kind of first impression that has led the 1.5 million patients in this town to look forward with a trust in this man’s expertise. There is hope for recovery, a hope that has been absent.

The Kelly offense had everyone gasping for oxygen: the opposing defense, his own players, and the fans. The Eagles have been diseased long enough that it was a shock to see the team show a heart rate again. The uptempo pace of Kelly’s style and personality seems to have rubbed off on the team in its entirety, and this was maybe the most encouraging aspect of Monday’s game.  Special teams players showed urgency despite being up a few touchdowns, rushing downfield to make plays on coverage. The defense swooped to the ball and took on ball carriers in a way we have not seen in years. They were rushing around and around, and they were out of breath. But unlike the opposition, they knew exactly why they were out of breath, and they looked like a team convinced that their hard work will result in a payoff. Superstars were rushing to the sidelines after a job well done to pound fists with their head coach, an acknowledgment that they are onboard and ready to follow his lead.

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On paper, the disease that has crippled Eagles nation in recent years should have begun another chapter of patient degeneration on Monday. But sometimes the human spirit laughs in the face of an analysis based on reason. Most full recoveries will require a mix of positivity and a well-developed scientific approach. This new regime has seemingly injected both into the organization’s blood stream.

But it was only one game. Monday night was just one of those breakthroughs in the lab. A glimpse of a potential cure that has the community abuzz. But this is still the experimental stage. Like any scientific breakthrough, we’ll need more tests and a larger sample size before we start making conclusions. At the very least, it seems this team has stumbled upon some minor antidotes that can be used to start treating the problem. They may not develop into a full-fledged cure, but they can buy us extra time and give the patient some new life.

This team is far from climbing out of its football coma. Only more time and treatment will tell. Yet, for the first time during this uphill fight,  there’s reason to believe.

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