Eagles excited by potential of Kelly's offense

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Eagles excited by potential of Kelly's offense

Brandon Grahams reaction to his next head coach?

Two words.

Im hyped, Graham, the Eagles defensive end, screamed into the phone Wednesday, moments after the Eagles stunned the NFL world by announcing the hiring of former Oregon coach Chip Kelly as the replacement for Andy Reid.

Similar reactions from other Eagles trickled in while the news sunk in that Kelly, the offensive mastermind who built Oregon into a national powerhouse, would be the franchises 21st head coach.

Im excited No. 1, tight end Brent Celek told CSNs Derrick Gunn. I guess Im a little shocked, just because it was first reported that he was staying at Oregon, but hes our coach now and I cant wait to see how we do, how this offense runs. Im excited to get going.

And from the defense?

Hes a successful person, defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins told the NFL Network. Hes had a lot of success and anytime you have somebody like that and his desire, hes going to do whatever it takes for us to be as successful here as well.

I dont know too much about him, but from what Ive seen and just highlights, Ive heard hes someone with a lot of emotion and someone who doesnt accept not being successful.

The Eagles just finished 4-12, their worst record ever under Reid, who was fired Dec. 31 after his 14th year and hired just four days later by the Kansas City Chiefs.

Kelly, whose record-setting spread offense helped the Ducks reach BCS Bowls in each of his four seasons as head coach, is considered one of the brightest, most innovative offensive minds in the game.

But there are questions about whether his up-tempo offense can succeed in the NFL, along with his expertise in fielding a championship-caliber defense and assembling an experienced staff.

For a franchise that hasnt won a Super Bowl after 51 years of existence, the hiring of Kelly -- who has never coached or played in the NFL -- is rightfully considered risky and bold.

I have no reason but to be optimistic, right tackle Todd Herremans said via text message. Thats who they initially wanted.

Kelly had met with Lurie, president Don Smolenski and general manager Howie Roseman for nine hours on Jan. 5 at a Four Seasons in Scottsdale, Ariz., one day after the Ducks bounced Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl, 35-17.

Kelly had also interviewed with the Browns but announced on Jan. 6 his decision to return to Oregon for a fifth season. But his change of heart led to talks reopening with the Eagles, who quickly reached a deal with their top choice.

Yeah, I was definitely surprised, especially with all of the rumors that we had heard a week or so ago about Chip deciding to stay at Oregon and not come into the NFL, Jenkins said to the NFL Network. So it was a little bit of a shock today when I heard that.

One of Kellys first big decisions will be deciding on his next quarterback.

Its assumed that the mobile Michael Vick is better suited for the high-octane offense that Kelly ran at Oregon, but Vick will be 33 and is slated to make more than 15 million as he comes off his one of his worst seasons. He also hasnt played 16 games in a season since 2006 and sat for six weeks in 2012 after sustaining a concussion.

Nick Foles, the promising rookie who replaced Vick, lacks the speed and athleticism seen from quarterbacks who played under Kelly at Oregon but caught Kellys attention when his Arizona team battled Kellys Ducks in Pac-12 Conference games (see story).

Ill tell you what -- Im glad Nick Foles is graduating, Kelly told reporters after a 2011 game between Arizona and Oregon. I catch myself watching him in awe sometimes. ... Nick is a hell of a football player. That kids a warrior. Hes as good as anyone in the country.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick invited Kelly to his practices and then implemented some of Kellys offensive concepts into New Englands hurry-up offense, which led the NFL this past season with 1,191 plays from scrimmage, 31 more than second-ranked Detroit.

Celek is convinced Kellys offense will remake the Eagles into a fearsome offensive team and maximize the talent of Pro Bowl wideout DeSean Jackson and Pro Bowl halfback LeSean McCoy.

I think it will, just from the talent that weve got, Celek said. From what Ive seen just on TV ... its exciting to watch for sure. Theyre fast paced. Theyre up-tempo. And they score a lot of points, which is what we want to do.

Jenkins seemed slightly more apprehensive, although optimistic.

Everybody of course is going to have concerns about the coach and if hes going to be able to adjust to the next level -- the difference in speed, tempo and all of the things like that, he said. What type of schemes is he going to bring in and will they adjust? All of those are going to be concerns with people but his resume, regardless of what those questions are, is pretty impressive.

Its a fine line between winning and losing in the NFL, and sometimes if you can just win over your players, have confidence in them and get them to fight for you, a lot of times that makes all of the difference in the world.

E-mail Geoff Mosher at gmosher@comcastsportsnet.com

Was Roy Halladay's perfect game really seven years ago?

Was Roy Halladay's perfect game really seven years ago?

Where were you seven years ago today? I'd put my money on a number of Phillies fans spending their Saturday of Memorial Day weekend 2010 lounging out on the beach at the Jersey Shore just as I was.

But that night — just 14 miles from where the Phils will take on the now-Miami Marlins tonight — Roy Halladay tossed just the second perfect game in Phillies history, striking out 11 Marlins en route. Yes, that was the same Halladay who earned 55 wins over the course of four seasons in Philadelphia and pitched a no-hitter that same season against the Cincinnati Reds in the opening game of the NLDS.

It was a magical night at Dolphin Land Shark Sun Life Stadium. Anyone who wasn't watching the Flyers lose Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final to the Chicago Blackhawks, 6-5, probably remembers Shane Victorino tracking down Wes Helms' deep fly to dead center as well as the incredible game called by Carlos Ruiz behind the plate. And then there's the 27th out as third baseman Juan Castro cooly collected the Ronny Paulino ground ball, spun and fired to Ryan Howard at first base.

So what's Doc doing now you ask?

Well, if his Twitter is any indication, Halladay has not stepped too far away from the game of baseball. During the weekend, he posted a series of tweets with his son Braden's high school baseball team, Cavalry Christian (Clearwater, Florida), as they completed a perfect 30-0 season and won the Florida 4A state title with Halladay as one of the team's assistant coaches.

He also tweeted to honor fellow Phillie Jim Bunning — the only other Phillies pitcher to ever throw a perfect game — after the baseball legend died Friday night at the age of 85.

End to End: Who's the better fit for Flyers, Nico Hischier or Nolan Patrick?

End to End: Who's the better fit for Flyers, Nico Hischier or Nolan Patrick?

Throughout the offseason, we’ll ask questions about the Flyers to our resident hockey analysts and see what they have to say.
 
Going End to End today are CSNPhilly.com producers/reporters Tom Dougherty, Jordan Hall and Greg Paone.
 
The topic: Who would be a better fit for the Flyers, Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier?
 
Dougherty
I don’t believe either one would necessarily be a better fit than the other for the Flyers. This is a case where either player matches what the orange and black need: a top-six centerman. It’s safe to say with either Hischier or Patrick, they will come away from Chicago with a substantial piece they can add to their puzzle. I’ve felt they needed another lottery forward.
 
They’re getting one now, but which player would I prefer to see as a Flyer? That would be Patrick because, for me, he’s the safer bet who is closer to the NHL than Hischier. Now, I don’t believe the Flyers should draft based on who will be here quicker. That would be asinine. But it sure wouldn’t hurt to see either one of them in Philadelphia next season.
 
Patrick has been atop the rankings for this class for two years now. He dominated the WHL as a 17-year-old two years ago, and despite injuries last season, he still ruled play. Plus it’s hard not to be enamored with Patrick’s size. At 6-foot-3, 198 pounds, he’s a big right-handed pivot. Hischier is listed at 6-foot, 176 pounds. He’ll have to get stronger.
 
That’s not saying Patrick doesn’t need to add more muscle to his frame, but at 6-3, 198, he has a solid frame that should be able to handle the wear-and-tear of an NHL season. Sure, he does have some durability questions, but it’s not to the Joel Embiid level of concern.
 
Both players play a solid 200-foot game, which is something GM Ron Hextall preaches. Neither is deficient in his own zone. Patrick is more of a physical player than Hischier. The Brandon center has a solid combination of speed, power and skill, which is attractive.
 
Hischier has many of the same traits as Patrick, but he’s the flashier of the two. Ultimately, this is a discussion for the Devils more than the Flyers. New Jersey has to decide which one they want, and then the Flyers get the other. From afar, Hischier seems more of a fit to what the Devils need and factor in his rise over the last few months, I think he’ll be a Devil.
 
And that means Patrick will be a Flyer. Which is perfectly fine with me.

Hall
If I had to pick, I think the Flyers need more of a player like Hischier than Patrick.
 
The good thing is they can't go wrong with either 18-year-old.
 
Hischier seems to come with a higher ceiling offensively and greater potential to put up star numbers at the center position. The playmaking ability is what changes games and the teams that score are the teams that win.
 
"He's such a strong offensive player, he's completely fearless — you cannot intimidate him," Cam Russell, the general manager of Hischier's junior club, the Halifax Mooseheads, said (see story). "If you watch him play closely, you'll see that he's the first one on the puck and I've never seen a player roll off hits like he does in the corner. I can't think of a time when he was run over or contained in the corner, he's just so strong, so quick and so agile with the puck."
 
What's really appealing about Patrick is you know what you're getting: a proven two-way center that focuses on defense just as much as offense. He'll bring everything to the table and he looks to be the safer pick.
 
He has "elite" potential, too, in his own right.
 
"He won't let anybody down," Grant Armstrong, the general manager of Patrick's junior club, the Brandon Wheat Kings, said. "I just think he's an elite talent with an elite sense for the game. At some point, he'll be a great two-way centerman in the league."
 
So, the Flyers are in an excellent spot. I'd like to see Hischier fall to the Flyers, but Patrick should excite fans, as well.
 
And the funny thing is the Flyers won't have to decide between the two.

Paone
Let's get this part out of the way before I go deeper into this question: both Patrick and Hischier are great fits for the Flyers.

Both are impact forwards who should be able to help sooner rather than later. And with the way the Flyers struggled offensively last season, that's just what the doctor ordered. So they really can't go wrong here and, as I said on Sunday, I do feel it comes down to simplest terms as the Flyers should take whomever New Jersey doesn't out of Patrick and Hischier.

But this question is about the better fit between the two.

Let's think about it this way: We all have a bunch of t-shirts that fit, but we all have that one t-shirt that fits just right. And when we're in a pinch and need something to wear, we always go back to that t-shirt that fits just right.

And the "just right" fit here for the Flyers is Hischier.

The guy just brings an energy to the ice when you see him play. He has a dynamic way to him that when you watch him play, your eyes are just drawn to him. So many times last season the Flyers seemed so lethargic and slogged through periods and games. They needed an energy boost. Hischier can help bring that needed jolt.

On top of that, the high offensive ceiling for Hischier has to appeal to the Flyers, as Jordan said above. That's just what they need. Nothing against Patrick, seen as more of the two-way player. But the two-way center has been the Flyers' preferred way of thinking for so long now. Nothing against a two-way center, but the Flyers need more of a dynamic, playmaking center and Hischier is that. It's time for something different.

The Flyers are going to get a darn good player at No. 2 no matter what, but Hischier is the better fit here and now.