The time 'genius' head coach Chip Kelly deferred to Cary Williams

The time 'genius' head coach Chip Kelly deferred to Cary Williams

Want to know what makes Chip Kelly smarter than a lot of other bosses around the NFL? He knows he doesn’t always have all the answers and is willing to take good advice—even when it comes from a player.

The Philadelphia Eagles’ offense was stranded in a ditch somewhere off of I-95 until cornerback Cary Williams offered a few suggestions. Once Williams told Kelly which routes the Lions wide receivers were running were giving him the most trouble in the snowy conditions at Lincoln Financial Field, the Birds’ fortunes changed.

The Eagles converted just one first down on their opening five possessions. They were scoreless at halftime. Foles looked completely ineffective, connecting on just four of 13 passes for 35 yards and throwing his first interception of the season. The team had just fallen behind 14-0 with 6:37 remaining in the third quarter.

Next thing you know, Foles hit a few big passes, and Philly was back. A 12-yard rope to DeSean Jackson on 3rd-and-11. A 44-yard bomb over the top of the Detroit secondary to Riley Cooper. And finally, a 19-yard prayer to Jackson in the back of the end zone to complete the sequence.

Chip was asked about Foles’ turnaround sparking the offense, and the 44-yard pass to Cooper in particular. He was happy to explain, as transcribed by

It was a big play, a real tough catch. That was almost a little bit of confidence that we can get some throws off. We felt like with our receivers felt ‑‑ it was funny, Cary Williams was the one who came up to me, and he was like, ‘Coach, this is what you've got to do because you can't make up speed if the guy makes a stick move on you just because of the footing.’ And Cary was kind of the one, and it's coming from a defensive guy saying, hey, if you have an opportunity to either throw a post or throw a corner route, it's hard to make up. Finally we hit Riley on it, it was almost like that kind of got us going, got our confidence back a little bit, and then we got rolling there.

Williams expressed a ton of approval and support for Chip as well after the game.

"You raise the ground up six, seven, eight inches maybe. It was difficult to turn and get your movements. And then on top of that, if you did turn, it was hard to get that foot in the ground, so you were sliding."

"I just kinda told Coach, 'Hey man, let's go with the post and fades even, because guys can't turn and run in these particular conditions. The field is elevated in some areas. And then you get the ice up under you in your cleats. You step and you may slip. Some of the things that I was going through -- I relayed the message to him and tried to take advantage of the situation.

"It was great that a head coach had confidence in a guy that has nothing to do with offense."

Granted, some of their problems early were completely weather related. Whatever Williams told Kelly, it obviously worked. Foles had only connected on four of his initial 13 passes for 35 yards before that drive, throwing his first interception of the season in the process. From that drive on however, Foles was 7-of-9 for 144 and a touchdown.

Foles also ran one in, and would’ve tossed another had Brent Celek not selflessly slid short of the goal line so the Eagles could kneel out the final seconds.

Give Cary Williams credit for being able to provide Chip Kelly a player’s perspective on the impact of the conditions, but good on Kelly for having the common sense to listen and apply that knowledge. It seems so obvious, yet when it came to previous regimes, obvious often seemed to fly out the window for the Eagles when it came to gameday decisions.

>> Who helped spark Eagles' offense? Cary Williams [CSN]

Embiid and Okafor want to play together, but not just yet, says Brown

Embiid and Okafor want to play together, but not just yet, says Brown

CAMDEN, N.J. — If all goes as planned, a time will come when the Sixers can roll out a dominating frontcourt duo with Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor sharing the court in lengthy stretches.

That moment has to wait, though, as both Embiid and Okafor are on minute restrictions. As he returns from a knee injury, Okafor currently is coming off the bench and backing up Embiid.

“This conversation with Jahlil and Joel is more intelligent and applicable at a later date,” Brett Brown said at practice Friday. “When Jahlil’s minutes start going up and Joel can, then it’s a real conversation. I do think you may see them sooner than even I thought together. But as far as making it a real constant part of a strategy or rotation, it’s beyond too early days.”

In an ideal world, Brown could pair the two bigs now and use all of their allotted minutes (Embiid 20, Okafor 14) at once. That would leave an extensive workload on second-year bench player Richaun Holmes.

“This is a hot topic,” Brown said. “I will say it one more time: If I play Jahlil and Jo together, I hope Richaun can play 35 minutes.”

It’s an unrealistic expectation for Holmes, who averaged 13.8 minutes in 51 games last season. Brown caps the majority of the Sixers at six-minute segments to keep them competing at a high energy level.

“Right now, he’s a backup,” Brown said of Holmes. “I think he’s going to be an NBA player for a very long time. I just feel like in the role, he’s a second-year player that didn’t really have much of a role last year. He’s shown everybody that he’s for real. He really can play a role. At this early stage, that is the key word.”

Embiid and Okafor have been envisioning competing together since Okafor was drafted two years ago. They became friends long before they were NBA players and have an easy chemistry on the court as a result.

“I think it’s going to be exciting,” Embiid said. “We played a little bit together today in practice. We’re figuring out how to play with each other. It’s a process and we’ve got trust it.”

Yes, the players know they have to wait, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy for them to resist an opportunity to play with one another.  

“I think once we figure it out, we can really dominate together,” Okafor said. “We were able to flirt with it again today. We accidentally keep ending up on the same team even though Coach keeps telling us to make sure we alternate. But we’re having fun. We’re trying to put some pressure on it because we want to play together.”

Is that accidentally with air quotes?

“Yeah, exactly,” Okafor said with a laugh.

'Trust the process' has a different, more personal meaning to Joel Embiid

'Trust the process' has a different, more personal meaning to Joel Embiid

CAMDEN, N.J. — Joel Embiid is all about trusting the process.

He manages to insert the well-known phrase into just about every interview, hashtags it on social media and soaks in the chants during games. 

While “trust the process” is commonly associated with former Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie’s patience-required approach to building the team — which resulted in three years of dismal losing and suffering setback after setback — Embiid has his personal take on the mantra.

“I think I have my own process,” Embiid said Friday at practice.

Embiid is playing for the first time this season after waiting two years to recover from foot injuries. His long-anticipated debut was a focal point of “the process,” and his return to the court marked a new chapter in the organization.

“I went through two surgeries, lost my brother, thought about some stuff I shouldn’t have thought about, so that’s my own process,” he said. “And then the process of going through the rehab and finally getting back on the court and getting the chance to finally play in the league, that’s my process.”

Embiid is now synonymous with the word. He credits Sixers fans for the moniker, which he added to his Instagram profile. 

“I don’t think it came from me,” he said. “Fans just started and then I just went along with it.”

Wednesday marked the next step in the process, both for the Sixers and Embiid. His regular-season debut (20 points, seven rebounds, two blocks) was a long time coming and garnered buzz all over the NBA world.

“I was the third pick and then I missed two years,” Embiid said. “The excitement in the city, everybody’s happy to finally see me play. Even though it was weird because a lot of people kind of wrote me off a long time ago saying that I’d never play as a Sixer, I’d never play in the league. So it’s all fun. Everybody’s going to have an opinion.”

He’s just got to trust in his own.