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 PhiladelphiaEagles.com:

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]

Elton Brand on national anthem protests: Sixers working with NBA, having 'discussions internally'

Elton Brand on national anthem protests: Sixers working with NBA, having 'discussions internally'

CAMDEN, N.J. — Pockets of NBA players have increasingly started to speak up about what they believe to be racial and social injustices taking place in the United States.

With San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's decision to kneel during the national anthem sparking protests from other players around the NFL and various sports, now the NBA as a whole is preparing for potential protests prior to games.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver and National Basketball Players Association union executive director Michele Roberts came together last week to formulate a joint letter to players to express how the two sides plan to take "meaningful action."

Whatever that action is, Sixers veteran Elton Brand is all for it and the overall discussion of issues going on around the country.

"There are e-mails and direct texts from the NBPA. We’re working with the NBA. They’re going to talk to us soon,” Brand said. “My thing is if you want to stand up for something, that’s a good thing. Especially in America, the tensions and the injustices that are going on right now. 

“Even in our locker room we’re discussing who feels like this, who feels like what and ways that we can display how we feel about things. I’m all for it. I stand behind it and stand with other athletes and people that want to stand for a cause. Whatever their cause is, they want to stand for a cause. Our cause may be different.”

The NBA is significantly more diverse than the NFL, and Brand even admitted it’s been an eye-opening experience having talks about issues affecting African Americans inside a locker room with players from around the globe.

“We have a lot of international players,” he said. “I’m looking around the room and there are seven people that aren’t from this country. So you talk about the flag, talk about the constitution and to them it’s like, ‘I represent America because I’m working here, but I’m pro-Spain and I have problems there, too.’ We’re all sorting it out. We’ve had discussions internally also. I’m looking forward to what the NBPA and the NBA have to offer."

What the league and players association come up with will likely serve as something other than protesting during the actual anthem. Unlike the NFL, the NBA has a rule in place that explicitly states players, coaches and trainers must stand on the foul line or sidelines in a dignified posture during the playing of national anthems.

If Sixers players do ultimately decide on some sort of protest before games, they will have the support of the organization to express their rights.

"We haven't been together collectively long enough to have a real robust discussion about it," Sixers president Bryan Colangelo said. "I think we just addressed it briefly this morning with the players in an opportunity to say the following. Basically, we as an organization are going to be supportive of the views of our players. As the league and the players association formulate perhaps an approach, they've already circulated some information to teams. Things are probably still at the discussion phase. I hope to think that's where things are with our players, that they're still at the discussion phase. 

"Once again, I'm assuming that there will be a desire to express an opinion or viewpoint. I've always been supportive of people in society having freedom to express a viewpoint. Again, going back to the league and the players association, in a positive way I think they've always been out in front of some of these social issues and if they can affect social change in a positive way they probably will. You can just anticipate that there's still some unknowns to this, but you can estimate that we will be supportive as an organization as to how our players want to express their views."

Joel Embiid expects to play in Sixers' preseason opener

Joel Embiid expects to play in Sixers' preseason opener

CAMDEN, N.J. — The long wait could be over next week.

Joel Embiid expects to play in the Sixers' first preseason game Oct. 4 at UMass-Amherst against the Celtics, he said Monday at media day.

“The first thing for me is just get back on the court,” Embiid said of his expectations this season. “It looks like in a couple days I’m going to have the chance to do that.”

Embiid has missed the past two seasons since being drafted third overall because of foot injuries. Even though he is taking his rookie year one step at a time, he has a positive long-term outlook given how healthy he feels. 

“I’m confident that I’m going to have a long, successful career,” he said. “From what it looks like right now, I’m going to have a 20-year career.”

Embiid has grown as a player and a person during his recovery. He noted had he been competing in an 82-game season, he would not have had as much time to dedicate on his development. As a result of the specialized workouts and the hours he has spent in an individual practice format, he has improved his shooting and gained strength and speed. 

“What I was two years ago, I’m not even close to what I am right now,” he said. “My game has gotten so much better ... I’m not the same guy. I’m different.”

Embiid has been following a well-mapped out rehab plan during which he has had to adhere to restrictions, and will continue to do so this season. He admits the restrictions have been frustrating, but he now understands they are being implemented for his best interest long term. The lengthy recovery has forced him to change his outlook on maintaining his health. 

“The main thing I learned about myself is, I could be patient,” Embiid said. “When I was first doing my rehab, going through that, the only thing I thought about was getting back on the court. I would try to get back on the court and play more than I was supposed to. After the doctor [said] you had to heal well and I needed the second surgery, that’s when I told myself be patient and do whatever I can and make sure I listen to what people have to say.”

Head coach Brett Brown wants Embiid to become the “crown jewel” of the defense. Embiid, who stands at a towering 7-foot-2, 275 pounds, is ready to embrace those expectations. He has studied tape of Tim Duncan, Hakeem Olajuwon and Patrick Ewing, among others. Embiid likes the game of Marc Gasol and appreciates how DeAndre Jordan communicates as a big man. 

“I love playing defense,” he said. “I hate when the other team scores.”

Embiid's debut will be the culmination of years of work. Now that the season is approaching, he is eager to count down the days. 

“I’m really excited,” Embiid said. “I’ve gone through a lot and it’s been two years. The fact that I’m healthy now and ready to get back on the court, I just can’t wait.”