The voice on the other end of the phone sounded familiar. Chip Kelly, who’s in the middle of his first round of spring camps as an NFL coach, took a call from his buddy, three-time Super Bowl champion head coach Bill Belichick.
How would he like to have the Eagles practice against the Patriots a couple times this August before the two teams meet for a preseason game?
“I have known Bill for a while. I used to go visit the Patriots while I was in college [at New Hampshire],” Kelly said. “I have a ton of respect for him. He presented it, it makes sense.”
The Eagles and Patriots will have closed practices against each other at Lincoln Financial Field on Aug. 6 and 7, each beginning at 12:30 p.m., each closed to the public but open to the media.
Two days after the second joint practice, Kelly will make his NFL coaching debut opposite Belichick, the league’s active leader in Super Bowl wins (three), career wins (187) and third all-time with 20 postseason wins.
While this is somewhat new terrain for the Eagles, who haven’t practiced against another NFL team during the preseason since they scrimmaged the Bills in 1997, it’s not for the Patriots.
Last year, New England practiced against the Saints on Aug. 8 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass. This summer, the Pats will scrimmage against the Buccaneers. Belichick and Tampa Bay head coach Greg Schiano are also good friends. Kelly, who cultivated a reputation as an offensive mastermind at New Hampshire and then Oregon, has been invited to Belichick’s practices in the past to share concepts on the no-huddle offense and spread attack that New England has employed for the past few years.
Kelly should be fairly familiar with the Patriots’ philosophies and schemes before they clash Aug. 9, but he expects the two combined practices to help the Eagles in their transition to a new regime, both offensively and defensively.
“You have to prepare for your first preseason game, and instead of us trying to get looks to our defense of what the Patriots’ offense is going to look like, the Patriots’ offense is going to give us a look,” he said. “We will cooperate and spend some time in terms of how we are going to practice together.
“It sounded like a good idea to us, and they were coming here so it really doesn’t upset our schedule whatsoever. I think it’s a positive thing and look forward to getting out there and getting a chance to compete with them.”