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August 08, 2015

Breakfast with the Birds: Jimmy Johnson says Chip Kelly can’t treat pros like college players

Jimmy Johnson was on The Dan Le Batard Show Friday morning when Chip Kelly’s offseason came up. As far as national analysts go, Johnson might be the most qualified when it comes to the subject of transitioning from college coaching to the NFL. After all, he is one of the few that had amazing success at both levels.

Johnson apparently likes Kelly, but from listening to the interview, it sounds like he’s pretty skeptical of the Eagles’ busy offseason. He should get in line.

“The only way he’s going to be able to overcome [getting rid of established players] is winning and not just winning 10 games but winning big,” Johnson said. “The one thing he’s finding out is you can’t treat professional players like college players. I think Chip Kelly will adjust. He’s a very smart guy, but again, he’s got to win big. This is a crucial year for him, and he’s got a bunch of players that have been injured in the past. If those players don’t produce, it’s going to be a problem.”

Expanding on the subject a little, Johnson believes NFL coaches can find a balance between running a tight ship and being a total player’s coach.

“I think you can still have control,” Johnson said. “I think you can still be the guy that makes the decisions, but I think you have to treat these guys differently.”

Johnson mentioned how Emmitt Smith wouldn’t respond to harsh criticism in the same way that Michael Irvin would. He also believes that coaching in the NFL is a much harder job because the talent is spread much more evenly throughout the league.

"College coaching is so easy if you're at the top place or the Top-10 schools," Johnson said.

"When I was at the University of Miami, we could have won eight or nine games if I hadn't even shown up to the game because they’re that much more talented than the opponents,” he later added.

Johnson believes that Steve Spurrier’s downfall in Washington was due to an insistence on running the same type of program in the pros. Whatever the reason for the failed Ol’ Ball Coach experiment, Eagles fans are sure hoping that Kelly can keep the critics and skeptics at bay by at least making the playoffs in 2015. Winning a game after getting there would sure go a long way, too.

Friday recap

1. Jimmy didn’t have a great view of practice yesterday, but Sam Bradford was accurate throwing the ball. Well, at least he thinks so.

2. Brandon Graham wants 32 sacks this season, which is about how many I once had with Jevon Kearse in Madden 2005. Let’s just say the difficulty level wasn’t quite All-Madden.

3. UDFA cornerback Denzel Rice is the early leader for the “Na Brown Award,” which can both be a blessing and a curse.

4. Mark Sanchez might not be the starting quarterback, but he has definitely become a better gymnast so far this camp.

What they’re saying

Eagles Practice observations: Bradford has best day: Jeff McLane, Philadelphia Inquirer

This could very well be Earl Wolff’s last camp as an Eagle — He has been running with the third team — but apparently he put a pretty good lick on Quron Pratt yesterday:

Wolff delivered the hit of camp thus far when he pummeled WR Quron Pratt. “We were in a bracket coverage and if he inside releases I got him and if he outside releases then the corner has him,” Wolff said. “So he inside released and I saw him coming. Honestly, I’m not trying to kill nobody. But I decided to run myself up a little bit and give him a pop.”

QBs Looking Good: Tommy Lawlor, Iggles Blitz

Lawlor is feeling positive about the Eagles quarterbacks:

Now let’s talk about the QBs. While there is reason to be encouraged, no one is putting either guy in Canton quite yet. It is okay to be optimistic.

Bradford is showing what people hoped to see…accuracy, touch and good pocket-passing skills. Think about the past few years. Mike Vick was erratic. Nick Foles was awkward. Bradford looks like a polished passer. That could really help this offense.

So far so good in terms of Bradford’s health. Chip Kelly said the coaches aren’t seeing Bradford favor the knee or do anything awkward to protect it.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann