PHILADELPHIA – Thankfully, it’s a short week, because that’s consumed a lot of the talk this week, that the week is so short.
Jason Kelce is one of those rare players who don’t mind the four days between the Eagles’ last game on Sunday and the one coming up Thursday night against the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
He’ll turn 34 on Nov. 5, so the veteran center has seen of a few of these short weeks.
“You don’t practice at all,” he said. “It ends up being walkthroughs. And the intensity on the field is way scaled-down, so you get more time to recover from the game. You’re not going to get beat up again by going out and practicing. So that helps you a little bit.”
Without practice, though, what’s a coach to do?
Especially someone like defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, a rookie in his job.
Here’s what he did.
He opened up a window and threw out a bunch of stuff that might normally be in a game plan designed to stop Tom Brady and one of the more talented receiving trios in the NFL – Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Antonio Brown.
“We told our guys, you know, I said I wanted to do a bunch of stuff on Monday (but) we don't have any full-speed reps, so throw that out the window,” said Gannon on Tuesday. “Like, ‘This would be great, you know, this new coverage.’ Well, how are we going to practice it?”
Gannon said the approach will be to stay mentally fresh. It’s probably not unlike most teams who face the challenge of playing on such a short week.
“You can help them with that by not having a lot on their plate because we want them to be physically fresh,” said the DC. “I talked to them (Monday) about if you are mentally fatigued, your physical fatigue will show up quick.”
Gannon also spent part of Tuesday clarifying his remarks about being a schemeless defensive coordinator. He does have a scheme.
“An offensive guy says, ‘Well, I'm a West Coast guy,’” he said. “Well, if you have Tom Brady, you're not going to run a West Coast offense, right? I never really wanted – being on different defenses that I've been on, I never wanted to be labeled as, you know, a ‘Tampa 2 guy’ or a ‘Seattle 3 guy’ or a ‘pressure guy’ because, yeah, those things can be good and some of those defenses have been really good, some of those teams that are known for playing that style.
“But if it doesn't match up with the people that you have in your building or if it doesn't match up versus the people you are playing, good luck. So, the whole non-scheme thing, that's really just saying, ‘Hey, each week we want to be able to adapt and adjust, putting our guys in a position to be able to make as many plays as possible with the offense that we are playing.’ So, that's all kind of that was because I kind of flubbed up over that.”
Probably a good thing to have a scheme on a short week and a lot of stuff gets tossed out the window.
The best part of a short week, though?
“After the game, you’re off for like two, three days,” said Kelce. “This is another chance for us to reload here. Our bye week doesn’t come until Week 14 or whatever, so I think this is a good time for us to work really, really hard these next couple days, play a big game against Tampa on Thursday, and then we’ll get a little bit of rest for the middle third of the season.”
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.