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By John McMullen, NFL Editor - Archive - Email
Not everyone is all in on Chip Kelly
(L-R) Cary Williams and Chip Kelly It's rare when an NFL player will call out his head coach in a public forum.
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Chip Kelly's success in Philadelphia has been well documented, but the sample size on which the Eagles coach is being judged remains small.

And that fact isn't lost on the always outspoken Cary Williams.

The Eagles cornerback, who is the best of a bad lot in Philly, decided to play "Debbie Downer" following the team's heart-stopping, 37-34 win over the Washington Redskins on Sunday, a triumph which improved the Eagles to 3-0 on the young season.

"My legs hurt. My legs were done in the fourth quarter," Williams complained after the victory. "My legs were done in the third quarter. My legs were done before the game started."

And Williams claims he wasn't the only defender on a unit that allowed 511 yards of total offense that was spent.

"It's tough, it's tough. A lot of guys had no legs," Williams said. "A lot of guys coming in here were in a dogfight before the game even started. We've got to start taking care of our guys throughout the week in order for us to be productive and have more energy on Sundays."

Kelly's whole football philosophy is based on controlled chaos with the intent of constantly pushing the pace, an ideology he believes forces his opponents into far more miscues than his own team which prepares with practices run as quickly as possible in order to improve conditioning and maximize repetitions.

While that kind of thinking is new to the NFL, it's old hat in college where Kelly dominated at the University of Oregon.

The issue to the detractors is a pure numbers game. The college season is shorter and in the case of an NFL team making a deep playoff run, much shorter. Meanwhile, most big-time college programs can dress up to 85 players for home games, 65 for away games and for non-conference home games, some even suit up as many as 105, the NCAA maximum.

In professional football there are 53 players on the roster and only 45 of those dress on game day. Moreover some NFL veterans have beaten up their bodies for years and no longer have the recuperative powers of young college kids, meaning they can't go at a breakneck pace on a consistent basis.

"I think (the pace of practices) negatively impacted a lot of people, and I'm not the only person," Williams said. "I'm just one that is man enough to stand up here and talk to y'all and address the issue that's obviously in my opinion an issue in our (slow) starts."

The Eagles overcame a 17-7 deficit to defeat Washington after previously coming back from holes of 17 and 14 points in their first two games, becoming the first team in NFL history to start 3-0 and overcome a 10-or-more-point deficit in all three games.

"I'm just employee 26," Williams said, referring to his uniform number. "Whatever they deem necessary for us to be ready on Sundays is whatever it is, if we've got to find energy from outside source or whatever it may be to start games quick, then we've got to do it. But right now, the way we're doing it is not conducive to success."

It's rare when an NFL player will call out his head coach in a public forum and even more uncommon when he's doing it after a 3-0 start, but Williams has been the most quotable player in the Eagles' locker room since he arrived in town as a free agent from Baltimore before the 2013 season.

And whether it's sconces or questioning the Kool-Aid Kelly has been serving up with little resistance in the City of Brotherly Love, it's not in Williams' nature to shy away from his opinions.

"Something has to change in order for us to be more productive," he said. "It's hard to go out there and fight for 60 minutes when you're fighting throughout the week to make it through one practice. When you don't have legs. Period. It shows up in a game. Period."

Others, however, rallied to Kelly's defense by Monday.

"I think that the way that we're practicing is leading to us being able to be 3-0," tight end Brent Celek told WIP Radio. "So, I'm not gonna sit here and say that it's a bad thing. We're beating teams and we're beating them in the fourth quarter, which is good. And I'm all on board. Whatever Chip wants us to do in order to get us ready, I believe in him and I'm going to do it."

Veteran linebacker Connor Barwin agreed with Celek.

"I guess we're 3-0, so I guess it's working," Barwin said. "(Williams) never heard that (a complaint) from me. That's just how Cary is. We understand that. I think Cary maybe just got emotional. We all know Cary, we all trust Cary, and we'll be fine moving forward."

Williams was actually limited in practice with a hamstring injury before the Redskins game and some believe he was just frustrated after allowing ex-Eagle DeSean Jackson get behind him on what was an 81-yard touchdown.

Williams, however, countered by saying he never had hamstring problems in Baltimore and it's been a consistent issue since he arrived in Philadelphia.

Kelly deflected the criticism on Monday.

"We look at every player as an individual," the coach said. "What we do with Trent Cole is different from what we do with Marcus Smith. Every morning (strength coaches and medical personnel) sit down with every guy -- Where are you? What do you need? Is it a hamstring? Is it a hip? Is it a shoulder? Because everybody is different, and there are a wide variety of ages."

So what if Williams doesn't buy in moving forward?

Well, if a true home run threat like Jackson who plays on the only side of the ball Kelly cares about was replaceable, you can imagine how the head coach fells about Williams, an above-average corner with a superstar's mouth.

The smoothies and sports science stories might be replaced by the drone Kelly has built to patrol Williams' side of the field.

"I know we ask our guys to run a lot during practice," Kelly said. "Cary's just a competitor. He always wants to play a perfect game, always wants to make a perfect play ... he'll tell you, he just got frustrated.

"I got no issues with Cary."

At least not yet.

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