PHILADELPHIA – Jared Allen would be a pretty good answer to Eagles coach Chip Kelly’s question.
In response to a reporter’s question about building a team based on factors like weather or being a dome team, Kelly said he didn’t believe in such an approach.
“I don't think anybody builds their team that way,” Kelly said. "'Let's build our team for the dome.’ It's what's our offensive philosophy and what do we want to do, and what's our defensive philosophy and what do we want to do. I don't know; what's a defensive dome player like?”
Kelly will get to see Allen Sunday when the Eagles play the Minnesota Vikings at the Metrodome. The 31-year-old defensive end has 124 career sacks – 71 at home, 53 on the road. But that includes 43 sacks (24 home, 19 road) in Allen’s first years at Kansas City.
In his six seasons playing for the Vikings, Allen has 81 sacks – 47 (58 percent) in the Metrodome, 34 on the road. That supports Kelly’s main point, which is that a good player is good anywhere, but also illustrates the advantage a speed-rusher has on artificial turf when crowd noise gives him a jump on the offensive line.
(Another example: In 11 years in Indianapolis, Dwight Freeney recorded 107.5 sacks. He got 66 of them (61 percent) at home in the dome.)
Playing in a dome will be a new experience for this group of Eagles. Several of Kelly’s routines – the loud music at practice, the simplified play calling, the visual signals from the sideline -- should help them cope.
“You can’t duplicate it exactly,” rookie right tackle Lane Johnson said. “But those speakers are fired up in practice. It gets loud to where you can’t hear anything, so I think that’s a good simulation. It’s always pretty loud. Sometimes it’s kind of annoying, but it does a good job of simulating what it’s going to be like in a game.”
Johnson said he can’t hear quarterback Nick Foles during road games anyway, so the dome won’t change that. The Eagles use a silent count on the road.
“Communication is going to be a big deal,” said Johnson, who could see Allen as well as defensive end Brian Robison. “Being in key with what the center says will be ideal. You have to have good peripheral vision to see when the ball’s snapped.”
Allen has that, too. Combined with crowd noise and a fast track, it makes him a pretty good dome defensive player.