COMMENTARY | During his tenure with the Oregon Ducks, Chip Kelly had one of the most dynamic offenses in all of college football.
When Kelly agreed to become the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles on January 16, he brought his prolific offensive mind, along with his enigmatic personality. In the NFL, Kelly won't win games with his swagger; he'll win with having one of the most regarded offensive schemes in the entire league.
Midway through Kelly's inaugural preseason as coach of the Eagles, there have been signs of his high-octane, spread-option offense having some serious firepower. Both Kelly and owner Jeffrey Lurie told Eagles Television Network that they won't reveal their entire offensive package in the preseason, in hopes they can begin the 2013 regular season with momentum.
Kelly has the tools on offense for his scheme to work at this level. He has the mobile quarterback who can successfully run the read-option in veteran dual-threat Michael Vick. Kelly also has one of the best all-around backs in the NFL in LeSean McCoy. Outside of McCoy and Vick is where Kelly will need to improvise. DeSean Jackson is the lone top-tier receiver on the roster after the season-ending loss to Jeremy Maclin. Unless Jason Avant can succeed in an expanded role, Kelly will have to rely heavily on players who aren't used to legitimate playing time.
That could become quite a concern for Kelly early on in the season. Kelly's Eagles averaged a play every 18 seconds in Thursday's 14-9 victory over the Carolina Panthers. That is hands-down the fastest-run offense in the entire NFL. Kelly predicates his offense on being able to mismatch the defense with his quickness and abnormal style.
Kelly ran an abundance of no-huddle during his time at Oregon, but he hasn't shown much of that to date during the preseason. However, with Michael Vick in the game late in the second quarter on Thursday, Kelly had his offense running no-huddle, resulting in a score -- one of only two on the night. Chip is learning just as much about his offense succeeding at this level as his players are.
The Eagles ran 69 plays on Thursday night, 11 more than the Panthers. Kelly's uptempo, high-caliber offense is beginning to unveil the problems it can cause for opposing defenses. Numerous times throughout the game -- especially when Vick was on the field -- the Eagles were able to keep the Panthers off-balanced and drive down the field without much resistance. Kelly's offense brings the best out of players like Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson, and LeSean McCoy, which is why it shouldn't surprise anyone those three players were all involved in big plays Thursday night.
McCoy told ESPN's Paul Sheridan, "I think everything coach Kelly told us about this offense is correct. ... It's hard for them to get their defensive calls on because we're going, we're going. We're fast. The tempo is definitely effective. It's crazy, because I saw how tired the defense was. ... Wow, imagine what that will be like for four quarters."
Kelly's offense's success in the NFL won't come without growing pains. As mentioned before, Kelly's roster is littered with players who are not only not familiar with the amount of playing time they'll be receiving, but also the pace at which they'll be playing. Kelly is demanding, as such is the case with his offense. There's a price tag to success, and the Eagles' players are learning that at quite a quick rate.
The key is that the players are finally starting to see the all of Kelly's crazy tactics; the loud music at practices, the faster-than-life approach to getting to the line of scrimmage. It's all part of a beautiful puzzle in Kelly's mind that he sees as a jigsaw masterpiece. Well, the preseason is a perfect platform to maneuver your pieces to ensure your finished product is something magnificent. If Kelly plans on perfecting his craft, he's on the right track.
Chris is the Lead College Football writer for www.edraft.com and also runs the new NFL Draft site www.scoutingthedraft.com. Chris has covered college football, the NFL, and the NFL Draft for over 9 years for multiple media outlets. His work has been seen on SI.com and USA TODAY Sports. Chris has also been covering the Philadelphia Eagles extensively since 2009.
Follow Chris on Twitter @CDonFootball.
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Philadelphia Eagles
- Chip Kelly
- Michael Vick
- the Eagles