COMMENTARY | It was fun to watch for the brief time we saw it. Play after play, the Philadelphia Eagles' offense was up at the line of scrimmage barely waiting for the official to put the ball down. The Birds were running the Washington Redskin's defense ragged. The Eagles even ran one play were the tackles lined up on each sideline with the ends, leaving only the center and guards around the ball.
This was Chip Kelly's offense in the first game of the season, the one the new Eagles head coach made famous at the University of Oregon. It was wild. It was intriguing. It was 26-7 by halftime.
And we really haven't seen it since.
The Kelly attack is predicated on being up-tempo. Since he joined the Eagles, even his pre-season practices moved at a fast pace. Pundits wondered if it could really succeed on the NFL level, where defensive coordinators have a way of solving every puzzle an offense throws at them.
But you can't solve what you don't get. The pedal was to the metal in the first 30 minutes of the season. Kelly got off the gas in the second half of that Washington game. He hasn't really stepped back on it since.
In the 4½ games following that 30 minutes, the Eagles' offense has seemed deliberate for a no-huddle look. It's not like they have Peyton Manning playing quarterback back there changing plans on the fly, moving people around perfectly to fit the moment. It's clear Michael Vick and last week Nick Foles are still in the process of figuring it all out. We know by the results of many plays - especially many plays in the loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 3 - it has been quite the mystery at times.
This offense has been anything but the blur Eagles fans thought they would see. It doesn't even resemble the quick pace with which the season began. This isn't Kelly-ball. What the heck is this?
Actually, I'm here to tell you what they're seeing is pretty darn good coaching.
This is Kelly adapting to the hand he's been dealt. His offense leads the National Football Conference in total yards. That hasn't translated into enough touchdowns to this point, but his team is knocking at the door more often than most teams. He's giving the Eagles as they are constituted scenarios they can handle under his offensive style and to this point they've made the most of it. From the offense he's used to, it has to feel like moving in quicksand for Kelly. But he does have it moving.
Could it possibly translate into a playoff berth or even a winning season? That's probably really unlikely. Let's not forget the Eagles are dead last in the NFL in total defense. The unit on that side of the ball had a lot of holes entering the season, particularly in the secondary. It's also working under a new scheme. Take away former pro bowlers Trent Cole and DeMeco Ryans and you'll find very few familiar names. In fairness, the defense has played better than statistics indicate, with the glaring exceptions of abysmal performances against the San Diego Chargers and Denver Broncos. But the Eagles were well aware that this season would be about outscoring opponents more than shutting them down.
It's not about winning the Super Bowl this year. It was about a new coach getting his feet wet in the NFL. When we see Chip Kelly at his best, his offense will be running like 20 or 30 more plays per game than opponents and scoring in the 40s regularly. His defense will bend but will be pressuring opponents into multiple turnovers. The Eagles will be winning games with scores like 48-24. That's the ideal.
But it's going to take awhile.
Ted Williams lives in Emmaus, PA and is a lifetime Eagles follower. He spent 20 years in print journalism, winning state and national awards.
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Philadelphia Eagles
- The Eagles
- Chip Kelly