The Chip Kelly Era Takes Off

The Eagles showed crazy looks at a breakneck pace in their opener, and it sure was fun. Plus, the Tuesday Mailbag

LeSean McCoy’s 100-plus yards at halftime and a run/pass ratio above 60/40 showed that while Kelly’s offense will play fast, it will do so primarily on the ground. (Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
LeSean McCoy’s 100-plus yards at halftime and a run/pass ratio above 60/40 showed that while Kelly’s offense will play fast, it will do so primarily on the ground. (Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

Note from the editor-in-chief: Each Tuesday during the season, I’ll write a column about some element of the weekend’s games that has major significance for the rest of the NFL season—this column, called “On Further Review.” Accompanying the column will be an embedded video featuring other impact events of the weekend. The first column centers on Philadelphia coach Chip Kelly’s uptempo offense in the wake of the Eagles’ 33-27 win at Washington Monday night.

What a fun night Monday was for the future of football. Unless, of course, you’re a fan of Washington, and/or its star quarterback, Robert Griffin III. Fun is more plays, more chances for scoring explosions. And in the first quarter, playing at breakneck pace, Philadelphia quarterback Mike Vick ran 30 snaps and put Chip Kelly in the forefront of American football innovation.

Will he stay there? Time will tell. Maybe an enterprising defensive coordinator will find holes in the Eagles’ offense, and find a way to break through the zone-blocking scheme protecting Vick to disrupt his play-managing and -making. Defensive coordinators always figure things out—just look how first-year Eagles coordinator Billy Davis frustrated Griffin Monday night.

Kelly is willing to try anything to confuse a defense, as his unusual sets flummoxed Washington. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Kelly is willing to try anything to confuse a defense, as his unusual sets flummoxed Washington. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Not to take a hard left turn in this story, but after one week of the season, I can tell you the most-anticipated game on the 2013 schedule, at least as of this morning, is Chip Kelly at Peyton Manning in 19 days. In altitude. Bring your oxygen masks for that one.

“I’ve never been a part of anything like this,” said Vick, the 33-year-old quarterback who took a beating Monday night. He’ll never last 16 games getting hit as much as he did in game one. “When the first quarter was over, I thought we were about to go into halftime. Unreal. The only thing I could tell myself was, ‘It’s going to be a long season.’ ”

A fun one, if this night is any indicator. Two favorite plays, both from the same series in the second quarter, from the Philadelphia’s win over rusty Washington at FedEx Field, in the first game of the Kelly Era:

• Split out on either side in two I-formations, with one receiver behind another. Jason Avant is in front of Riley Cooper on the left, DeSean Jackson behind Brent Celek on the right. At the snap of the ball, Cooper and Jackson turn to Vick and stare in anticipation for him to throw the ball. He doesn’t. Rather, he rides LeSean McCoy in a read-option play, handing it to him, and McCoy gains eight.

• Three plays later Kelly shifts the two tackles out wide, into the bunch formations on either side of the line. Now, instead of a five-man blocking line, there are only three linemen—the center and two guards—remaining to block the confused five-man Washington front. And Jason Peters (left) and Lane Johnson (right) are in three-man bunch sets to throw off Washington. It works. McCoy runs past the strangest formation he’s ever run behind for 10 yards.

In football, creating confusion can be a very good thing.

“This is stunning, Mike,” ESPN’s Jon Gruden said to play-by-play man Mike Tirico not long after that play, with tackles as receivers split wide, forced much finger-pointing and shifting and confusion by Washington.

Wish I’d said that.

I spent time with Kelly in training camp a month ago, and I found him surprisingly open-minded. “I’ve always been a ‘why’ guy,” Kelly told me that day. “The only thing I won’t accept is because that’s the way we’ve always done it. I think the one thing we’re very conscious of is, we don’t have an ego in our program. So it’s not: We are gonna do it our way no matter what and I don’t care what anyone else thinks. If it makes sense, and the science is behind it, we’ll do it.”

That’s how the team looked Monday night. In the first half, with Vick never huddling except at the start of drives or during penalties, the Eagles averaged 17 seconds left on the play clock when they snapped the ball. Only twice did the clock get inside 10 seconds. With McCoy eating up big chunks of yards—he had 115 rushing yards as the Eagles built a 26-7 halftime lead that could have been much worse—Philadelphia didn’t need Vick to be a bombs-away player. Don’t try to do too much is the mantra in the Philly offense. In fact, the Eagles were a 64 percent run team on the night. Not surprising if you’ve studied Kelly. His Oregon teams in 2011 and 2012 ran the ball on a combined 63 percent of their offensive snaps. This is not going to be a pass-happy offense, and Vick’s fine with that.

Start getting used to unusual sighting on the Eagles sideline. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Start getting used to unusual sightings on the Eagles sideline. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Kelly let his foot off the pedal in the third quarter when the Eagles had a 33-7 lead, and it sounds like he thinks he might have been too quick to go from attack mode. Asked if he eased up too soon, he said, “We may have eased. The clock’s always running at this level. It’s a different game than in college. We have a lot to learn.” That’s what I mean about being open to ideas; Kelly understands that any team that can play fast (and Washington can) is a threat even down 26 midway through the third quarter.

But when it was over, Jackson chest-bumped Kelly like he was one of the players. Owner Jeffrey Lurie gave the new coach a game ball. It was a good night, and Kelly remembered why he was there.

“It’s still a game,” he said. “We love playing football. We had fun out there tonight.” We saw.

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109 comments
vasanth_n
vasanth_n

Jim Harbaugh stated in his presser that he would have gone for it on the 4th and 1 if it had happened.

CharlesHenry3
CharlesHenry3

In my opinion, it looked like the Redskins were entirely unprepared for the uptempo offense from the Eagles.  How can that be, as the Eagles - and everyone else - have been talking about the potential it had since Kelly was hired?  Were the Redskins (yes, deliberate namedrop there) simply unable to believe Philly would try to hurry things up?  Redskins' DC Jim Haslett needs to pay better attention to things.  Oh, and yes, it did seem that Redskins players were flopping to slow things down at times.  The NFL needs to pay better attention to that.  Eagles over Redskins (one more time) next time if the Redskins don't change things quick.

Also looked like Griffin was as rusty as many people were afraid to say he would be.  Nice kid, he'll get his legs under him quick. 

RobertSellers
RobertSellers

Tebow wouldn't help a winning team.  Who he'd help is Jacksonville.  Go get Young, Tebow, and Pat White as 1,2,3 on the QB depth chart install a packaged play offense.  You can do it over a week of practice.  Give up on Gabbert.  Run up and down the field on teams and try and win some games.

The only reason you keep Gabbert at QB is because your scouts really like that kid Bridgewater at Louisville.

tundey
tundey

When you start signing circus acts just to convert 2-pt attempts...that's when you stop being a winning team. Tebow simply can't play QB in this league and why he refuses to play any other position and still keeps getting second chances (if not from the league but from guys like Peter King) is beyond me.

pksugs
pksugs

Hey peter where is your New Jersey liberal union editorializing about the officials. They are pathetic and you didn't spare any officials ripping when it was the replacement officials. They seems better and better the more we see the regular guys. But they couldn't be any good because they were not union. A little consistency would be good. But that wouldn't be typical of you. The replacements were better than the regular guys when you consider the awkward situation and lack of experience they had

Jon8
Jon8

That strange sound you hear around the NFL this week is the scramble to get film of the college teams who defeated Chip Kelly!!

Pat11
Pat11

This writer makes it sound like McCoy and this O wasnt nothing before Dip got there.  Always enjoyed Mccoy and Westbrook on my fantasy teams, and that was before DIp. 1 game dont be creating a new icon before at least a couple of more years. Hate these writers shoving RG3, Wilson, Kap and anybody else who has been good for only a very short time as shore lock hall of famers.

dennis
dennis

The Washington Sun Burns?

jj25onjor
jj25onjor

King - Whats with this "Sorry I work to much to give game predictions" crap?!  Cry me a river man!!  You write for a living!  You don't lift heavy stuff in the hot sun!!  In fact, you drink beer in the air conditioning....or so says your columns!!  I have no idea what you get paid, but its got to be $1 million plus/year.  So spare us with the time stuff!  I can predict games in like 5 minutes.....which means you should be able to in 30 seconds.  Come on man!!!!

Mark20
Mark20

I love seeing Mike Shanahan lose. I feel sorry that RGIII has to play for him. Only reason Shanny won two SBs is John Elway.

JeffHunter
JeffHunter

Regarding the use of the name "Redskins", teams usually name themselves words that connote bravery, determination, ferocity or reflect regional associations.  My point is; Washington is not using the word in a derogatory context, but quite the opposite.  They're using it to honor America's first citizens.  Should the Cleveland Indians change their name to the "Native-Americans"?  The word "Indian" came to be used to describe native Americans because Columbus was seeking a new route to India.  Should the Atlanta Braves change their name?  What about the Florida Seminoles?  These sports teams are HONORING this country's native American history.  Most of these words are English slang.  Native Americans never referred to their warriors as braves.  That was an English word assigned to their warriors by white folks.

I grew up in the racist South.  In my elementary school numerous kids bragged about being 1/4 Cherokee or the name of some other native American tribe.  No kid ever mentioned the possibility of having any Negro ancestors in his or her family.  My point is there was plenty of racism directed to African-Americans when I was a kid (and sadly it hasn't completely gone away even today) but there was never any racist attitudes expressed towards native Americans back in the 60s when I was a kid.  Every kid on the playground admired native Americans.  And when we divided up to play cowboys and Indians more kids wanted to Indians!  This was in Louisiana! 

JeffHunter
JeffHunter

Kelly's going wear out his guys if he continues to play them at a break-neck pace!  They're going to tire quickly and get hurt more frequently.  There's no way he can keep this pace up for 16 games.  And beating a Redskins team when it was RG3s first game since last season is nothing to get over confident about.

RobertSellers
RobertSellers

@CharlesHenry3 

I don't think NFL DCs believe that they rely as much as they do, on platooning and deception and they don't want to give up what they're good at.

Ciscos
Ciscos

@RobertSellers Funny you mention Vince Young... Frankly I think that would be the perfect spot for him... They need a veteran QB (or quasi veteran), whose mobile enough to run and can grasp the stripped down offense they run for Gabby.

I'm not even a VY fan, but I think this would be - or would have been a better spot than Green Bay (had he stayed on the team)

Mike26
Mike26

@RobertSellers

"The only reason you keep Gabbert at QB is because your scouts really like that kid Bridgewater at Louisville."


Now THAT is funny - and true!

Mike26
Mike26

@pksugs The real refs are so much better than the replacement it's not even logical to try to debate your "point".  Go comment on Golf.com about TIger's swing.

Ciscos
Ciscos

@Jon8 ~ The only film they need to get are Ohio State vs Oregon and Auburn vs Oregon. I'd lean more towards Ohio State.  I didn't mention LSU because, well, it's LSU.  No slight against the Tigers.  The defensive performance of Ohio State against Oregon was more dominating than the other two.

Mike26
Mike26

@Jon8 It's not a complex formula: be physical with the smaller, faster guys until they're exhausted by the 3rd quarter.  Employ a physical running game throughout the game regardless if Ore-Philly gets an early lead.  Fast little guys wear down; big physical guys don't shrink.

D.G
D.G

He's too old to keep up. And overpaid to boot.

JeffHunter
JeffHunter

@jj25onjor I don't think Peter gets paid nearly what you think.  After all, from what I've read it sounds like SI makes him fly coach!  I would imagine most of his time is spent on the phone talking to players and coaches and his other contacts in the league.  He has to keep up with 32 teams!  He has to have an in-depth knowledge of what's going on inside all 32 teams and gather as much information as he can.  That's what he spends most of his time on as well as traveling for assignments and interviews.  He writes this column as well as articles for the print magazine.  Peter has to be one very busy guy.  I hope he is paid well but it aint no million dollars!

Ciscos
Ciscos

@JeffHunter ~ @Notslor pretty much addressed it already.  I'd just add that you probably want to ask a Native American what they find "offensive." 10 out 10 will tell you "Redskins" is offensive.  Toss in the logo and yeah, that's offensive.  

I'm not NA, but that name rubs me raw just the same.  Will "they" change it? Probably not.

decredico
decredico

@JeffHunter you grew up in the racist south and that is why you still racist and dont realize it, fool

Notslor
Notslor

@JeffHunter Seminole is the name of a tribe. Brave is what the native american's would call their warriors. Redskins, however, is what white men called them in derision. In no way is it "honoring" them. 

oregonian
oregonian

@JeffHunter , You will be surprised! The players will do fine and Kelly is going to spark major change in in a very boring NFL league. 

Jon8
Jon8

We must remember that the college teams have more bodies to throw at a problem!

Every so often an offense comes along that shakes-up the NFL (West Coast, Wildcat, Read Option, etc) and I think the Kelly offense is going to do just that!

RobertSellers
RobertSellers

@Ciscos @Jon8 Auburn beat Oregon by being more spread than Oregon bad comparison.

The pro-style teams to beat Chip Kelly without just out scoring him were Boise St. and Stanford.

Basically penetration on the D-line, don't let the O-line start to move laterally to the line of scrimmage. Tackle in the open field.  Don't try to take risks to score on every drive.

Jon8
Jon8

Wow! Why is Dan Snyder paying all that dough to Shanahan and his staff when you're available!!

Jon8
Jon8

You are forgetting his work for NBC for which he is paid 300k!

Mark20
Mark20

@RockerMaximus @Mark20 You're right about TD! He was a big part in those Super Bowls. Great combo with Elway. Pity his career was quite short.

JeffHunter
JeffHunter

@Ciscos 

Are native Americans offended by the old Indian head / buffalo nickel?  That visage of a native American is very similar to the Washington Redskins logo.

JeffHunter
JeffHunter

@decredico 

Um, no!  You're so off base I don't have time to explain.  It would take volumes.  I'll try to make it short.  I've always been a liberal Democrat.  I well remember the racial struggles in the 60s.  My family's business always employed at least 50% African Americans.  The first people I knew outside of my parents were the African Americans that worked in my family's business and made more than their share of contributions to its success for over a century!

From my experience in elementary school, native Americans were admired and revered.  Sadly, African Americans were not.  Several of my classmates were proud of their native American relatives and having native American blood in their DNA.  That attitude was diametrically opposed to African Americans and how they were regarded.  Thomas Jefferson's descendants had Negro blood, as many other Caucasian families.  Did they brag about it like the whites that bragged about their native American blood kin?  No!  Obviously not!

By the mid-twentieth century racism against African Americans was rampant.  Racism against native Americans was hard to find, and in my neck of the woods (northwest Louisiana), I never heard of it.  Not so for African Americans.  By the time I reached high school and the era of racial integration was in full swing, it quickly became evident which kids harbored racist attitudes and which kids did not.  Owing to my appreciation and allegiance to the African Americans I grew up with and realizing they were some of the finest people I have to this date known, I could not be friends with the white racists in my high school.  Now, does that sound like I'm a racist?

If you've read my previous posts, and I will ask again, why would a proud professional sports team choose a name intentionally to be a racial slur?  It would not make sense!

JeffHunter
JeffHunter

@Notslor Yes, I know Seminole is the name of a tribe.  That's why I said most of these words are English slang.  My point is, the name was never meant to be derogatory.  The people who object to the name are taking it out of context!  Do you seriously think a sports team would call themselves the Nashville Ni++ers (meaning the "N" word), or the Chicago Cockroaches?  All teams name themselves a name they're proud of, no exceptions!  Naming the Washington football team the Redskins was never meant to be a racial slur.  That wouldn't make any sense! 

JeffHunter
JeffHunter

@oregonian I agree, the first half was exciting ,but they were running out of gas in later quarters.  College teams field more players and have shorter schedules and longer half times.  I've read rookie NFLers remark about how much more physically demanding the NFL schedule and game experience is.

Ciscos
Ciscos

@RobertSellers @Ciscos @Jon8 ~ Robert, I did say to defer to Ohio State's film.  Auburn, with Nick Farley(sp) just keep him & Co shooting the gaps (or getting to the gap faster) than the OL could get into position (which is pretty much what you said).

JeffHunter
JeffHunter

@Jon8 

While I did not mention that, I did not forget it.  Television pays a lot more than print media nowadays.  Print media is a dying business model.  And good for Peter.  It's been his life's work and he's very good at it.  Most television careers are rather ephemeral and don't last long; you know the flavor-of-the-season in sports terms.

JeffHunter
JeffHunter

@john715 @JeffHunter @RobertSellers @Ciscos

There will always be someone offended by something.  Taste and sense of humor are subjective.  Some people take things very seriously and some people prefer to see the whimsy in life. 

I don't know if a comprehensive unbiased survey among a wide cross-section of Native Americans has ever been taken and published on this matter.  If so, I haven't seen it.  I've only read anecdotal reports.  Of course, everyone has a right to his or her own opinion.  It makes for an interesting discussion.

The team's owner has complete say in what his team's name will be.  That's his unassailable right.  He will probably only consider changing it if ticket sales to home games decline.  My guess is that will not happen, he will not change the name and the controversy will eventually blow over. 

GO STEELERS! (not looking good so far) and GO SAINTS! (looking promising).

john715
john715

@JeffHunter @RobertSellers @Ciscos Jeff I'm having a really hard time taking you seriously, I can't for the life of me understand why you're bringing up the Chiefs, arrowhead stadium, the Braves and other names that simply are not at issue here. It's the Native American community themselves who have long objected to the Redskins name, if they had an issue with the Chiefs or the Braves they would have said so, as far as any of us know, they have not but what we do know with 100% certainty is that a great deal of Native Americans find the nickname "Redskins" to be offensive, and it makes absolutely no difference whether or not the name was chosen in order to be offensive or if it was chosen to somehow honor Native Americans, the bottom line here is that they find it offensive...that's it, case closed and it should be changed. 

And Robert Sellers.....are you kidding me? Please don't say that it's ok to insult a domin-ANT culture, this is exactly what racists and bigots cling to, the idea that there is a double standard when it comes to these kinds of things and it's why Mr Hunter thinks it would be ok to name a team the pastyskins or the blue eyed devils so therefor it should be ok to insult everyone else. 

But one more time....context is completely irrelevant, and even if they did name the team the "Redskins" as an intentional act of respect and honor then where is that respect and honor now when they know that the name is insulting and hurtful to the very people you claim they respect and honor? If it did exist then the name would have been changed a very very long time ago.


E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES!!!!!!!!

JeffHunter
JeffHunter

@RobertSellers @JeffHunter @Ciscos 

Should the Kansas City Chiefs change their name?  What about Arrowhead stadium?  If you address a native American you don't know by the word "chief" he will probably be just as offended as if you addressed him as "redskin". 

I think context is the key factor.  Naming a stadium or a team is an intentional act of respect and honor.  It would not make sense otherwise.  

JeffHunter
JeffHunter

@RobertSellers @JeffHunter @Ciscos 

If Washington changes its name the rivalry with Dallas will never be as good.  I've never liked the Cowboys.  I always enjoy seeing the Redskins whip the Cowboys, for a number of reasons, cowboys and Indians you know.  I'm serious.

RobertSellers
RobertSellers

@JeffHunter @Ciscos 

The Buccaneers is about piracy in the Caribbean, but  it's different if a dominate culture makes fun of dominate behavior v. dominate culture uses symbol of a violently suppressed culture

JeffHunter
JeffHunter

@Ciscos 

What about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?  The name refers to pirates or white men behaving badly, white invaders and thieves.  It's certainly not complementary to white folks.  I'm not offended by their name.  Can't that be a counterbalance for the Redskins name?

Ciscos
Ciscos

@JeffHunter @Ciscos ~ I'll go down the hallway and ask one that works in my building.  

I do think, however, part of the problem is the history of the Washington franchise under their original (I believe) owner George Preston Marshall who was an unapologetic racist.  If I'm correct, current owner Daniel Synder(sp) has reached out to soothe old wounds, but from the looks of it I guess he wasn't successful. 

anon76
anon76

@JeffHunter

Imagine for a moment that new ownership took over in Dallas, Minneapolis, and Foxborough, and imagine that the new ownership was black or Native American.  Suppose they changed their respective team names to the "Palefaces", "Pastyskins", and the "Blue-eyed Devils".  How mollified would you be by the new ownership if they said something like "We're honoring the Western ideal of the Paleface riding tall in his saddle", or "There was no greater image of ferocity than a longship full of Pastyskins unloading at the beach to sack your castle", or "The noble spirit of those Blue-eyed Devils that fought off the British is still alive today in New England"?

My guess is that you'd start seeing the issue from a different perspective.

Ciscos
Ciscos

@JeffHunter @oregonian ~ Jeff, the first year under Kelly is going to be rough for the OL and his players in general come mid season.  However, by next season, he'll start to get the type of players that work in his system better.  Players will know what type of off-season conditioning they need to do.  Will some drop off because they can't keep up (or don't want to)? Of course.  But that's not unexpected.  Players have already bought into his program and that'll help go a long way to helping them improve their conditioning. 

Last thought, Oregon's player rotation during games wasn't/didn't go that deep.  I should know because I've watched them play my Trojans too many times to count. :-)

Sportsfan18
Sportsfan18

@JeffHunter @oregonian   Yes NFL rosters are much smaller than those in college.  And not all 53 men dress on Sundays either.  On any given Sunday an NFL team will have like 22 or 23 offensive players dress out of the 46 who dress (offense, defense and special teams... and they have to have a few back up lineman dress in case of injuries, the back up QB who almost never plays barring an injury etc...) so there aren't all that many men available to keep playing that break neck of a pace on offense...  

This offense is different enough that it makes me think of alternating a QB the way teams alternate RB's when they become winded.  The pace, while nothing like a basketball game, is still different enough from regular football games that if the coach really wants to keep the pedal to the metal all of the time then it might warrant playing Foles a few snaps here and there simply so Vick ,may catch his breath.

Again, I'm NOT a fan of alternating QB's but this offense is different than others in that if they do ever play a full game the way they played the first half against the Eagles then they'll risk turnovers etc... from a QB who is completely winded...

At one point, a player who is too tired and remains on the field (or court in a basketball game) becomes a liability to his team and he should take a breather...

This offense might be one that at least makes a coach think about doing that with his QB for reasons like this...

sterculius65
sterculius65

Uh Foles can so run that offense, keep wishing in one hand people... 

Mark20
Mark20

@JeffHunter @oregonian He'll need a deep team to run that offense. So what happens when Vick gets hurt (yes, it will happen) and Foles plays? He can't run that offense.

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