Chip Kelly revolutionized the way the game of college football is played. His ultra-uptempo offenses were built to put as many points on the board as they could, as quickly as they could, whether it be through the air or on the ground.
However, following the 2012-13 season, Kelly left Eugene and flew across the country in order to take over the vacant head coaching spot with the Philadelphia Eagles. While several pro teams (such as San Francisco, Seattle and Washington) have begun moving towards a read-option offense, no NFL team has ever tried to run the types of looks and reads that Kelly is working on implementing in Philly.
While the city’s fans are more excited to see how it works out than they are for their first game day cheesesteaks come Week 1, one of the team’s biggest fans is a little more apprehensive.
[Get your cheesesteaks ready: Kelly and the Eagles will open the year on Monday Night Football]
Ron Jaworski, who led the Eagles to a Super Bowl berth and is now one of ESPN’s most respected Xs and Os analysts, is not confident that Kelly’s offensive schematics can succeed at the professional level.
“It’s going to be interesting to see if this style of offense projects to the NFL,” Jaworski said during an appearance on Philly’s 97.5 The Fanatic (via PhillyMag.com). “I’m going to say no.”
“I just don’t see NFL passing concepts in this offense,” Jaws continued. “It’s a movement offense by the quarterback, off the run-action, off the read-action. A lot of short, quick passes, dart routes, bubble screens. Very few plays down the field with NFL passing concepts.”
What’s more, that game-plan itself is not the only issue Jaws takes umbrage with. While Kelly will have every second of every day to prepare his new team for game day — as opposed to worrying about classroom work at the collegiate level, for example — NFL defenses will also have as much time as necessary to prepare for the new looks. Such was not the case at the amateur level.
“It’s easy to say, ‘Yeah, it worked in college,’” he said. “But then I looked at a game like Stanford. Stanford, a good defensive football team, shut them down. I hope it works. I like the innovation, but I think it’s going to be very difficult.
“The NFL is a different league with fast players that have all week to prepare for you. At the collegiate level, you have 20 hours to prepare for that Oregon offense. Take out three hours of game time. You’ve got 17 hours in the course of a week to practice and prepare for that style of offense. It kills you in college. But in the NFL, these guys work 17 hours a day. A day, not a week – 17 hours a day getting ready, so there’s no secrets.”
Philly fans still do not know who their team’s starting quarterback will be this year. At the moment, Kelly is still sifting through the lighting fast yet increasingly brittle Michael Vick, second-year and 6’9″ pocket passer Nick Foles, former Oregon star and NFL journeyman Dennis Dixon and fourth-round 2013 draft pick out of USC, Matt Barkley.
Obviously, all four bring widely divergent skillsets and experiences to the table, and not all can be used in the same manner.
Whomever Kelly eventually chooses to saddle up under center will go a long way towards dictating whether or not the Eagles can prove Jaws wrong. Kelly, for his part, is not going to put any one of them in a situation they cannot handle.
“Part of what we do offensively is understanding what our personnel is and how do we maximize that?” Kelly said back in January. “And what are their best traits? If you’re going to ask someone to do something they are not capable of doing, obviously that’s a recipe for disaster. We’re going to analyze everyone that’s in our program and our scheme … is always going to be personnel driven.”
Kelly just needs to make sure he understands the type of defensive personnel his guys are going up against. It’s not Stanford, after all.
[H/T: CBS Sports]