Chip Kelly’s offense may be hurting the Eagles just as much as it’s helping them. Kelly may have underestimated the NFL after his success in college.
There are few absolutes in the NFL. One week a team is the toast of the league, and the next week they are the joke of the league. I’ve stated often that the NFL season is a marathon and not a sprint. After the first game against Washington, many thought the Philadelphia Eagles were unstoppable. But with each passing game, weaknesses are being revealed in Chip Kelly’s offense that don’t translate to a 16 game season.
In the Pac-12 there are a handful of good QB’s that Oregon faces, and a few teams with equal talent. But Kelly could simply run up the score on pretty much every team he faced without too much opposition. However, in the NFL you can’t count on just blowing out every team you face. Three touchdown leads aren’t safe in the NFL. Even the Redskins almost came back on the Eagles after the game was thought long over.
At Oregon, Kelly’s teams pretty much had the game won by halftime, and by the fourth quarter he’d have his third and fourth stringers in the game mopping up. So things like time of possession didn’t really matter. But it’s matters a great deal in the NFL. As the Eagles defense has been on the field about 40 minutes the past few games, and their opponent’s defense about 20.
So it should come as no surprise that the Eagles defense is worn down and ineffective by the end of the game. I also think Kelly’s offense is being worn down by their up-tempo pace. In the Pac-12 Kelly’s players weren’t challenged physically and mentally as hard as his Eagles players are being challenged at the NFL level.
Every play in the NFL takes a toll on a player’s body, but in college where the talent level isn’t as high, players can cruise by more often, just getting by on talent and speed alone. But you can’t do that in the NFL. Kelly’s offense requires the ball snapped every 15 seconds. So there is barely time for players to catch their breath before the ball is snapped again. At least with teams that use a huddle, players can take a few seconds to recover for the next play. That can’t happen in Kelly’s offense.
Yes, an up-tempo offense gives the offense an advantage, but more effort is required by NFL players than college players. The more plays you run, the more punishment your body takes. And more importantly, the more punishment your QB takes. As Michael Vick was clearly exhausted and beaten down by the end of the loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
And this is just after three games. What will the Eagles look like after 16 games? I’m sure Kelly remains confident that his system will work in the NFL, and it still might. But he may want to consider altering his approach a bit. Because it’s beginning to look like what worked for Kelly in the Pac-12, isn’t going to work for him in the NFL.
- Chip Kelly, Philadelphia Eagles stock dropping fast (thesportsbank.net)
- Is Michael Vick Ruining Chip Kelly’s High-Octane Offense? (bleacherreport.com)
- When Vick was shaken up, Kelly didn’t know NFL injury rules (profootballtalk.nbcsports.com)