January 16, 2013 by shivusharma
If you’ve been following me on Twitter (@Shivu_Sharma), you would know that I predicted this a while ago:
Chip Kelly will definitely be getting a call from the Eagles this off-season. Great personnel fit for his offense. Mon Nov 12 00:34:07
If Reid got fired, would be interesting to see Chip Kelly be HC. Pieces for fast break offense seem to be there in philly Thu Oct 18 16:56:
This hiring brings up many questions for both Chip Kelly and the Eagles. Let’s examine some of the bigger talking points.
1) Why did Chip Kelly change his mind about coming to the NFL?
I imagine we will know the answer to this when he holds his press conference, but in the meantime it’s fair to speculate. There have been potential sanctions hovering over the Oregon Ducks football program for next season. We saw Pete Carroll dodge the NCAA sanctions placed on USC, and take the Seattle Seahawks job in 2010. Perhaps Chip Kelly is following suit. The other most likely possibility is that the Eagles made him a Godfather offer that he simply could not refuse. It was well known that Chip Kelly was number one on the Eagles’ list, so perhaps they upped the ante in an attempt to lure him back in. If and when his contract terms are made public, I expect them to be decently more than the $5m/yr that Jim Harbuagh received from the 49ers.
2) Will the Fast Break Offense translate to the NFL?
I think it will translate, but not in its entirety. Kelly will have to make some adjustments to his base principles in order to correct for the schemes and athleticism of NFL
defenders. The NFL has been evolving and adopting many of college football’s offense principles though. Teams have started employing spread passing attacks, unbalanced lines, pistol formations, and the read-option. These elements are all within Chip Kelly’s wheelhouse, and their collective success against NFL defenses bodes well for the Eagles’ outlook. Still, it’s important to remember that the NFL is an evolving league. With the success of Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, and Robert Griffin III, NFL defenses will be better prepared to combat the read-option. No doubt, Chip Kelly will have his hands full, but the Eagles didn’t hire the offense, they hired the man. Kelly has proven to be an innovative and progressive thinker. Someone like that should be able to adapt to the dynamic environment of the NFL, and tweak his offense to not only optimize its players’ strengths, but capitalize on its opponent’s weaknesses.
3) Who will play Quarterback in this new offense?
Michael Vick is owed around $15m next season, which is pretty crazy when you consider how bad he has been for the past two seasons. His struggles in reading blitzes, shifting blocking assignments, holding onto the ball too long, and turning over the ball are well documented. It’s possible that the Eagles will be able to negotiate Vick down to a lower cap number, or at least transform some of his salary into performance-based bonuses. Vick has said he is unwilling to negotiate down to a lower number, but if he is cut, I doubt he will get a better deal from another team. We are starting to see that Vick’s skillset is diminishing, which puts more emphasis on him playing in a scheme that can hide is deficiencies. Vick is certainly the best available fit to run Kelly’s offense in the short-term too. His running ability and arm strength make him the exact kind of threat the fast break offense would require. Vick struggled heavily in the mental aspects of
Andy Reid’s offense. He rarely shifted blocking assignments to respond to blitzes. Kelly’s offense should simplify the game for Vick and allow him to use his natural abilities more.
As for Nick Foles, I would assume he is about to be traded. Kelly has made some glowing comments about Foles in the past, but the fact is that Foles cannot run the fast break offense. The offense requires a running threat at QB in order to freeze backside defenders. The genius of the system is that it forces the defense to defend the whole field while leaving the offense options to exploit weaknesses. Foles is a pocket-passer and cannot maintain the necessary running threat this offense needs to work.
If Vick is kept on board, you can expect the Eagles to draft and/or trade for a younger QB as well. Vick’s age and injury history require that you have a capable insurance plan. Perhaps the Eagles are able to draft Geno Smith, if he falls to them at number 4. Aside from Smith, I don’t see many great fits for Chip Kelly’s scheme in this year’s draft. We will learn more about the prospects as the draft rolls near. Everyone will be looking for the next Russell Wilson or Colin Kaepernick. Considering the dearth of QBs, I wouldn’t be surprised if Tim Tebow is at least given a look. Matt Flynn, Alex Smith, and Joe Webb could also be options.
4) What can be expected from the Eagles now?
The best thing for the Eagles is that there will be a different message in the locker room. With a new coach, comes new opportunity and new direction. Kelly is a great communicator by all accounts and will do a great job getting his players to buy into his philosophies. The Eagles will certainly be better conditioned as well. Kelly is infamous for holding fast-paced practices that focus on repetition and execution. Expectations should be tempered for a couple years though. This is a completely new idea and unorthodox coaching style being injected into an NFL environment. Both the fans and upper management should hope to see gradual progress, as Chip Kelly learns to adapt his personnel and coaching to the NFL game. Fans will be frustrated at the many times Kelly will go for it on 4th & 10 at midfield, but the important thing is to trust the process. Given the time, I believe Chip Kelly can be an extremely successful NFL coach, leading the franchise to several playoff births. Without the time, he will be out of the league in less than two years.
5) What does Chip Kelly’s hiring mean for the rest of football?
His hiring shows that the NFL is open to progressive thinkers with an established track record of success. The necessity of having “NFL roots” could be long gone if Kelly is able to achieve success in the pros. Rather than hiring the coaches with the best resumes,
more teams may opt to hire the coaches who are the best football minds. Football is not so different from most things. The people who attain success are those who are willing to challenge norms and think differently. This is the case in most contexts: science, business, technology, art, politics, etc. Take Nate Silver for example. Silver’s roots were not in politics or predicting election results, they were in baseball statistics and sabermetrics. He looked at election results and polling data in a revolutionary way, and applied his approach to that sector. Two presidential elections and two nearly dead-on predictions later, Nate Silver is the leading expert in the nation for political elections. The same goes for football. Think about who the best coaches in the NFL are right now. What names come to mind? The first two for me are Bill Belichick and Jim Harbaugh. Both of these coaches were unafraid to make unorthodox decisions, and so far their line of thinking has paid off. I’m not saying that Chip Kelly is a guaranteed success in the NFL, but he certainly looks at the sport differently than the average coach, and in doing so, brings tremendous evolutionary potential for professional football.