When new Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly was still with the Oregon Ducks, he was slightly mislabeled. People seemed to think that Chip Kelly’s offense only moved at one speed:
His tempo was viewed as one-dimensional. People who hadn’t necessarily watched a lot of Oregon football (damn those late start times) seemed to assume that when they caught Oregon playing a primetime game in Neyland Stadium against the Tennessee Volunteers or in Cowboys Stadium against the LSU Tigers that they’d be going 100 MPH on every single play.
As most PAC-12 fans know, that’s not always the case. However, similar to the national perception that emerged out of a fog of unknown, there seems to be a perception that Chip Kelly is going to revolutionize fast in the NFL. Folks seem to think that Chip Kelly invented the no-huddle, that he invented the spread.
That’s not the case, either.
When Grantland and Smart Football’s Chris Brown–who seems to describe Chip Kelly’s offense better than anyone–sat down to watch the Eagles first preseason game of 2013, he saw the same Kelly offense he’s become accustomed to. He saw an offense that utilized several different paces, each to varying degrees of success.
However, the one that we’re all concerned about is still fast.
Well, I’ve got good news, America. Chip Kelly still does fast better than just about anybody else.
No, Chip Kelly doesn’t always go fast, but when he does, his offenses are prolific, efficient and damn entertaining. And, while the NFL will ultimately demand that the Eagles be able to operate effectively at all three of Chip Kelly’s tempos (red light, yellow light and green light, which is relatively self-explanatory), it’ll be Chip Kelly pushing the tempo that throws the NFL for a loop. The breakneck pace isn’t something Kelly always finds the need to utilize, but when he does, it’s a level of speed that the NFL frankly isn’t familiar with.
Granted, what we’ve seen of Chip Kelly in Philadelphia so far is a muted version. It’s been toned down in the same way that all preseason offenses are toned down.
When the regular season gets under way, there will undoubtedly be wrinkles. Circumstance may lead to more fast in some games and less fast in others, but one thing we’re all certain of is that we’ll see Chip Kelly doing exactly what we’ve come to expect (even if we do expect it a little too much).
Now, it’s not as if Chip Kelly is the only person in the NFL who will run the no-huddle offense. We’ve seen it for a long time as a way to battle against a winding clock, and in recent year’s we’ve seen it used in an effort to create mismatches. We’ve even seen it used in similar fashion to the way Kelly did at Oregon, too.
However, Chip Kelly seems to have an otherworldly sense of when he can use pace to his advantage. Case in point, when the Eagles took on the New England Patriots in their first preseason game, they came out and huddled and took a snap from under center before picking up the pace in the middle of the drive and scoring.
Later on, with Nick Foles in at quarterback, they ran a 10-play, 66-yard TD drive that was run at exactly the kind of Chip Kelly tempo that we’ve mythologized.
See, for whatever reason, Chip Kelly has the innate ability to find a weakness and expose it by accelerating and not allowing the defense to make an adjustment. It’s a boot stomping down on the opponent’s windpipe as they gasp for their last breath of air.
No, Kelly won’t constantly go fast. But, when he does, you can be almost certain it’ll be because it’s the most effective and efficient thing for his football team.
Will NFL teams eventually adjust? Will officials allow Kelly to maneuver at whatever pace he pleases?
These are both questions that will ultimately be addressed throughout the course of Kelly’s inaugural season and then throughout the rest of his career. But, from what little we’ve seen, there’s no reason to believe that Chip Kelly won’t continue to set precedent in the world of offensive tempo.
Whether or not the NFL machination of the Chip Kelly offense follows in the record-setting footsteps of its collegiate cousin, remains to be seen. That has as much to do with personnel as scheme.
In the end, the Philadelphia Eagles offense–no matter how fast (or slow) Chip Kelly wants them to go–will only go about as far as guys like Mike Vick and LeSean McCoy take them.