So What Are the Experts Saying About Chip Kelly’s Offense?

Reactions to Chip Kelly’s debut as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles have been all over God’s green earth. Obviously, they’re all high in the City of Brotherly Love right now—the excitement level is through the roof. But what about throughout the rest of the country? How’s the national media handling the breakout performance that captured the eyes and ears of everyone in football? How are they handling having to show some of their own love to a city that they all love to hate?

Here’s a sampling.

Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post was clearly bitter as he was pounding away at his keyboard last night. To him, it was more about how bad Washington looked, and less about how the Eagles made well-respected head coach Mike Shanahan look like it was his first night on the sidelines.

Maybe, in a few weeks, after other teams get a chance to study the film, the Eagles’ attack will not look so scary. Maybe their spread formations will offer gaps through which to bring pressure, rather than simply scatter defenders from sideline to sideline, often opening up simple cutback runs. Maybe part of the fiasco on Monday was due to a Redskins pass defense that’s as bad or worse than in 2012. But for now the first impression is that there may be another sea change in the NFC East.

This game illustrated one problem the Eagles may face that the Oregon Ducks seldom did. When you try to run a million plays and lengthen the game at the college level, you increase the chances that the better team will win. More plays, bigger data sample, less outlier results. The Eagles, with their talent issues, may not always want the better team to win. The Redskins’ late comeback just illustrated the double-edged nature of the Kelly offense.

I’m sorry, but what talent issues are you referring to? Is it the lack of talent on the stacked offensive line, anchored by Jason Peters? Or maybe the thin wide receiving core with Desean Jackson and Jason Avant (who did fumble…), or our running backs who currently lead the NFL in rushing and are only a little over a season removed from leading the league in TDs scored? Go home, Boswell. You’re drunk.

Then there’s Phil Sherridan of ESPN.com:

This is more than nitpicking about the quality of the victory cigar. Everything that could make Kelly a stunning NFL success was on display in his debut. But so was everything that could undermine his attempt to bring his innovative Oregon offense to the pro level.

The Eagles’ uptempo offense worked brilliantly in the first half. They ran a play every 22.4 seconds — 53 in all. The offense was so efficient, it produced Washington’s only touchdown of the half …

But the Eagles wore down just as much as their opponents did. Kelce said he thought both teams were tired, and that led to the increasingly sloppy play. Players on both teams needed oxygen or took a few downs off to deal with cramping. …

But it would also be a mistake to dismiss what the Eagles did accomplish here. They won a division game. Their offense showed flashes of what might make it really special, and their defense came out and played with intensity, forcing turnovers and pressuring Griffin.

Fair assessment, and the jury is certainly still out as to whether the Eagles will be able to keep this pace up for a full 16-game season, especially with a starting quarterback named Michael Vick who has a well-documented injury history.

What say you, Jarrett Bell from USA Today Sports:

The NFL has seen a few flash storms. Remember the Wildcat? The Run-N-Shoot?

And this is hardly the first no-huddle attack. See Jim Kelly and the Buffalo Bills’ K-Gun Offense.

With a few game tapes to study, a good coordinator will figure out how to stop any system.

In theory.

The torrid pace brings the X’s and O’s to life, with 10-play drives over and over ramping up the fatigue and preventing defenses from substituting regardless of down or distance.

Throw in some funky formations while spreading the field and using the read option, and the defense’s ability to adjust is stretched. Perhaps stretched to its limits.

A little good, a little bad. I’ll deal.

CBS Sports discussed the Eagles very early successes in an article about overreactions, so that leads me to believe John Breech would be all gloom and doom on Kelly:

Chip Kelly’s NFL debut on Monday was impressive, but it’s not the first time a college coach has made the jump to the NFL and dominated a game in his regular season debut.

As a matter of fact, of all the high-profile coaches who’ve made the jump from college to the NFL over the past 20 years, three coaches had debuts similar to Kelly’s. Nick Saban, Steve Spurrier and Barry Switzer all coached teams in their NFL debuts that put up almost the exact same offensive numbers as Kelly’s warp speed offense. …

What does this all mean? It means Kelly isn’t the first former college coach to take the NFL by storm in Week 1. Former Cardinals coach Dennis Green would probably tell us not to ‘crown him’ yet. But it also doesn’t mean Kelly and his hyper-drive offense won’t find success in the NFL.

I’ll take it… I think? But despite the fact that they may have put up similar numbers and seen similar results in their NFL debuts, those other coaches didn’t do anything to light the fire on a potential revolution in the sport. So in that sense, Kelly is nothing like the others.

Hank Gola of the NY Daily News in Giants country penned rather kind(ish) words:

The frenetic pace, plus Kelly’s unorthodox formations – both tackles line up outside the numbers on one play – kept the Redskins guessing and allowed Vick to throw for two TDs and ran for another in the first half. LeSean McCoy, constantly free to get to the second level, carried 31 times for 184 yards, one yard shy of his career best.

It also should afford Vick better protection. He was still hit, including once on an option run, but with the defense on its heels, it can’t just come after him and turn him into a human pinata.

When the Eagles came off the field, several talked about how much fun they had. Life wasn’t exactly a barrel of monkeys the last few seasons with Andy Reid.

We’ll see what he’s saying after Week 5.

Then there’s medials from Don Kelly’s former stomping grounds who were all like, “Yea, been there, done that, enjoy our sloppy seconds.” I’m talking about you, Ken Goe:

Early on, the Eagles looked a lot like Kelly’s Oregon teams, running plays in machine gun bursts, with Washington’s defenders on their heels — when they weren’t limping off with leg cramps. …

There were those who believed Kelly would have to rein in his freewheeling style in the NFL, They thought employing the spread as a base formation and running the read option would expose his quarterback to unnecessary injury. They thought NFL defenses would solve his offense in a way that college defenses could not.

The adults on his roster, critics reasoned, would rebel at an all-out, no-huddle attack.

But if Kelly has compromised, it’s only been with the size of his playbook. …

Still, there was plenty that Oregon fans would recognize. For the most part, the Eagles lined up with Vick in the shotgun, one running back, and players spread across the field, sideline to sideline.

Even Bloomberg decided to borrow from the hype.

I’ve already given my two cents, so I’ll spare you, dear reader. But this is a conversation that’s going to continue all season long. It’s one I’m absolutely willing to listen to and engage in, because, at the very least, it means the Eagles are relevant again, and their relevant for all the right reasons.

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