The Philadelphia Eagles shit the bed last season. The 4-12 record speaks for itself. Their offensive line was at its best not very good, and at it’s worst? That’s a clown question, bro. It was sad to watch They gave up 48 sacks (5th most in the NFL) in 2012. Peripherally, they ranked 13th in yards per game, so you might think that’s pretty good, but don’t be deceived The Eagles scored the fourth least points in the NFL. Any extra yardage that makes it look like they were a good offense is buoyed by a wet paper bag defense that gave up the 3rd most points in the league. Nothing went right for the Eagles in 2012, so they made a change. Goodbye Andy Reid and your 14 years of service (11 seasons at an 8-8 record or better). Hello hot college coach Chip Kelly!
For all the fanfare about his genius as an offensive mind, Chip Kelly actually started his coaching career on the defensive side of the ball. He started as a Secondary and Special Teams (ST) coach Columbia in 1990 for their freshman team and the next season as an OLB and SS coach. It wasn’t until 1994 that he moved to the offensive side of the ball full-time at his Alma Mater, University of New Hampshire, and there he remained in various coaching roles (RB, OL, OC) until 2007 when he left to become the Offensive Coordinator (OC) at University of Oregon. His offenses at University of New Hampshire and University of Oregon were prodigious in efficiency and output, and well noted for unorthodox up tempo, high pressure schemes. Chip likes to play fast and his players need to be able to handle the speed of the game
Former Oregon RB Kenjon Barner gave a taste of what the Philly running backs should prepare for.
“Be in great shape,” Barner said. “That’s my best advice. Be in great shape.”
These are grown men in the NFL, not young kids that can run around all practice long and have plenty in the tank for the game.
“The Philadelphia Eagles are a football team, not a cross-country team,” Kelly said. “So if we go at the pace we practiced at, at Oregon, then we’d have a really good cross-country team, but we’re not playing in Valley Forge Park, we’re playing at the ‘Linc.’ ”
Kelly gets high praise from coaches around the league, including fellow NFC East Head Coach Tom Coughlin of the New York Giants.
“We interviewed him at one point here in New York. He’s done a superior job. He’s an outstanding football coach, and he’s going to make it interesting.”
There seems to be a universal respect and admiration among college and NFL coaches with respect to coach Kelly’s body of work. In this fake sports game, you need to pay attention to what smart NFL people say, and if Tom Coughlin and Jeff Fisher have a high opinion of you, and Bill Belichick wants to pick your brain about the “fast-break offense”, SFF is listening, and so should you.
Kelly ran a spread, read option offense as OC and HC at Oregon, so it would be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that is the system the Eagles will run. Chip’s adaptability will be tested. We need to also take into account who will likely be calling the plays for the Eagles, Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur.
Pat Shurmur typically runs a West Coast offense (see his stints at STL, CLE, PHI) which features quick, short passes to move the chains as opposed to a scheme that features a lot of big shots down the field (think Norv Turner or Mike Martz offenses recently) Ironically, he comes from the Andy Reid coaching tree.
TIP: When projecting players for the upcoming season, take into account their talent level, the players surrounding them (Does the QB have an arm? Are their big threats to their touches? Don’t forget about the Offensive Line!), the ability of their defense to stop opposing offenses and create turnovers, and most important, the scheme their OC or HC utilize. For example, teams that like to run the ball (SEA, MIN) will not produce as many passing yards as teams that make it rain (NO, DET). Extrapolate.
Since we aren’t quite sure what type of offense the Eagles will be running, and based on Oregon football the past 4 seasons, you can be sure of this: the Eagles will call plays quickly and go no huddle often, they will go for it on fourth down when they aren’t supposed to, and they will go for two point conversions when they aren’t supposed to. Chip Kelly doesn’t often do what you are supposed to do. That is probably why he has been so successful.
In terms of fantasy relevance, some early impressions:
LeSean McCoy is our #9 RB right now because frankly, regardless of what system they end up running, the talent is ridiculous and the touches should be a plenty. Because Kelly’s offenses have typically demanded so much of their players, Kelly prefers to spell his starting running backs a significant portion of the time. This bodes well for young backup Bryce Brown, who over a two-week span in 2012 (weeks 12-13) rushed for 347 yards and 4 TD, but also four lost fumbles he would like to forget. He will tote the rock often and is a RB5 right now with a high ceiling if McCoy gets hurt again.
West Coast v. Read Option will make the biggest difference for the receivers DeSean Jackson will likely be used in a Swiss army knife role catching screens, lining up in the backfield, slot, out wide, returning punts or kicks occasionally. He is a WR3. Jeremy Maclin is in a contract year and a high-end WR4 right now.
Whatever system the Eagles end up running, the QB will be benefit from, if for nothing else, sheer volume. They brought in former Oregon QB Dennis Dixon, who believes the Eagles will hold an open competition for the position. Michael Vick is obviously the front runner but you can’t ever rule out Chip Kelly from doing anything, so Nick Foles remains on the radar. Despite his hopefulness, Dixon will be QB3 at best to start the season. Vick is the only one worth drafting, but age, injury history, recent decision-making, and this vague competition should discourage you from drafting Vick as your starting QB in 1QB leagues and only as a low-end QB2 or upside QB3 in 2QB leagues. Don’t forget though, if healthy, and with an improved offensive line, Vick could once again be dangerous.