A Distant Relative

Posted: July 10th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 36 Comments »

Let me describe a team and see if you can guess who I’m talking about.

The team was led by an unusual head coach. He had a gifted offensive mind, but his unconventional ideas were met with skepticism.

Defense ran the 3-4. Solid, but not spectacular.

Offense was built on the run game, but featured some no-huddle attack. There were a pair of talented RBs. There were a pair of talented WRs that could stretch the field. The OL was good and led by a freak at LT.

The QB was athletic. And left-handed. And wore #7.

Did you get it?

That is the 1988 Cincinnati Bengals. Kinda sounds like another team we know, huh?

Sam Wyche put the offense in over the course of several years, but 1988 is the first time that all the pieces were there. The Bengals OL used zone blocking. There were a pair of terrific RBs, Ickey Woods and James Brooks. QB Boomer Esiason was finally an experienced player and knew the system inside-out. The results were great.

Cincy went 12-4 and made it to the Super Bowl. Were it not for a late TD pass by Joe Montana, the Bengals would have been champs. The offense led the NFL in points and yards. Amazingly, they were just 27th in passing attempts. They were 2nd in rushing attempts, but 1st in yards and TDs. The Bengals were no-huddle, but like Chip Kelly…this wasn’t an excuse to throw the ball. They pounded the rock and wanted to wear down the defense. That year they threw 392 passes and ran the ball 563 times. Sounds like Kelly at Oregon.

And Chip is familiar with the Bengals and what they did. Here is a quote of his from back in January:

“I’ve said this before: If you weren’t in the room with Amos Alonzo Stagg and Knute Rockne, you stole it from somebody,” Kelly said Monday, after watching the North squad Senior Bowl practice at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. “We didn’t invent this. They were running the no-huddle a long time ago. The Buffalo Bills ran this offense a long time ago. Sam Wyche did it with the Cincinnati Bengals.

“I didn’t invent it. We were just smart enough to use it.”

There will be differences in the offenses. Wyche didn’t use the spread concepts that Kelly does. Wyche also seemed to believe in more of a vertical passing game. WR Eddie Brown averaged 24 yards per reception. Tim McGee was all the way down at 19 yards per catch. Cris Collinsworth was a backup by then and must have been embarrassed to average just 17.5 yards per catch.

Wyche wasn’t as TE-oriented as Kelly. Rodney Holman was a key player for the Bengals, but they didn’t use TEs nearly as much or as creatively as Kelly does.

Dana Bible, a long time college coach and one-year NFL disaster (for the 1998 Eagles), spent time around both Wyche and Kelly. He thinks they are similar coaches.

“When you see Chip at work, you saw a constant. His approach to football is that he is a guy that sees possibilities. He approaches a game with a can-do attitude. He sees the game as one about possibilities. That’s the way he is wired.”

“Sam was always reaching out, asking what we can do, what we might do,’’ said Bible. “When you meet Sam and when you meet Chip, you know you are dealing with a football coach. There are no hidden agendas.

“What didn’t take long to see with Chip was he’s a talented individual. He has a fearless approach that just jumps out at you. It’s an attacking style. He has one of those minds that doesn’t stay quiet, it’s always looking.’’

Things went downhill for Sam in Cincy after 1988. His time in Tampa was a disaster, although he did lay the foundation for Tony Dungy and Jon Gruden’s success.

Chip Kelly took an idea from Sam Wyche and has tweaked it in ways that he think will improve the idea and its results. Sam used that idea to get to the Super Bowl. If Chip has genuinely improved it, maybe he’ll win the Super Bowl.

(As for calling Vick the QB…just done for fun since the lefty/athlete/#7 angle was kinda cool)

* * * * *

It is funny for me to read about previous coaches and compare them to Chip. The attitude can be similar. The scheme can be similar. The huge difference is that Kelly’s plan addresses everything. He practices different. The smoothies. Sports science stuff. Different ways of coaching (emphasis on being able to explain “why”).

Sam took the idea of the no-huddle and made it from a situational offense to a regular offense.

Now Chip is taking the no-huddle and making that…almost a lifestyle.


36 Comments on “A Distant Relative”

  1. 1 ACViking said at 1:06 PM on July 10th, 2013:

    Re: Bengals’ No Huddle & Sugar Huddle

    T-Law . . . really nice work.

    Here’s a link to an article written just before the ’88 SB between the 49ers and Bengals focused on Wyche’s use of his no-huddle/sugar-huddle/huddle offense.

    A few highlights from the story:

    1. The lede was that Wyche’s offense was the “wave of the future.”

    2. The Bengals didn’t use the no-huddle/sugar-huddle for two entire games.

    3. Remarkably, just ONE HOUR before kick-off of the AFC Title Game, the NFL ruled that the Bengals could not use their no-huddle offense to deprive the defense of a chance to substitute.


  2. 2 TommyLawlor said at 1:29 PM on July 10th, 2013:

    I just re-read about Wyche and the offense in “Blood, Sweat and Chalk”. Crazy that the NFL messed with Wyche and the Bengals before the AFC-CG like that. Insane.

  3. 3 ACViking said at 1:33 PM on July 10th, 2013:

    Why do think the NFL was doing that?

  4. 4 TommyLawlor said at 2:07 PM on July 10th, 2013:

    Marv Levy threatened to fake injuries. He complained that the Bengals would have 13 or 14 guys on the field at once and that gave them an advantage. Wyche responded that some were going off and some were coming on. It wasn’t the same as huddling with 13 and then sending 2 off.

  5. 5 shah8 said at 3:02 PM on July 10th, 2013:

    Substitutions are much tighter these days!

  6. 6 TommyLawlor said at 3:09 PM on July 10th, 2013:

    Much more controlled.

  7. 7 Richard O'Connor said at 1:38 PM on July 10th, 2013:

    There will be similarities, but what will be the Eagles version of the Ickey Shuffle?

  8. 8 TommyLawlor said at 2:08 PM on July 10th, 2013:

    I don’t know but I hope Isaac Sopoaga is the one doing it.

  9. 9 GEagle said at 2:17 PM on July 10th, 2013:

    I heard Clifton Geathers does a mean “Macarena”

  10. 10 RIP Worms said at 2:51 PM on July 10th, 2013:

    “The Flying Favorite” In homage to the short-lived Eagles career of Marlon Favorite, players could do the jumping chest bump but maintain a minimum distance of at least three yards between them so as to ensure no actual bodily contact.

  11. 11 RIP Worms said at 2:53 PM on July 10th, 2013:

    “The Steve Smith Slide” In an effort to avoid the sting of a high-five, players would slide to the ground several yards shy of a successful celebration.

  12. 12 TommyLawlor said at 3:10 PM on July 10th, 2013:

    This is punishable by death. Or worse.

  13. 13 RIP Worms said at 2:56 PM on July 10th, 2013:

    “The Ronnie Run-Pass Option” The player with the ball jumps into a group of teammates, but spikes the ball BACKWARDS before they can pile on top of him.

  14. 14 RIP Worms said at 2:58 PM on July 10th, 2013:

    “The LeSean Boot” A group of celebrating players briefly dance with a cheerleader before throwing her unceremoniously to the ground on their way back to the bench.

  15. 15 TommyLawlor said at 4:54 PM on July 10th, 2013:

    Needs a bus.

  16. 16 A_T_G said at 5:26 PM on July 10th, 2013:

    I think he is retired.

  17. 17 RIP Worms said at 3:10 PM on July 10th, 2013:

    “The Nnamdi Not-me” Instead of celebrating, players look around confused then all point in unison at Kurt Coleman.

  18. 18 A_T_G said at 8:25 PM on July 10th, 2013:

    I can’t keep a smile off my face each time I picture this happening.

  19. 19 A_T_G said at 5:29 PM on July 10th, 2013:

    I was going to offer a suggestion, but it would be a dull rock next to RIP Worms’ gems.

  20. 20 TommyLawlor said at 5:41 PM on July 10th, 2013:

    He’s on his A-game today. Must have been huffing with Charlie and Mac.

  21. 21 GEagle said at 2:17 PM on July 10th, 2013:

    Always love these history lessons..
    TE’s just recently started to evolve into these Über athletes, caveman-like pass catchers like Gronk. So I wouldn’t expect the TE position to have been featured on the 1988 Bengals, but What type of Recievers were they using? Considering the times, was there an emphasis on Bigger bodied blocking WR’s? YOu would think more of the speedy burner types would be used in a verticle passing game….

    Makes more sense to me, to go the chip Kelly route, of quick, short/intermediate throws with an emphasis on YAC, if you are going to be using physical recievers who can block.
    man, it’s getting close to the time this new offense and defense will be unveiled. Sooo exciting

  22. 22 eagleyankfan said at 3:00 PM on July 10th, 2013:

    1) let’s hope that’s the last we ever mention/read the word Bengals again.
    2) speaking of boomer — any way to get him off any radio programs that is not specific to football? He’s fine with football, once he steps outside of that box — oooffaaaaa.

  23. 23 TommyLawlor said at 4:24 PM on July 10th, 2013:

    I would use my power to get Warren Sapp and Jamie Dukes off the air first. Then I’d work on Boomer.

  24. 24 Mitchell said at 4:35 PM on July 10th, 2013:

    I like upvoted this comment but am putting 1,000,000 likes in the comments.

  25. 25 GEagle said at 5:59 PM on July 10th, 2013:

    Unhhh, use your powers to get McNabb off the air first!!!
    he now is saying that Stafford wasn’t worth the extension he signed….

  26. 26 eagleyankfan said at 7:30 AM on July 11th, 2013:

    Is it me – or does McNabb bash every QB decision?

  27. 27 SteveH said at 6:52 PM on July 10th, 2013:

    Add Heath Evans to that list as well, oof.

  28. 28 TommyLawlor said at 7:38 PM on July 10th, 2013:

    For sure.

  29. 29 eagleyankfan said at 7:31 AM on July 11th, 2013:

    From your mouth to the networks ears…

  30. 30 Tumtum said at 12:03 AM on July 11th, 2013:

    Hey take it easy on my Maryland guys!

  31. 31 OregonDucker said at 6:45 PM on July 10th, 2013:

    I don’t know about you but I find a certain comfort in Chip’s breadth of knowledge about the game. This information allows him to do situational analysis real time, and improvise or improve his game plan while the sh*t is hitting the fan. ( Having an experienced NFL OC helps in this real time adjustment phase too.)

    I saw via the fishduck game reviews what he did in the Stanford and USC games to turn a disastrous play into one that capitalized on the defense reaction. He did the same thing in the Fiesta Bowl in the first half.

    I can’t wait to see Chip countering a great DC during a game. We are going to have some real fun dissecting these battles. Let’s hope Chip wins most of them.

  32. 32 Tumtum said at 12:10 AM on July 11th, 2013:

    As much as I love Big Red I couldn’t help but have flash backs to [insert random run of the mill defense] basically calling our plays before they happened, when reading your post. Really you didn’t see this when the Big Man was calling plays. He takes the blame for giving the reigns to the guy, who took the wind, though. A few seasons ago when Dallas beat us 3 freakin times, D. Ware even said that they could call the plays long before snap.

    So I think it goes without saying your post makes me happy.

  33. 33 eagleyankfan said at 7:36 AM on July 11th, 2013:

    With a name like OregonDucker — I hope you’re insight on Chip is spot on. Right now, it seems Chip is that breadth of fresh air. It always seems that “pro announcers” say that in game adjustments are overrated. Going back a few years — I remember a Washington team that would DOMINATE the second half of almost every game. There was a reason for that.
    Now, the OC for Eagles — not sure he’s a breadth of fresh air — YET. Jury is out on him. But I do give credit for an offensive minded coach to hire an OC.

  34. 34 Jamie Parker said at 9:39 PM on July 10th, 2013:

    I remember they beat the Eagles that year. During the Buddy Ryan Show the following week, they showed Boomer saying, “That #20 couldn’t cover a lick.” Then Al Melzer (I think it was him) turned to Buddy and said there’s only one way to meet them again. To that Buddy said, “I don’t know if they can get there.” Well as we all know, the Bengals did get there, the we didn’t hold up our part of the bargain.

  35. 35 A_T_G said at 7:34 AM on July 11th, 2013:

    That story would be so much better if it ended with Boomer getting intercepted for three pick 6s on or way to the trophy.

  36. 36 Flyin said at 11:04 PM on July 10th, 2013:

    Great read!!! Tommy!

    Off topic: Close relative, my son

    He scored his first officiall ice hockey goal tonight. His second game of his first season. It’s house hockey in NC…very proud moment and birthday gift since I notch another year in 3 minutes.

    For some cool fun, check out this video and I hope my son gets the tenacity of hockey as he progresses.