Dan Gonzalez isn’t an Oregon fan or an Eagles fan. He is a good football writer and loves to break down the X’s and O’s of the game, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Luckily for us, he decided to take a look at the Oregon offense.
Make sure to go read the post. He’s got pictures of plays that will illustrate what he’s seeing and why he likes certain elements. Here are a couple of excerpts.
Few systems have captured the imagination of a fan base the way Coach Kelly did at Oregon; it is no understatement to say that Oregon’s attack has influenced football at every level. My study shed light on some findings that contradict common opinions of his system. I also made observations that lead me to believe his system can succeed at the NFL level, as well as some areas where I believe it is imperative to revamp the current structure in order to be successful.
Contrary to popular belief, the system itself looks more like Noel Mazzone’s offense than it does that of Rich Rodriguez. In other words, the QB is less of a designed runner and more of a point guard. If I had never studied an Oregon game and simply readarticles or listened to TV commentary, I would get the impression that the Ducks majored in the zone read. My study, however, showed that they actually run a relatively low number of GIVE/KEEP runs. A great deal of the rushing yards accumulated by the QB in 2012 were off of scrambles; further study of their run game shows how they gained advantages without necessarily committing the QB as a runner.
One of the great points Gonzalez makes is that Kelly loves to put pressure on the defense by making them deal with options, but not just the QB/RB kind. He has the WR in motion for the possible fly sweep. That WR could also catch a quick screen. The QB can fake the hand-off and throw if that WR is open out wide.
The “ghost reverse” hit the NFL back in 2001 or 2002. It was highly effective. The WR would loop behind the offense. The backside DE would have to play contain, in case the WR got the ball handed to him. All Eagles WR totaled 9 run plays in 2001. James Thrash had 18 by himself in 2002. This is the same type of thing Chip Kelly wants to do. Andy Reid “blocked” the backside DE just by having the WR loop around. The WR didn’t need the ball. The Eagles simply needed to give it to Thrash once a game (or so) to make the defense honor him as a threat.
Kelly will use this same principle in his NFL offense. He won’t necessarily do it with the ghost reverse or a WR. He’ll be creative in coming up with ways to pressure the defense so that he can beat them with simple plays.
Later in the post Gonzalez mentions something not many have talked about.
My one reservation in watching Oregon’s offense is the depth in the pocket by the passer. Oregon’s QBs didn’t really take a true drop, instead catching the snap and simply “hitching up” from that depth, and were at the pretty much the same spot, no matter what the pass. In the NFL, offenses need to attack at different depths, and the apex of the drop needs to match the route. In other words, a passer needs to be ready to throw just before that pattern comes open, rather than just holding the ball staring into that space. Drops need to be timed with the depths of routes. I think that this sort of refinement is a major area that Pat Shurmur will bring to the offense.
I am also interested in seeing what adjustments will be brought about in terms of communicating the play from the sideline to the field. Clearly, Coach Kelly is an innovator in this arena. I am curious as to how that is adjusted as players are released or traded, and end up on opposing teams. Every player that leaves Philadelphia will be an intelligence source for the opposition – something he did not have to deal with at Oregon.
Someone asked me the other day what Pat Shurmur’s role would be in designing the offense. I think Gonzalez is dead on the money. Shurmur will help to incorporate the WCO passing concepts. That means clearly defined landing marks for the QB and specific locations for the receivers. The WCO is a timing offense.
The QB must know that when he plants his foot on a certain drop that the receiver will be at a certain spot. Kelly has dealt with this from his UNH days, but Shurmur brings NFL experience and that will be important. There is more precision in the NFL passing game. College defenses don’t have the same kind of speed so there isn’t the same need for perfect timing.
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The other day AC Viking asked a tough question in the comments section. He asked about the future of Jason Peters, Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans. His question wasn’t about their play, but rather the cost. Those guys are over 30 and slated to earn big bucks in the next few years. Will the Eagles pay them?
As I said…tough question.
The Eagles will pay top dollar for great players. That said, they don’t like to waste money. I tend to think Jason Peters is safe, but he will need to play like an elite LT. Any slippage from him, coupled with Lane Johnson playing well, and the Eagles might consider a change. We’re talking about 2014 or 2015. No one is going anywhere right now.
Herremans was erratic last year even when healthy. Maybe moving to RG will bring out the best in him. Mathis has been rock solid in his 2 years here.
While these guys are aging, they aren’t the typical OL that have way too much weight on a frame. Mathis and Herremans are skinny OL. That should help them age well. Peters is just a freak, and I mean that in the best possible way.
We saw Tra and Runyan each decline in 2008. They both played very well in 2006 and close to that in 2007. The drop-off came quickly. We’ll see what happens with the older guys now. The simple key is to play well. Do that and the Eagles might play it safe and keep them around. Any decline and the situation changes quickly.
The other factor here is how the young guys develop. We just have to wait and see how they do.
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Thanks to Mark for the excellent article earlier today. I think that is a subject that has flown under the radar. We see it all the time with players. Guys lose a handful of games in college and then lose that many before their rookie year is even up. It can really get to them.
I think Kelly will handle losing okay, but it will be an adjustment.
And for those who think this is somehow an acceptance of losing, you’re missing the point. You don’t want to lose, but you must be able to deal with it. Some coaches get consumed by losses and it can get to them emotionally. It can affect the way they think and act.
Andy Reid is considered a very good or maybe even great NFL coach. He won 58 percent of his games. Jimmy Johnson won 56 percent of his. Bill Walsh won 61 percent.
Each of those guys lost more games in his first NFL season than Kelly did in his career at Oregon. You will lose in the NFL. You must be able to handle it.