One of the big differences in Andy Reid and Chip Kelly is communication. Chip simply does a better job of explaining his ideas. Andy would go on and on about how you need to throw the ball to win. He would talk about doing studies that backed up his ideas, but you always felt this was like a politician who was skewing data to support the conclusion he wanted. Chip comes across as though he has no agenda. He wants to win and doesn’t care how that happens. His ideas are results based, as opposed to trying to mesh what he wants to do with random conclusions.
Ross Tucker and Bill Polian talked to Chip for Sirius XM the other day. Tucker posted the interview in his podcast. You’ll want to listen to this. There isn’t anything groundbreaking, but Chip is always insightful and Tucker and Polian asked him good questions.
The most interesting comment to me came in regard to Justin Peelle. He is now the assistant TEs coach, but was playing in the league as recently as 2011. Peelle spent a decade in the NFL so Chip picked his brain on certain things. He talked to Peelle about how players would respond to the new practices, both in terms of tempo and schedule. Peelle gave him a great answer. He told Chip that how the players felt would be the most important thing. The coaches could tell them how great the system was, but if the players didn’t feel good, they weren’t going to buy in to the system. Chip explained that longtime vets like Herremans, Cole and Ryans all told him they felt better in December than they ever had.
The players are the best salesmen for Kelly’s ideas.
Veterans from last year can explain to rookies and new players how things work and why things work. Chip and the staff will do that as well, but there are no salesmen better than your peers.
Chip talked about the speed of the offense. He was asked if the goal is to run more plays this year. Chip responded that the number of plays just isn’t important to him. He then talked about how the team had to slow down in the 2nd half of some games last year when they were working with a lead. He talked about going into the 4-minute offense in the 3rd quarter. I’ve never heard a coach say that before.
The 4-minute offense is when a team wants to keep possession of the ball and work the clock. In the 2-minute offense, you hurry to move the ball and score points. The goal of the 4-minute offense is to eat up time. Yards and points are a bonus. The key is to keep possession and keep the clock ticking. At a certain point, football becomes math. How many possessions are left in a game? Can the other team get the ball enough to catch us?
Most coaches talk about the 4-minute offense in regard to the final 10 minutes of the game. It was interesting to hear an aggressive coach like Chip talk about using it in the 3rd quarter. We did see some games last year where the Eagles slowed down in the 2nd half. The offense was almost too conservative at times. It will be interesting to see how the team adjusts this year.
Really good interview with Chip. Make sure you listen.
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Chip also had a PC on Monday. One thing he talked about there and in the interview was Jordan Matthews as the slot receiver. Chip made the point that he likes having a bigger guy in the slot. First, the player can make a difference as a blocker in the run game. Chip mentioned what a great job Jason Avant did last year. Do you think a guy like Wes Welker would be as effective a blocker in there?
Matthews is big, athletic and talented. Just being big and a good run blocker isn’t enough. You must have someone who has the skill set to play on the inside. Most times you are going to have a smaller guy inside so he can get lost in traffic and use quickness to get open. Matthews is big, but also quick. He won’t get lost in traffic, but will give the QB a bigger target. In the podcast, Chip did point out that Matthews has impressed the coaches this offseason.
Chip was asked about whether teams will crowd the LOS without DeSean as a field-stretcher. This is an issue brought up by people all of the time. Chip talked about how defenses already played a lot of aggressive man coverage last year in order to stop the run game. Teams couldn’t sit back in Cover 2 or the Eagles would run on them. One Safety would stay deep, the other would help vs the run. No one disputes that DeSean got the extra help the majority of the time. He was the best receiver. This year Mac will get that extra help to his side most of the time. He’s more of a threat than Riley Cooper.
But this is where the beauty of Chip’s offense comes in. The old adage in baseball is “hit ‘em where they ain’t”. Chip attacks “where they ain’t”. If the D is playing tight, throw deep. If they back off, throw short. Mix in screens to the RBs and TEs. Run the ball every chance you get. Find the vulnerability and attack that spot.
Chip’s offense spreads the field horizontally and vertically. He’s taken the ideas of Bill Walsh and Sid Gillman and put his twist on them. Chip has good “space players”. Get the ball to the skill players in space and let them create big plays on their own. You can throw the ball 40 yards downfield for a big play or throw it 10 and let the player run for 40. With the right players and plays, you can create big plays on a regular basis. It goes from being luck to the proper execution of the offense.
You don’t need an elite speedster like DeSean to stretch the field. You must be able to throw the ball effectively downfield. Mac is a good deep receiver. Coop was surprisingly good at that last year. Matthews made some deep catches at Vandy. Ertz is a good vertical threat for a TE. And both Shady and Sproles can catch the ball downfield.
Finally, Chip talked about his comment to Peter King in regard to the draft. He told King he was not a fan of all the draft hype. Chip joked with the media that he doesn’t know how fans watch the Combine on TV since he’s fallen asleep while watching it in person. I get where Chip is coming from. I love the NFL draft and have for more than 20 years, but it is weird to some people. Why obsess over a bunch of kids who you know will mostly fail? I can’t really answer that. Either you get it or you don’t.
I do think there is a bit of a similarity to golf. You can go have a lousy round, but all it takes is one good shot to make you want to come back the next week. If you pick one player that your team actually drafts correctly, it can be a magical feeling. Or if you hype a mid-round guy that becomes a star, you suddenly feel like Mr. Draft. You then spend the next offseason studying players, hoping to get another player right.
Chip appreciates the importance of the draft. He just doesn’t get why fans are so enamored by it and why the media covers it so extensively. He said he felt the same way about recruiting while coaching at Oregon. Fans do need something to help get them through the offseason. Following the draft and free agency fills that void.
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Nobel Peace Price
Delaware Editors Blue Ribbon
Peoples Choice Award
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