Tuesday, September 10, 2013

September 10, 2013
It has been an interesting 24 hours for Duck fans.

Understandably, there wasa whole lot of affection for how the Philadelphia Eagles performed in Chip Kelly's debut.

Remember his last debut? Clearly he learned something from that game and was better prepared for the rigors of a road contest in a hostile environment.

But we also saw something rarely seen at Oregon during Kelly's tenure; an early brake pedal.  IT seems as if Kelly went into "protect the lead" mode a little early. That decision created a little complacency with the team and it showed with a sluggish second half perfomance.

And, this might be the biggest issue for Kelly in the NFL.

At Oregon, there were 100+ players and a three deep at quarterback that were recruited specifically to play the system at Oregon. It worked. The NFL, however, has a max of 53 guys on the roster. That lack of depth is sure to cause some differences in the manner that Kelly runs an offense.

At PHiladelphia, Kelly does not have 10 offensive linemen that he can rotate in and out to keep the offense fresh; he doesn't have three Pro Bowl caliber running backs to rotate into the backfield to keep each fresh.

Lesean McCoy was tired and Bryce Brown was too far of a drop off to help out McCoy.

Michael Vick aggravated his groin and Nick Foles was not a good answer to help out. Right away the difference between the NFL and college became clear.

That is not to say that Kelly won't be successful. There is something different in the way Kelly has approached the NFL versus the way other college coaches like Steve Spurrier and Nick Saban approached the challenge.

Kelly got a buy in from the players and it is clear that they really enjoy playing for Kelly. For now. What happens when they lose a couple of games and struggle offensively to score? Will they stay in full "buy in" mode? What happens when one of the stars is in a contract year and Kelly gets more even distribution? Will the star still buy in when he sees fewer touches and millions of dollars flying out the window?

These are questions we won't know the answer to for a couple of years at best. The reality is that the NFL IS different than college football. There has never been a question about Kelly's offensive genius mind. But sometimes brilliant minds cannot navigate the intricacies of professional athletics.

If anyone can cross-over from college football coaching to NFL coaching, it is Chip Kelly.

Nonetheless, he has plenty of work ahead and the road he travels to complete the journey will not likely be the same as people expect. His biggest value is not a "spread option" attack. Trying to fit square pegs into round holes doesn't work. What do you do when you have square pegs and a round hole? Cut the hole to the shape you need!

That is Kelly's value. He changes the structure and environment. If Kelly is to be successful, it won't be because he forces the square peg of spread option to the round hole of NFL football.

Pace and execution will be his calling card.

In the mean time, Philadelphia needs a major talent upgrade in a lot of places. Until he can get that upgrade, the Eagles will be the most entertaining team treading water.

Greatest show on turf? Not really. That Rams offense was incredible. But he will provide the "funnest show on turf" until that upgrade happens. And, isn't that what football is supposed to be about? Fun. After all, as Kelly was quick to point out; football is a game. It should be fun.


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