Chip Kelly made his debut on Monday Night, and for one half, it was the kind of pace and pressure that we expect from the former Oregon coach. Philadelphia pushed the ball up and down the field, only getting stopped when Michael Vick threw a pass that was ruled a lateral, deflected by Ryan Kerrigan, and returned for a touchdown by DeAngelo Hall.
At the end of the first half, Kelly’s team had the following numbers: 30 rush attempts, 151 yards (5.0 yards a play), 23 pass attempts, with 2 sacks, 13 of 21 passing for 190 yards (9.0 yards per attempt). If you are keeping track at home, that was, even with the sack yards, over 320 yards of offense in one half.
The Eagles pushed the pace early (four plays in the first minute), they had Washington off balance throughout, inside runs, passes downfield with guys, most notably DeSean Jackson, running free.
Then there was this play:
The old Emory & Henry play, sometimes used by Spurrier at Florida in the late 1990’s. Not, though, seen in a NFL game during the normal run of play on a first down. (This play led me to fire off an e-mail to an old college roommate, by the way, accusing him of costing me millions by not believing in me. In 1993 at Missouri, after witnessing a game against Illinois with one offensive first down, I came back and designed a set of plays out of this formation, under the philosophy “hey, we can’t block anyway!”)
The Eagles, for what it is worth, picked up a first down by just having Vick hand it to McCoy for a run up the middle.
Part of the reason that the Eagles ran so many plays and had so many yards was because Washington could do nothing as Griffin III struggled in his first half back from the knee injury, and the Eagles defense blitzed repeatedly not respecting his ability to break the pocket and burn them with a big play.
At the end of one half, 26 points, over 300 yards, and it could have been even more but for that early fumble on the lateral in the red zone.
Did it get solved, or just become more predictable as Kelly played it safe in the second half with the big lead? Vick threw only four official passes in the second half, and the Redskins made a comeback attempt as it was their offense, and not Chip Kelly’s, that sustained long drives. The second half was all about LeSean McCoy continuing to make plays when sometimes, nothing was there. Other than that, the Eagles offense was not nearly as productive.
In the abstract, the Eagles did not run more plays than other teams in week one, finishing with 77 plays. Kelly thought they were too slow, and if he wanted to push the pace could have, though they did have the big lead. Baltimore, for example, ran 87, and New England ran 89. The difference, though, is that the Eagles did so while only throwing 25 official passes. Kelly will run the ball a lot, and keep teams off balance. The biggest concern is how much will they continue to put on McCoy. He was fantastic in this one, but if the team is going to get 40+ rush attempts out of running backs, he’s not making it 31 carries a game.
[photo via USA Today Sports Images]