Thursday, January 17, 2013

What To Expect: Chip Kelly Comes To Philadelphia

I Coach The Tarmac
Where to begin? So much to dig into here, and so few electrons to spend on it. List time!  

> Mike Vick will restructure or leave. But the first option is now actually possible.

There is no scheme that can make Vick less injury-prone or get him back to the pre-age 30 wheels that would have made him downright fascinating in this offense. It's also an overstatement to think that pure wheels are the only criteria for a Kelly QB; it's much more along the ability to make good decisions on the read option, and to master the offense to drive at a white-hot tempo. Personally, I'd worry about Vick putting the ball on the ground a ton with a lot of flips and a half dozen planned runs every game, but the tempo thing might be the bigger killer.

The problem is that, even in the relatively few instances of this offense running well with Vick at the helm, they aren't getting in a ton of snaps. While the bulk of that problem lies at the feet of Andy Reid, the team did get to the line, snapped the ball, and used far fewer timeouts under Nick Foles. There's also the fact that Foles is young and probably much more coachable at this point than Vick.

Finally, this: I still think that some QB from the Oh Dear Lord pile of NFL teams will make Vick a starting offer, and that he'd probably make more money and give him more of a chance to end 2013 with his faculties unchanged, then staying here. The Jets, Chiefs, Cardinals or Bills await, Michael. Godspeed. (By the way, this also means that a conceivable starting QB has to be brought in to compete for the gig. Wheels and familiarity with the Oregon offense will be a plus, but I doubt that Kelly is just going to find a Dennis Dixon type and give him the keys without a tryout. That's all to the good, really: there's no way that Foles should just be given the job without a fight. But in all likelihood, the 2014 QB is not on the roster right now. Patience, people, patience.

> If the OL can get healthy, regardless of who is under center, they are going to love this era.

Ever wonder why defenses get tired, but offenses do not? It's because all 11 guys on offense don't have to give maximum effort on every play. If you are the left tackle and the play is a run to the right, you fire off the ball and make contact, but you aren't busting everything to run across the field and make a tackle. So snapping the ball every few seconds really isn't that big of a deal... but it really is on defense, and that's even more true if the guy you are facing isn't a three-down player.

So if you can sustain drives at a high tempo, you wind up with a lot of happy offensive players (because more snaps means more touches for more skill guys, and that's how they get paid)... and even happier offensive linemen, who get to pick and choose their spots to pancake guys with their tongues hanging out. They also get to face a lot fewer esoteric stunts and blitzes, because the defense just doesn't have the pre-snap time to get them set up.

> Having said all of that... 2013 is going to be, at best, a transition year.

Four out of five offensive line starters are rehabbing major injuries. Maybe three or four defensive starters should be kept in their current positions. All of the available QBs on the roster are unfamiliar with this system. The cheap young guy doesn't have the wheels, and the quick older guy isn't as quick as he used to be, and can't stay healthy. The second RB is the worst fumble risk in the NFL, and second RB in a Kelly offense is going to matter. The frontline WRs aren't great at blocking or staying healthy, and the special teams are among the worst in football. This team would be the most improved unit in the NFL next year and still go 8-8.

I'd like to say that Eagle Fan is going to see the shine under the mess next year and give the new guy some time. I'd also like them to remember that Reid's first year involved copious amounts of Doug Pederson, who was like having a coach on the field -- in that he had a dramatic and glaring lack of athletic ability. Kelly is going to miss on some decisions, and the transition to the new systems are going to take time. Anyone who thinks they are going to the playoffs in 2013... well, I'd like to sell you something. And I'm a Kelly fan.

> I can't wait for the transition year.

Here's what another year of playoff-free football should buy. A rapid and ruthless winnowing out of everyone on the roster who doesn't have a motor *and* endurance. An end to the ineffective hockey line shift work of rotating defensive linemen, since these guys are going to have to practice against the speed game every day. A better secondary, since the focus will be on speed/speed/speed, instead of the name brand physicality that hasn't worked out for the past couple of years. (If Kelly has any use for Nnamdi Asomugha, I'll be surprised. And disappointed.)

More inventive play-calling, because after 14 years of the old guy, we couldn't get less. More effective red zone work, since the defense is going to be much more likely to be worn down when the offense gets there. And maybe even, heaven help us, getting back to the blessed land of being a team that others don't want to play for any number of reasons. A season where you don't expect to see anything but progress and a plan, and when you get exactly that. (I can tell you from experience, it's the most fun kind of year to be a fan.)

So for all of my friends and fellow fans who want to pine for the defense-first coach that wasn't hired, or how college coaches never work out (um, that's outdated, and another post entirely), or how we're hosed because neither disposable QB on the roster is a match for a perceived system...

Relax. Smile. And trust in the fact -- fact, I tell you -- that today was not a good day for the rest of the NFC East. And that the franchise got a guy who just might make a big difference over the years.

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