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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Gameday: Eagles

Chip Kelly is going to dominate any discussion on the games he's
involved in, no matter what. It's not that unlike Steve Spurrier in a
way, though that was now a decade ago and Spurrier never innovated
anything. But, right or wrong, discussion on this game starts there -
with Kelly.

He would've been a fantastic hire about anywhere, and plenty of fans
were happy when he never signed with Tampa (to not have to face him),
and then this year when he didn't (so they could back-pocket him for
next year, though Jerry Richardson never would've hired the guy). His
innovation at the college level is remarkable - though you could argue
quickly that the Mike Leach, Dana Holgorsen are doing as interesting of
things and Urban Meyer has done more with it than anyone. Either way,
Kelly took a second tier Pac-10 school and put it into title contention
for a few years now, and quickly. He was, within the decade of
Spurrier's NFL failure, catapulted up from tiny New Hampshire, not a
hotbed of prospects or coaches.

Kelly's star on the rise, he quickly became someone that meshed with
Bill Belichick, and the two shared notes when they remained in different
levels. What Belichick learned was a fair part of the Pats' success,
and the hallmark of Kelly teams, of which you'll see tonight.

Kelly's offense is lightning quick. Running 86 offensive plays against
the Pats last week, the Eagles got almost 20 more plays than the average
NFL team would in an average game last year. Only 4 teams have averaged
70 in the last two years. Kelly's verbiage is very fast, they get to
the line fast, and they run their plays fast. They often come to the
line with quick changes ready, sometimes having one play ready behind
the other.

And the most intriguing thing is what I believe will be the next big
thing in the NFL - something that the average read-option gawker won't
even notice. Packaged plays.

In that, one of the spread principles that can work its way, slowly,
into the NFL is the ideal of the run/pass, run/screen type option. In
the read option, the QB chooses to read a defender, and elect to keep or
handoff based on what that unblocked defender does. But in these
packaged plays, the quarterback elects whether to handoff or pass, with
potentially as little as one player even knowing he's going to run a
route. It could be based on where a linebacker lines up, or what he
does at the snap. It's dangerous stuff to stop.

It appears, in the last game, that Nick Folk has gotten more snaps at
QB than Michael Vick. As well, the team has to throw Dennis Dixon and
Matt Barkley in there, as well.

The Eagles' O is, as you might expect, littered with rookies who'll
impact. OT Lane Johnson is going to be fantastic in this league. Zach
Ertz is a potent TE. The recent concerns with WR are their issue, and
they'll look for someone to step up around the Jeremy Maclin and
Arrelious Benn injuries and the Riley Cooper debacle (what an idiot).

On the other end, defensive coordinator Billy Davis - the OLB coach on
Dom Capers' Panthers staff (not the one that Kevin Greene choked, that
was Kevin Steele, ILB coach I believe) - is in the process of making the
Eagles a 3-4 team, after a total of 12 years as a Jim Johnson-schemed
team and then two years of the wide-9. It's been before Ray Rhodes
since the Eagles were 3-4, or since before they were WCO. So for those
of you scoring at home, the last time the Eagles weren't a fairly
homogenous team was Rich Kotite.

Trashing of old coaches aside, Davis' defense gave up a massive amount
of yards last week, and they appear susceptible again this week. The
team has chosen to be aggressive, so it might be a good week for blitz
pickups, but they are very susceptible to the run (or, were against the
Pats), and they're not as deep or as talented as they are on offense.

It should be an interesting game. Carolina appears to still not have
Jon Beason, Ed Kugbila, Domenik Hixon, Mike Tolbert, and they'll be
dying to find a diamond in the rough at OT.

It'll be interesting to see how the secondary, which was good against
the Bears' limpwristed offense, will do against this 300 mph goat rodeo
that Kelly runs. It'll be interesting to see if Ted Ginn can be
efficient at WR, if the QBs can stop giving balls away, and whether any
stars are made tonight.
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