LAST year LeSean McCoy led the NFL in rushing yards. Part of that was due to his 314 carries. Part of it was the Offensive Line opening holes for him. Part of it was the Line having fewer people in the box to block. Don’t expect Shady to repeat in 2014.
With the subtraction of DeSean Jackson from the line-up, Chip Kelly is going to do things to try mimicking that effect, even if he no longer has the last year’s cause.
Expect to see Darren Sproles in motion a lot. Expect to see the TE split wide 30-50% of the time. (When they’re out there.) Expect to more 4 WR formations than you’ve seen here since the days of Greg Lewis and Hank Baskett.
Expect to see “The Spread” as God and Mother Nature intended it. In many ways we’re finally about to see Oregon’s Chip Kelly.
Last year Jackson’s presence gave Kelly’s system a shot of pure adrenaline. Kelly had never had a WR who could give him what Jackson did in 2013. Never before did Kelly have a WR who could take the top off the defense and evacuate the box, but that’s gone now. Those days are over. Then again that’s not where Kelly’s head is anyway.
In 4 years as Oregon’s Head Coach, Kelly’s system produced just one WR with 700 yards or more (Jeff Maehl in 2010). Kelly (like early Andy Reid) simply doesn’t value the position highly. He wants blocker/tackle breakers, not dynamic field stretchers. Role players, not game changers. He wants a Billy McMullen, not a DJax.
And you don’t spend a 1st round pick on a role player.
Believe it or not, I don’t expect the passing game to be less efficient. I do expect the running game to be less explosive though. There are a number of reasons why. (Especially if they trade Evan Mathis, when it was Todd Herremans who struggled.)
1. McCoy won’t see as much work. In 4 years as Oregon’s Head Coach there were no 300+ carry RB’s for Oregon. Kelly likes to spread the carries out between his QB and (usually) 2 RB’s.
2. The box will be stretched horizontally to create more space, but there will still be just as many defenders in the box. Last year wasn’t a true test of the spacing aspect of Kelly’s system, but he gon’ learn TODAY! Especially since Kelly can no longer take advantage of collegiate hash mark spacing.
3. NFL defenders are faster than college players. With fewer players in the box last year, Kelly didn’t have to coach against this. Expect a few plays this year where Shady gets blown up by lateral hits he didn’t see coming.
4. Last year I said there were some smoke and mirrors along our 10-6 season. One of them was the Offensive Line. I’m waiting to see if a fundamental problem gets addressed in the Draft, because it’s been ignored so far.
That being said, not leading the league in rushing isn’t the same thing as being ineffective. McCoy will churn out yards and will probably even tote a decent average (4.1 maybe?). However more guys in the box will make him pay a lot more often for those sick juke moves.
BTW: If Sproles finishes 2014 as the starter, don’t say no one ever mentioned it.