THE truth is, many of us knew that the system was going to change, what’s more important however, is to understand why the system is going to change.
Lots of people (and I’m one of them) don’t completely trust the assertion by Chip Kelly that Nick Foles is his guy at QB for the long haul. I’m just not sold that Foles fits Kelly’s system.
It’s not that I think we need a running QB for this system. Nick Foles isn’t a running QB, and last year he ran this system just fine. Of course that all depends on which “this” you mean when you discuss this system.
What we’ll run in 2014 will be decidedly different than what we ran in 2013. I first said that on March 18th when I wrote about the Sproles Effect; and I said it again on March 20th when I discussed how we’d be fine after trading DeSean Jackson. Now it seems that a few days ago (July 8th), Eagles insider Ron Jaworski has also said it. Everybody who follows Eaglemaniacal.com was probably glad to see that Jaws had finally caught up to what the rest of us had known for months.
Last year we ran a kind of “Vertical Spread” but we no longer have the pieces (DJax) to do that. In football when you can’t go vertical, you go horizontal, so Kelly is countering by doing something sneaky. He is gradually transitioning us to a system that almost mirrors what he ran at Oregon. Oh, you don’t see it? Well then allow me to break it down.
First, we’ll look at what it is. Do you know why Kelly’s system is so QB friendly? Because it doesn’t require the QB to lead the Offense in the traditional sense. As a collegiate coach (both as an OC and a HC) only once in 6 years did Kelly’s offense even attempt 400 passes.
2007: 413 passes/ 607 rushes
2008: 373 passes/ 581 rushes
2009: 338 passes/ 540 rushes
2010: 395 passes/ 614 rushes
2011: 386 passes/ 619 rushes
2012: 373 passes/ 672 rushes
Every year after 2009 the passes went down and the rushes went up. FYI: Last year, the Eagles: 508 passes/ 500 rushes. If things go well, expect that ratio to change sides. At least.
In a system like that you don’t need a DJax or an Andre Johnson, or for that matter even a Nick Foles. The QB isn’t so much making reads as he’s simply delivering the ball. It’s almost idiot proof. So far no QB Kelly has started going back to 2007 has had any trouble operating this system. And so far not one of them has been a viable NFL starter away from it, as Kelly doesn’t teach QB’s how to be QB’s. (Buyer beware poaching an Eagles QB while Kelly is here.)
And now for the “Why”! At Oregon where Kelly was the Head Coach from 2009 to 2012, he frequently rotated 2 RB’s. In fact, take a look at how many carries the second string RB got in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012. Respectively, that’s 61 (in 13 games), 91 (in 13), 152 (in 14), and 92 (in 13). Last year Bryce Brown logged just 75 in 16 games, and you can tell just by eyeballing it that the big back didn’t get as many opportunities as his collegiate counterparts.
Kelly has had most of his success with smaller, quicker RB’s like 194lb LaMicheal James, 190lb Kenjon Barner, and 176lb DeAnthony Thomas. So out goes 220lb Bryce Brown, and in comes 190lb Darren Sproles, along with 200lb WR/RB-tweener Josh Huff. Coincidental, you say? Okay. I’ll keep going.
What Nick Foles ran in 2013, was NOT what Chip Kelly prefers to run. We have yet to see Kelly’s actual system, and Nick Foles does not strike me as a 100 carry per season QB.
Basically this shift to a horizontal approach is a slow transition from what Kelly has to run, to what he’d like to run.
So yeah. The system is changing. And now you know why.