Kelly Could Usher In The “Spread-Option” Era
Jeremiah Short, The Current Voice
Hi everybody,” I’m the spread-option guy.” I’m sure that’s what Chip Kelly, the former Oregon Ducks’ head coach and offensive guru, wanted to say when he was introduced as the 21st Philadelphia Eagles’ head coach.
In response to a question about which offense he would use, though, Kelly spewed the typical coach speak: “I’m an equal opportunity scorer. We’ll score any way we can.”
“People wanna paint a brush and label an offense with one word. For us, it’s about what tools do we have in our toolbox.”
Translation: Yes, I’m going run the spread-option. But does every question have to revolve around the dang system. I know that I’m the first spread-option guy hired by an NFL team, but I’m just trying to escape NCAA sanctions and get paid.
Speaking of the Eagles’ toolbox, do they have the tools to run Kelly’s offense? Boy do they.
If any coach hopes to have a successful spread-option attack, there needs to be a dual-threat quarterback captaining the ship.
Of the Eagles’ two quarterbacks–Michael Vick and Nick Foles–only one fits that profile: Vick.
Vick, who rushed for 1,039 yards as the Atlanta Falcons’ starting quarterback in 2006, was expected to get his walking papers after the Super Bowl. With Kelly’s hire, it makes sense that he might stick around–considering his ability to make things happen on the ground.
In addition to having a dual-threat quarterback, versatile skill position players are a must in a spread-option system.
The Eagles have four skill position players: LeSean McCoy(Running Back), Bryce Brown(Running Back), DeSean Jackson(Wide Receiver) and Jeremy Maclin(Wide Receiver) that are ideal for Kelly’s system.
Brent Celek, who had 684 yards receiving in 2012, gives Kelly another valuable piece at tight end.
There is one potential roadblock to Kelly having instant offensive success. We all know what it is. I’ll start, and you finish: Their offensive…
For those that haven’t figured out the roadblock, it’s the Eagles sorry, porous,terrible, horrible, garbage offensive line. The extra superlatives are warranted with this bunch, which gave up 48 sacks in 2012.
I know what 2Chainz wants for his birthday, but all the Eagles quarterbacks want for their birthday is three seconds to throw the ball.
While most are focusing on Kelly’s offense, the Eagles’ defense could undergo a more drastic transformation. A defensive scheme switch will bring it.
According to several media reports, Kelly plans to convert the Eagles from a 4-3 front to a 3-4 front, although he was noncommittal in his opening press conference.
“In terms of what we want to be, we’re going to be an attacking style defense,” he said. “It’s going to be a group of people who dictates the tempo of the game. What that spacing is in terms of is it a 4-3 spacing or 3-4 spacing? I think it’s, again, looking at our roster and understanding who I have the opportunity to bring here.
Kelly’s words may say one thing, but his actions are saying another. He has interviewed two college defensive coordinators–Todd Grantham(Georgia) and Kirby Smart (Alabama), who are considered the prime candidates to get the same role with the Eagles. They are regarded as the premiere 3-4 coaches in college football. So, common sense suggest that Kelly favors the 3-4.
This doesn’t bode well for most of the players in the Eagles’ front seven.
In the Eagles’ front seven, two players–Cullen Jenkins and Fletcher Cox–fit the 3-4 scheme, as defensive ends. The rest of personnel, including leading tackler DeMeco Ryans, would benefit more from playing in a 4-3.
What does it mean? It means that Kelly could have to replace as many as five front-seven starters. It would shake up the Eagles entire locker-room dynamic. Sometimes that is good for a new coach, but I’m not sure in this case.
Kelly better prepare himself for the criticism that will come his way.
Turning the Eagles into a winner is Kelly’s primary concern. But, he is the first spread-option coach hired by an NFL team. And his winning with this “gimmicky” system, as some have called it, could change the NFL forever.
The spread-option isn’t like Manti Te’o’s girlfriend to the NFL….They have have seen it before. Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick had the read-option incorporated into their respective teams’ offensive attacks this past season.
No one, though, has committed to running the offense as their base set. And Heath Evans knows why. He he feels that offense won’t last long.
“In three or four years it’s going to be gone,” the former Seattle Seahawks fullback said on NFL Network. “Disciplined defenses will knock it out.”
Fran Tarkenton, who played quarterback in the NFL for 18 years and was nicknamed “the mad scrambler,” believes offenses are finally catching up to the talent at the quarterback position.
“Watching the NFL this season and the playoffs so far, I am convinced we are witnessing a seismic shift at the quarterback position. Teams are embracing the running quarterback like never before, and we finally have a supply of talented, athletic players rising up to meet that demand,” he wrote in his Pioneer Press column: ‘I was a freak’–then came Kaepernick.
Once Kelly wins, what will happen?
The NFL is a “copycat” league and college coaches that specialize in the spread option–Kevin Sumlin and Urban Meyer–will get poached from the college game.
It’s coming. Trust me.
With more coaches running the spread-option, they will need quarterbacks to run them. Dual-threat quarterbacks, who were once viewed as projects because they couldn’t throw from the pocket, value will increase.
I know some of you are thinking: “No way.”
Oh, yes way.
The NFL is about to CHANGE. Kelly is just the start.
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