2014 Season Review of Chip Kelly and Offense
- Updated: December 29, 2014
In 2013, Chip Kelly provided a breath of fresh air into the city, taking a 4-12 team and leading them to a Division championship, 10-6 record and a playoff berth which the Eagles lost to the New Orleans Saints 26-24. With success brings expectations! The expectations of the players, coaches and fan base were in year two that the Eagles would build on its success and be back into the playoffs and get a first round win.
Needless to say with the Eagles finishing with another 10-6 record and not even punching a ticket to the dance, this season is a huge disappointment for the team as well as the passionate Philadelphia fan base. Entering week 14 the Eagles were in first place in the division and a lock for the playoffs, then the unthinkable happened. The Eagles went on to lose three consecutive games to the Seattle Seahawks, Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Redskins and found themselves losing hold of the division and out of the playoffs.
When you look at the numbers, your initial reaction is that the offense was better if not just as good as 2013 where the offense averaged 27.6 points and finished 4th in the NFL. This season the offense averaged 29.6 points a game and finished 3rd in the NFL. The telling statistic and most critical is the 36 turnovers which was the most in the NFL compared to 19 in 2013.
We are all guilty of overreacting to success and year one never tells the true story of a coach or player. There are a lot of times when coaches, players and schemes take the NFL and defensive coordinators by storm but after defensive coordinators have an off season to watch hundreds of hours of game tape and months to develop a game plan rather than one week during the season, year two usually produces different results.
How Defensive Coordinators countered…
In 2013, Chip brought a spread offense to the NFL that runs off of the zone read running principles which most teams did not run prior resulting in LeSean McCoy running for 1607 yards. With the success of the running game, allowed for play action and left receivers running wide open down the field, producing record numbers. Defensive coordinators knew to have any shot at finding success they had to stop the run or at least slow it down. In the beginning of the season opposing defensives, decided to put 8 defenders in the box (image 1) which was more than the Eagles could block and left a defender open to make a play. The result was McCoy failing to reach 100 yards in the first 5 games.
As the season went on and players and coaches had more game tape to watch they saw that they didn’t need to put an extra guy in the box to stop the run. It started in week 8 vs. the Cardinals where teams could rely on recognizing, reading and reacting fast to stop or slow down the run. In the first play below, Clay Matthews reads the run so fast(image 1) that in image 2 he is able to beat the block by the offensive lineman to make the tackle in the backfield on McCoy. The offensive running game averaged 82 yards a game this season vs. 100.4 in 2013.
This success of opposing defenses against the run allowed for the defensive coordinators to keep extra defenders in coverage and to play more games and call variations of coverage to confuse the quarterback. With the running game sputtering, it no longer left receivers running down the field wide open and Chip Kelly having to call a great deal of screens. With having two quarterbacks who hold the ball and don’t make great decisions led to 21 interceptions between Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez. One thing that Chip Kelly’s offense can’t have is turnovers by the quarterback.
Chip Kelly’s offensive options…
Chip Kelly clearly doesn’t have a quarterback that can put added pressure on the defensive with his legs and his arm. Right now the Eagles are not running a true zone read where the quarterback is keeping the ball if the defensive end or outside linebacker crashes down and are just running outside/inside zone. Option one is for Chip to pull off a trade and find a quarterback that can truly run the zone read where the quarterback can put pressure on the defense by keeping the ball (image below) which will keep defenses from flying to the running back.
Option 2 is for Chip to get a veteran quarterback that makes great decisions, doesn’t turn the ball over and can make all the throws and thread the ball into tight coverage. Neither of which Nick Foles or Mark Sanchez can do.
Options 3 is to keep Foles and Sanchez and allow them to battle it out in training camp but add more running plays than the two primary outside/inside plays which will slow down the defenses and allow the offensive lineman to get to out to block the defenders.
Option 4 is to get another wide receiver that can put pressure on the defense down the field, which is a must. Riley Cooper is too slow and not a #2 receiver in the NFL.
UP NEXT: QB ANLYSIS AND SEASON REVIEW