No coach on Chip Kelly’s staff has been with the franchise longer than Ted Williams.
He started off as the tight ends coach for a couple years, was in charge of the running backs from 1997 to 2012 and is now back with the tight ends in his 19th season.
At 69-years-old, having seen plenty throughout the course of his career, Williams seemed like a good person to ask about what Kelly’s offense is going to look like once it’s unveiled during the regular season.
“I don’t think that anything’s going to change from what he knows,” Williams said. “It’ll be very, very similar to what you saw at Oregon because the play-calling… he needs to be comfortable with what he’s saying to the offense and how he’s communicating it. So you don’t just out of the box decide that you’re going to do something a certain way and you don’t feel comfortable with it. So it’s going to look like Oregon.”
And what about the zone read? Will that be a part of the offense even if the quarterback is Nick Foles?
“We haven’t decided that particular part of it,” Williams said. “I wouldn’t say we haven’t run it, but we haven’t decided it. But it’ll look like Oregon to a degree based on what we do and how we want to do it and based on game-planning. How much of what we do depends on who we’re playing.”
Williams is now coaching the tight ends, a position of added importance in Kelly’s system. The buzz word all offseason has been versatility. The Eagles signed free agent James Casey and drafted Zach Ertz in the second round. They also still have Brent Celek on the roster.
According to Williams, the overall theme of the offense is that it will have the ability to change, based on the look of the defense.
“The biggest thing about this offense is it has flexibility, so that’s exciting,” Williams said. “You don’t get pigeon-holed. I’m not the guy who always lines up here. I have the flexibility to line up over there, over here, I can be moved, I can motion.”
That could mean plenty of two tight-end sets, running backs motioning out wide and so on. The main idea in practices (that have been open to the media) has centered around getting to the line of scrimmage early, surveying the defense and running plays that give the offense an advantage.
The route-runners face changes too. As we’ve written about on several occasions, receivers (and that includes tight ends) will oftentimes have options on their routes, based on the look of the defense. According to Williams, that’s a major change from previous years.
“The West Coast offense, while expansive, is a concept offense,” he said. “And it’s really based upon pieces fitting into concepts. And if you don’t fit in the correct position in a concept, the concept gets lost. And so consequently, I don’t want to say restrictive, but more demanding to confront.
“This offense is just not like that. There is some regimented, there is some principles in terms of how you do what you do. But there’s also some flexibility. If you see this, here’s what your option is. If you see something else, here’s what your option is. The West Coast offense wasn’t designed that way. From the Paul Brown era, the Bill Walsh era, they knew what they wanted, and they wanted it a certain way.”