Eagles Wake-Up Call: Kelly’s Offense Has Players Abuzz

LeSean McCoySeveral of the Eagles’ offensive players had seen or heard about Chip Kelly before he became their head coach.

They adjusted to the new scheme, the new practice methods and the new environment in the spring and then the summer. They knew Kelly had great success at Oregon, but they didn’t know exactly how his philosophies would translate to the NFL.

There are tweaks and and adjustments and wrinkles, but many of the basic concepts – tempo, options, taking advantage of the numbers – are the same. And through two preseason games, the players are buying in.

“I haven’t been this excited about football in a long time,” said center Jason Kelce. “The whole way the offense is structured and the scheming and all the stuff we are doing, it’s really exciting to see where we are going to go.”

Added Todd Herremans: “There’s definitely a buzz. We’re very excited about the way things have been going, but I think even back in the OTAs, we kind of had a feeling like, ‘Wow, this could really turn out well.’ But we’ve still got a lot of things we can cover and get better at. We’ve got a couple weeks to do that.”

LeSean McCoy missed the first preseason game, but he looked like a natural in the Eagles’ new offense, carrying eight times for 47 yards and catching three balls for 16.

McCoy was one of Andy Reid’s biggest supporters, but the Eagles’ running back realized in the spring that he was going to have fun in the new scheme, which by all accounts will rely on a heavy dose of the running game. McCoy described the offense as a “track meet” during OTAs. And now he’s seeing the results of the tempo.

“It was crazy because I saw how tired the defense was,” he said. “I’m like, ‘Wow. Imagine if this were four quarters of this type of tempo.’ So it just shows you how effective the offense will be.

“I think when you run the ball enough, they don’t know what’s coming. And we’re so spread out where we can run, it can be a run play that turns into a pass. Every question teams want to ask us, we have the answers for. I’m just happy to be a part of it.”

The Eagles only put up 14 points, but the offense looked sharp in the first half, moving the ball up and down the field for 257 yards. There were also two turnovers, an issue that plagued this team in 2012. There doesn’t seem to be a sense of satisfaction, but a legitimate excitement of the possibilities in the months ahead.

“I think as a whole, as an offense, I mean, I think we should have had way more points on the board,” McCoy said. “In the first half, just small, mental mistakes, turnovers, which killed us for the last two years. I think we’ve had enough of that and it’s time to really change it. So I think as an offense, we need even more work.”

Kelly, of course, would agree. But through two preseason games, he has his guys buying in.

WHAT YOU MISSED

T-Mac has the Michael Vick/Nick Foles quarterback breakdown.

Post-game observations on what we saw from the Eagles’ starters.

Phillip Hunt had surgery to repair a torn ACL Thursday.

A roundup of what the national media are saying about the Eagles.

In his Twitter mailbag, McManus looks at the way Fletcher Cox is being used.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Phil Sheridan of ESPN.com weighs in on the Eagles’ interceptions:

All interceptions are not created equal. Vick threw one on the last play of the first half, but it came on a desperate heave after he sprinted left a step ahead of the Panthers’ pressure. Foles’ pick was a result of a physical mistake — fumbling a shotgun snap — and a mental one — failing to throw the ball high enough through the end zone. Turnovers were a huge problem for both QBs last year and will weigh heavily in Kelly’s evaluations.

Jimmy Kempski of Philly.com offers some post-game thoughts:

Michael Vick may have put this QB competition to bed tonight, after going 9 for 9, before throwing a meaningless interception at the end of the first half. Vick has thrown a grand total of 2 incompletions in the preseason, and has basically come out and taken command of the Eagles’ starting QB job. Chip Kelly was once again non-committal after the game tonight, but we’re nearing the point where Vick has begun to pull away.

COMING UP

Off day for the players, but we’ll have more thoughts and reaction from the game.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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