Twitter Mailbag: Is the Kelly Offense Sustainable?

Chip KellyOn Thursdays we select a few of your Twitter questions and provide the long-form answers they deserve. For a chance to have your question published on Birds 24/7, send it to @Tim_McManus.

From @phat_dy: Honestly, is this offense sustainable? Do you believe Kelly knows he can plug in Foles, which enables him to make these calls?

The question of sustainability is relevant, even if you remove the Michael Vick element from the equation.  Chip Kelly‘s Eagles will be running  a ton of plays and will be doing so at mach speed. One concern is that the team will get worn down as the season rolls on. I asked Kelly today whether that was ever an issue at Oregon, and if the extra four regular-season games in the NFL presents a challenge in that respect.

“No, I think our teams were always the freshest teams that played by and large,” Kelly responded. “We have a weekly schedule that we follow almost religiously in terms of when to work, when to recover and what not. So I think we have a plan in place that we put in place in April that is built for the long haul.”

Then there is the injury issue. Logic suggests that the more plays you run, the more times an offensive player is exposed to potential punishment and therefor injury. Certainly the main focus is Vick, who was knocked to the ground 15 times Monday night by Ron Jaworski’s count. To the second part of your question: I don’t believe that Kelly is being bold with his use of Vick because he has a solid backup plan in Nick Foles. But I do believe he realizes the importance of having a quality reserve in the NFL, especially when you are running this system with a QB as free-wheeling as Vick.

Kelly told us on Thursday that Foles still gets some first-team reps in practice.

From @FelskeFiles: I’m concerned the Eagles we saw in the 2nd half was the REAL Eagles and the 1st half Birds were a mirage. Chances I’m right?

The offense that you saw in the first half was the “real” Eagles offense: no-huddle, hurry-up, explosive, confusing. Kelly admitted that they took their foot off the pedal too soon. They slowed things down and were conservative for the most part in the second half. That was a learning-on-the-job moment for the first-year head coach and it didn’t cost them a win ultimately, so that’s a good thing.

Not sure what the answer is yet when it comes to the defense. To say that Billy Davis just went into “prevent” mode down the stretch is inaccurate. He kept the blitzes coming and got burned on it a time or two. RGIII appeared to pick up steam as the game went on, which was another factor. Losing Cary Williams for a stretch also hurt them and speaks to the potential depth issues in the secondary.

Overall I think the defense played well — certainly better than I thought they were going to. It’s safe to raise your expectation levels a notch based off their performance against the Redskins. I don’t think either half  of play fully represents their identity. Chances are, they’ll be somewhere in between.

From @xpler99: does poyer’s development push Boykin to the outside, and Fletcher to the bench?  Or is his role diminished with hughes back?

Bradley Fletcher‘s teammates sound confident that he will be able to play against the Chargers, but he did not practice on Thursday and remains a question mark after sustaining a concussion Monday. Brandon Boykin is expected to be moved to the outside if Fletcher can’t go.

Brandon Hughes (hand) is practicing this week and should be ready for Sunday. I think there is a chance he sees some action against San Diego, perhaps over Jordan Poyer. The rookie saw 17 snaps against the Redskins, and looked like he could still use some seasoning.

I thought Fletcher played well against Washington. I believe the starting job is his when healthy.

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  • G_WallyHunter

    2nd question, 2nd paragraph, 2 yets

  • Max Lightfoot

    Chip will adjust his game. Now if Andy Reid were Chip Kelly, I could see our boys getting run into the ground, simply because of Reid’s stubbornness. But not Chip – I think he will surprise people by pulling some unexpected moves by calling plays contrary to his nature. In other words, be flexible – something Reid is seemingly incapable of doing.

    • EaglePete

      No need to bash Reid to make Chip look good. At some point something will go wrong and cost the team a game, like a big mistake from a 3rd stringer from rotating guys so much or injury or fatigue. Its kind of inevitable. But thats pretty much the case for every coach/team, just what happens in games that are so close all the time. Whatever, Ill take it, still loving the way CK plays the numbers with his scheme. Still early but his innovate style is so refreshing.

      • BrickSquadMonopoly

        Andy Reid is a bad, bad coach. Like horrendously bad.

        • BIGJES

          you are a fool if you believe that

      • Max Lightfoot

        I wasn’t bashing Reid to make the new guy look good – Chip’s looking pretty good all on his own! Sorry if I still have some bitter memories for Reid, but the guy was here for more than a decade, and his drafting cratered this team, in case you hadn’t noticed. I hope we beat him like a gong!

        • Always Hopeful

          I think WE can’t help comparing Reid to Chip because Reid was here a long time as our coach. I think it should be expected of us to compare (not to bash Reid or make Chip look good) the recent past to the present.

          Next year will give us some distance from Reid and we will be able to compare the IMPROVEMENT Chip will make from this year to next year and following…I hope!

          Football is fun again. It’s cool to root for an innovative coach and team,

  • Kevin

    As far as sustainability.. ask a 5K runner to run a marathon – problem, train a 5K runner to do a marathon – no problem. Ask a golfer to run at all – big problem. The biggest part is training and prep, and Kelly and Hulls seem to have that nailed.

    The better question is in Weeks 11, 12, 13, etc. when the rest of the NFL is worn down from traditional methods, will Kelly’s frenetic smoothie fueled pace be even more effective?

    As far as injury, since Kelly believes in playing in and creating space, logic should also dictate that the chance of injury lessens and you should have less chance of being rolled up on. Most injuries don’t occur from one-on-one open field tackles (cut blocks from Suh excluded).

  • djack10

    i am really interested to know how this offense plays out in cold weather. anyone know of oregon games that were played in sub-32 temps and how those went? seems like this pace would ruin defenses even more in sub-optimal conditions.

    • JamesDDl

      I for one will consider the season a great success if the Iggs are playing meaningful games in sub-freezing conditions.
      On the other hand . . . if they play at the tempo they are capable of, don’t think there is much chance of them gettin cold!

  • B-West

    As the first questions alludes too, I also find it fascinating how little Kelly is worried about Vick getting injured. The rest of us seem to see it as an inevitability, given the hits and his injury history. The fascination lies in the fact that I believe Kelly to be a very smart guy, who also realizes this.

    Its almost as though he sees Vick getting injured as a sunk cost. Its going to happen regardless, so why worry about it? I like to think he has another offensive wrinkle for making Foles look amazing, too. Maybe that’s where the multiple TE looks come in.

    As you can tell, in Chip I trust.

  • GiveMeABreak

    Chip’s 1st game stats were eerily alike to Spurrier’s. His offenses put a lot of points on the board but the defenses were dreadful. I hope the FO can get its act together enough to make sure CK has a longer and more successful stint.

    • BIGJES

      are you suggesting our defense looked dreadful ?
      what game were you watching?
      sure RGIII put up some numbers that was after we were well in the lead and backing off.14 points came off TO’s 7 directly. held there run game well under 100 yrds. you forget Redskins were a top 3 offense last season

    • macadood

      I wouldn’t call the Defense dreadful at all. generated 3 turnovers very quickly. Shut down last year’s number one run offense with RG3 and Morris the whole game. And even then only allowed 20 points (first touchdown was on the offense/refs) to one of the more potent offenses in the league

      sure the ‘Skins were playing from behind but they still ran enough times in the first half and later in the game and got stuffed for the most part

      • Will

        Defense front 7 went into beast mode, secondary held their own. If I had to grade it B- not to shabby considering everything….

    • BIGJES

      Or are you one of those Negadelphians that needs to complain no matter what the team does, if that’s the case you’re looking for go hangout with charlie gardner you guy’s well get along just great

      • cliff henny

        pity jimmy kempski, hope he’s getting paid well, cause it’s lost on those trolls.

  • dislikedisqus

    Couldn’t see Poyer’s development. He looked about as lost as I would have looked out there.

    • anon

      Rook in his first game going against RGIII and Pierre. Buy yeah, he gave up plays. Kelly likes him though so he’ll play.

  • cliff henny

    why is the question of sustainability so large? not like it was flea flicker triple reverse half screens, it was RBs getting 40 carries for 200 yards all between the tackles…nothing flashy, ignore all the window dressing. hope the chargers sell out like washington did in second half, d-jax is going to have 200 yds 3 tds on wr screens alone Sunday.

  • Engwrite

    I was wondering…if Hughes plays, with a broken hand, wouldn’t the other qb always go after him since he is unlikely to intercept the pass.

  • KobraKai7474

    Two aspects of the offense we saw on Monday will be VERY difficult to sustain.

    First, as awesome as he was, Shady cannot and will not hold for 30 carries per game every week. Even guys MUCH bigger than Shady typically break down rather quickly under that kind of strain…. and the rare player who can hold up to that pounding for an entire deason typically returns the following season as a shell of the player he once was. Guys like Michael Turner and Steven Jackson who were abused like this in recent years remained viable players for a few more years because they had the size to be a bruising back after losing a step. Shady doesn’t have that option.

    Second… and much more obvious…. no quarterback…. and certainly not one as famously brittle as Vick…. can hold up to the kind of pounding this offense requires. Remember, each time he runs, each time he fakes a run, and each time he rides the RB with the initial option read, opposing teams will make it their business to lay a (completely legal) hit on him. Even if one of those hits does end up hurting him, the cumulative effect will become apparent by mid-season.

    In other words, the two players who are, far and away, most critical to this offense are playing on borrowed time already. Mark it, dude.