Chip Kelly has used some version of the same line several times since he was hired as the Eagles’ head coach back in January.
“If you weren’t in the room with Amos Alonzo Stagg and Knute Rockne, then you stole it from somebody,” Kelly says. “We didn’t invent this.”
It’s Kelly’s way of denying that he’s some kind of innovator or revolutionary, labels that make him uncomfortable.
Also, there’s truth behind what he’s saying. In Week 1 against the Redskins, Jon Gruden suggested that the Eagles scored a touchdown to DeSean Jackson on a play Kelly stole from the New Orleans Saints (although it was really one that several NFL teams run).
And the guess here is that Kelly will be installing one specific play he saw from Andy Reid and the Chiefs Thursday night.
Alex Smith failed to get the ball downfield all game long, completing just one pass that traveled more than 10 yards from the line of scrimmage, per Pro Football Focus. But the Chiefs were able to use a wrinkle to convert a couple third-and-longs with yards after the catch.
Up 10-6 with 4:27 left in the first quarter, Kansas City faced a 3rd-and-15 from its own 15-yard line.
Initially, it looks like the Chiefs are sending five receivers into pass routes. The Eagles only rush three and drop eight into coverage.
But essentially, it’s a one-man route. Donnie Avery starts to run a drag route across the field, and the other four receivers turn into blockers.
While “Smith to Avery” might not have the same ring to it as “McNabb to Westbrook” with this crowd, the Chiefs are really just setting up a screen. It’s a 5-yard completion, but as you can see, the Eagles don’t have a single defender in coverage within 12 yards of the line of scrimmage.
Here, you can see the Chiefs have it blocked up well. The three defenders circled in the middle of the field (from top of the screen to bottom) are Earl Wolff, Connor Barwin and Patrick Chung. It looked like Chung had the best chance to make a play, but he sprinted inside the receiver, making it an easier block as Avery ran outside. DeMeco Ryans is blocked near the sideline.
“They’re throwing a down-the-field shallow route and picking up blockers,” Kelly explained. “It’s a neat little play, but we’ve got to be able to get off blocks and recognize what they’re doing and get off of blocks and make plays. But they did a decent job.
“It was an underneath throw and then their receivers really aren’t running routes. They’re turning into blockers. It’s kind of a down-the-field screen, but not a screen. They don’t throw the blocks until after the ball is completed. It’s a good little scheme and they executed it and we didn’t.”
Translation: You’re damn right we’re stealin’ that one!
Of course, for the Eagles, the issue on this play was on the defensive side of the ball. When the Chiefs got them the first time, it’s reasonable to give them credit. The problem? They ran the exact same play on 3rd-and-19 in the second quarter.
After an incompletion, a penalty and a Fletcher Cox sack, Kansas City set up from its own 30 with 5:08 left. The play worked for Reid once, so he dialed it up again.
As the play was developing, you could see Cary Williams recognize the look and point to Avery. But it didn’t matter.
Nate Allen got off his block, but couldn’t catch up to Avery. Brandon Boykin tripped to the ground chasing him to the sideline, and Bradley Fletcher got blocked inside. Avery scurried all the way across the field and down the sideline for a big 26-yard gain.
“It’s great… quarterback’s best friend,” Smith said. “You love them. You have to have balance. We need that. You need that in the passing game here and there and we had a lot of yards after the catch today, so it was great.”
Instead of forcing the punt, the Eagles allowed the Chiefs to possess the ball for 3:51 and kick a 34-yard field goal.
On two separate occasions, the Chiefs got the Eagles with the exact same play on third-and-long. A bad sign for the defense and something that Kelly undoubtedly noticed.
Don’t be surprised if you see him dial up the same call at some point later this season.